Bringing Design Closer with Gerry Scullion

Rafa Sardina '15-Grammy Award Winner Producer; How technology has affected the songwriting process and creation of music, and what Design can learn from it'

John Carter
July 30, 2020
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Rafa Sardina '15-Grammy Award Winner Producer; How technology has affected the songwriting process and creation of music, and what Design can learn from it'

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Hello and welcome to another episode of Bringing Design Closer. My name is Gerry Scullion, and I’m a service designer, and founder of This is HCD and CEO of This is Doing - a live class design and innovation company, providing training in the skills of service designers, design researchers, product managers, user experience designers and much more.

You in for a treat with this episode. Let me tell you a story, in a previous life, I had dreams of becoming a musician. I was a singer-songwriter, and had a band and reflecting back now it was some of the best experience and times of my life. I’ve played music from the age of four and started writing my own music at the age of 12. So for me, Design and Music were part of the same mindset. It wasn’t until earlier this year, that I was out for dinner with a friend and mentioned how I see the huge similarities between Design and Music, that I realised, not everyone sees this. 

Let me tell you, the musical mindset is something that Designers can and should embrace more of. There are so many layers to this mindset, from creating music being a team sport, needing rhythm and cadence, and excitement, you need talent, but you also need the dedication and confidence to explore and embrace the unknown in the live format. Music is created in a studio, very much like a designers studio, but it’s how songs are delivered into the live arena, that they start to become living and breathing things. 

Designing services and creating music are so similar - there’s the obvious metaphor, to lift Patrick Quattlebaum and Chris Risdon’s book of ‘Orchestrating’ but there is much more to it than that. Just creating a song, from the moment of ‘jamming’ in a studio or working alone, is like creating an outline of a thing. Over time it’s iterated and iterated upon, and often tested live to get feedback from the audience. The ‘song’ is often refined and refined until you go into the studio. Well, that was the process that worked for me up until 2006 and we discuss what happened around then, and how technology helped reshape that process.

In this episode, I connect with a former producer of mine, that I was lucky enough to work with way back in 2006-2008, Rafa Sardina. 60-time Grammy-nominated, 15-time winner. With a client list that looks like the most celebrated artists of the last 100 years, that include Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Dr Dre, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, and everyone’s favourite singer, Susan Boyle. 

We chat about how the craft of songwriting has evolved from the early 90’s on what working with Michael Jackson looked like, to how the industry validates songs. We chat about how technology disrupted and ultimately killed the large recording budgets that typically ran for months or years in some instances, and to where Rafa is currently now, mid-pandemic, producing globally via live recording sessions in the top studios in the world.

Episode Transcript

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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