I remembered William Orbit’s name ever since Madonna’s Ray of Light Came out. I was 10, but I was always behind-the-scenes-conscious and I was always fascinated with not only the artist or their music video, but also with the making of.
So along the years, I learned to recognize William Orbit’s work in the pop scene and following (the masterpiece) Frozen and Ray of Light, the single, it made prefect sense to me that The Power of Good-Bye was also his work. In 1999, Nothing Really Matters and All Saints’ Pure Shores had that same recognizable signature sound – and I knew that I know a music producer now. Just like I can recognize Timbaland’s work today, and most of Dr. Dre’s.
Orbit’s electronica and ambient styles, make you feel like something very airy and flow-y is happening in your ear. You’re in the exact middle between a dancing session and yoga. His drum machine is harmonious, but separated from the melody part – it’s not your “beat” of today. Orbit achieved the techno effect sounds, by using a Korg MS-20 analog synthesizer. He’s the master of mixing time signatures and chopped effects, doing it before any kid with a mac could be “producing”.
The producer explained that “[t]here’s something about the [MS-20’s] transient peaks that are very spiky. And you can make that machine scream. Its two filters are very severe. ” Most of the album, he says was done on a Juno-106.
O F C O U R S E Madonna’s actual music videos were the ones that drew us all in, but the synergy of her vocal performances, music videos, and song writing would not be complete without this exact production. As a matter of fact, I read that it wasn’t so far-fetched that Orbit’s work may have not made the final cut, over him being disorganized or something. You know, like a true artist.
In an interview in 1999, William Orbit was asked why he thought he was so lucky as to land this gig, “I was talking to Guy Oseary, who runs Maverick, and he mentioned that Madonna was looking for material. It just so happened I had a lot of tapes of half-formed ideas lying around, so when he asked me to send some stuff over I was happy to just knock off a DAT with miscellaneous bits on it.”
Madonna called him 5 days after he submitted the tape to her. She was already writing to it. The rest is history.
To see what else you like that is William Orbit’s work, go here.
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