Produced by Dot Da Genius
According to Da Genius, Kid Cudi came up with the lyrics and basic hook for ‘Day ’n Nite’ some time in 2007. “He has these ideas in his head, and often the lyrics written out, and a melody that he’s singing. During our time together his style has shifted from being a rapper to becoming more of a singer, and ‘Day ’n Nite’ is an example. When he sang the idea to me, I immediately said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ The chemistry between us was already really good by that stage, and I pretty much played and programmed the beats for the song there and then on the MV8000. The MV8000 was sync’ed to Pro Tools LE via MIDI, with Pro Tools as the master and the 8000 the slave. I played the different drum patterns in ‘Day ’n Nite’ individually, looping however many bars I wanted to loop, and then adding other things in. I had the MV8000 loaded with sounds from my own library, which I had been building up over the years by getting sounds from other producers, web sites, and so on.
“Once I had the beat programmed, I quantised it. I quantise a lot, because I like a strict feel. The drum track on ‘Day ’n Nite’ is very simple: there are only three tracks, kick, clap/snare and hi-hat, and once I was sure about the tempo, I immediately recorded the drums as audio, so it was locked in and I could start building the other elements of the song on it. I rarely stay in MIDI for long, I just use it to be able to keep time and avoid latency problems. After doing the drums, I added keyboards, using the Triton, Motif and Novation. The Motif was the main keyboard I used on the session because it was the most recent sound module I owned. The bass was a Moog sound from the Novation. Once I had all the instrumental tracks recorded in MIDI, and quantised the drums, I recorded everything as audio. At the time I still thought that I needed more keyboards if I wanted more sounds, but since then I’ve found out about soft synths and I am now using more VST Instruments than hardware.
“You can see all the beats and instrumental tracks in the Pro Tools LE beat window. It also includes four ‘chant’ tracks, which came from the extended outro in the original version: ‘yeah yeah’ [chanted] like a crowd. That outro came out of a mistake: I accidentally pressed shift and spacebar, which plays the song at half speed in Pro Tools, and we thought, ‘This is crazy, we have to implement this!’ So I time-stretched the beats to slow things down, and added some more synths from the Triton on top, which is ‘Synth 4’. It was good, but it was long, and by the time the single was ready to be pressed for vinyl, I was told that it was too long, so I had to cut it short. I did some drops [edits], and moved some of these ‘yeah yeah’ chants forwards.
“The instrumental tracks add up to 10 stereo tracks, and with the four ‘chant’ tracks I had reached Pro Tools LE’s maximum at the time, which was 24 tracks. So I mixed this session to a stereo pair, pasted them into a new Session, and recorded Cudi’s vocals into that. The finishing touch was the ‘Wha’ vocal, which was sung by my friend Lex, who I have since made my manager. Leaving the ‘chant’ tracks aside, there are 10 vocal tracks. Today I mix everything in one Session, of course, and I usually wait till I have every part of the track before I really start mixing. I throw effects on vocals during the recording, and focus on tweaking and adding the other effects after I have all parts of the song.”
Drums: Digirack Compressor, EQ & Expander/Gate
Da Genius: “Cudi likes very hard-sounding drums, so I usually compress them, and also add a gate just to help with the sound quality of the samples, ie. to get rid of some background noises. Almost all plug-ins I used on this session are the Digidesign ones that came with Pro Tools LE. At the time we were working on this Session I couldn’t afford to buy many other plug-ins, so I mostly just used what I had. In this case the Digidesign compressor beefs up the sound of the kick drum. Many people think that compressing is only for flattening your sound, but it can also make the sound larger. I also added some EQ with the Digidesign seven-band EQ to increase the low end of the kick, again to make it sound larger. I added just 2.4dB at 100Hz. I put a one-band EQ on the hi-hat to make sure it’s heard a bit better among the other sounds. Sometimes the hi-hat can drown among the other sounds, and when that happens it needs some help. In this case it was particularly important to make sure that the hi-hat cuts through, because the drums are so minimalist. The gate on the hi-hat also helped clean up the sound. Again, because the drums are so sparse, I wanted to make sure that they were really clean-sounding and present.”
Keyboards: Digirack Compressor & EQ
“The Novation Moog bass has some Digidesign compression on it, just like with the kick, to beef up the sound. I also added seven-band EQ, mainly boosting around 100-200Hz and dropping some highs, around 2500Hz. I added compression to the ‘Wind’ and ‘Keys’ tracks to help them sit better in the track. Some sounds do get a bit louder in a mix, and so you want them to sit right at a certain level, in which case I’ll compress them for that reason, in addition to using it to beef up the sound. The VCV plug-in on ‘Synth 2’ is called Vocal Chorus Spinner and is one of the few non-Digidesign plug-ins in the session. It adds a vocal chorus effect to the synth sound, panning it to both sides, so it makes it sound really full and wide. I experimented with it, but am not sure I used it in the mix.”
Antares’ Auto-Tune was used in its intended manner rather than as an effect, while the so-called ‘Wha’ vocal was dirtied up with the same company’s Tube plug-in.
Vocals: Digirack Compressor, EQ, De-esser, Delay & D-Verb, Antares Auto-Tune & Tube
“The four ‘Chant’ tracks on the beat window all have a compressor and one-band EQ. In fact, I put a high-pass filter on all that I recorded at Head Banga, because the booth we were recording in wasn’t treated, and the mic picked up a lot of low vibrations from the room next door. So the one-band EQ, cutting 6dB at 57.2Hz, is there to get rid of that. Cudi’s main vocals, ‘K-M’, have a Digidesign de-esser and a compressor on them. Again, I don’t compress heavily, I use it to really just shave off a couple of dB, to get the vocals to sit level with everything else.
“I also used Auto-Tune, just to keep Cudi on pitch. Cudi sings a lot on the tracks we do, and he’s a great singer, certainly a lot better than many other rappers that try to sing. I used Auto-Tune in moderation. It’s not necessary to have T-Pain-like vocals for someone who can actually sing, like Cudi. You can see on the screenshot that it is an older version of Auto-Tune, and I’ve blanked out ‘B’ and ‘C#’, because he doesn’t sing these notes. Even if you use it very subtly, Auto-Tune still has a sound, with that slight robotic vocoder-like effect, and I wanted Cudi’s vocals without any Auto-Tune effect in a couple of places, so I copied the ‘K-M’ track in these places to a track called ‘K-M.dup1’. There’s no Auto-Tune on that track, but all the other plug-ins are the same.
“The EQ on the four chorus vocal tracks, ‘C1’-‘C4’, is the same as on ‘K-M’. The compressor on these tracks is a little different. I compressed a bit more on the chorus vocals. Auto-Tune is again there to keep Cudi’s vocals in check. ‘Day ’n Nite’ is a very singalong record, and the vocals needed to sound very effortless and right. On the ‘Wha’ track I have the Antares Tube plug-in, which an engineer I was working with at the time recommended to me. To be honest, I’d never used it until I did ‘Day ’n Nite’. I wanted a very ‘hot’ effect, and it worked well. When my manager did that vocal, it sounded way too clean. So the vocal is heavily treated by the Tube plug-in, giving it the effect as if it’s a signal coming from a radio, or a very bad speaker. One of the delays at the bottom of the Edit window was created specifically for the ‘Wha’ track, with the Extra Long Delay plug-in, and the other delay was for the chorus vocal, with slightly less delay. The reverb on the ‘Reverb’ Aux track is very subtle. I didn’t want the track to sound too saturated with reverb.”
Master: Digirack Compressor
“‘Master 1’ was the mixdown track. I mixed back to Pro Tools, because it was all I had. I used a compressor on the final mix, to make the mix sound a little bit more beefy. That was all I felt was necessary. The session began as 16-bit, 44.1kHz, because I was not running a very fast PC and didn’t have a lot of memory, so I had to be space- and speed-conservative. But by the time I balanced it, which was a bit later, it was 24-bit. What happened was that we initially were going to turn over the Pro Tools Session to a professional mixer, because I was not that experienced in mixing at the time. But I was asked to do it, and I took my time, and I trusted my ears, and everyone seems to like the result so far.” @ http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct09/articles/it_1009.htm