With Good Days in 2020, SZA opened out a brand-new sound world to listeners. The lyrical honesty and ethereal sound of the song perfectly highlighted the singer’s artistic brilliance. Rolling Stone spoke with producer Carter Lang, mixing engineer Shawn Everett, and vocalist Jacob Collier, who joined SZA’s musical journey, to get a deeper understanding of the song.

When producers Los Hendrix and Nascent sent Lang the song’s initial draft in 2017, the song’s narrative officially began. Nascent’s burgeoning beat and Los Hendrix’s vivacious guitar riff created a solid base upon which others could build. They only needed to hear it once to realize who it was intended for. The song was left in the vault for a year when Lang got a call in 2018 asking to see SZA for a recording session.

Collier, a British musician, was chosen by SZA because of his elaborate harmonies and beautiful vocal arrangements.
For this piece, Collier deviated from his regular method and went with his gut, letting the music take center stage.

Collier remarked, “I think that was a new technique for me, and it actually taught me a lot. After that, listening to my own tunes again felt somewhat new. The reaction was Oh, OK. I might not need to raise all of these thousands of voices. Perhaps the simplest solution is the best one, you know?

In order to broaden the sonic landscape of the track, Carter added vintage synths underneath musical embellishments.

Lang intended to approach the creation of this new cosmos in a way that was inspired by the sound realms of Mort Garson and Brian Eno.

You want a little bit of humanity to come through, Lang added. putting modest things in place so that you may always appreciate a small portion of it whenever you hear it.

As the song took shape and anticipation for its release grew, SZA enlisted mixing engineer Shawn Everett to complete the production. Shawn went back to a routine mixing procedure he employed on Devon Gilfillan’s Black Hole Rainbow in order to produce a dreamy mix. In order to recreate the nostalgia he had after listening to SZA’s Good Days, he looked to collectives like the Numero Groups’ technique of recording re-issues.

According to Everett, some people are simply born with a voice that was designed to be contained within a recording. Simply said, it appears that’s how you intend for a voice to emerge through the speaker. She not only possesses that, but she also has the talent to move it in musical ways that, I mean, not many regular people possess. So when you mix that with a voice like that, you have something incredibly lethal on your hands.

SZA’s artistry was on full display in Good Days, which also served as a melodic vacation from the unpredictability and heartache of 2020.

A distinctive time in SZA’s discography was produced by delicate vocals and innovative sound design.


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