How to album | Music producer Vlad Tavaniuk
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022. Missiles rained over major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv.
Vlad’s son Damir was born on 24th February 2022 in Kyiv.
The birth of a child is a major event for a family. The birth of a child on the same day your country is invaded would’ve led to intense, unimaginable stress.
However, Vlad navigated this like a boss and eventually took his partner and child to safety.
His calm demeanour and his ability to figure things have extended to his professional life as a musician, a sound designer, producer, and someone who creates all kinds of music. His skills and his energy made him an amazing person to work with, and he is responsible for the melody and beats on the album.
Before I was lucky enough to get to work with Vladyslav Tavaniuk, I did many different things to get music and beats to go with my words. I’d figured out how to write lyrics. Music turned out to be a different beast altogether.
I purchased an AKAI MPK Midi player, connected it to GarageBand and began learning how to make backing tracks. All those videos you see of people effortlessly making beats that sound exactly like The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”? That’s clever editing and tons of hard work in the background.
While my knowledge of music theory and of playing the guitar and bass was enough to give me a starting point for a melody, my experience was nowhere close to creating backing tracks on my own. My tastes and aspirations for what my sound should be like significantly exceeded my ability.
I reached out to a few people and began conversations that didn’t go too far. I had to knock on many doors that didn’t open up before deciding to use Upwork to find someone who could make the beats. I put out a listing and received almost seventy five responses.
What I’d like from this project:
Create 5 tracks for a hip-hop album.
Like listening to Nas, Common, Wu Tang, Biggie and other old school hip-hop and rap.
Are interested in creating beats and producing music.
Are well versed with DAW tools / music instruments and have a good ear.
I’d like to put my work out there. I like rap, philosophy and telling stories through spoken word.
How we will work:
I will share the track lyrics and give you a general direction of what I’d like it to sound like. If you have your own ideas and inputs, I am glad to hear them, especially if you are a hip-hop fan yourself.
We can meet virtually for 30 minutes each week / stay connected via email.
What I’d like to know from you:
What is your background in music / music production?
What is your preferred working style? What project milestones work for you?
What do you want to get out of this project for yourself?
In what format would you like to share the track output?
If this goes well, for my next project, I would like to record in a studio and then get my tracks mixed and mastered.
Vlad’s reply stood out among the rest. He shared a couple of samples of his work and we connected well in conversation. He was also an extremely nice and kind person. I’ve found this to be one of the things that makes me gravitate towards people.
When I refer to someone as nice, I don’t consider them as pushovers or people willing to bend over backwards. When Vlad and I didn’t align on certain things, we had ways in which to resolve things respectfully and with candour through open conversation. There was always a willingness to do the right thing to get to something that sounded right for the tracks.
Our process was that I provided Vlad with the lyrics, with the BPM (beats per minute / track tempo) and some reference tracks that sounded like what I had in mind for my song. Sometimes I’d provide some reference melody from my midi player. Vlad would come up with a sample, after which we worked back and forth. He then expanded on each track. The final bit was to make subtle changes, cut the beats for a punchline or to add some flourishes such as drum rolls or record scratch sounds.
Vlad and I communicated asynchronously. It was easy to mention the timestamp / bar number when I wanted tweaks and modifications and Vlad worked his magic on them.
There are many subtle touches Vlad provided to each track that make for great listening. For instance, I am drawn to the strings arrangement in “Grown Up”, the strings and the piano keys in “Pale Blue Dot”, the programming of the drums and bass in “A Billion Seconds” and in “Bye Bye Bye Anxiety”, all of them make me want to listen to the instrumental tracks because they have so much colour and depth to them.
I haven’t yet met Vlad in person, though when I do, I owe him a big hug. Working remotely during Covid in 2020 / 21 turned out to be a blessing – it made our collaboration smooth because I had already understood how to work effectively while being far away.
Someday, the lessons we learnt from this pandemic will help us communicate and collaborate better when we become a multi-planetary species.
The easiest track Vlad and I worked on was “Unplug Me”. He had a sample version ready in a day. The minute I heard it, I knew this was it. I probably sent Vlad a ton of heart emojis in delight. What you hear on the album is an expanded version of his initial sample that fit all 10 min 43 seconds of the track.
The one that took the most time was “Pale Blue Dot”. All because I wasn’t able to find something that felt right. I requested Vlad to work through two other versions before we landed on this music and these beats, that go from simple and minimalist to grand and orchestral through the song.
Thank you Vladyslav Tavaniuk. Thank you for your talent, your kindness and your patience in working with me. For your resilience, for the way in which you keep the music within you going. For the way you kept my dream of releasing an album going. Without you, this album would not exist.
If you would like to work with Vlad, he can be found as TAVAmusic. If you want, I can put you in touch. Please write to me at conversation at thoughtbrownie dot com.