Each week on STEMS we ask an artist to break it down for us. By stripping one of their tracks down to its individual components (known as stems), we get a rare glimpse into the artist's production process.
This week's STEMS features New York City genre-bender Spirit Guide. His Intimacy EP is a follow-up to last year's delightful Holo C EP, out next month on Ounce Records. The EP's first single, "Bronze," is a new look for the young producer, a feelings-soaked late-night cut that unfolds slowly with horns and haunting synths over a warm house groove.
Read below as Spirit Guide breaks this burner down into a few crucial elements:
This was the first element of the track that really started my process. I'd been fooling around with different synths and samples and junk. Finally, I worked up to this kind of "safari horn sound." It has a really tangible feeling; I'm really in love with sounds that create a space. I think this achieved that.
After the horn I started to get the notion of using sound to create a room for it to exist in. I focused on making something expansive to give a sense of place within an environment. As I kept working, I minimized this space to achieve something more familiar—that's really where the synths and drums came in.
I knew I wanted this track to have a beat, but everything I was approaching sounded too mechanical. I hate when there's a clear correlation between how you build something and what it turns into. So, I started building them out of recordings I had lying around, trying to avoid anything familiar. In reality there's a bunch of stuff in there, but I tried to move past literal things. Instead, I stole an aspect of their physicality without showing outright where it originated.
I worked these in to give the song warmth. I think this chord progression hits an emotional note, and that's why I love it so much. I was trying to stir feelings that those beautiful lonely trance tracks give you. Hopefully it gets you there. Was lucky enough to have Ama from the UK remix the track as well.
Put them all together and here's what you get. The premiere of "Bronze" by Spirit Guide:
Spirit Guide press photo courtesy of Annick Thomas.