Have a Great Summer – Behind the Scenes

Listen

Writing the Song

Have a Great Summer is a song I wrote in Los Angeles in January, 2020 with my friend Nikhil Johns.

Nikhil had a friend in the Hollywood Hills that let us use her house for a few hours to do some songwriting. We texted her and took an Uber from Burbank to take her up on the offer!

I’d been working on some demos for an upcoming album and this was one of the tracks I was most excited about. I didn’t have any lyrics, but I had a basic instrumental on my laptop to share.

I probably had 20 instrumental demos, but this one jumped out when I played them all for Nikhil.

Lunch buddies with Nikhil.

The first lyric that we decided on was in the chorus.

“Have a great summer, don’t ever change.”

I don’t know about you, but my yearbooks growing up were filled with this phrase. But there was always one girl I secretly hoped would write something different.

Nikhil and I spent time telling stories of love interests in middle school. The time seemed to fly by as we drew from our own experiences of young love.

When I was 12 years old, I started at a new school. I joined band class because I was required to pick an artistic class.

The school let us try out all of the different art classes for two months. I tried painting, design classes, orchestra, and more. I decided to play trumpet in band class because a girl I liked at lunch was also joining band. She played saxophone and the trumpet players got to sit behind the saxophone players. My choice was obvious. I picked trumpet.

I’ve spent my whole life playing music because of that choice. However flippant it seems in retrospect.

This song is an homage to being young and in love. And it being the most real feeling in the world.

The Demos

When we were just wrapping up the writing process, we recorded the idea into Voice Notes. This is pretty common for songwriters to record a demo on the day of so you don’t forget what you came up with!

Nikhil sang the original voice memo when we finished writing the song.
Shoutout to The Tangerine hotel in Burbank for being cool with me recording in the room!

When I got back to the my hotel later that night, I recorded my own demo directly into my MacBook microphone.

The instrumental for this song was originally very different. But at the time, I thought for sure this what the final version would sound like.

As you can hear, the final instrumentation doesn’t sound anything like the original!

The original demo of Have a Great Summer.

The New Version

After my trip, I spent a few weeks trying to get the production right on this song. I tried all sorts of synthesizers, guitars, and drums to get it to be more exciting. I even recorded vocals for the whole song to the original production.

Sometimes that happens. You work on a song for months and months and just doesn’t sound like it does in your head.

I just couldn’t crack the code on how to make the song more exciting as it went along.

Enter, Thomas Nan.

Thomas is a producer who lives in the Netherlands and we’ve worked on a few projects together so far. Our songwriting methods are very different from each other, so I knew he’d be able to listen with fresh ears on this song.

Thomas and I have become friends through music, even thousands of miles away.

I sent him my early demos of Have a Great Summer and he really took the ball and ran with it. He started changing everything I had in the original demo.

We bounced ideas back and forth about funky basslines and percussion to make the chorus really feel like summer vacation.

We even sped up the original song to make it more of a summery vibe to have some fun.

Here, you can see the Logic Pro X session from the final vocals. There are 11 vocal tracks for this song, which is a lot less than normal! We kept the final version simple. You can see that there are 3 lead vocals, some harmonies, and effects.

Artwork

The Lyrics

Verse 1
I fell in love at the back of the bus
Just sixteen but I knew what it was
I carved our names in the back of the seat
I wish I knew what you thought about me

Pre-Chorus 
Can I walk you to your final class?
This year went by too fast
There’s so much more that I wanted to say

Hey Katie, will you sign my yearbook?
Can’t wait to read what you put
I saved you space on my last page

Chorus
You wrote have a great summer, don’t ever change
But I don’t want things to stay the same
So what would you think if I gave you my number?
You could text me this June and have a great summer 
 
Verse 2 
I saved that seat next to me  on the bus
I thought I made it pretty obvious
And when I looked at you in chemistry
I was really hoping that you felt it with me

Pre-Chorus 
Can I walk you to your final class?
This year went by too fast
There’s so much more that I wanted to say

So nervous when I signed your yearbook
I wasn’t sure what you’d think when you looked
I hope you know that it’s not too late

Bridge
I know that we’re both still so young
But I don’t care, cus’ I know it’s love
There’s so much more that I wanted to say
I hope you know that’s not it’s not too late

Chorus
I wrote have a great summer don’t ever change
But I don’t want things to stay the same
So what would you think if I gave you my number
You could text me this June and have a great summer  

Credits

Written By: Nicholas Roberts, Nikhil Johns

Produced By: Thomas Nan, Nicholas Roberts

Engineered By: Thomas Nan

Label: Soave

A&R: Frank Vredeveldt