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When we talk of hit records, we’re mostly talking about pop music, chart-topping household names and bright-faced young performers. Behind all the glitz and the glam of pop, though, is the recording industry at its most, well, industrial. Plugging away unseen are PR teams, radio pluggers, A&R men and record producers.
Wayne Wilkins is one such producer. Born in the UK but practising his craft in the sunny climes of LA, he’s worked with and produced some of the biggest names in pop, including Beyoncé, Delta Goodrem, Natasha Bedingfield, Alexandra Burke and Cheryl Cole.
So what are the fundamentals of producing pure, catchy pop? “There’s always got to be some sort of identifiable thing in there,” explains Wayne. “If you look at Sweet Dreams by Beyoncé or These Words by Natasha Bedingfield, there’s a character in there that people hook onto.
“Strangely, a lot of the magic comes from not really thinking about it. Often, there will be songwriters in the room, or we’ll just throw in a beat, jump in with ideas and create some chaos.”
Wayne is a classically trained musician, but he tries not to make decisions based purely on music theory. “I always try to subconsciously do stuff, rather than think, ‘Let’s try this chord,’” he says.
One of the main concerns for the professional producer is being able to deliver on demand. “When you’re writing a song for the first time with somebody and you don’t know them, and the label’s paying, you have to use that energy to create something. I always find I get much better results when there’s pressure.”
In this walkthrough, Wayne takes us through the production of one of the biggest Number One singles of recent years - Cheryl Cole’s Fight For This Love.
For an in-depth guide to hit-making, featuring contributions from DJ Fresh, Aquasky, James Reynolds, Chicane and more, check out the October issue of Computer Music (CM169) which is on sale now.