Studio Campfire Stories: ‘Tales From the Land Of Milk and Honey’ Edition – “Truce”

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Have you ever been in a “groove”, let’s say …in the gym before? Where you aren’t missing days, the workouts are feeling good to you and there’s progress in the fact that you’re starting to see some results? That basically describes where Nicolay and I were for this song. We had gotten into a great routine in the studio, so much so that I feel like we were ZONING when this one was made. The “introduction” process felt looong gone with the creation of both “Milk and Honey” and “Work It To the Top” back-to-back in our very first session only a couple days prior. Then by day two, we really started to figure out how one another worked in and around the studio. I mean, just how freely our ideas bounced back and forth was incredible – not necessarily the amount of ideas, but the fact that the ones we had WORKED almost every single time. Damn near everything we tried sounded dope to us, which is a helluva motivator in my book. If I remember correctly, that second day we ended up knocking out three instrumentals, none of which happened to make the album… BUT we were excited to have five brand new, fully-composed songs at the end of just two marathon studio sessions. Ironically enough, before these sessions I NEVER drank coffee…

Oh my, how times have changed.

We started working on “Truce” during studio day number three… Funny thing is, we were so in a rhythm at the time that this was made that I honestly can’t even remember what element came first. I WANT to say that Nic put the drums together for it to set everything off. Now, I’ve always felt that if used correctly, the Maestro Rhythm King MRK-2 drum machine sounds can provide a simplistic yet potent backbone to your music… Hell, just ask Sly Stone (“If You Want Me To Stay”, “Family Affair”, “In Time” etc.) or Larry Graham and Graham Central Station (“The Jam”). As Nic got into “mad scientist” mode preparing and programming those drums, I sat down on the Rhodes and worked through a three-bar chord progression that seemed to complement what he was doing and that piece ended up becoming the intro and the hook. Since we always like to keep it interesting with changes and transitions, I came up with a verse part and then an ending, which I separated… First recording the Rhodes keys for the chords and then picking up the bass guitar to record that part. I then added the synth line that you hear in the beginning as well as the hooks (once again, the Moog Little Phatty came through in the CLUTCH). The closing progression was important, why? Because we wanted to make the end of this song as BIG as possible. It made sense, the music felt somber… but pretty. Taking it out on a higher level of energy than the majority of the song was definitely the move. So we continued to layer and add everything from pads, atmosphere, swell strings and even some arpeggiated noise for the hooks and ending. At ONE point, there was even a “phaser” sound that came from one of the keyboards (starts at 3:07) that lasts throughout the duration of the song. In the original instrumental, that ending is a solid minute, plus….. and the phaser rides aaaaall the way through. It was a really dope addition and 100% accidental. ….at least I THINK it was.

This song got real when Phonte wrote to it and sent it back with them recorded vocals on it… My initial reaction was, “COME on, bruh…” Up to that point, after touring with her for over a year I was really only familiar with Tamisha Waden’s LIVE vocals. Hearing her own this recorded verse for the first time, I DAMN near called her out of concern like…

“Ayo, Tamisha, you alright?! I don’t know what the hell happened, but It’ll be okay… Trust me on this.”

Her vocals sounded very genuine. To me, It sounded like she was singing through TEARS. I loved it, the texture was perfect. I’m sure she has received more than a couple texts from reaching out to her about hanging in there or some shit since this record has been released. Phonte was writing about something damn near everyone who has had any type of relationship can relate to… Finally getting on the same page, pushing the pride to the side, possibly humbling yourself, throwing up the white flag and calling a …Truce. Whether it’s to “start over” on the right foot in a relationship, to keep the peace in a co-parenting situation, or perhaps to even keep from catching a case in the workplace… we have all been in these places at one time or another. Overall, it sounded like our creative zone carried over to what Phonte and Tamisha were doing in Raleigh because between the subject matter, Tamisha murdering her solo parts and those ending harmonies they sang together??!!?

“Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiit” © Clayton LeMarcus Davis.

Another win for +FEMusic.

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