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"Work all the fucking time": How Marie Davidson made 'Work It'

The Canadian artist talks us through the making of her self-help house hit

  • Interview: Gavin Herlihy | Photo: John Londono
  • 29 July 2019

How did the track begin?

‘Work it’ happened over a couple of days while preparing for my summer tour in 2017. I knew I had a solid set, but I felt like I needed a banger to win crowds at big festivals. I started working on a drum pattern on my Electribe 2. At the time, I was going a lot to the YMCA to work out, trying to get back in shape before going back to the airports-and-hotels lifestyle. I’m generally more skilled at composing melodies than rhythms, but for this song, almost all the parts came from percussion. I started with a kick drum and added a second, distorted kick that added a groove. Then I programmed a sequence of rim shots that sounded like a basketball dribbling on a gym floor.I added a snare and claps and then doubled the snare with my 707’s snare, and added hi-hats. I love rim shots, so started to work on a second rim pattern that became my chorus. From this second pattern, I discovered there would be two sections to the song.

How did you finish the track?

While I was working the 707, I added a cowbell which I rarely use. The 707 rims and the cowbell became the spirit of the song. For the breakdown, I used my Minibrute to generate percussive elements that sounded like sweat drops. After this, I called it a night, and went home. The following night, I came back to my studio excited to hear it. I immediately felt good, grabbed a mic and the rest happened very naturally. I felt like talking over the music, but had no particular idea in mind. I wondered what I had to say at that moment... the answer was not much, I was working all the time, I didn’t have time for reflection. There was my direction. I said: “You wanna know how I get away with everything? I work all the fucking time”.

A few months later, I worked on the song in Ableton with my co-producer Pierre Guerineau who is very skilled with computer production. He had the idea of adding a bassline to the chorus, to make the track more catchy. We sampled the sounds of weights and metal chains from gyms to add to the breakdown. Finally, Pierre thought it would be sexy to add masculine vocals on the chorus. It felt perfect, and I knew the track was done.

Marie Davidson's studio comprises: Korg Electribe 2; Boss DD-7 delay; Roland TR-707; Arturia Minibrute

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