Best book ever?

Paul from Seamus Wong recommended The Daily Adventures of Mixerman a couple of years ago… and finally got round to reading it

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It’s a satire based on the recording of a big budget album in 2002: back in the days when major labels threw money at bands, rich with the money from reselling catalogue on CD. Mixerman (engineer/producer Eric Sarafin) details his sessions with Bitch Slap, a ‘bidding war band’ : not particularly much to do with the technicalities…mic choice, pre amp settings and the like, but a massive amount to do with the idiocy of major labels, and the characters surrounding a band signed for silly amounts of money with the pressure on to sell hits. Well, to sell hits, they need to record hits, and that’s where the diaries reveal such a wealth of characters anyone who’s ever worked in the music industry will recognise. The recording of these hits is painful at best: ghost bassists, session drummers, girlfriends, preening singers, astounding wastes of money…all told in such a warm way by Eric with a story that unfolds in such a great way.Very much a time capsule in some respects of how never ending budget albums were made.

Mixer man clearly knows his onions: his people skills, the way he reads a room and the band, the way he recognises the dynamics of the team and tries so hard to progress the sessions is so interesting, and, so often made me laugh out loud.

This book should be essential reading for budding producers, engineers and bands: read it, absorb it and the mistakes that were made and learn from it!

More books to read, am some way into Zen and The Art of Mixing, and that’s making me look at mixing in a different way: great perspective changer.

 

Simon Says Pop Up Studio 2016

Annual festival recording made me return to Demontfort Hall for the Simon Says festival last weekend.

The last two years I’ve been in the Garden Suite.. lovely vibe there.. this year, we were stuck upstairs out of the way… less vibes, but some good stuff recorded.

Usual fighting against adjacent sound stages and time, but, again, managed to capture some lovely performances with a couple of students doing lots of the work. Mixed in between sessions then finished mixing off and mastered super quick in my studio here.

I used Logic X again: I set up a template in advance with go-to reverbs and delays to make the mixing as smooth as possible… short plate, hall-verb, amp verb and 2 tape delays: slap-back and mid length delay.. along with compression and EQ that was that.

Recording was taken care of with a pair of Beta 57s: I love these.. directional and warm. There was a couple of 58s and 3 DI’s to cover every eventuality.

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All this was plumbed into an Alesis USB Multimix desk : this is the 5th year I’ve used that.. been pretty rock solid bar 1 restart.

I rarely record these days… I do much more mixing out of choice.. I can get super bored in recording sessions waiting for stuff to happen… so it’s great to gorge on loads of artists over a weekend recording some magic super quickly with no hanging around!

 

 

 

 

Song Exploder

So much great stuff out there in the Wild West that is the internet.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 20.58.19Song Exploder takes a song, and speaks to the writers and producers about how it was written. Super simple premise, super short in length.. a definite easy win for any song writers.

Recent highlights.. Iggy Pop ( I like him) and Wheatus (I don’t like them), but all the episodes are fascinating

Take a listen here  

Pass it on

A great example of one thing leading to another… a recent blog post was on Bobby Owsinski’s Inner Circle Podcast….and how brilliant it was/is.

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Well, through this, I found out Bobby is a regular on Audionowcast: it’s been going for ten years… so I’ve been ploughing through recent episodes. The premise didn’t inspire confidence: a group of audio geeks chatting for a couple of hours… but it’s brilliant. post production You’ve got guys at the top of their game talking about anything and everything audio related.

I’ve been learning a tonne of stuff about how post production works, foley, vocal chains, mixing techniques….just a load of really useful info. Reassuringly, I’m not out of my depth. I love the tone of the show: and even though all of the people are proper, and I mean proper professionals, they’re all still finding the feet, just like us mere mortals.

Go check it out

Bobby O’s Helping hands

I teach Music Business on a Music Tech Foundation Degree.

I’ve taught business for a few years now, and I’ve taught in general for over 15 years, but my main ‘thing’ in teaching used to be teaching just Logic. Although there was and is prep for that, as I use Logic daily in my mixing, composition, mastering and writing work, I have a million or so resources on tap, so prep-time is minimal. Music Business, on the other hand suffers for a couple  of reasons:

  • Students would rather be in the studios or fannying around on Macs so you have to work harder to engage
  • You expect students to read around the subject (and they can’t blag it when they don’t in ways they might in other more practical subjects)

So, when you find resources that can help you prep hopefully engaging content for what can be perceived as a ‘dry’ subject, you tend to grab them with both hands.

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I recently discovered Bobby Owsinski’s Inner Circle Podcast , and what an amazing resource it is! Bobby Owsinski’s had a long career in the business, not least as an author of some pretty key texts . What is so important to the podcasts, though, is the massive list of brilliant industry players he interviews weekly. What I really love, though, is Bobby’s tone and lines of questioning: the questions are always thoughtful and the answers are broken down into evaluative chunks: so for students trying to make sense of the world of music business, this is vital.

Go check out this ace resource: with over a hundred interviews and counting, there’s something for all of you!

Incidentally… for a different Bobby O take a listen to this:

2015 summed up

Some great stuff I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with this year:

Finished mixing the One Cure For Man album.. got some great reviews.. really hard working one man band I’ve worked with for a few years now.

I recorded, mixed and mastered an album (except for the tracks by Sophia Marshall and Howard Rose.. Andy Jenkinson mixed those two and did a great job… grateful to him for taking a bit of weight off my shoulders) again at Simon Says festival at DMH in July.. really enjoyed it: super quick recording project.. great snapshot of the festival

Mixed a handful of the multimillion-streaming Daydream Club ‘s new tracks.. really brilliant stuff… and a great cover too.. all will be revealed by them soon.

Finished mixing an album for Claire Schofield.. lovely honest folk.. really love this song. She recorded it all herself..so just the mix and master for me to do.

Mixed a couple of albums of meditative music for a lovely couple of people

I did a fair bit of mastering: a few children albums, one off tracks and an EP recorded at the ever lovely Seamus Wong.

I put out 2 albums of media music… 80% my stuff…. and worked on a bit of a plan for 2016 so the music for media publishing can progress at a much quicker rate. Got 6 or 7 albums in various states of completion I’m hoping to get out there next year.

I completed a remix for really brilliant artist Diagrams then donated it to art project The Dark Outside : basically it’s where tracks get played in a forest in Scotland.. the only way you can hear is by being there and listening on a radio.. then the tracks gets deleted. I did a track a couple of years ago for it, too. Just love the idea of it….seems like little point trying to promote music in the usual way, so better to do it just because….

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Other than the festival album, the only other recording was for a band called Kafkadiva.. a band I’ve worked with for around 20 years. I don’t really like recording much these days.. boredom threshold is ever closer to zero with each passing year, but they wanted to do it live in their living room: and I really like doing that sort of thing.. it’s economical for the band and I like having the space as part of the recording. It’s also super-quick and compact time-wise for me.

It’s not out yet but here’s a track from their last album I recorded and mixed

Gig of the year: easy one, this. Father John Misty in Cambridge a couple of months ago was amazing. Helped by the fact the album he was promoting is ace in every way.. he was suave, really funny and had a proper star quality… a little man crush for me that night😉

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Album of the year, is, predictably, then, I Love You Honeybear

.. just full of amazing songs, and the arrangements and production is straight out of the 70s…. beautiful.

Other stuff I’ve enjoyed:

Liked the Blur album.. not a massive fan of Blur but they always have their moments. More of a fan of Albarn’s work ethic and career. Clever boy.

Not released this year but new to me this year was The Silver Globe by Jane Weaver… great voice and songs..

John Grant’s Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is excellent: not as excellent as Pale Green Ghosts, but has some corking tunes ..properly dark and funny lyrics.

Enjoyed bits of the Young Father’s album, too.. looking forwards to seeing them in January supporting Massive Attack.

Again, enjoyed bits of the Tame Impala album: too sickly slickly to like the whole album, but tight production and some good songs made it a good album

New Order came back…my favourite album of all time is Technique…and it’s been a downhill struggle since them. I still love Bernard’s voice, but miss Hooky’s bass (wish they’d all kiss and make up).. enough in there to make it a worthwhile effort. Still terrible lyrics, but always have been.

Really loved the Mac De Marco album: sounds like a demo , but refreshingly un-produced, but great songs

It feels like a guilty pleasure to say you like Lana Del Rey: each album sneaks into my consciousness; pretty terrible words and voice, but I like the  whole package : the production and visuals.. and there are some great songs on this album. No Video Games, though

We got a lovely dog in May called Arthur….and it’s meant I’ve been walking lots, so I’ve been listening to so many more podcasts than normal. Here’s my favourites:

All 6 Music ones : you can’t go wrong with any of the 6 Music Podcasts… The First Time is always great, but the weekly ones from RadMac and Laverne are reliably entertaining, too

Making It From The Home Studio has been a sporadic common sense source of advice.. the mix walkthroughs are particularly excellent

I love Song Exploder: a weekly exposition of song writing and production… always inspirational

Sodajerka On Songwriting is such an amazing resource.. so interesting: a different interview with classic writers every fortnight or so.. you won’t believe the caliber they’ve got.

CD Baby DIY podcast is also great

Music Business Worldwide.. really great interviews with high level industry folk

Sound On Sound podcasts.. good but infrequent

Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast makes me chuckle a lot

.. as does Adam Buxton‘s relatively new podcast

..and finally, Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces podcast has some really interesting guests and is worth a listen

Happy New Year to you all Continue reading