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  

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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

2014

Well, another year gone, and, as ever, a busy one full of some really excellent music.

It’s been the year I finally launched the Library Music company I’ve been planning for years. It’s been extraordinarily stressful to get it up and running, and frustrating that I haven’t spent as much time on it as I’d like to, but I’m really pleased with the catalogue I’ve released, with 3 albums nearly ready to go in the first bit of 2015. I’ve learnt so much in doing it: where to put my time and where I really shouldn’t have bothered. Won’t be sure if any music’s been used til the middle of the year, really, due to the way the collection societies and cues work but I have pretty clear plans for the next year or 2: the very definition of a slow burner.

Mixing’s been great this year : as well as the TV stuff, there’s been lots to do : I’ve mixed the next 2 Daydream Club singles ready for 2015: really enjoy being part of their world: super organised, but, importantly, really great songs..these next 2 singles will see them get to the next level, for sure, building off the back of their million streams profile from the last EP I mixed last year. I should really now refer to myself as ‘million streaming producer, mixing and mastering engineer’ … but I won’t 😉

Am half way through mixing an album by One Cure For Man: one man indie rock army with some hefty songs…all self recorded. Some great epic moments on there… enjoying mixing it immensely: I genuinely love DIY people who recognise they can do it themselves, but need a helping hand here and there. James, from the band (or rather the band) is one such example.

Started recording / mixing a new Shortwave Fade EP in feb.. not quite sure that’s finished or not..? Good tunes, though. Stone Roses-esque proportions of in-between-material-ism, although the singer’s just had a baby , so will let them off.

Enjoyed mastering a load of  Edgy Production albums: been doing their stuff for over a decade, and have known the people there for ever and ever. Lovely to be involved in such a different project

I mixed a new track by more old friends, Sally and Greg under their new banner The Aurora…I think there’s a web site coming but here’s the track.

Just finished another production for Hannah Magenta under her Mwah foil: uber smooth pop. Here’s one I did a while ago for her.

 .. the new one’s a bit more Madge (Madonna, rather than Bishop)

Had a great time at Simon Says festival at DMH in July: I did a pop up studio and gorged on recording some really great artists: recorded quickly, just how I like it (avoids boredom), and mixed back at my studio. As well as the Daydream Club, a few of these artists are doing really well, especially her and him

I’ve done a few remixes this year.. I enjoy doing these loads… blows the cobwebs away and no pressure for them to really do anything!

Highlight for me has been the Momus remix: am a really massive fan. Was bait obsessed with him in the late 80s into the 90s, so to get the ‘I like it, and here’s a video I made for it’ email from him was a real joy.

Anyone who knows me from my late teens will really know what a career high it is.

Anyway, in other remix news, I did this one for Laura Kidd who goes under the She Makes War banner ..I think it was last year I finished it, but it came out last week.. one of my favourite remixes I’ve done

.. I actually did another for 3 or 4 years back, and I love that one too. Am a fan of Laura’s work ethic x 1000 : look her up, gloom pop fans.

In the summer I remixed Lily Allen’s last album title track : I like bits of this remix… I imagine it’ll end up being torn up and used elsewhere in my canon, but I loved doing it

Have enjoyed lots of music, but particular albums I’ve loved, in no particular order:

Lykke Li ; ‘I Never Learn’ (not as good as the last album, but extra points for looking like she’d smell nice)

St Vincent ; ‘St Vincent’ (probably my album of the year, fact fans)

Johnny Marr ; ‘Playland’ (horrific sleeve, though, love…ask for help from Morrissey in future, yes?)

Wild Beasts : ‘Preset Tense’ (patchy but ace in places)

Morrissey : ‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business’ Lyrically patchy, musically panoramic

Baxter Dury : ‘Its A Pleasure’ (close second for album of the year)

Beck : ‘Morning Phase’ (lushest sounding album of the year)

Future Island ; ‘Singles’ (you just keep remembering Samuels dancing)

Metronomy : ‘Love Letters’ .. great article on the recording of that album here 

Damon Albarn : ‘Everyday Robots’ (except that one about the elephant)

Jessie Ware : ‘Tough Love’ (it’s a bit long and theres a bit of an X Factor choir at the end of one song that spoils it)

Royksopp and Robyn ‘Do It Again’ (gorgeous electropop)

Gruff Rhys ‘American Interior’ (proper quirky pop)

……showing some love for tracks by Aphex Twin, Perfume Genius, Black Rivers, Sleaford Mods, Ghost Culture, Lana Del Ray (irritatingly gets under my skin despite the lyric police being on 24/7 alert)

Track of the year for me has to be the Future Islands single ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’.. not that its an amazing song, just that I loved the way the Letterman performance blew me away in a way that rarely happens: ties the song with a moment in time, as this piece in the Guardian points out

Gig of the year was Morrissey at the 02 in November: he was in fine voice, and he brought a little tear to my eye when he did ‘Trouble Loves Me’ , ‘Asleep’ and ‘Meat Is Murder’ (complete with brutal video backdrop that surely converted a few people that night), despite it being a cavernous venue, his voice filled it. After all this time, he really is one of a kind.. and ace tour t shirt 😉

be kind

Be kind to animals or I’ll kill you

Film of the year : ‘Northern Soul’ : lovely clothes, excellent music and amazing dancing.

So, new year around the corner, continued wishes for healthy family and time to enjoy them, continued musical journeys with nice people

Hope you all had a good year, and here’s to a great 2015