By: Mitchell Treend
In the past week, two of our favorite producers came together for something major. Bill Day (Mr. Bill) and Dylan a.k.a. ill.Gates have released a brand new track, “Harmonica Lewinsky” and it is everything you hope it would be and so much more.
Not only does the song itself combine the two irresistible flavors of ill.Gates and Mr. Bill’s unique styles but premieres alongside it, an even more interesting endeavor.
Some of you may be familiar with the live streaming service Twitch. For those unaware, it provides an accessible platform for individuals to live-cast video of just about anything. For many performing artists, it gives them an opportunity to share the more intimate and technical aspects of their creative process.
As the production of “Harmonica Lewinsky” began, Mr. Bill, through Twitch provided a complete, unadulterated account of the tracks composition. Clocking in at over 60 hours of footage, fans and production enthusiasts can dig into the nitty gritty of just exactly how these two artists go about creating a track. As generous as this may seem, the sentiment comes as more of a natural part of the creative process for Bill, while giving the chance to others to gain some unique insight into the more technical aspects of music production. We were so interested in the “Hows” and “Whys” of this whole package that we took the time to chat with Bill about the intention behind it all.
The Untz: First off, this is a major contribution to a growing culture of independent artists, what impact are you hoping to provide the fans and viewers who check out these videos?
Mr. Bill: Assuming you're talking about the streams we did and shared post-collab, I guess I'm more streaming and doing this kinda thing for myself first and foremost, but I do love that other people are starting to become really interested in it. It's definitely nice to have interactivity with other humans while you're writing, too. Often they can shed a new perspective that you never thought of or something. If I had to hope of any type of impact to have on people though, I guess it's be to inspire them to go down their own creative paths and make their own cool stuff.
The Untz: Do you think this will give rise to an army of Mr. Bill.Gates copycats? What's the end game with giving up your deepest, darkest studio secrets?
I doubt it'll breed copycats; I just don't think the sound is popular enough to entice enough people to start doing this kind of thing. Take something like Skrillex for example. I think the amount of fame and fortune that he saw so early on inspired a lot of people to do that kind of thing, because it was clear there was an infrastructure behind it in terms of shows, releases, etc. Whereas I feel like with our sound, there's not so much, and unfortunately money and popularity seems to be what inspires a lot of people to write music these days. Of course, I'm not saying everyone is this way, I give our fans more credit than that, but if an army is what you're talking about, I doubt it'll go quite that far, and if it does, I'd honestly be stoked with that! Replication is the biggest form of flattery, in a way.
The Untz: This idea creates a much more democratic atmosphere around production, was this a joint brainchild? Or did one of you approach the other with the concept?
Mr. Bill: Well, Dylan I think was the one who initially kinda put his foot down and was like "OK, I'm flying out to Denver for a week, let's do this once and for all", then it was my idea to stream the whole thing on Twitch (a platform Dylan hadn't heard of at the time), because, I feel like Twitch is the new YouTube basically, it's such a good website, and just has such a monopoly on the entire streaming thing.
Since then, I think Dylan has been streaming a bit more. Obviously we saved the videos from our stream (which is around 60 hours of footage of us in the studio grinding away at this tune), and then finally we kinda came up with the release plan together.
I think it was my idea to tier the release in this way though, where the track is free, then the stems are $10, the project file is $20, then the videos are $30 (and of course, each higher tier includes the content from the previous tier).
The Untz: Without giving too much away, these videos go quite in depth into your studio process. Did you leave anything out? Or is this the raw uncut version?
Mr. Bill: This is definitely the raw uncut version. I don't believe in censorship of any sort. Basically because of this sorta shit.
This is definitely a belief I've had from a young age, but this article I came across recently pretty eloquently conveys the idea. I don't think this idea stops with college's though (although that's where a great deal of the pretentious wankers reside), I think it's spreading through society.
Inevitably music becomes a business, artists deserve to be compensated for the service they provide to the collective soul of our society. In many respects, democratizing the production process in a similar vein to this project, allows for undeveloped creatives to gain precious nuggets of wisdom that can sprout a new successful artistic endeavor. What Bill says is very true. Without a so-called “infrastructure” behind a style or popular vibe, most budding artists can’t find the thrust they need to propel spirit into action. In this case I think, and I hope the artists would agree, that those individuals inspired by this gesture would create and share something truly creative and unique, not for the potential monetary gains, but for the advancement of art and the fight against ideological mediocrity.
“Harmonica Lewinsky” is not only a stellar track, ripe with the tight, well developed production techniques of each artists, it is a glimpse into the raw side of what being an artist takes and why some can remain successful outside of the tight frame of uber-corporate pop-music. For all the details and a free download of this track head over to the Mr. Bill, or Ill Gates website and try your luck at navigating the labyrinth that is their creative genius.
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