Brilliant Shower artwork by Shawn Atkins
Each time I record a new song, I try to push myself and experiment with an element of the composition. With Uncanny, every element was an experiment.
The idea for Uncanny came from a song I sampled for one of my beats called Click Clack. The sample featured Hawaiian percussion that sounded like a combination of wood sticks and stomping.
I loved the chaotic beauty of that Hawaiian rhythm and I wanted to emulate the sound with my drum machine. After playing around for a couple of hours, I cobbled together a loop that I liked. This was the first time I used electronic drums to capture the sound of a different artist's recording.
After that, I created a few simple drum loops with some deep knock to act as foundation for the track. But when it came time to lay down the bass, I was stumped. I had no idea what to do. Playing along with the beat sounded like crap.
I decided to work against the beat and use the bass as a syrupy accent, droning through the main riff until the very end of the loop when it sped up and matched the rhythm of the digital sticks for a few brief moments.
Then shit got real weird. I plugged my acoustic guitar into the compressor mic input on my microKORG synthesizer and ran it through a vocoder setting. I loved the haunting, robotic moan it produced. Mixed with another mic to pick up the natural tone of the guitar, I knew I had the sound I wanted for my song.
Buuuuuttt... I had no clue what to play. Without any distinct ideas for a melody, I looped the drums and bass for about 10 minutes, hit record, and improvised some bluesy licks.
At the time of the recording, I didn't care for any of the melodies that I caught on tape. But when I went back to the song a few days later with a fresh set of ears, I easily selected my favorite moments to become the funky loops of Uncanny.
INTERMISSION! Uncanny on SoundCloud:
Proud of my experiment, I put Uncanny up on my MySpace page (it was 2005 -- that's how we did things back then). A few months later, I moved from Brooklyn back to Pittsburgh and began to aggressively hunt MCs to buy my beats.
I never ended up selling any because I didn't know what the hell I was doing when it came to business, but I sheepishly gave a free master copy of Uncanny to a Pittsburgh rapper named Ron Noodles. We were buds at the time but had a falling out not long after, and -- as far as I know -- Ron never rhymed over the track.
Fast-forward two years later and I launched my podcast website, the AudioShocker. I decided to use Uncanny as the theme song to our flagship podcast series and it stuck. Even when I changed the theme for a few months, I had to go back to Uncanny because by then it'd become the sound of our show.
NEXT: The final song on Brilliant Shower is... electronic punk?!?