Written by: Alexander Hume
We at Big Slide are always itching to know how our artists create such beautifully complex songs. With our “Behind the Process” blog series, we inch one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the meticulously technical yet fluid sounding production of the talented artists on our roster. Last month we were lucky enough to have Kody Ryan share his secrets with us just before the release of his vibrant single “Hands On” with Justin Hartinger.
For the second installation of our series we chatted with another spectacular Big Slide producer, singer, and songwriter, Trevor Whitney. Going by his stage name Ruely, Whitney is known for his impressive range in both vocals and production. In the midst of finalizing his upcoming EP, Whitney spoke with us regarding his long history as an artist and the future of Ruely.
What role has music played in your life from childhood to now?
Music is my memory. It’s car rides with my dad to sports practice. It’s my first crush and my first heartbreak. It symbolizes all the times when I thought “my life is over” but chose to power through it. When I create music, if I don’t cry at least once while making the song, it doesn’t mean enough to me to release it. It has to accurately represent how I feel enough to evoke those emotions in myself and other people.
How did you get into music production?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had noises and songs playing non-stop inside of my head. Music found its way into my life very early because it was a way for me to bring these sounds to life. In high school I would sing at open mics and play guitar at whatever events I could. Everything happened so organically that I can’t really tell you a moment in my life when I didn’t refer to myself as a musician. Throughout the years I was introduced to an eclectic catalogue of music and inspirations which led me one direction, then the next.
It was during my second year in college that I started actually recording my voice and releasing electronic music on SoundCloud. Before that, I would make melodies and sounds using FL Studio for fun with no idea that I could do anything with it. I still had this aching feeling that drew me in every time I made a song though. So I didn’t stop.
Your singing voice is both well trained and unique- what other singers have inspired your voice? How have you trained and how do you maintain your instrument?
When I first started singing it was for fun, at the time I listened to a lot of Two Door Cinema Club, The Head and the Heart, Bon Iver, The Shins, Broken Bells, and Blind Pilot. I spent lots of time singing their songs throughout high school, locking myself away with my guitar until I could hit all the notes and harmonies. I had a few friends that I would sing and harmonize with after school.
Fun fact, I won the school talent show for singing Drake’s ‘Hold On We’re Coming Home’. I think what did it was my recorder solo in the middle. I was asked to join choir during my Senior year of high school and continued on to do a year of that and then vocal lessons in college. The lessons helped me double my vocal range and control, along with improving my confidence. Today, I keep my singing voice in control by singing whenever I can. In the shower, in the car, in my studio, anywhere.
Who are some of your other musical inspirations?
In my first years of college, Thomston spoke to me like no other singer/songwriter. He was the first very underrated artist that I fell in love with. His lyrics were so sincere and made me feel so much emotion. His productions were so simple yet complex. That’s when I realized, “I can do that.”
I spend lots of time working on creating effective chords after growing up listening to Deadmau5. Point Point is another recent inspiration to me in that sense. I typically begin songs in Ableton creating chords for the verses, the bridge, and the chorus.
I try to use my vocals for as many effects as possible to create my own sound. I got that inspiration from Jon Bellion. Usually you’ll notice my breathing as a way to push my energy into a track. I love to sing choir in the background of a lot of my tunes, and chorus melodies are usually made out of my vocals.
Another huge inspiration to me is James Blake. He is one of those electronic producers who knows exactly how to get the listener to feel the immense emotion he puts into his productions. Similar to Bon Iver, I strive to achieve that level of emotion in my own indie electronic style.
What’re your three go-to pieces of gear (digital or analog) for making for music?
The three constant tools I use when making music are my NT1-a microphone, my Arturia Keystep Midi Keyboard (its small and easy to play melodies on compared to my AKAI MPK249), and any DAW with any wavetable synth; preferably Massive or Serum. I also use Splice to download sounds on the spot. That has helped my workflow quite a bit by allowing me to search and download samples as I work. Ableton Live has been my favorite DAW to use.
What is your favorite part about being a musician?
The only thing that can get me out of a funk is remembering how my art has touched and will continue to touch other’s lives. I will always make music as long as I live, but hearing that something that I made brought someone out of a tough time makes me tear up and get all emotional. Nothing tops the feeling of making another human feel good.
What can we expect from Ruely in 2018?
I have a bunch of songs ready to release as Ruely this year. I plan on releasing my EP before summer. I am so excited about it. I just want to make sure it’s a perfect representation of my feelings before it’s released.
We want to extend a huge thanks again to Ruely for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us a glimpse of his musical life. We are already eagerly awaiting his new music, which is set to release this spring. Who do you want to see featured in our next “Behind the Process”? Let us know in the comments below.