No Mask

Featured photo by Nurse Kate

Another one of those updates after a long academic semester for me.  And this time, it’s epic.

The Path of a Producer 

Fall season has left, and now I’m at the eve of the cold Spring of Boston. Weather here typically stays around the negative side of the celcius. Not ideal for a tropic-skinned boy like me.

Berklee in Fall has been good to me. I took subjects that were more writing central. Among them were Vocal Writing, Chord Scales for the Arrangers, Songwriting and Lyric Writing. Great tools for me, especially now that I’m set on the path of a producer/arranger, something that takes me away from the my usual business of being a singer-songwriter (and those lovely live performances that comes with it).

As I delved deeper into the arts of music arranging (in some ways, the art is scarily familiar to my engineering past – putting things together in a logical way), the more I realized that to fully realize your creations, you must indulge or fool around with the notion of being your own producer. And with being your own producer, you must be that Jack. That Jack of all trades you can muster. Knowing and understanding every single detail of a song or music is essential to a good production – the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ shots that you have to make. And it’s responsibilities if your call turns awry.

Yes, producing skills. Something I needed to have in my pocket.

Nori Shiota

I first met this bloke in Acoustic class. Taught by the hippiest professor in school – Andy Carballeira. Nori had difficulty understanding technical English terms for this class, so I ended up helping him a lot. It was a win-win situation really at that time. As his English posed a challenge, my Japanese was rusty to dust. I often spoke to him in Japanese, and he would reply in English. Hence the tutoring sessions were unimaginably long…but the payoff was worth it.

Nori is a top class Bass player, more so ever fearsome on his Upright bass. A true jazz neko. Above everything else, he is a badass producer. Has been producing artists in Japan and New York for over ten years before Berklee. Now he’s just here to sharpen his katana edge. Truly an intimidating soul.

And on a very fine day…he happened to hear one my songs that I played in class. A song that I used to audition my way into this school. A song of deceit and manipulation I wrote years ago….with an epic chorus.

“I would like to produce this for one of my projects” Nori said.

No Mask

“No Mask” is one of those songs that best represents the genre of my craft. One that I value high in regards to the emotional strings it pulls. So having someone messing around with it for a project was not something easy to consider. But looking at the bigger picture, I realized I needed to grow out of this shell (the me that is pretty self-content with my work), and strike to achieve better. And sometimes better could even mean different.

Having Nori producing “No Mask” was a great way for me to see what other people would do with my compositions. In other words, it was an ideal situation to see Nori’s production techniques and methods, and indirectly learning those producing chops I yearn to earn. So I agreed to his proposal.

…and thank God I did!!

Working with Nori has been nothing short but wonderful. An amazing producer who knows what to do to get what he wants. Being in the studio with him has taught me the experience of being that ‘perfectionist’ producer. “No Mask” has seen varied instrumentations across, with rearrangements of some progressions (which I never knew possible), as well as keeping faithful to the emotional context of the song – in which I deem important. Seeing how my song could turn into someone else’s interpretation was an eye opener for me. And my love for arranging and producing grew deeper.

Folks, I present to you “No Mask”. I do hope you enjoy the track as much as I do. With its rich instrumentation and texture, I hope it brings epicness into the opening of your new year.

Thank you Nori for your great faith in my work, and to your excellent rebirthing to my song.

A special thanks to Falk for the great mix and mastering!!



Click here to check out Nori’s work!

Click here to check out Falk’s work!

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