Producer Griffin Boice Talks Flipping Songwriting and Hollywood Undead
Thu, 09 Feb 2012 08:36:30
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"I like to make sounds no one has ever heard," says producer Griffin Boice.
Take a listen to his work with Hollywood Undead or The Black Eyed Peas, and it's instantly apparent that there's no other producer out there like Boice. He's got a prescient talent for mixing and matching sounds like some sort of 21st century musical alchemist. Whether its grinding guitars or scraping piano strings, he can twist and turn seemingly dissonant elements into insanely infectious soundscapes. At the same time, Boice possesses a classic songwriting ability, helping whoever he works with realize their respective musical vision in the most memorable manner possible. You'll remember him as soon as you hear the likes of "Comin' In Hot", "I Don't Wanna Die", "Tendencies", "Bullet", "S.C.A.V.A." and "Apologize" from Hollywood Undead's American Tragedy as well as everything else he's done and will do…
In addition, Boice has even designed drum sounds for the new Steven Slate Drums SSD4 software. He crafted the hip hop, electro, and vinyl libraries. Right now, in addition to working with Hollywood Undead, he's also working with guitar legend John 5 on the score for Rob Zombie's hotly anticipated Lords of Salem film.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Griffin Boice talks producing, working with Hollywood Undead, and so much more.
Is producing about finding commonalities between artists where your style fits? Or, do you enjoy operating in different worlds and bringing who you are into those spaces?
I think it's a lot more of the latter. It starts when people ask me what my favorite genre is. Literally, I love everything so much and I have no zone. I've got an eclectic personality. I'll get in a room with someone, and I'll just become inspired by that person. If it's someone from the pop genre, I'll bring what I can to that genre. It goes from side to the polar opposite in terms of genres. If you listen to everything of mine, whether it's rock or pop, you'll know it's me.
Where do songs start for you? Does everything stem from the beat?
Everything differs. Sometimes, it can start with a guitar. Then, I'll bring it back to the lab and put the drums and everything else down. I'll bet 99 percent of the time I don't actually start with drums first. I'll start with a lead or a rhythm.
Are you on a quest to find unique sounds to add into the songs you work on?
Exactly, I sit down and turn every knob all the way one way, and then I'll turn every knob all the way the other way. I'll find a character of a sound I like. It could be a synth. I'll play it, turning the knobs to both extremes. Then, I'll combine them. By the end of it, I've got something no one else does because it's so random [Laughs]. Nine times out of ten, I'll print the sound on an audio track and I'll add a bunch of plugins to change the sound even more. It's about coming up with "Frankenstein" sounds.
Then, it's just about making it catchy…
I'll like to make music out of abstract sounds. If you hear a strange sound on its own, it might not make any sense. People won't necessarily get it. However, if you play something weird and off-kilter on an electric guitar in the space of a traditional song structure, it can sound incredible. I want to make music with sounds people haven't necessarily heard.
What drew you to production?
I've been musical my whole life. I started out playing in symphony when I was in fourth grade, and I did that for ten years. I started a mobile DJ business when I was in junior high school, and I bought a nightclub when I was 18-years-old. Around that time, I went into a recording studio, and I basically never came out. I thought, "This is so much cooler". I got out of the club business and everything else. I bought a studio and started doing that right away. Originally, I wanted to simply record people, but I'd throw out ideas in sessions and they'd get used. I began to realize I could do that all the time. I slowly started understanding it, and everything began snowball from there.
What was the first song you did with Hollywood Undead?
It was actually "I Don't Wanna Die". I love the piano in that track. The song just feels so genuine and real to me. Think about it, if you were put it in that situation where someone's going to kill you, you're not going to let him and you're going to do what you can to stop it. That song spoke to me. The musicality is what first got me and then the concept. Everyone worked so hard on every song we did.
What inspires you about them?
I tell them all the time if there was one project I could work on for the rest of my life, it'd be them. You'll never meet a band with so much of a backstory. There is so much to each one of these guys. Talking to them individually, they could all tell you shit that you never thought was possible. They've been through so much. That helps us capture emotion in music. This is real life. What they sing about and talk about is true.
Are you fan of Griffin's productions?
Check out our exclusive roundtable featuring Munky of Korn, J-Dog of Hollywood Undead, Hyro Da Hero, Derek Mears, and more here!