UTG TRACK-BY-TRACK: The Kickdrums – ‘Breathe Again’

The Kickdrums

Alex Fitts is one busy dude. When he’s not producing tracks for Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, and scores of other notable artists, he’s making music as The Kickdrums, piecing together various genres to create some exceedingly unique jams.

On his latest EP, Breathe Again, the Brooklyn songwriter has crafted six hypnotic singles that blur the lines between indie, electronic, and trap. It’s an eclectic blend that takes some getting used to, but if given the chance, these tracks will stick to the walls of your brain like no other.

UTG recently caught up with Fitts, who was kind enough to grace us with a track-by-track account of how his newest release came into being. Check it out below, and if you’re a fan, pick up your own copy of Breathe Again here.


Better

I made this track with a production style I developed a while back during the Meet Your Ghost recording sessions, in which I play some live drums into Protools from a MPC 2000xl, and then mess around with a bass line until I find something I like. It’s what I like to call a “live” beat, in that I’m basically making a beat that sounds programmed, but it’s all played out live. Then I’ll use Ableton to mangle old samples until you can’t recognize them anymore and start layering those in one after another until it fills up.

As I’m making the track, I’ll always be messing with the lyrics and vocal melodies in my head. For this one, I had the “I love the way you…” and the “If it’ll make you feel better” parts circling in my head the whole time. I had decided to work with my friend Aaron Weiss on the writing of this project because I was a bit overwhelmed with producing and writing everything myself. He ended up writing four of the six songs with me. I showed him the ideas I had so far, and he helped me fill in the gaps. He compliments my style really easily.

Breathe Again

This was one of the first songs I did that I knew I was going to use, and it set the tone for everything else. I just wanted to make something weird that was indie but not indie, a beat but not a beat, a song but not a song, and this is what I came up with. [laughs] I had a second verse, but I lost it somehow, so I ended up just singing the first verse twice, which actually helped me accomplish that “song but not a song” thing, I guess. It’s about a lost love, and a few different girls definitely think it’s about them, but the actual girl knows who she is.

Home

This song and “Better” were made at the same time, so that’s why they sound similar in style. I used the same production techniques and co-wrote it with Aaron again. I actually lost the song files when one of my hard drives died, so all I had was the partial instrumental, which was still in my email. I really liked it and wanted to finish it, and tried to rebuild it but couldn’t. Eventually I said “fuck it” and decided to just record the two track beat that I still had. I added some “finishing touches” on top of the two track, and fashioned a bridge out of other spare parts from the two track, which, in the end, I honestly liked the best out of any of the bridges on the EP. [laughs] A small piece of me will always wish I would have been able to work on this song with all the separated parts, but I mostly just love it for being the creation it became because I worked with what I had available.

Melted

With this song, I wanted to make something that actually sounded like a beat and use more banging, big style drums. I basically wanted to make it sound like something someone could rap on but use the melodies to make it more indie/poppy. This is the first one Aaron and I wrote together and all I really had at first was the “Who are you, who are you now?” chorus idea. We fleshed out the lyrics and I had my friend Geminelle Rollins layer in some backing vocals on the chorus. I personally liked working on the bridge of this song a lot–it was fun to experiment with layering in different sounds

Cigarette For Us

I wrote this track specifically for sessions I booked with my live drummer, Chris Wall. I wanted to go in and record 5-6 songs to see how it would sound if we did some more traditional style recordings–we had been playing together live for so long, it felt like it was time. So I made some super rough demo songs, we rehearsed them a bit in a practice space, and we went into the studio at Dan Gluszak’s (Envy On The Coast) place in Long Island. The sessions went really smooth and Dan was able to get some great drum tones. I ended up layering in a drum break on this particular song, but it probably didn’t need it–that was just the producer in me taking over, I guess. This was probably the best song in terms of Aaron’s writing style on the EP, in my opinion. It sounds more like him than me, but I kind of like that. He really made this one his own.

Lights

This is another one from the Dan Gluszak sessions. It was the one Chris and I had worked the most on and therefore came out the cleanest. This was the sound I was looking for in terms of wanting to incorporate the live drums. Dan did such a good job at complimenting my vision for a very garage-ish, heavy tone, and Chris played great. We have a few more really cool songs from those sessions that’ll get finished at some point, I’m sure. I wrote this one solo because it was before I asked Aaron to write with me. I’d expect to hear more stuff along these lines from Chris and I in the future, just taken further.

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Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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