How To Make Kim Carnes 'Bette Davis Eyes' With DRC
Although originally recorded in a 1920s Jazz style in 1975, it took singer Kim Carnes and producer Val Garay to come up with a new arrangement for the song before it became a hit. Val had an assistant go out and buy the cheapest drum set available and combined with the sound of an early synthesizer and Kim’s infamous raspy vocals, they found the sound they were looking for and it subsequently won the 1981 Grammy for ‘Record of the Year’.
Screen legend Bette Davis famously portrayed unsympathetic or morally grey characters throughout her career, but she was also known for her very distinctive eyes. When Carnes says the main character of her song has “Bette Davis Eyes”, she is signalling to the audience she cannot be trusted, no matter how attractive and seductive she seems.
After the song became a hit, Davis wrote letters to Kim and the songwriters to say she was a fan of the song and thanked them for making her “a part of modern history” and for making her appear “cool” to her grandchildren.
Carnes struck up a special friendship with Davis, often visiting her at her home before her death in 1989 and in what Carnes refers to as a career highlight, she performed the song live at a tribute to the legendary actress, held just before she died.
In today’s DRC Sound Design Tutorial video, Lucas looks at three of the song’s sounds; the bass, a background sound and the arpeggio lead.
We’ll turn her music on you,