“Liquid Crystal Woman” is a song about a camgirl. In this post, I’m going to spill the seeds on not only the origin of the song but also specific techniques and moves I used to create it.
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The Foot of a Liquid Crystal Woman
This song started off as a writing exercise. There’s a series of books by Berklee Press called The Songwriter’s Workshop which includes harmony and melody installments; which are the ones I have. In them, one of the lessons talks about the “stutter” effect. If you’re a Classical musician then you’ll know this as ‘expansion via internal repetition’. Well-known examples from popular songs include: “Don’t Stand so Close To Me” and “Bad to The Bone”, among others.
Lyrically, the song is about the contrasting relationships a streamer or adult cam model might sustain at any given moment. Specifically, we’re looking at the contrast between the alphas and the simps. You know which one you are, I don’t need to tell you. 🙂
People have always wanted what they can’t have and what’s less obtainable than an image on your computer screen? Sure, if you work hard and save your pennies you can have a shot at anyone you want. In reality, however, you have who you have and who you’re beating it to will never be part of your inner circle. Hate to bear the bad news.
In all seriousness, the verses outline how you have your pants down but then after you get off and she logs off she then goes and fights with her boyfriend. See, it’s not all bad – you get to drool at the cake but not eat around the mold. Naturally, the boyfriend is bragging during the bridge but maybe he’s overcompensating; who knows.
Tuning the Crystal Set
From a musical perspective, this one was a bit of a stretch for me. A gaping stretch, if you will (and I do hope you will). One of my last tracks, Guan Day, left me a bit blue-balled. I mean this in the sense that it’s just a glorified loop, all told. Given that one of the main reasons “finished tracks” can be so engaging to listen to is because of how they unfold over time, one of my goals going into this project was to have substantial musical development.
I did this in a number of ways but the primary one was by way of changing the harmony. Y’see, harmony is a funny thing because while it can alter the feel of a song, few listeners notice it much. Being honest, I’m not yet at the level of subtle mastery that such musicians like Donald Fagen have attained but I think I switched it up nice. The different voicings and inversions are most noticeable in the tagline “liquid crystal woman…” in the choruses but pay attention between the verses and bridge to hear development there as well.
But what is harmony if not layered melody? Nothing, right – good answer. A fun technique I’ve heretofore not exploited much is changing the “head” of the verses to create contrast. What I mean by this is that the first few notes of a phrase are like the stem cells of a musical line. By changing only these, you can go from a subtle alteration within a sequence all the way to a stark sectional change in the work’s form. In “Liquid Crystal Woman”, I emphasized a subtle contrast at the start of each verse. Go back and listen for that if you’re into the craft of songwriting.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: you can absolutely produce in headphones. With mixing and mastering, your mileage may vary but I produced about all of this track using my Linsoul 7Hz Salnotes Zero IEMs.
These are semi-Harman tuned and have EQ correction curves courtesy of Oratory1990 for maximum accuracy. Now that I think of it, I might’ve used my Etymotic ER2SE but the Linsoul’s are cheaper and I’m using them most often now. Either will do the job but I like IEMs over headphones for their lower distortion and price.
Start at the End
That said, and having said a lot so far, let’s listen to some examples of this track as it developed. First I want to play the fourth and final chorus of the fully-mastered version as it appears in the video:
Lowest Common Womanizer
If you played the video then this should sound familiar to you. This song didn’t start like this. Oh no! Several years ago, when my belly was much smaller, I came up with this nebulous fantasy of an idea to flesh out that basic “stutter” technique:
For whatever reason, I had a hard time making musical sense of this. When it’s all mushy and untuned like this, it sounds neat. Trying to recreate such a cacophony is neigh-on impossible once you try to pin down exact notes. Still, I thought it was a neat idea and it rang in my head for many months.
The easiest part of producing this track was recreating the drum loop. It’s just straight 808 samples, although there was that delay on the cowbell that I liked. Regardless, you need more than a drum loop for a finished track. Using that as a backbone, I played with a synth sound to develop other sections and harmonies. Check out this rough sequence of drums, a prototype of the solo and a rough prechorus:
Beyond this, it was your standard trial-and-error of developing harmonies and trying out ideas to see what would work. It took me quite a bit of this “throwing spaghetti on a wall” to end up with the final version.
Once Liquid Crystal Woman Logs Off
This was a song that took me many years to complete, though the time I spent was non-contiguous. Since I hadn’t put out a song that I sang on for several years, that was something I was certain I wanted to include. Of course, my previous musical attempts left me unsatisfied so I took it out on this song by whipping up some (to me) novel harmonies.
I didn’t go at all into the idea behind this video. Part of that is because I don’t consider myself much of a visual artist. Look at this video, maybe you don’t either! 🙂 If I had to say something I’d say, “Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards.” Details withheld to protect the innocent (NSFW).
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