Audient is delighted to welcome talented musician, songwriter and all round ray of sunshine, Lizzy McAvoy back to Audient to tell us about her latest single, ‘Because I’m A Woman’ sung by Lisa McEwen.
She tells us more about the song’s inspiration, how she was involved in its production, what parts she played in that (spoiler: loads) and of course her trusty ASP4816 mixing console gets a mention!
She starts off by taking us back to her early writing days in Nashville – over to you, Lizzy!
This story begins over 10 years ago in Nashville, TN at my first publishing company, Major Bob Music where Lisa McEwen and I (pictured left- 10 years ago)were paired to write together. We wrote several songs over a couple years, even traveling to Dallas for a Writer’s Retreat with our good friend and co-writer, JP Williams. It was on that Dallas trip that we penned “Home To You” which was later released by Annabelle Road and Lindley Creek.
Life got busy and music took us in different paths. Lisa moved back to Canada to start her family and I changed course, moving to a new publishing company. Fast forward to the fall of 2020 when Lisa reached out to catch up. One thing led to another, and we were talking about old times, new adventures and Lisa wanting to release artist material again.
“I was the engineer, programmer, musician, background vocalist, producer and mixing engineer”
Lisa wrote ‘Because I Am A Woman’ in October 2020 after a meditation session. She sent the worktape to me to see if I would be interested in producing this song as her next single; and I gave a resounding “YES!” So since this is a music blog after all, let’s start talking about how ‘Because I’m A Woman’ was created. I wore multiple hats working on this production. I was the engineer, programmer, musician, background vocalist, producer and mixing engineer.
I first started by asking Lisa how she envisioned the song. She said she wanted it to be empowering and anthemic, but still graceful. The lyrics of this song felt like the main focal point, so I wanted to build the entire production around highlighting each and every line. I like to start my productions with what I believe will be the second most dominant instrument, the vocal being the most dominant. Since Lisa wanted the sound to be a blend of Pop/Country, I decided the acoustic guitar would be the first instrument I would track.
I did my classic acoustic guitar chain: Martin D-18 Golden Era to Shure SM81 to Rupert Neve Shelford Channel. I tracked two different acoustic guitar parts; I then like to pan those hard left and right in my mixes. I didn’t have Lisa’s vocal at this point, so I sang the scratch vocal for inspiration. I needed to make sure that any additional instruments that I added didn’t compete or overshadow the lyrics and melody of her song.
I began to hear the production coming together in my mind. For the loop. I used Battery 4- 2 Funk Kit with a Ping Pong Echoboy Delay.
For synth, I used an array of Output- Exhale and Signal Synths; along with Substance for the Sub Bass in the choruses.
For the anthemic drums, I always turn to That Sound- Organic Pack and Future Pack for 808’s. I used Kontakt- The Giant to create the reverby punchy piano.
The B3 Organ at the top of the song was a last minute change. The first time I heard the worktape, I knew I wanted Lisa’s vocals and the first verse lyrics to shine at the beginning of the song. I originally had an eerie vocal pad through Output-Exhale as her backing instrumentation. The Exhale synth did provide a mood, but every time I heard the beginning of the song, I felt it wasn’t setting the right mood. My gut was saying B3, but I wondered if that wasn’t unique enough. You never know until you try and the minute I hit the first chord, I knew the B3 was the right instrument to introduce this song.
My vision for the production was to be powerful and big, but simple. As you can see the majority of this track is built of virtual instruments. By the end of this production, the only live instruments tracked were acoustic guitar, vocals and tambourine. So since this is a blog for Audient, how did my beautiful, stunning, breathtaking ASP4816 make an appearance? One of my favorite things to do with the ASP4816 is print my virtual instruments through the pre’s on the console. It adds character, depth and a familiar warmth to otherwise “perfect” instruments. The all analog circuit path allowed the full depth and clarity of the instrumentation to shine. It’s a tool and trick I use on many of my productions.
“One of my favorite things to do with the ASP4816 is print my virtual instruments through the pre’s on the console”
With my virtual instruments printed and my track completed, it was time to send it to Lisa for the first listen. Thankfully, I received positive feedback and the track was beyond what Lisa had envisioned – truly the best words a producer could hear! With Lisa living in Canada and I in Nashville TN, we had to find a unique way to track her vocals. Lisa scheduled a session with Matt Ballagh – On Track Studios. (Shout out to Matt for the stellar vocal engineering.) It’s always a pleasure working with a talented vocalist like Lisa because vocal production is a breeze. I comped together Lisa’s lead vocal and added my background vocals. I used my classic vocal chain: Mojave MA 200 to Universal Audio LA-610 to Slate Dragon.
At this point, Lisa and I felt all the elements of the track were created, so I dove into the land of mixing. I had avoided mixing for years, always feeling daunted or overly perfectionistic. During 2020, I finally treated my studio properly with Acoustical Fulfillment acoustic panels. Allowing myself to truly hear my space took what felt daunting and made it feel attainable. I took last year to begin honing my craft and continue to grow as a mixing engineer. The mix was finalized and sent to Nashville based mastering engineer, Brad Bass.
‘Because I Am A Woman’ can be heard on your preferred listening platforms now! [Or watch the video below! ~ Audient] I am so incredibly grateful to Audient for allowing me to share my production journey, to Lisa for the opportunity to produce her single and to you all for taking the time to read about the creation of “Because I Am Woman”.
Find me on my website, www.lizzymcavoy.com or follow me on social media.
Happy Music Making! Xo
Happy Music Making to YOU Lizzy ~ catch up soon!