Bill Schultz, WKTU/New York: "Gonna Make You Rich Cash Call"
by Craig Rogers
In this month's Producer's VU, it's two (click), two (click), two productions in one! WKTU Production Director Bill Schultz had the opportunity to re-record a classic dance tune with custom lyrics sung by the original artists, and then produce a promo around it as hot as the original single. Hear the results on The Cassette and read here about how he produced it.
When WKTU signed on in February, 1996, the first song they aired for the new rhythmic/dance format was C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat." When 'KTU's first anniversary rolled around, PD Frankie Blue wanted to use the song in a promotion marking the event. The idea was, "hear this song; call in and win". Evergreen programming VP Steve Rivers took the idea one step further and called the artists who performed the song to record a custom version for 'KTU. Martha Wash and Freedom Williams both agreed and the ball was handed off to Shultz.
Bill is working with a DSE-7000FX, running through a PR&E BMX-III 18-channel console. Also in the studio are Denon DN970FA CD players, an Orban 674A equalizer, dbx166A compressor, Eventide DSP4000 Ultra-Harmonizer, Aphex 104 Aural Exciter Type C2, Tascam 122 MKII cassette deck, Otari MTR10-II and JBL monitors. That's the station's gear. Bill also has his own synth gear including a Roland Juno 106, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Yamaha DX100, Prophet 2002plus digital sampler, and a Boss DR-660 drum machine.
Bill had to produce the custom song before being able to build a promo around it. The custom lyrics were written by morning show producer Tony Fiori. Having wording similar to the original hit helped make the custom version even more effective. It also helped mask a few leftover vocal trails from the original. Tony's wife laid down a reference vocal track over the original music, primarily to allow Williams to hear the rhythm intended in the rap.
The music was provided on DAT by Williams. Since he uses it in club performances, the tape still has Wash's voice on it. Bill loaded this from his Panasonic SV3800 DAT deck onto tracks 1 and 2 panned as a stereo pair. The remaining tracks were mono for vocal takes.
Vocals were recorded with an EV RE-20 mic with a popper stopper windscreen. Bill usually uses a Symetrix 528E for processing, but backed everything down on it for these takes to get the cleanest sound possible. He says he can add processing later to match the sound of the original song.
Bill got six different takes of Williams doing his rap and used the sixth in its entirety. To record vocals, Bill assigned William's mic to PGM and AUD and the DSE to AUD only. Bill and Freedom could hear both music and vocals in their headphones by monitoring AUD, while PGM fed only the vocals to the DSE.
When it was time for Martha to record her takes, Bill made a copy of the Freedom production. He then erased all but Freedom's best take and the music bed to free up memory. He used the pitch function of the DSE to make a copy of the music, pitched down about 6%. To determine how much shift was needed, he used the vari-speed play to slow the music and lower the pitch until Martha indicated the key was right. He noted the vari-speed percentage, then used that percentage in the pitch shift function to make the copy. This shifts the music down, but keeps the tempo the same. This put the music into a better range for Wash. She sang her parts, then Bill pitched the best takes up to match the original music.
To provide a bed for Wash to sing over, Bill says he looped the opening instrumental "out to infinity."
To sync the new vocals with the music, Bill simply lined up Wash's new takes with the original lyrics. He then went back and found instrumental portions to copy over the old lyrics to leave just an instrumental bed.
Looping out Wash's original vocals entirely was almost impossible due to the delays and reverbs on the original. At one spot, Wash sings the 'KTU calls. In the original, the voice stands alone with no instrumental. Bill copied a bass drum hit to go under it. He says, "This was the toughest part to do." At another point, Wash sings, "Call us up for cash now." Under this portion was just a drum track. He couldn't find a similar instrumental to copy, so he used his drum machine to provide a single snare and hi-hat hit that couldn't be masked otherwise.
Williams' voice has no processing. Wash's voice has some chorusing and delay. To add the chorusing, he ran her voice track out of the DSE through the DSP4000 using program #7 from bank 3 "Stereo Chorus." He recorded the effected voice back into two new tracks of the DSE. For the delay, he used the "Clearmountain Delay" (bank 2, program 0). He reduced the delay time to match the beat of the music and sped up the decay time. To help keep the sound as close to the original as possible, Bill kept a copy of the original single in the CD player for comparisons.
Final touches in the song included cash register sfx on the beat in several places. A phone ring effect was placed under Freedom's rap about "dial K-T-U" to emphasize the phrase. Both these effects are from the Brown Bag RedLine library.
With the song assembled, it was time to produce the promo. The open sounder and other impact sounders are from RedLine. Randy Reeves is the v/o. Bill begins by recording all Randy's parts into the DSE. He then copies the parts he wants onto two alternating tracks to get a slight overlap in phrasing. Once he's happy with the final read he's assembled, he erases the raw tracks to free up the memory. He does end up moving and adjusting the phrasing to fit the music as the production develops.
To keep the v/o from sounding all the same, he adds EQ and effects from the Harmonizer to various phrases. While he does have the FX package on his DSE which gives him built-in reverbs, he still frequently uses the Harmonizer. He likes the mono compatibility of the Harmonizer compared to other boxes, and he's worked with the unit for a long time, so he knows how to get the effect he wants.
He sends the voice track out of the DSE through the Utility buss and records back into two tracks in stereo on the DSE. He uses a variety of programs from chorusing to pitch shifts to reverbs. He frequently uses the effected voice along with the straight read.
To add emphasis to the word "rich," he first copied the word onto another track. Then he fed that track out of the DSE through his EQ, then into the Harmonizer for reverb. He recorded this back onto two more tracks. Then he fed those two tracks out of the DSE again, through an auto panning program of the Harmonizer to really spread things out and fed it back into the DSE. Bill says, "it almost creates the effect of the word "rich" exploding at you."
There was some editing of the music bed at the open to have Reeves' v/o hit two posts. The first is right after Reeves says "...make you rich cash call." The v/o happened to end right at the end of a music phrase, so Bill edited in Wash's vocal. Right after that, Reeves says "whenever we play it...", and Williams' rap comes right in to finish the thought. Bill used the time-fit on the DSE to squeeze the v/o to fit this window.
Another fortunate timing of v/o and music occurred with the mention of the prize. There is a brief pause in the phrase "and win...$5000." Bill used this spot to edit in another change in the music bed. He also added a cash register effect from RedLine. He says this change in the bed helped draw attention to the prize without having to clutter up the promo with an additional sounder.
The spoken drops from Wash and Williams were on file from when 'KTU first signed on. He had to edit the "and" from another phrase onto the front of Wash's phrase "..and this is Martha Wash" to make it sound as if Martha and Freedom were in the studio together.
To include the excitement of a winner before the contest had even run, Bill had afternoon jock Bill Lee step into the production room to dummy up giving away the prize. The winner reaction is from another contest. He added some reverb with a plate reverb program from the Harmonizer to add some depth to these lines. He also boosted the midrange on Lee's line to help blend his sound with the "mid-rangy" sound of a phone caller's voice.
On the phrase, "gonna make you rich," you'll hear a stutter type effect on the word "gonna." Bill used his Prophet sampler for this. He recorded the phrase into his sampler. Middle C on the sampler keyboard then serves as the original pitch of the sample. Keys above and below that are the sampled sound pitched up or down. Striking and rapidly releasing a key gives you just a short piece of the sampled sound. To get this effect he simply played a rapid descending scale on the keyboard ending at middle C.
On the final mixdown he will compress the entire production at 8:1 with a low threshold to keep everything level.
Now that you know how he did it, check out his work on The Cassette. If you have questions or comments for Bill, call him at WKTU at 201/420-3732.
Next month, a station concert promo from Pro Tools disciple Jeff Berlin of WXKS/Boston.