This year, I had the honor of working on project for my dear friend Eric Zyla. Eric is a talented singer songwriting from Milwaukee and my band has played many shows with him in the past. He had heard I was starting to do more mixing, producing and mastering, and asked that my brother Jon and I work with him on this project.
We started in the spring of 2017 doing pre-production for each of the songs he had started out and we found this to be a helpful phase in the project. We were able to get acquainted with each others creative styles and started to organize each songs arrangement. As with many creative projects, we were under a time crunch but this one was unique. Eric and his wife Anna, were moving to Thailand at the end of September (Check out their travel blog here). So we really started to focus in the months of August and September to wrap up all the production. I decided to write a little about each song and share my experiences.
As with all these songs, vocals were provided by Eric and drums were played by Jacob E. Miller. One of my favorite instruments is pedal steel guitar, popular in country music. I don’t play or own a pedal steel guitar, so I was able to simulate this with my slide guitar and lots of reverb. We used this to effect throughout the song but it never felt like it got in the way, just supplementing the bittersweet vibe of this tune. Eric from the start, had this great melody for the ending of the song that we decided would be great to use as a bridge solo on guitar. Of all the songs on this project, I feel like this one carries the vibe and feeling to the lyrical content of the song.
This was a song we had heard Eric play over the last few years and we were shocked to find out that he never had recorded it. On this song, Eric really brought his vocal performance to the forefront. In particular, I love his vocals on the end of this song by projecting his voice to bring the last chorus alive. I recently started to get into Moog synthesizers and thought this would be a great opportunity to add this element into this song. A very heavy low note fades in during the bridge of the song, and really explodes during the last chorus. I used the amazing Arturia Mini V3 emulation for this synth sound and I was very happy with the results.
This song is about Eric’s desire to travel and explore the world and was a great chance to use some additional instrumentation. Each song used brushes on the drums but I think they really shine on this song. The drums have great snap and body to fit well with the layered acoustic guitars of the song. I also overdubbed piano and organ for the chorus and bridge sections. Again using the Arturia V series collection, Piano V and B-3 V, respectively. I think the vibrato of the B-3 propels the chorus forward in a great way.