The antidote

You’re told to record things well: right mics, right positions, great pre amps… get everything in time and in tune. Fix your mistakes.

Two fingers to that

Now that’s perfection.

 

 

 

We Are All Dogs on Chains (for a bit)

Strange times…and I must be bored if I’m resorting to regular blogging again!

My day job’s on lock down, and being asthmatic it might be a while before I’m back in the physical realm.

As the whole of the self employed creative world struggle to plan how to earn their living, I assume OBS are seeing record downloads, and I’m one of their new users. Finally set myself up to try some live streaming for some student virtual lectures over the next few weeks. Yes, I am now that idiot living in the corner of a screen. Thanks to Mark Towers for helping me set it up.

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 19.01.58

This enforced down time will hit us all in so many ways. Financially tough, but a lack of contact with your loved ones is already strange.

If there is a plus, it’s the potential headspace to work on/finish some projects. I’m writing / tweaking some new units for RSL Awards : a level 3 vocational qualification. It’s about to be the marking period for external units for them, too…although that work may completely dry up this year for obvious reasons.

I’ve got a handful of albums on the go to shop to various libraries. These range from shiny beds and reveals to some really dark piano and beats stuff….aiming for 5 albums this year but thats wildly optimistic!

I’ve just had three songs signed to a library on a new imprint…..sort of ‘Killing Eve’ type soundtrack stuff: I love the Unloved albums, so it was nice to win the pitch.

I wrote a couple of tracks for my friend John’s library over the weekend…. I find it so much easier writing for other people rather than my own projects! Just got to finish the mixes.

I’ve got a stack of albums pretty much ready for my own library , so that’s sort of ticking along….planning an album a month for the next 12 – 18 months, then I’ll see where I am with it.

Anyway….new music from Morrissey was out on Friday in the form of ‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’ , his 4th album with Joe Chiccarelli on production duties. I dread to think what it’d be like without him producing…..he highlights how vital a good producer is: he’s   single handedly halted the decline of Moz (creatively that is, not politically obviously)  by essentially breaking all of Moz’s sonic rules…it’s got loads of synths for one. The songs, like the last 15 years, are patchy, but the production is ace: muscular and , well, very mad in places.

‘Darling,  I Hug a Pillow’ is brill with some lovely deadpan words: ‘Loving you is a trauma no-one else should face , or sit still for’ : highlights are few and far between though with some proper clunky lyrics and awkward melodies. Overall though, like the last 3 albums, some genuinely great stuff marred (!) by some crap songs and a lack of self editing skills.

Baxter Dury’s album was also out on the same day. Very much a one and a bit trick pony, the last single ‘I’m Not Your Dog’ is perfect: sexy, seedy, simple and very French

 

Stay safe, all x

Positive Negatives

Life can be hard.

Had some family illness, family deaths, things breaking down and a host of other things that make some days really hard.

One thing I learned a few years ago is to try to turn the downs into ups. If those around you are negative, put your energy into doing positive things: Write some music, work on something that will make someone around you happy, do something that moves you, even snail pace, towards a goal. These pay dividends : the hard bits are the initial effort to start to do something when you feel like you’ve been hit…and the time it takes…..you plant seeds that sometimes take years to bear fruit. Some may never result in anything, but isn’t it better you try rather than focus on pointless negatives?

Don’t be a dick.

https://www.mind.org.uk

Here’s a super sad song..nice to have a cry every now and again

And here’s a super happy  (well, sleazy happy) one…single of the year so far

 

 

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 and 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.

Screenshot 2019-12-30 at 16.40.16.png

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.

image.png

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.

MattMaltese_BadContestant

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

db

 

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