Q&A With The Minds Behind Summer Anthem 'Sugar'
Following the release of their second single 'Sugar,' I catch up with Matt Marcii and Robbie Hutton to discuss all things music; from collaborative beginnings to production processes. Combining the producing power of Matt, with the songwriting of Robbie, the duo have established a partnership that is sure to ominate the dance/pop scene. 'Sugar' is the catchy pop track that your Summer might have just been waiting for. Due to separate schedules, I catch up with them both separately. Desipte this, it's clear that they are on the same wavelength when it comes to making music. Read below for an insight into the creation of 'Sugar' and where, as artists, inspiration may be found for future tracks.
So this is your second single together, following 'I Lost My Mind.' Can you tell me how this the collaboration came into fruition?
M: So myself and Robbie actually met through a Facebook group. The Facebook group was called 'Make Pop Music' and it's a community for singers and songwriters to talk about music and collaborate on songs. So, I posted the instrumental idea for what would turn into 'I Lost My Mind' on there and Robbie was one of the first people to reply with an idea for the song. He replied with an idea that evening, which I liked and then we just started talking together; that's how we did our first song. Then I found out that Robbie lived in Stirling in Scotland, where I actually used to live! It was nice to have that bond and then we just started talking and exchanging ideas; I just kept sending him song ideas. After writing our first single together I just sent Robbie some other ideas and the one that he picked out turned into 'Sugar' which is this single.
R: Basically, Matt and I are part of a group called 'Make Pop Music' on Facebook. I added myself to it very quickly after lockdown so I could start collaborating with different artists across the world. He posted a clip looking for a 'topline' (lyrics and melody) to one of his instrumental tracks and I could hear the Chainsmokers-vibe potential in it straight away, so I commented and he got back to me pretty quickly. There were a lot more singers keen to work on that particular track so I'm pretty glad Matt chose me to work with, otherwise we wouldn't be here today! I laid down a topline and from there on out we kept adding/removing/tweaking certain bits of the song until we were happy with it. Then we went ahead and released it independently!
How did ‘Sugar’ come about?
M: So after we did our first single together I sent Robbie these different ideas, and the one that he picked was the basic idea for 'Sugar.' It started off with just me on piano, which was quite basic. Then I showed it to my friend, who is an orchestrater, and he suggested that maybe we could change it up in the pre-chorus to make it a little more jazzy. That's what gave it a completely different feel. The crazy thing is that I and Robbie have never actually met each other in person, yet we've managed to make all these songs together. Due to lockdown, we can't meet as I'm based in Cambridge and him in Scotland, so he recorded the vocals in his home studio and then sent them over to me. I think we're really fortunate to have internet access to technology because it's honestly so much easier to write songs with people around the world. As long as they've got a microphone and internet connection, anything is possible!
R: Yet again, Matt sent me over an instrumental he needed a topline for. I could instantly hear the cheeky flirtatious vibe of the track, so it took me back a memory of a past relationship- which I won't go into too much detail about but I'm sure the song speaks for itself hah! We took a bit more time on this one, getting other artists in to record some electric guitar hooks, arrange some strings etc and we make it our mission to make it a step up from 'I Lost My Mind' which I think we have done successfully. It also shows by the number of streams that are rolling through on a daily basis how much better the song is being percieved by the public. So we are using this as a marker to continue climbing that mountain until we reach its peak - musically speaking!
Can you give us an insight into your general production process together?
M: So our general production process is that I will come up with an instrumental idea wuite quickly and send a couple of those to Robbie to see what he likes. It will just be basic, the verse and a chorus perhaps. After that, I will turn whichever one he selects into a full song structure, stretching it out in terms of the verses, choruses, that sort of thing. Once I've sent him the full instrumental, he will put his first idea for the vocal top line on there and then send it to me. I don't consider myself a pure 'songwriter' more of a song re-writer. Once he's got that, I'll re-work it with him to make it as tight as possible in terms of timing, lyrics etc and we will really try and get it as catchy and easy to sing to as possible. Then Robbie will record the vocals in his home studio, select the best takes and then send them over to me so I can mix, master and produce the track. Then when I've done my first version, I send it to him for feedback, to which he'll leave notes on saying things that he does and doesn't like. The good thing about working with Robbie is that we both work incredibly fast and are really dedicated to getting the songs done, so our turnaround time for finishing a song can be as quick as 10 days. Sometimes even quicker.
R: As I said before, Matt will generally provide the instrumental. I will lay down a rough topline, we will have a zoom video chat about little changes in melody and lyrics if the song needs anything else and that's about it! We both work very quickly and efficiently so the work we produce is really smooth to a more than reasonably time scale and a top-quality standard. Matt really is a pleasure to work with.
Where do you find your inspiration to create new music is kickstarted?
R: Inspiration can come in any shape or form for me. It can be a way you are feeling in a particular moment, a way you have felt in the past about someone or something, something you are angry about that is happening in the world at the minute or just writing a cheery song because you are feeling happy and you feel like it. As the old saying goes, 'imagination has no limits' and I feel when it comes to inspiration you can grab it from absolutely anywhere and mould it into whatever you feel like. The sky really is the limit. I also find that (mainly for these kinds of collaboration projects) when as artist sends me an instrumental track that already has a title, say 'On My Own,' the song is probably going to have a sad vibe to it. So I'll use the song title a the main theme to let my creativity roll on out a suitable melody and I will rattle through the lyrics, see where I am at with the song, then nip and tuck until I'm happy with it. I'll then send it back to the artist and sometimes they point out something I might have missed or something that would sound cool added in. That's the beauty of collaborating, having two different minds bouncing off each other can produce some cracking results!
M: So this may sound really odd but I'm never actually 'inspired;' I don't wait to be inspired. I treat music as a job and it is. My day job is writing and producing songs for artists so if I need to write something I'll just sit down and see what I can come up with at the time. I'm lucky I never run out of ideas. If I sit down and decide to write a song, I will write one. It may not be great but I will be able to write something if I set my mind to it. Once I've come up with the first instrumental idea then I will completely leave it to Robbie, in terms of what he wants to write about. So the inspiration for the lyrics and story comes from him and then I try and craft it in the most catchy way possible.
For future tracks together, what should listeners expect from you both?
M: What me and Robbie are trying to do is write really sing-able and catchy songs. I'm fascinated with what makes a song catchy and stay in people's minds. What I always say to Robbie is that I want people to be able to rememeber and sing along with the chorus of the song before it even finishes. I want the tracks that people will sing along with at a concert. So I think was people should look out for is that nice mix between that emotion and raw feeling that Robbie puts in, and then the slightly more clinical Swedish songwriting style side from me; that's what we're trying to do. It will always be some form of pop music, even though it may go in a slightly more jazzy route of dark pop, it's always going to be pop with easy to sing lyrics that people could sing at a concert.
R: We have a couple of songs (one in particular) that we are currently working on that we won't say too much about, but we are very very excited about them. We are focusing on consistently raising our game with every track. So, definitely keep an eye and ear out for our future releases, as we have a lot of special material on the way!
Check out the duo's single 'Sugar' on Spotify HERE
Find Robbie Hutton on Facebook HERE
Find Matt Marci on Instagram HERE