Finishing off the week with a brand new track, Mike Shinoda spent two days producing a track titled “Teary Eyed” by artist Emma McGann. Admitting at the beginning of the stream that McGann’s track was one of the first to be posted on social media, and to catch his eye, but he only decided to wait to produce it as he had difficulty figuring out what to do with it. Before starting production, Shinoda played McGann’s original demo, which consisted of vocals and guitar, for viewers to hear.
“The thing that has eluded me about this track is that it’s got a swingy kind of bounce to it. This guitar has a swing to it. So it’s got that swing and these chords are very kind of a fun pop chord structure, and then the lyrics are sad … the music and the lyrics are at odds with each other. So starting there, what do I do … which direction do I go? … I think I’m just gonna go with the music and … figure it out from there.”
Prepping for the stream, Shinoda pulled various sounds that fit with McGann’s guitar and track. He first focused on the drums, playing around with different drum sounds and patterns to add into the track. He then added a wild vinyl loop and keyboard tracks. During this initial production, Shinoda faced the challenge of keeping the essence of the song without making it sound corny, which he struggled with at first when creating the drums tracks. Feeling that the music was working, Shinoda focusing on fine tuning that using various plug ins before moving onto McGann’s vocal tracks.
Shinoda started editing McGann’s vocals by adding some effects over her the vocal tracks, before switching back to the drums. He ran a poll to decide if he should be organic or synthetic drums, with viewers choosing organic drums. After a few technical issues, in which Shinoda’s live stream lost audio twice, Shinoda made a few more additions to the track, which included recording live bass (during which the sound cut out again!).
Returning to the track the next day to finish production, Shinoda admitted he had worked on the song between streams and had already changed quite a bit after the first stream, which included taking out the second chorus and adding a synth. He also had a few notes from McGann that she shared after watching the initial stream. McGann preferred the synthetic/electro sounds Shinoda created before the poll he conducted, where viewers preferred organic drums.
In addition to the drums, Shinoda and McGann were also trying to figure out how to condense the song. Listening to the full track, Shinoda thought the song seemed too long, like it was dragging toward the end. Realizing the song has four full choruses, Shinoda decided to skip the second chorus and go straight into the bridge in order to cut the song back. He also restructured the song to give the parts a little more variety. The song starts with the chorus, which has no drums, followed by the first verse where the drums are brought in. Then the first verse leads into the pre-chorus, then full chorus, second verse, and second pre-chorus. Following the traditional structure of a song, listeners should expect the chorus again, however, Shinoda changed this to surprise listeners, having the second pre-chorus lead into the bridge and the last chorus to end the song.
“… there’s a nice structure of repetition, but each part is different. Chorus one has no drums, verse one we’ll do smaller beat and production than verse two. Pre-choruses will be similar but percussion will be different … the second chorus has drums for the first time in the song. The bridge is happening where you think a chorus is going to happen, and the last chorus you get a break, and then you get the biggest chorus where you get all the stuff in it. So every time a part happens it’s structurally different than the last time you heard it.”
Shinoda then recorded another keyboard part, shared that he put a vocal synth over McGann’s vocals to add a warm, stereo harmony track to the entire song, and then deleted a section of the tambourine. After making a few last minute adjustments, Shinoda then put on the master bus plug ins and wrapped production.
Emma McGann is an independent British singer and songwriter that has received multiple award nominations, including nominations for three Shorty Awards, an iHeartRadio Music Award, and London’s YouTube NextUp Alumni in 2017. Starting out by having her music featured on BBC Radio 1, McGann now has over 11 million views for her music live streams and has shown interest in a variety of other aspects of being an online creator, such as virtual reality, crypto-based live streaming — she even has her own Tedx Talk! McGann is an avid Twitch streamer where she performs cover songs and original music at fan request. She also does monthly virtual shows on her official website, which fans can purchase a tour pass to receive exclusive access to every live streamed show, including recordings of every past show, and a few extra perks. McGann also has a Patreon account, where fans can get exclusive updates and raw acoustic demos, along with a YouTube channel where she posts cover videos, original music, including official lyric and music videos, and other creator based videos on topics such as songwriting tips. She also has merchandise available on her website for purchase, including signed copies of her original album B.R.A.V.E. and pre-orders of her upcoming albums Jungle Tapes: Volume #1 and Jungle Tapes: Volume #2, which is already available for digital download on Bandcamp. McGann’s music can also be found on various streaming platforms including Spotify and Apple Music.
If you weren’t able to see Emma McGann’s “Teary Eyed” be produced live by Mike Shinoda, you can still watch the Twitch replay of the first day of production below! Make sure to check out both McGann’s music, as well as Shinoda’s previous production sessions. And stay tuned to Shinoda’s Twitch channel weekdays around 10 a.m. PT for more productions live streams when he returns from a short two week break!