Studio Talk: “Right Next To Me”

D-Varg and Matt Blaque are featured vocalists on the song "Right Next To me"


Right Next To Me is the lead-in track on our “January 16” album for a reason.  This song was composed to be a mover that brings fun into your 510JAZZ listening experience.  It’s the perfect anthem for dance parties and lively environments.  Matt Blaque’s stellar vocals carry the melodic component of this song while D-Varg’s rap storytelling is always on-point.

We’re delighted that this song is getting great airplay on radio stations around the world.

This blog post gives you a behind-the-scenes look at composing, arranging, recording and producing this superb song.

What They’re Saying

New Music Ear

“…The album opens with a medium paced Samba crossover with a big summery vibe.  It is a fun, bright and breezy number with hints of Michael Jackson (“Off The Wall” era) and Gloria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine.  D-Varg’s rapping gives it an updated appeal to younger listeners who may not have heard music like this before…”

Andrew Goodwin
New Music Ear

Read the full album review

“Listeners LOVE the new single from 510JAZZ! “Right Next To Me” the sexy, smooth, bright bossa nova beat that will make you want to get up and dance!  It’s no wonder listeners across the globe are in love with this track.  Get your copy now in The Listening Loft

From Leadsheet to Hit Single

"Right Next To Me" features 5 exceptional Bay Area musicians

Our first samba original brought interesting challenges at every turn: establishing the form, composing the melody and hook, writing the verse, chorus and rap lyrics, recording the rhythm section, arranging the background vocals, adding the layers of latin percussion and electric guitar.  David and I couldn’t have successfully produced this song without the talent of 5 exceptional Bay Area musicians: Mark Rickey (keyboards), Tony Song (guitar), Charlie Channel (bass), Collette d’Almeida (drums) and Stan Muncy (latin percussion).

Building The Story

510JAZZ at Angelicas, February 17, 2018
I came up with the original storyline: a lively beachfront club where you go to be immersed in music and drink, surrounded by beautiful people, charged with adrenaline and dance.  The first verse came to me quickly, setting the stage for this story.  As with all whirlwind romances – there’s a storyteller and an elusive leading lady.  David ran with that, writing the lyrics for the second verse.  He quickly wrote twice the storyline for the rap verse that follows.  I find it amazing how these rap verses quickly build tension and then release.

I wrote the lyrics for the following verse, where our leading man’s head is spinning after his quick brush with this beautiful girl.  Before he knows it, he’s back in the game.  David uses rap to tell the story of how boy and girl develop their chemistry.

Improving The Form: Chorus and Turnarounds

"Right Next To Me" composed by John and David Vargas

Now we have the basic form for the song.  The fast-paced samba beat carried us through everything really fast, but something was missing – the hook!  David is a master of developing hooks.  He quickly came up with a simple but catchy chorus that we could use as an intro, then to keep things moving in the middle, and then again as an ending.  I thought our new form was perfect – but David was still composing.

David then took our instrumental interlude (8-bar acoustic guitar riff with unison scat-vocals) and wrote lyrics for it.  He transformed interlude 1 into an upbeat turnaround to keep the listener interested.  Then he wrote a brilliant storyline for interlude 2 which carries the listener into the final rap verse.  Tony’s guitar riff and scat-vocals layered with Matt Blaque’s vocals were just the ticket to keep the song moving.  Now we’ve got a story!

Melodic and Rap Vocals

When you bring Matt Blaque into the recording studio, he won’t let you close the session until he’s added a full library of vocal stabs and choral harmonies that the producer can use.  Matt is one of the finest R&B vocalists that I have ever met, and he has an incredible ability to arrange his own vocal harmonies.  Our session with Matt Blaque was truly magical.

David has a busy job here at 4Play Records.  He’s our producer and engineer – and he’s also our rapper.  That means that once he’s finally happy with the tracking, with the engineering and most of the mix – he can finally add his production rap vocals.  Working with David, I find him to be as rhythmically-tight as the drummer.  It’s amazing!  David replaced his scratch-vocals with the superb rap stylings that you hear in our commercial release.

The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Channeling legendary producers Sergio Mendes and Quincy Jones, we wanted our rhythm to be complemented with a lively latin percussion.  We brought percussionist Stan Muncy into the studio and he laid down the authentic latin vibe with cuica, samba whistle, shakers, agogo bells, cowbell and then triangle.  Once everything was in place, we decided to add in a breakdown starting with samba whistle and leading into Matt Blaque’s chorus.  We couldn’t resist adding Stan’s samba whistle at the very end of the song.  Stan’s percussion stylings conjure images of Carnaval in Rio, with people dancing in the streets to samba music.  Brilliant!

The Guitar Man

Many of my own compositions were inspired by legendary composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.   Jobim rendered many of his own songs playing the classic nylon-stringed acoustic guitar.  I wanted this song to contain this same rhythm foundation from start to finish.  Tony Song delivered.

When we were close to completion, David called The Guitar Man back into the studio with his electric guitar  Tony then came up with the staccato picking that you hear in the intro, interludes and ending.  Then he added color throughout the song with beautiful electric guitar accents.

What Do You Think?

We think that “Right Next To Me” is a real crowd-pleaser – but we want to get your input.  Why not buy the song and then tell us what you think on Facebook, Twitter or on our Website?  We’ve placed it in our online stores for you to enjoy:


You can also purchase the entire “January 16” album at the above stores – or you can buy the CD on our 4Play Records Music Store.

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