Music fans got a blast from the past recently with the release of the latest Richard String single, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Pt. 2.” While it evokes memories of the Cyndi Lauper hit of the same name, the song isn’t a cover nor a sequel – it’s a unique track all its own.
Gavin Shea is the man behind Richard String, and when he’s not recording music under that alter ego, he’s producing songs for other artists. He recently dropped by to talk about the single as well as the challenges of releasing and promoting new music in the midst of a pandemic.
Learn more about both Gavin and Richard in our interview here, and then check out the entire Richard String catalogue on Apple Music.
Brittany Frederick: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Pt. 2” is the latest of several new songs you’ve released this year. How challenging is it to release new music at the moment, especially at the volume that you have?
Gavin Shea: A lot of them started earlier this year. I set a goal, after making that 12-minute “Proper Snacks” song in August, that I would just release a song every month this year. It’s not looking like that’s going to happen now; I only have like two, or three, more that are kind of ready to finish.
But they generally are only like three-day builds, with one big creative day, usually with my friend Chris, who I work with every day. Just like a collaborative thing. We don’t really set out to make Richard String songs, but if they end up that way, I just have to sing on them the following night and mix them. I’m kind of doing it to show our clients how easy it is to work the [production] process.
BF: With this single, were you inspired by the Cyndi Lauper original or what’s the connection to that song which makes this a “Pt. 2”?
GS: It wasn’t like that. My friend Amber Woodhouse was over for this particular collaboration, and she had this great little sample that eventually became the whole song, pretty much. I just started singing that “Girls just want to have fun duh, duh, duh”, and obviously related it back to the other song.
Then I started making it about Tinder, which kind of played into the modern thing, where it feels like women kind of can’t have fun as much as they used to be able to have. Men are weirder than ever, the dating scene is weird, it’s like a completely different world for going out and meeting people. So it was a bit sarcastic in that way, ,like “Can’t we just let people party like it was the 80’s, and it’s a little safer?”
I definitely have absorbed that vibe over time, but it just seemed like a funny correlation to do. Then the record cover is like a play on [Lauper’s] record cover for the single. So it’s probably the most irrelevant, fun song that is just randomly about something of the lot so far.
BF: Do you have a specific creative process for a Richard String track or is it more of an organic collaboration? Does your process change when you’re producing for another artist versus releasing your own work?
GS: When I’m working with other people [as a producer], there are certain parameters that I think should be met with a song. They either come to us with finished songs and play them and we kind of look at them from there, or if we’re creating them with them simultaneously, we’ll look more into arrangement stuff from the get-go.
The Richard String thing is largely self-serving, so I just get in and start making a beat with whoever, usually my pal Chris. Then if I’m feeling it, I’ll sing something. With lyrics, I usually do not really a freestyle, but an improvised scratch recording that has phrases within it. It’s not fully words; it’s probably like 80 percent words. Then I listen to what I was trying to say off the top of my head, and just kind of plug in the lyric. Which I guess is how you end up with random, unnecessary sequels to 80’s songs.
BF: Do you have another song that you’d recommend people listen to after this one?
GS: I think everybody’s really into ”P.E.” which I just released last month. “Girls” came first, and ”P.E.” came second, but with the tone of everything right now, I just felt like the “things will change this time around” message in ”P.E.” felt a little better than a silly song about Tinder. I even delayed the release of ”Girls” with all this stuff going on, because it feels largely irrelevant, but it’s still fun. Hopefully people enjoy it, too.
BF: From a producer’s perspective, do you think single releases like this are now more prudent than waiting to drop a full album? That does seem to be the direction that many artists are moving in.
GS: I think if you have the resources to do it, and your thoughts are organized, you can certainly make an album and it’s going to have an impact. But as far as the argument of it being better or worse, I just think it’s a way to snowball your momentum. I always talk about “the release of release”. Once you release one [single], you realize that it’s really just a couple of steps online, and you can do it independently. That’s the tough first step for most artists, I think.
Plus, it keeps me on my toes, and not bound to a package that has to go together. After these next two songs, I believe I’m just going to cap it there. I’ve moved places, and all of them were made in one place, so it’s a fine reason to put a bow on it. I’m probably going to release them in sort of a “deluxe version” with like piano renditions and such. I’ve always had plans to make it an album, but not thinking about it as an album kept it loose. Ended up being a pretty cool batch to listen to back-to-back, I think. There’s no wrong way to do it; just do it
You can listen to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Pt. 2” and every Richard String track on Apple Music.