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  • Léo Chupin

Groove in the clouds : Prodfolio vol. 1 by Pierre-Smaïn is out!

Pierre-Smaïn compose electro music in a style near Cloud rap : an urban music at the crossroads of French Touch and Hip Hop, where the rhythmic is in the heart of the work, with a use of atmospheric and floating synths.

A cloud prod that floats and grooves

Thought as a production portfolio to show his work. I had the pleasure of producing, mixing and mastering the EP.

Sunset : 80s synth-pop flavor from California. A bubblegum track perfect for a drive on the coast.

Alone : its pop colors are put at the service of a more introspective and darker track. Big focus on atmosphere and reverbs to create a cocoon of solitude as cold as comforting.

Break : soft release from the darkness. Here, we have a good contrast between the repetitive, throbbing percussions and the soaring layers that get lost in the reverb. The light at the end of the tunnel.

Friends : More uplift piece with a good place left to the bass. A more accentuated groove and a catchy melody. A drumkit with toms more 80s than the 80s bring a good touch of exoticism. We find this bubblegum side of the 1ᵉʳ track.

Sunrise: Finishing in beauty with the most powerful track : Big bass, airy synth and determined drums. An almost minimalist track with a strong feeling of space (despite the presence of many instruments and percussion). Big automation work on the stereo and the depth!

producing and artistic direction: the benefit of an external viewpoint

The most important part of my production work concerns the artistic direction. Pierre sends me drafts of his productions, I improve with him the structure and the arrangements.

I identify the weakest or least effective passages to help him find solutions. I sometimes suggest him work paths: add a bridge, make the structure clearer, lengthen the choruses, etc.

I also help him to validate what works. When you compose, you can quickly get lost and not have any perspective on what works and what doesn't. It's always helpful to have an outside eye confirming that it's good.

Each sound is an evolution: richer, more original, more mature, more accomplished... Some structures needed work: cutting lengths, lengthening songs, giving life to some verses or making the endings of songs evolve.

Many round trips were necessary, before a final session, both in studio, to polish the last details and to give birth to the final version of Prodfolio vol.1.

A complete support

As a producer, I accompanied Pierre-Smaïn until the release of the EP :

  • Find the title of the EP

  • Choose the visual of the cover

  • Agree on the name of the tracks

  • Decide the order of the tracks

  • Determine the distribution platforms.

Title of the EP

For this 1st EP, we wanted a clear title that would convey the concept well: a "prod" portfolio.

Brainstorming! Portfolio gave Potefolio to finish in Prodfolio : a portfolio of prod 🙂 Volume 1, because it is only the beginning, a volume 2 is already in progress !

Visual of the EP

Not easy to find a cover for an instrumental project. After brainstorming, Pierre decided to illustrate the musical genesis of the project.

With his cell phone in hand, he captured this "magnificent" monument of Montreuil, located in front of his childhood home, which I retouched and reframed, before involving Régis Boussari, graphic designer, who transformed the project by proposing several variations.

Pierre's pictures

Régis's proposal

The name of the songs

During one year, the titles were called "n°1", "le 2"... We didn't want to risk to bias the listening of the tracks, intended for singers and rappers. After discussions, Pierre proposed: Sunrise, Friends, Break, Alone and Sunset. Simple words with a broad concept, which completely encompass the mood of each track. In addition, we end up with "a full day" from sunrise to sunset!

Fun fact: a mistake in the uploading, and the tracks appeared in reverse order on the EP! Disaster, but not so much, we go from a whole day to a whole night. It is the dark side of the EP. And it works. A full listen in both orders gives a completely different experience!

Shaping a custom sound: the mix

No recording for this absolutely electro EP, except some small vocal effects of hidden prod ;)

The mixing is a big part of the production. After listening to these first productions and some discussions, I understood the sound that Pierre was looking for.

I wanted to take Pierre's productions even further, to create a real sound space, a cocoon of sound between the big kicks and the aerial synth layers.

After the phases of equalization, compression and spatialization, I did a lot of automation work on the reverbs, creating surreal effects of a reverb sometimes gigantic, sometimes absent, all from one second to the next. A lot of games also on the stereo. A mix whose goal is to transcend the original composition: to improve the depth, the richness and the emotional impact.

Native Instrument's RAUM reverb plugin is an integral part of the sound on this EP.

Perfecting the sound: mastering

To make it simple, the objective is to enlarge the sound, to refine it, to amplify the bass and the treble, to reach a sound volume "as loud as possible", without denaturing or deteriorating the sound.

We go from -14db LUFS at the mix, level recommended by the streaming platforms, to -9db LUFS after mastering. This allows us to have a powerful sound that can be heard correctly on all media without destroying the sound.

How much does it cost?

The mixing of a 5 tracks EP costs 1500€ (the price varies between 1000€ and 2000€), and 250€ for the mastering.

The various work sessions, music making and organization were included in a 250€ package (5 hours of work spread over 3 sessions).

Regarding the production, I count a percentage on the copyrights and mechanical reproduction (now obsolete, so on the streams). Still a bit of a secret, it's vart on evert project because it is difficult to quantify all the work spent listening, commenting, discussing, etc.. With of course the uncertainty of a possible success.

We have a global budget for production-mixing-mastering-accompaniment of 2000€ plus points of royalties/stream.

Where can I listen to it?

Thanks to platforms like iMusician or Tunecore you can listen to it everywhere: on Spotify, Deezer, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, ...etc

What's next?

A universe in its own right which is completely self-sufficient as an instrumental, but which could well welcome a voice! Inspired by these tracks ? Do you want a Pierre-Smaïn production for your project ? Contact us !

futhermore, we are currently working on volume 2.

⚠️⚠️ Breaking news ! ⚠️⚠️

After this fruitful collaboration, we pushed the adventure further and launched a music to picture service. We already have 4 podcast trailer to our credit. I'll tell you more soon!

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