Hit record production and songwriting duo David Biral and Denzel Baptiste, p/k/a Take a Daytrip were in the Zoom house on Wednesday, February 10, mentoring several New York City Department of Education public high school students on songwriting and producing for the latest Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Session, hosted by Stuyvesant's Vocal Music & Music Technology professor / SHOF NY Education Committee vice chair, Harold Stephan.
Stephan welcomed the two "soundshapers" David and Denzel, asking them how they began their partnership. They said that they had come from humble beginnings, meeting as "the new kids" during welcome week at the Clive Davis School in 2011. They bonded over a common love of music of different genres, citing the French electronic duo Justice, and Nirvana in particular as influences.
The “Daytrip took it to ten” tag first gained global notoriety with Sheck Wes’ viral hit “Mo Bamba.” They went on to produce and write for Dua Lipa’s “Good in Bed,” Weezer’s “Hero,” Miley Cyrus’ “High” and tracks on Kid Cudi’s album Man on the Moon III: The Chosen. They earned their first No. 1 single on the Hot 100 chart with Cudi and Travis Scott’s “The Scotts,” and Take A Daytrip is also known for shaping the sound of breakout star Lil Nas X, having produced hits like “Panini,” "Rodeo (feat. Cardi B)," and most recently, “HOLIDAY.”
Stephan said, “Knowledge of genres is part of your strength along with exploring boundaries, and you’ve been on fire the past year.”
Denzel said, “The inception of Take a Daytrip has been exploration in general. Our school thesis project was to go to different cities and work with artists. We tried to meet new people and step outside our comfort zone.” David said, “It’s the reason we're called Take a Daytrip; we wanted to see the world through music.”
Stephan called upon five pre-selected students from various NYC public high schools and played a song from each for Denzel and David, who gave constructive, supportive advice.
On songwriting, they said, “Making truthful music takes a whole lot of courage. Keep putting things out to break those barriers, and see where the journey takes you."
Denzel and David spoke of how a good support system can sometimes be key to successful songwriting and producing. David said, “Having a system or group of friends helps to take it to 100% when they are always pushing and motivating you." Denzel said, “Your voice is always going to be your voice. As long as you are expressing yourself, then that's your sound and the genre doesn't really matter.”
Denzel responded to another question about making mistakes when producing a song; “Mistakes are sometimes what makes a song, and then people start copying your mistakes.” David agreed and said, “They can add a lot of character, and sometimes a magic moment.”
They both recommended watching YouTube tutorials to learn how to produce yourself.
Winding up the Session, Denzel said, “Find a small community and make a stamp in it...become part of it, study what's going on and put something out to see if it grows.” David added, “Create your own story and keep it consistent. School was one of the most important things in our development.”
Stephan reiterated, “Have a great work ethic and keep focusing on what you love. Learn how to navigate and survive the music world, mastering both sides of creative and business, which plays a huge role in success.
In closing, SHOF president & CEO Linda Moran stressed the importance to the students of two points emphatically made by David and Denzel, “Learn the business of the industry inside out, from contracts to A & R and be open to listening to and appreciating all genres of music. Before you can be successful you have to understand the entire music world — everything begins with the heart and the soul of a song, it’s the way a generation expresses itself. We are extremely grateful to David and Denzel, who are wise beyond their young years, for the time and care they extended in helping nurture the attending music students.”
This Master Session was streamed live on the SHOF YouTube channel and is available for viewing here.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is grateful to David Gray, EVP/Head Of A&R, Universal Music Publishing Group and Simone Dixon, A&R / Creative, Universal Music Publishing Group for facilitating David Biral and Denzel Baptiste as our guests, and Elizabeth M. Guglielmo, Director of Music, New York City Department of Education for providing these special opportunities for public school students to participate in!