With 32 songs and more than two hours of music, mixing Chris Brown's album Indigo demanded stamina as well as talent!
Even in a music world that's increasingly obsessed with three-minute wonders, there still are artists whose primary medium is the album. R&B singer Chris Brown has, to date, released an impressive nine studio albums since 2005, the last two albums being colossal creations. Heartbreak On A Full Moon (2017) is an astonishing 45 tracks and 159 minutes long, and Brown's latest, Indigo — a US number one and UK number seven — runs to 32 tracks and 123 minutes. In what has been dubbed a "market saturation strategy", Brown has also released an amazing 52 singles, plus 109 as featured artist, leading to a total of 161 singles with his name on them.
The Wikipedia entry for Indigo lists no fewer than 55 producers, with Brown credited as executive producer. The album also features a wide variety of musical styles, from hip-hop to songs influenced by 1970s soul, and numerous guest artists. Critical opinions have varied wildly, but the album is undeniably a tour de force both from a logistical and a sonic point of view. As executive producer, Brown has always held the overall reins, while practical organisation of the sessions was handled for a long time by engineer Brian Springer. In 2015, Springer's role was taken over by Patrizio 'Teezio' Pigliapoco, who not only has an engineering credit on 30 of Indigo's 32 songs, but also a mix credit on 30 tracks, plus a co-writing credit on 17 songs.
Pigliapoco's involvement with Brown began when he was visiting New York in the summer of 2017, and received a call from Springer. "I'd been working with Josh Gudwin [engineer and mixer for Justin Bieber] and I guess he gave Brian my number, saying I was fast and efficient. Brian was moving on to do other things, and asked me if I was interested in becoming Chris' engineer. I initially said 'no' because I had been at the Record Plant, where Chris used to work a lot, and had seen how the studio became a party pad. I didn't want to party every night, but my wife convinced me to try it. It turned out that Chris and I really got on during our first two sessions together, and we've worked together ever since."
Speed and efficiency definitely were important assets, as Pigliapoco was not only tasked with managing recordings for all songs, but also became involved in finding many of the beatmakers on the album and maintaining contact with them. "Jaycen Joshua had mixed the initial Heartbreak On A Full Moon album, and I mixed the deluxe version of that album, which has 13 songs. We started work on Indigo after Chris came off the Heartbreak On A Full Moon tour in August of last year. Chris said that he wanted to do everything ourselves this time. The album has many different producers and genres, and most of the producer choices came from Chris and I, and sometimes the label, RCA. The label organised a writing camp for Chris, and also sent us some other songs.
"I called many of the writers and producers that I know, and brought them to the writing sessions. Chris pretty much liked everyone who came in or sent us beats. We started with 'Undecided', with a new writer, her name is Felicia Ferraro, or Feli, and Scott Storch, who also is a friend of mine. Chris hummed the melody, and the drums, and a guy called Tone Stith also was involved, and the song started coming together piece by piece. For other songs some other writers also came into the studio with us, and many others purely sent us their beats via the Internet, and I mixed the album, at my place here."