Gabe Shinn lives two lives. As a golf pro, Shinn spends time putting on the green or instructing students on the finer points of the game. As a producer named Flight Volume, he has been working on an upcoming debut album called “Airplane Mode,” which is due in November.
On Friday, Sept. 25, the Azalea City will get its first taste of “Airplane Mode” in the form of a single called “See Thru.” For this smooth, glossy drop of pop and R&B, Shinn brought in hip-hop notable Twista and vocalist Dylan Reese to bring this sonic dream to life.
Lagniappe’s Steve Centanni gained an audience with Shinn to discuss this upcoming single and the full album to come.
Steve Centanni: What was your first experience with making music?
Gabe Shinn: I was 13 or so and picked up the guitar with my buddy, and we started writing songs immediately. I never liked playing covers. I always liked making my own stuff. We started writing our own songs, and we had a little band in high school. I didn’t really get serious with it until I was like 20 or 21.
Centanni: What made you want to get serious with it?
Shinn: I always knew that I had a chance of doing it, but I got distracted by sports. When I got to college, I was like, “OK, let’s figure this thing out.” Then, I was like, “Let’s do it.” I got really inspired in 2012 when EDM music hit. It was a second wave of inspiration. I’m actually a golf pro and teach golf lessons, but music is my passion and my main focus.
Centanni: What’s it like balancing golf and music?
Shinn: It’s fun, man. I’m blessed to do it, honestly. Some days, you’re not inspired. When I’m not inspired, I just go coach and help kids. It’s fun to just go help coach kids. I love helping people swing. It’s actually cool to have a balance. Golf is actually my escape from music, and now it’s weird how it’s all tying together.
Centanni: For those who don’t know, what’s the role of a producer?
Shinn: He’s gotta just create the lane for artists. You can’t get too crazy with the beat. You have to leave room for them to work. I call myself a “producer/artist.” I make the beat first without the song recorded in my head. I make the beat and look for the next puzzle piece, whether it’s the snare drum or the synth. If I can pull off the vocals, then I’ll sing it. If I hear you singing on it, then I’ll call you. I’m the producer first and then try to make the ultimate experience for the artist, as far as recording.
Centanni: Where did the name “Flight Volume” come from?
Shinn: Flight Volume! That’s crazy. I was in my dorm in college and just Googling random stuff trying to put names together. I always thought that something taking off would be cool. I had a fear of flying as a kid. So, I was like, “You gotta face your fear and go after it.” I wanted to put an airplane analogy to it. I came across this random encyclopedia called “Taking Flight, Volume 1” and “Volume 2” and “Volume 3.” All I kept seeing was “Flight Volume.” I Googled it and saw no copyright, so I went with it.
Centanni: Tell me about this track, “See Thru.”
Shinn: Dylan Reese is the main artist on the track. I’ve been a fan of him. The guy who’s engineering my album is a guy named Matt Kolb, who is a member of this band Eventide. Through Matt, I met Dylan. I sent him two beats and he chose one. He initially recorded over it and killed and left the last verse open for a featured artist. Then, we realized the track didn’t have a genre. It had a sample in it that sounded like trap. He’s not a trap artist. He’s an R&B artist. So, I redid the production and simplified with it a few chords. Then, he (Matt) texted me early one morning and was like, “Dude, what about Twista?” I was like, “Does Twista even still make music?” Twista has been one of my favorite artists ever. We found Twista’s management on his bio on Instagram. We sent him an email, he loved it. I thought it was crazy. He was one of my favorite rappers in high school.
Centanni: How did it go down with bringing Twista in and collaborating on this track?
Shinn: They loved it. We sent him the money. They sent us the vocals within 12 hours. He recorded in Chicago. The next morning his engineer mixed it and sent us the acapella. We were just shocked. When I first heard it, it blew my mind. You can pay them up front, and we get the royalties. You don’t have to pay them up front, but then they get the royalties. That’s pretty much a negotiation thing.
Centanni: The full album is coming out in November. What are the other tracks like?
Shinn: It fits in right with it. That’s crazy to say that because you have a song with Twista. You think that would be the best song on the album. I’ve been working on this album for five years. Really, it’s been two, but there are some of these songs that the production reaches back to five years. I’ve put my whole heart and soul into it. It’s called “Airplane Mode.” It’s got that Flight Volume/plane play on words. People may have been saying, “Did Gabe quit music?” No, I’ve been chilling on “Airplane Mode,” and I’ve been working hard. I’ve got three songs that I’m singing myself, but all the other ones are featured and collabs. I’ve got eight or nine total artists on the album, and each song is different.
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