Studio Campfire Stories: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “Count To Five” (feat. Gwen Bunn)

Gwen Bunn

The story of “Count To Five” begins in my car while sitting at a red light. The music was turned off, as it often is as I drive… As odd as that may sound for a musician, the quiet in the car allows my mind plenty of room to race. Therefore, when I hear something that sounds good in my head I can immediately pick up my phone and record those thoughts into its voice memo. Well, that’s exactly what happened in this case. For some reason I kept hearing a drum pattern in a 5/4 time signature – meaning simply five counts per measure (see The Foreign Exchange’s “All Roads” for example). This was kinda crazy because at that time I had never composed a joint in five before so I was already excited about what the song had the potential to become. So I ended up putting my phone up to my mouth and literally beatboxed the drum pattern I kept hearing in my head so that I wouldn’t forget it and could work with it later. A day or so afterward, I created the drums to sound completely IDENTICAL to the voice memo I recorded in the car (I still have the voice memo in the archives too – I may post it one day). Musically, I had no idea where I wanted to go with it……. So I proceeded to play around on the keys for a bit. No more than five minutes later, I started playing what ended up becoming the intro piece of the song. It was different, but I loved how it sounded. It reminded me almost of some 80’s New Wave stuff. Once that part fell into place, the piece that wound up becoming the verses and the hooks came instantly. Going from that intro to what became the hook sounded craaaaaaazy – the contrast was huge, but it made SO much sense to me. When I laid everything out and began recording, the sound took an even more interesting turn once the different elements were added. Layering the wah-wah guitars at the beginning over top of the keys, over top of the brand new Moog Minitaur synth bass module I picked up a couple of months prior to recording this music in 5/4 gave me a sound that I had never created before. This was a song that even while laying it down felt like creative growth right there in the studio… Now THAT is a helluva thing.

Once all of the music was recorded… I hit up Phonte, then sent him the joint. Maaaaan, he turned that shit around in less than a day with all of the lyrics written and a recorded reference. I can remember him telling me in a brief conversation soon after, “Man, I’ve got something for this one already.” He sent that final back to me and we got on the phone buggin’ OUT – The joint was a WINNER. He already had someone in mind to record the final vocals for us and proceeded to reveal who it was via this track from Darryl Reeves’ ridiculously dope album Mercury (which I attempted to buy in May while I was in Atlanta but Moods Music was sold out of it!!!) with a sweet-voiced singer named Gwen Bunn on it. The song was called “Every Time I See You.” I was like… “Yoooooooo, get her on it!” He ended up sending her the reference track, instrumental and the written lyrics and she said that she would have something within a couple of days. …Sure enough, she returned with a raw recorded version that may have even been done via laptop. It definitely wasn’t gonna be the final version, but we knew that she was what the song needed – she sounded dope over the music. About a week or so later, she was in NC recording the final vocals with Phonte. Then to find out that Gwen is only 21/22 years old?! Sheeeeit man, she’s only beginning!!! At the time that this story was written, I still have yet to actually meet her in person to thank her for acting a fool on this joint, but we follow each other on Twitter and tweet sometimes… In 2013, that qualifies as the same thing, right? ….Maybe not? *shrug*  ……Haha.

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