2019 In Review

When I started this blog, I posted pretty regularly …was a working concern. Now, it’s a post a year! Not through want of trying..just no time..or rather, am prioritising other things. Blogging used to be much more of a thing…it’s just a bit of a memory book now.

News this year? 2nd year into running Music at Confetti , 2nd Industry Week with a third already shaping up to be great in March 2020. A definite highlight for me.

Met Jools Holland as part of the 25th anniversary in November at workjools 10.jpeg

Went to the Great Escape in Brighton for work back in May….Bristol, Tileyard in London and Norwich too over the year.

We did a single with Gareth Jones on production for a Confetti artist (Bria) in our new SSL studio. Definite highlight for me as was working at Splendour festival with a bunch of students.

Finished and passed my Masters earlier this month…got a distinction! All that time I now have is being devoted to a few albums I have on the go designed for media use. Pretty much my sole out-of-the-day-job hours focus for the next year or two.

Still doing some moderation and marking for RSL Awards…seasonal, but I still learn lots from seeing how schools ad colleges deliver and assess music and music tech subjects.

I reached the 25th release on my music for media imprint : a super slow start to the year due to the Masters eating all my time, but a few releases in quick succession at the end meant I finished strong! I have 2020’s releases planned with a few more ideas to nail.Screenshot 2019-12-30 at 16.34.06.png

Mixing and mastering was pretty thrifty this year in terms of other people’s projects, but busy on my own material. I did do some mix work on a track that was played on Everest for the highest DJ set world record a few months back called ‘Count The Stars’ by Genix and the always awesome Hannah Brine though, so if you’re gonna mix something, it may as well be something that helps break a world record 😉

Should I do a ‘favourite plug ins’ type bit? Go on then…

In terms of new ones, I bought all 12 of the Arturia plug ins: as with most plug ins sets, I don’t use them all, but the Neve Pre Amp emulation is brilliantimage.png: I love it. The Memory Man emulation is also great.

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The compressors are fine… but I find myself going back to the WAVES ones for the 1176 clone. The DBX 160 Clone is good though.

Favourite plug in of the year is the Abbey Road Plates  reverb..really great. Speaking of WAVES, I still mix into the SSL bus compressorimage.png and use H Delay, the L2 and the CLA Compressors on most mixes. We’re all really spoilt for choice aren’t we?

I still use the Soundtoys suite on most things… especially the Decapacitator, Primal Tap, Echo Boy and Radiator, but all of them are pretty ace.

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Albums of the year for me…..yes questionable politics aside, Morrissey’s covers album didn’t disappoint. In fine voice.

Matt Maltese’s album is brilliant….last year’s debut was ace..and this new one (‘Krystal’) is self produced, more lo-fi but goes straight for the heart via the funny bones

Marika Hackman’s 2019 effort was also on repeat for me this year….

 

I’m a massive Lilac Time and Stephen Duffy fan, so was a treat to get 2 new albums this year…well one reissue and one new one. Both brill.image.pngimage.png

 

Other good albums I can remember….Nick Cave (not as good as the reviews say, but still great), Elbow, Cate Le Bon, Hot Chip, William Doyle…..

Loads of other music stuck in my ears this year….I’ve done a playlist a month for the last 5 years if you fancy listening in…..

Podcasts! Mostly the same as last years…RHLSTP and Adam Buxton are always my top 2…….new ones I love include Tape Notes and Broken Record.

Happy New Year everyone: let’s hope the new decade is full of positive things.

Keep going, be nice to people, do good work and look after your loved ones.

 

2018 in Review

Well, what a year. New job, lots of mixing, remixing, a few albums for media done and a healthy dose of academia.

My job running the Music curriculum at Confetti is going well. Very big compared to my last position, but a lovely set of staff to manage and some really nice people I share an office with.

Industry Week was a real highlight: a week of industry guests taking over Confetti. It felt like some of the best CPD I’d ever had. The new studios and rehearsal rooms are about done.. and this time next year the whole of the basement will be done… 14 practice rooms, 6 studios and lots of other rooms.

I visited Maida Vale studios earlier this month with some students: really brilliant… the sense of history there is amazing.

Part of my Confetti job is working with TileYard in London : Confetti validate their Masters in Songwriting and Production. Enjoyed visiting a few times : learning loads. Am back in a few weeks. Some lovely staff and students there.

I spoke on a panel at the Brighton Music Conference on production music in April: was terrified, but ended up really enjoying it and holding my own (I hope!)Here’s a picture of me looking like an idiot.

John Meredith - Arms Production Music

I finished two modules in my Masters degree in songwriting. Its been brilliant getting back into academic writing: a main reason for taking it on. So far, so good: 2 distinctions! Am a couple of weeks from my next module being submitted. Loving it.

Arms has come into its own this year: released 5 new albums, but, importantly, had lots of tracks placed in a couple of new series. More significantly, some new relationships with producers and music supervisors which have already yielded some positive responses for 2019. It’s been nice to see the balance further swing to material NOT written by me, but by over 80 composers on the books. People are responding to the fact we aren’t the shiny material that’s out there. Sticking to my guns is slowly paying off.

Gigs….not enough, but saw Matt Maltese a couple times…was great …his album’s a future classic for sure.

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I also saw Father John Misty and Bjork at All Points East ..really great (but very middle class) festival in London in May. Father John was ace. Bjork was magical: it’s been a while since she wrote a chorus, but live she was amazing.

I saw Morrissey for the 16th time back in February. Pretty ropey sound (NEC in Birmingham) but his voice is on form.

Top albums this year:

Father John Misty, ‘God’s favourite Customer’ album was so good….I don’t remember an artist where their first 4 albums are such high quality. Best snare sound ever, too.

Matt Maltese, ‘Bad Comedian’. Great album. Love him and ‘As The World Caves In’ is just gorgeous. Listened to this a hundred times.

The Good The Bad and The Queen. What middle age music fan wouldn’t want Damon’s career? The first albums great and this is a worthy follow up.

Mitski, ‘Be The Cowboy’: Such a consistant piece of work, top to toe. Heartbreaking in places.

Anna Calvi, ‘Hunter’ : Ace production, amazing voice.

Billy Ryder Jones, ‘Yawn’ : Such a gorgeous piece of heartache..so good.

St Vincent, “‘MassEducation’ : Wonderful re-imagining of ‘Mass Seduction

Jon Hopkins, ‘Singularity’ . Wonky and lovely because of it.

BED, ‘BED’: Mini super group, topped off with Baxter Dury’s voice. Some ace stuff on here.

Young Fathers, ‘Cocoa Sugar’. Dark

Low ‘Double Negative’. Dark, distorted and awesome.

Tracey Thorn, ‘Record’. Still one of my favourite vocalists. Some good tunes, too.

Lykke Li, ‘So sad, So Sexy’. The prize for the worst album title of all time perhaps, but that voice carries some lacklustre songs and production. Was hoping for ten ‘Time In A Bottle’s

 

I did a mix of New Year by Sugababes for the Darling Buds. Then a remix of it for them too. Proud moment, that, as I was a massive fan.

Available for free ’til the 2nd Jan

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Got another remix in the bag for them, too: hopefully that will see the light of day in 2019.

I mixed the fourth album for One Cure For Man, out in 2019. He’s a one man army with a great work ethic.

Also, finished mixing an album for Kafka Diva, mainly self recorded except the drums: another example of what you can do with a small budget these days.

I did a load of moderation and marking for RSL Awards, too this year. A great learning experience seeing how centres up and down the country do things.

2019 is the year I’ll finish my Masters degree, release some new music for media albums and once my Masters is out of the way in September time I’ll get some more time to focus on the music for media plan in more of a structured way.

Here’s to a healthy 2019

 

 

 

Review of 2017

Busy busy!

Lots of recording, mixing and mastering this year, as ever.

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Released a few albums with my music for media company, went to Abbey Road studios , started moderating for RSL Awards , recorded and mixed another album at the Simon Says festival again  , and, it turns out, was my last as manager at Leicester College music and sound department as I move onto a new job running the Music, Music Tech and Live Events department at Confetti in Nottingham: really excited about this: lots going on there: new degrees locally and nationally, new building with 6 studios, loads of practice rooms and new staff and students to meet. It’s worth saying over and over, that my time at Leicester College has been an immense learning experience, but, overall, the best part has been the people: peerless as a team in FE: I’ll miss every one of them.

I got a release on a cassette for a song I wrote for the Dark Outside..it’s now sold out

I decided to start a Masters degree in songwriting: am one term in and I’m loving it. My course leader, Davey Ray Moor is in torch bearing band Cousteaux from the late 90’s. He’s great..I really look forwards to our weekly tutorials. Term one’s module has resulted in 5 songs I’m currently mixing: they’ll turn up in some form on future music for media albums I’m sure either as they are or as instrumentals: it’s been a great excuse to write and record: I’ve loved singing loads. It’s been great knowing I can work to exercises and ‘turn on’ my writing chops when I need to.

This year’s gig of the year was New Order at the Manchester International Festival : it was just perfect

Playing ‘Vanishing Point’ live….it hit me where it hurt and plumbed directly into 16 year old me. Was just amazing. Then you look at the place it was, the stage show as well as the set list..then add in the exhibition at Manchester Gallery and it made for one of the best musical days and nights I’ve ever had.

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Albums of the year: I will forget some , I’m sure, but

Taylor Swift: no irony here, it’s such a great pop album!

Baxter Dury: Loved his last album more, but, the new one’s great

St Vincent: effortlessly cool pop

Morrissey: Hmm….I’m a die hard fan, but need to seperate the art from the artist (he really has said some stupid stuff again this year), El Moz turned in a solid album, and as with the last one, the true star is the production by Joe Chiccarelli

Anna Of The North. Patchy but some good stuff..not as good as Shura’s album last year but treading similar water

Charlotte Gainsbourg : I LOVE the ‘Deadly Valentine’ single.. really great!

Paul at Seamus Wong told me about Protomartyr : some good stuff on their last album: love the fact they’re unlikely rock stars.

LCD’s return was great: a journey through James Murhpy’s record collection (again) and not a disappointment

Father John Misty’s album was great: my favourite album of 2015 : very rare I can listen to an album start to finish , but that album was great. 2017’s Father John Misty’s follow up was not cut from the same lyrical cloth: this time he avoids love…so for me, was harder to get into, but it’s worth the work: he’s a proper headliner now: so obvious when I saw him live in a couple of years ago. One of my favourite gigs ever.

Really love the Nadine Shah album, too if only for this song

Beck’s album was pop-tastic:

Arcade Fire’s album was patchy but had its moments

Bits of Lorde’s album was also great…..I still don’t think she’s the artist that critics see, and God knows how she got Bowie’s patronage , but she’s certainly got ‘something’

Went to Sensoria Pro again: was so good : Chris Packham, Geoff Barrow..and one of our composers won the scoring contest!

Podcasts: And The Writer Is is my new favourite podcast…really amazing conversations between writers at the top of their game.

But, others to recommend:

20kHz 

Song Exploder

Sodajerker

Adam Buxton

Richard Herring

Switched on Pop

Tape Op

Setlist

Sonic Talks

Bobby Owinski

Gear Club 

Edith Bowman

And, for no other reason than rescue dogs are ace, here’s a picture of Arthur, our Lurcher

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I go into 2018 with a real energy and I can’t wait to get stuck in!

All the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbey Road

Attended a recording session at Abbey Road studios today

I got in with the Rethink Your Mind organisation over the last year and one of our students where the day job is won the chance to record with a choir on a charity single…so away we went.

All round good egg Adam Ellis from Deadline Studios was there signing off takes, Mark Morriss (Bluetones) and folk singer Lucy Ward were doing lead lines, and there was a healthy volume of people tape-opping, note taking and engineering in a very organised ‘out of the way’ way.

Studio One is absolutely massive…used for orchestral recordings on film scores, and impressively, 160 pairs of working headphones.

Loads of lovely mics and stands floating around

Anyway, a very efficient choir fixer, Pippa Gearing was a highlight for me….super ‘on it’ making use of only 2 hours to do all the choir bits.

The engineer, assistant and note taking assistant all read music from the score provided.. I thought that was pretty interesting, as was the unspoken efficiency between all three.

A day to remember, for sure.

 

 

Summer’s nearly gone….

As ever, an extraordinary amount of time has passed since the last log post.

Have been recording for Kafka Diva’s second album…well, I’m recording the drums, they’re recording the rest at their house, then files over to me to mix and master…..we’re about half way through.

Started recording a new Shortwave Fade single last week, and there’ll be an acompanying remix EP that I’ve done for them, too.

Speaking of remixes, I’ve just finished one for a band I really really loved from the late 80’s, early 90’s : they’ve signed it off and ‘love it’….just looking how to release it..I will no doubt shout about it when they do.

I was back at Simon Says festival doing the pop up studio again: was great again…I say it pretty much every year, but it makes up for my lack of recording through the rest of the year. Highlights included The Millmen..10 piece Ska band….10 piece! 4 Mics! 4 DIs! ..really love the limitations and it sorts the men from the boys… also loved catching up with Uncle Frank

 

Books? Finished ALL the Mixerman books now…that’s all the ‘Zen and the Art of...’ series, and the newest Billionaire Apparent one…..they’re all brilliant. The Zen ones make you approach everything with some balls and attitude. He’s streaming the audio version of the ‘Daily Adventures Of Mixerman’ at the moment…so funny ,and so much to learn! Essential listening

Have released a few more music for media albums….more to come..upping the release rate with that now I have more composers on the books and a good co-publsher to do the leg work.

Image result for new order so it goes

Gigs….slow year but made up for it with a gig in Manchester seeing New Order and the Royal College of Music’s synth orchestra.

It was amazing….playing some of my favourite songs from my teens and early 20s..the years you’re most influenced by the music you take in, I think. Vanishing Point was just perfect…but Shellshock stole the show (surprisingly, as its not a strong single)

Albums thus far: Father John Misty’s is great, Goldfrapp’s is great, Mac De Marco’s is good….ummm….can’t think of any other this year so far…

 

2016 in review

Can’t believe how quickly the year’s gone..only 12 months since my last annual review.

As ever, a fruitful year: never  a shortage of things to do.

Have released a couple of albums on my music for media imprint  : an Ambient one and my favourite one…a Moterik album. Lots of music of mine on there. Signed a co publishing deal to try to kick the company into the stratosphere in 2017

Just finished mixing album 3 for One Cure for Man and lots of mastering for a few artists.

Did a load of production for Hannah Brine for some publishing avenues.

I slipped in a remix for We Three and The Death Rattle

I mixed most of the stuff on this over the last 2 years, but glad it’s all out as an album: Lux by The Daydream Club

 

I recorded and mixed/mastered another album at Simon Says festival

Favourite plug ins for me this year have been the Soundtoys mini versions : the Little Radiator and the Primal Tap have both been on pretty much every mix I’ve done in 2016: super simple and sound great.

Books? : Read the Mixerman books: all of them highly recommended but ‘The Daily Adventures Of’ is a great place to start.

The Johnny Marr autobiography is a good read: still leaves lots of mystery to the bits you want to know more of (for me, anything behind the Smiths and Electronic) but it’s written is such an open and conversational way you can’t help but love him…and you can’t say that about Moz’s biog a couple of years back

Three gigs in a year is unusual for me these days, but I made them count this year! Massive Attack, John Grant and PJ Harvey:  a trio of ace-ness.

Song Of The Year is ‘I Feel The Weight’ by Miike Snow: it’s perfect meld of production and a rock solid ‘song’. Beautiful.

Albums I’ve loved:

Bowie, Beyonce, Iggy Pop, Bon Ivor, Mystery Jets, Shura, Miike Snow, Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Meilyr Jones

 

2017 holds more of the same: got a few music for media albums to finish and get out.Am doing some recording and mixing for Kafka Diva in January for their new album, too and things always just crop up out of the blue.

You just keep working, don’t you?’Get yer tackle out and see what bites’ as Paul Calf said

For those of you who work on your own, do bear with it: it’s hard to keep going sometimes when you can’t see the wood for the trees…but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel

All the best for 2017

 

 

 

Leonard Cohen

I was first introduced to Cohen in my teens…There was an album of covers around in ’91 called I’m Your Fan with some versions by bands I liked,and , like so many other things I got into, I got ‘Im Your Man’ out from the local library to listen to. I was puzzled…musically it sounded like a bunch of MIDI files, but with this amazing voice. ‘First We Take Manhattan’ : what an opener…still sounds great when I hear it now….I’d always imagined New Order covering it for some reason.

So, I started to delve into his other work: I got ‘The Songs of Leonard Cohen’ on vinyl from a charity shop I worked at, and this is the album that plumbed straight into my blood. I took it to Manchester when I moved and it became a staple for my time up there. I loved the classical guitar and the female backing vocals.. I’ve just been listening to it tonight and it’s pretty beautiful but ramshackle! Listen to ‘So Long,Marianne’ and things just get thrown in then chucked out! It’s great!

Later albums left me a little cold for a while: it was the music…just sounding so cheap and Portasound-y…but then again, I loved Momus, and all his albums sounded that way too, so I always dipped in and out of his albums over the years to see what he was up to.

His last one, released just a few weeks ago really is lovely: razor sharp words, and, maybe my age, but the music sits well with me now.

May he rest in peace.