If you’re an email subscriber, you’ve long known the ins and outs of this song, receiving exclusive access in a three-part “behind-the-scenes” series… but for all the rest of you, I want to give you a little more insight into this song. So, here’s a (condensed) version of the making of my latest single, ‘My New Obsession’ - available to stream everywhere.
I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours a day (on average) writing. I don’t always write the same way. Sometimes I’ll come up with a catchy melody, other times I’ll have a lyrics, or a concept in mind. ‘My New Obsession’ started as a concept.
Those who know me know that I have an addictive personality of sorts, so once I decide to set my sights on a goal, I won’t stop until I achieve it... and I always love a challenge.
This whole idea is what inspired the concept behind ‘My New Obsession’, hence the title. I wanted the song to focus on my relationships, flings, and fascinations. Whether they passing fancies, or year(s) long, I tend to zero in on people I have interest in and subconsciously block anyone else out. It’s not something I am proud of doing, but it’s just the way I have always been.
I was telling my friend about my latest interest at the time, and how I had succeeded in my ‘quest’ (aka there was a guy I had been into, and I had finally captured his attention), and she referred to me as “an assassin”. Like an assassin setting their sights on their victims, and then executing accordingly... and after that conversation, all of the lyrics came into view.
“You’re my new obsession baby, one look would drive me crazy. There’s no way that I can shake it - I want you bad. I’ve got a confession baby, I’ve been an assassin lately. Target acquired - my new desire - and I just wont stop.”
Simon Cohen is a gifted producer out of Australia, and is known in the music industry as one of the best vocal producers in the game. His repertoire includes names like Justin Bieber, will.i.am, Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men)... and that's just to name a few. Lucky for me, my manager, Chris Sobonya, has a great working relationship with Simon and his studio down under.
Before we decided which track we were going to work on, I made rough demo versions of three songs - each with very different vibes. After my manager heard the tracks, he knew Simon would be the perfect fit to bring my visions to life.
Simon and I had our first Skype session the following week where we went over the demo tracks and brainstormed ideas. I had 5 inspiration tracks prepared for each song. One drew inspiration from artists like Lauv, Selena Gomez, Lost Kings, Sigala... more along the Pop/EDM lines and similar to my first two releases, 'Over You' and 'Games'. The other was something new for me, and I was really inspired by artists like Bishop Briggs, BANKS, Nina Nesbitt, Halsey... a little sexier, more raw, and grungy.
What it came down to was Simon asking me a simple question: "Which one feels more you?" I thought a lot about how I'd want to position "Rachel Shaps" going forward - how I'd want to present her to the music industry as an artist to keep her true to herself and her style. It became oh-so-blindingly clear... and the rebranding was born.
"Rachel Shaps" became, what I like to consider, a badass.
'My New Obsession' was raunchy, sultry, and sparked a fire inside me every time I heard it. I still wanted heavy electronic bass elements to be a part of it. I wanted it to shake the mirrors in my car and I wanted to feel the bass in my chest from my speakers or my headphones.
Simon sat with the track for a few weeks before sending me the first cut. I saw the email come in first thing in the morning on October 24th and my stomach dropped. I put my headphones in, listened to it alone in my bed and cried. I was so f*cking obsessed with it (pun intended). From there, all that was left were small tweaks, an official vocal recording session and the song was virtually done.
It's taken me a long time to find "the song" - the one that reminded me how much I love making music, the one that felt the most me, and the one I felt most proud to share.
Once Simon and I started working together and he had a pretty clear idea of what I was looking for, it was a waiting game. I know I mentioned that when he sent me the first cut of what he'd been working on, I cried because I loved it. That was true, but there was still a long way to go before it was complete.
For starters, Simon was working with a very rough demo version I had recorded and produced in my bedroom. I'd recorded my vocals sitting on my bed on a Blu Snowball mic, sung a melody and distorted it to sound like electric guitar, and added some half-ass drums and a grungy bass. I'm no producer, so this was a serious rookie attempt.
Simon took my crazy demo and did some much needed surgery on it. He took my bedroom vocals, my backing melody, and made magic. He turned it into a Soul/Pop electronic power house with a gospel break and so much edge. I don't even know how else to describe it... but it made me feel things I didn't know I could feel about my own music.
Once the track was "mostly" finished, all we needed to complete it was the final vocals. We were able to get the vocals done in one take, which was amazing. I worked with one of my new favorite sound engineers, Tom Stewart, and producer Ethan Isaac. You know when you're in a room with people you just really vibe with? That's how this was. It was like a big brainstorming session - bouncing ideas off of each other - so much creativity in one room, and it was so inspiring.
After the session, we sent off all the vocal stems to Simon in Australia and again, just a waiting game... and boy, it was worth the wait. When I got the first draft of the final track back, my manager and I only had three notes: to pull the harmonies back slightly, to boost the volume of the ad libs in the bridge and final chorus, and to boost the lead vocal 5% throughout. The next day, we had the final track and it was perfect. Well... as "perfect" as perfect can be.
Once the song is finalized and approved, all that is left is the mastering. That's where Leon Zervos, Chief Marketing Engineer at Studios 301, came in. Leon has mastered tracks from the likes of Maroon 5, NSYNC, and Troye Sivan, to name some of my favorites. And that was it. It was the final piece to the puzzle, and just like that - with the help of some amazing, creative, spectacular people - I'd created what I consider, my real debut single. Not a knock on my previous singles, but this one was special. This one was me.
I couldn't have done it without this awesome team of people. A HUGE thank you to Simon Cohen for bringing this track to life and sending it above and beyond my expectations, my manager, Chris Sobonya, for always being my partner in crime and bringing me back down to Earth when I find myself in space, Ethan Isaac & Tom Stewart for bringing such creative and comforting energy to the studio, and Leon Zervos for giving this track its cherry on top and preparing it for the world to hear.