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CARRTOONS on “GROCERIES,” Production, and His Upcoming Album

GRC

Producer CARRTOONS delivers a smooth funk sound with vocalist Nigel Hall on the track “GROCERIES”. Off of his latest album, HOMEGROWN, Ben Carr is channeling a vibrant 80’s vibe in the production and is topped off with Hall’s excellent vocal performance. Combined with the visualizer for “GROCERIES”, the duo capture a sliver of a classic, cozy sound.

The bass and drums work well in tandem throughout the track, establishing this fast and expressive rhythm to the work. Rapid hi-hats keep the pace while the bass leads into sparkly leads and plucky piano chords. This gives us that classic, sparkling pop sound so popular in early R&B sounds from the 80’s and early 90’s. As if to reinforce this, Hall swoops in and mixes the funky tone with more soul-inspired sound. Harmonics fill out the middle of the track, between each verse. The accented warble feels just right on the lyrics, bringing in that melancholy but romantic mood that’s so prominent in the genre. The delivery of the lyrics, especially the second chorus, feel relatable and apt. It’s easy to fall into a groove listening to “GROCERIES”, not just for the easy sound and familiar mood, but also from the tight production out of CARRTOONS. The instruments are extremely well balanced to bring out each one in the backing track, and Hall sounds absolutely fantastic on top. The shift from one part of the song to the other is crisp and clean, and the recording on the drums especially is so well done. Without such tight production, I doubt this track would hold my attention as well as it does: There’s something about how Carr brings out the best of each instrument that gives the entire thing this shiny finish, especially when balancing how each instrument comes into and exits the mix.

“GROCERIES” is a good first impression with CARRTOONS’ style of RnB: clearly displaying funk influences but with absolutely stellar production. Nigel Hall was a solid pick for this song, and greatly elevates the overall work by really nailing a mood with his lyrics. It’s cozy and cool, and a good impression for the HOMEGROWN album.

Where did the concept for “Groceries” come from?

“Groceries” came to me at a time during the pandemic where going to the grocery store was giving me tons of anxiety. I ended up writing it from the perspective of a father who has no choice but to provide for his family during this crazy time. It felt like a perfect vessel for Nigel Hall to sing over instantly, so I wrote it out for him and we knocked it out remotely!

There’s a lot of different genres that went into “Groceries” and the HOMEGROWN album all together: was this just a set of genres you enjoy producing, or did you have bigger ideas when blocking out the sounds for HOMEGROWN?

I always dabble in all sorts of genres, and when I’m making demos by myself I try to not be limited by all that too much. That being said I was very specific about the type of stuff I wanted to put on this record. In my mind all of it needed to sound “earthy”, mostly riding the line between soul, jazz, and the type of indie hip hop I grew up on. It took me a long time, and a lot of demos, to get all the right elements for this project.

Did you have any major technical hurdles when working on the mix for “GROCERIES”?

“Groceries” was one of the easier mixes actually, came together relatively quickly once we added the vocals and strings. Because I mixed all but one song on the record, there were plenty of tracks that had hurdles though. A few tracks ended up not making the cut last minute because the mixes weren’t quite right.

In your mind, is HOMEGROWN more personal playlist music, or more party speaker music?

HOMEGROWN would definitely be more of a personal playlist, but I’d like to think most of the tracks would also be great at a party. I think it translates best in an intimate setting because of how I put it all together.

Could you name some tracks to listen to if people enjoy your music on HOMEGROWN?

Lady Wray – “Piece of Me”
Nick Hakim – “Cuffed”
Khruangbin, Knxwledge – “Dearest Alfred”
RJD2 – “Ghostwriter”

I’d also highly recommend checking out anything by Butcher Brown, as three different members are on our album.

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