Photo: courtesy of artist
Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio
Hamlin reflects on the complex relationship between artist and producer, and shares an experience that taught her to leave extra room for creativity in her recording sessions.
Nashville fixture Jordan Brooke Hamlin has produced records for artists including Danni Nicholls, Missy Higgins, Rachel Yamagata, and GRAMMY-winning duo Indigo Girls — and she's been a multi-instrumentalist and a touring and studio musician for more than a decade and a half.
Indeed, music is in Hamlin's blood, as she explains in this episode of Behind the Board.
"My parents loved music so much, and that I think is such a gift," she says, speaking from the residential, women-owned Nashville studio Møxe. "I honestly don't remember a time that it wasn't a given that I would do music. Or musician and botanist. Those were the two options in my mind."
Inspired by her parents' musical tastes, Hamlin grew up loving the immersive albums of the late 1960s and early '70s — and today, she applies that holistic approach to her studio work.
"I really love working with artists over the course of their career and exploring different spaces and different depths they can go to every time," she explains. "I probably come into the room starting with curiosity. I'm wanting to get their GPS coordinates. I want to know where they are, what they love right now, what they loved growing up, what their sauce is."
She's also always learning, thanks largely to the creative minds she surrounds herself with when she steps into a recording session. For example, she points to one session with a group of artists, when the team started improvising an arrangement in real time.
"We're coming up with this incredible arrangement on the fly," Hamlin recounts, "and we were talking about how that's a risk, to not go in with an arrangement, and only in a certain space would it be like, 'Yeah, let's take an hour' — which was probably what it would have taken anyway to record it — and everybody had so much fun."
"I thought it was a good reminder to me to leave space not just for engineering, but we're here to capture people playing their instruments to a high degree, and their creativity manifest," she concludes.
Press play on the video above for more reflections and insights from Hamlin, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Courtesy of Gina Chavez
Behind The Board: How Gina Chavez's Process Allows Her To "Sink Into Creativity"
For independent Latin folk artist Gina Chavez, greatness is defined by fully expressing yourself creatively — and as she reveals, that mentality has been the key to her success.
The peak of Latin folk singer Gina Chavez's creativity traces back to the beginning of her career — before there was any pressure from big-time executives.
"The 'ignorance is bliss' kind of vibe allowed me to do what I felt called to do," Chavez reveals in this episode of Behind the Board. "At this point in my career, I'm trying to get back to that space. I realize what a blessing that was to be in a moment where I was just like, 'Let's do this. Who cares?'"
These days, Chavez's creative process begins with the rhythm or a "vibe," which she explains could be a chord progression or beat. Through this method, she created her 2020 effort, La Que Manda, which checked off a few of Chavez's goals: release a full-length project in Spanish, and qualify for the GRAMMYs and Latin GRAMMYs — all while building a community with her music.
Chavez received a Best Pop/Rock Album nomination at the 2020 Latin GRAMMYs, where she reconnected with peers she's met throughout her career — with whom she remains in touch with today. "We're constantly reaching out about new music," she says. "It's a beautiful community, which to me is what the Recording Academy is all about."
Over the years, Chavez has realized that having the courage to put music out in the world is the most beautiful part, regardless of the success. "If you're a creator and put yourself out there, that's great. That's the kind of greatness we need," she proclaims. "You never know who you're going to connect with. We all need someone to shine, so we can know that we, too, are bright."
Press play on the video above to learn more about Gina Chavez's relationship with music, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.
Photo: Courtesy of CHYL
Behind The Board: How Avicii Inspired CHYL To Leave Finance For A Full-Time Career In Music
After realizing her career in finance wasn't fulfilling, CHYL decided to take up music production casually — until Avicii's unexpected passing taught her one important lesson: life is too short not to pursue your passion.
When Chinese-Canadian music producer CHYL heard EDM for the first time after coming to North America, "a fire ignited" in her body.
Despite realizing her passion, CHYL opted for a career on Wall Street after graduating from Columbia University. "I hated it so much," she says with a hearty laugh. "In my second year of finance, I figured I really should start picking up some hobbies outside of finance."
From there, CHYL began taking DJ lessons casually and grew a deep appreciation for production. Though it wasn't until her idol, Avicii, passed away that she realized it was time to pursue music full-time.
"He was who I listened to a lot back in the day," she explains in this episode of Behind The Board. "Life is short. You have to pursue what you love to do. If you don't, who knows what's going to happen? You have to go for your passion."
After five years of making music, CHYL has perfected her process. First, she finds a vocal slice for the foundation of her music. Then, she works on finding emotion and energy. And most importantly, she doesn't overthink any of it.
"Sometimes it's the most simple and catchy thing that goes viral. It's a constant battle that makes something similar and catchy or something that shows off all your production skills in one song. It's a balance," she adds.
Above all, she always strives to make songs that stick. "A great song is memorable," she says. "Some of the songs that go viral on TikTok may or may not be great songs, but they're very memorable and catchy."
Press play on the video above to learn more about CHYL's musical journey, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind The Board.
Photo: Courtesy of GALE
Behind The Board: How A Guitar Lesson Turned GALE's Musical Dreams Into A Professional Career
Latin pop singer GALE has always been naturally drawn to music. But after a fateful guitar lesson and a songwriting workshop, she turned her passion into a profession.
"I've always been connected and surrounded by music. I basically grew up in a music house," she explains in this episode of Behind the Board. But when a school friend taught her how to play guitar, she found her "superpower" in writing songs.
At 16, her stepfather took her to a songwriting workshop. Though she admits she was "freaking out" at the time, the class and her stepfather's encouragement helped her realize that music was her true passion — and she had no choice but to take it seriously.
Now, GALE has mastered her songwriting style. "When I'm writing for myself, it usually comes from a very vulnerable or scary place. It's like I'm opening a portal to my feelings," she detailed. It's an approach she also used in her latest single, "La Mitad," a song about understanding a relationship has reached an end.
"The process changes every time, but I try to be honest with myself and not hold back from saying things how I want to say them because it's scary," GALE reveals. "It's like, 'Maybe I shouldn't say that.' When I think about that, it's like, 'Maybe I should say that because I'm thinking I shouldn't say that.'"
For GALE, the key to songwriting is being honest, because a great record is about connecting with listeners and making them feel something — and that's exactly the heart of her new album, Lo Que No Te Dije.
Press play on the video to hear more about GALE's creative process, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.