Aug 12th and 13th : Recording, mastering and emailing files (yawn)

Last night I packed up my freshly flight-cased gear and went to Shortwave Fade’s rehearsal room to record some guitars. Great set up, though small, it was fine for what we needed to get done. Only took a couple of hours to record Ben’s parts with some extra ideas we worked up: nice when people are open to try things, even when the idea is ‘make your amp sound like the end of the world, use one string and feedback in tune’. Needless to say it sounds ace. Their room is like so many others out there and the band are clever boys… am pushing them into thinking about doing more of their own recording: they really don’t need anyone for the nuts and bolts.. just the fairy dust and mix. Cheaper for them, too. But we’ll see. Last year, Gareth Jones gave a guest mix and talk at my day job.. he was saying most of the records he makes these days, some or even all of the recording is done in the band’s rehearsal room. Food for thought. He should know what he’s talking about. In fact he as telling me how he recorded the vocals for the last Erasure album he produced in his kitchen. Exactly the type of ethic I relate to… just get on with it…………

After we finished guitars I played the band the ‘Levitate’ mix as it stands.. which is nearly there but before tweaks. They’ll use that as a a reference for where the mix goes from here.

Tonight has been remastering the One Cure For Man tracks, and tweaks to the Jamie Says stuff.

And then.. a whole host of emailing files (and keeping track of them). Very dull but necessary.

Also dull was finishing the WAA album uploads to CD baby and attempting to rearrange the album order. John (Rushton, co-band man in WAA and all round musical genius) has done some great artwork for it, which I uploaded too. Now, thinking cap on for the physical release……..

11th August, Shortwave Fade, One Cure For Man Bit-ty Mclean and Jamie Says (and David J)

Tweaked Shortwave Fade mix, remastered a couple of Jamie Says tracks and mastered 3 One Cure For Man tracks. Was struggling to place Kyle from Jamie Says’ voice.. he reminded me of someone.. tonight it clicked: David J. No, not Del Boy, David J : from Love and Rockets and Bauhaus. No?

Much better version of this song on Spotify

Spent time converting WAA tracks to 16 bit versions to upload to CD Baby.. turns out it won’t accept 24 bit. Get with the times CD Baby

Aug 10th 2010: more mixing

Spent most of the evening on the Shortwave Fade mix. Lots of thinning out to be done.. when you record each guitar track with a pair of mics you tend to feel inclined to use them both for every track…..but sometimes you simply don’t need them all, especially when theres alot of synth tracks competing. Got to the vocal stage and a bit of a fiddle with various effects, but need to approach it fresh tomorrow. Hoping to have something close to a finished mix for thursday’s recording with them.

Kyle/Jamie Says emailed some comments back about the first drafts of the masters: he’s tweaking mixes his end on a few, too, but all in all a good starting point.. will crack on tomorrow night.

…. and when my ears got tired, I started uploading the We Are Altered album masters for the label to CD Baby for digital distribution. CD Baby have a real heart to what they do…. take a listen to their (pretty) regular podcasts : always interesting, and very ‘feet on the ground’ advice.

Aug 7th, 8th, 9th

Finished first draft masters for the Jamie Says album, am just waiting for feedback. Really love the stuff.. theres a couple in particular: ‘Mother’ and ‘Static’.. love them.

Got three One Cure For Man tracks through to master, too later in the week.. not listened to them yet, but heard the new singer on a video … seems promising: reminds me a little of Everything But The Girl meets C86. Strong songwriter and good work ethic behind them.

Finally started the Shortwave Fade mixing: lots to do on this: recordings weren’t all done by myself, so have done a little correction and replacement on the drums.. no big deal these days. Am taking some mix snapshots as I mix so I can post them up as a ‘story’/ ‘mix on progress’ for those geeks out there.

Oct 2009 – July 2010

July 21st

Mastered a couple of albums for Edgy Productions.. Christmas plays. Plays havoc with your senses!

Collected my things to do more Shortwave Fade recordings at their rehearsal rooms tomorrow night.

July 14th

Wrote a dozen test questions for Apple App: a revision aid for students taking the Logic 101 exam. Mike Watkinson from Sound on Sound checked them and I checked his. This makes me feel weird. !

July 13th

Recorded bass on three Shortwave fade tracks and vocals on ‘Levitate’

July 6th

Birthday today, so a good time to set some goals out… , but they’re up here (am pointing to my head) so I’ll keep em there.

Positive feedback about the Jamie Says mastering I did, and it’s going out on a compilation soon, so onwards to the album maybe. Mean time, I have the Logic App to help write, artwork to source, Shortwave Fade tracks to record (drums and guitar done, bass and vocals to go), so, as ever, plenty to be getting on with…

July 5th

Remastered the Jamie Says track.

July 4th

Had a few days off and on mastering a Jamie Says track: excellent c86 era lovely indie (old meaning) track. Did 4 masters: 2 hardware and two plug-in based. Tricky bottom end to sort. One of those tracks which didn’t seem to click til I realised a clash between the bass (proper Teardrop Explodes stylee) and rhythm guitar. He’s just sent me a mix with some rhythm guitar bass-end EQ-ed out so will see what I can do now, tho he’s happy with 3 of the 4 I sent him.

July 2nd

Watched the making of I Am Kloot’s new album. Watch and fall in love.

July 1st

Ran the first Logic 101 this week. Rejigged the order of the bible book and it went well.

June 22nd

Had a conference call with the nice people at Apple and a couple of Logic trainers (including Mike Watkinson who writes for Sound on Sound). We are putting together an Iphone App full of practice questions for the Logic 101 exam so students get some pre-exam practice. This fits well in terms of timing as I’m busy preparing resources for the Logic 101 course next week. I remember when I took my T3 last March ( the T3 is the course and exam you do to become an authorised trainer), I revised so hard I felt Ninja-like strength!.. But your old bad habits trickle back, especially as I haven’t taught Logic this year in the day job, so it’s nice to get some discipline back and feel solid technique again.

Doing anything with Apple is alway enjoyable. They seem to be the perfect employer. Everyone I am involved with there always speaks common sense, are clearly trusted and are good company… a bit of a privilege to be involved in this App, but I need to find the time to write the questions now, and with 2 Logic gurus checking them over, they need to be good enough.

June 21st

Gave a 3 hour mix masterclass to a keen student. Loved every minute of it. Exposed the limitations of Drum Replacement in Logic 9 and exposed the glorious potential of Drum Replacement in Logic 9 ! Some real water into wine moments

June 19th

Edited a WAA track and mastered that. Sounded lovely: very weird track. Then more mastering of an instrumental WAA track and finally an edit of a WAA track for possible publishing: really enjoyed doing it: it’s a track called “We’re at our height” : very evocative couple of lines chopped out and used to express a feeling. Let’s see if the publisher goes for it.

June 14th

Spent a good while this weekend either: 1 Marking, 2 Marking and 3 Marking. Occupational hazard this time of year.

When I haven’t been marking I mastered 3 Kafkadiva tracks, and got a couple of last minute alternative mix ideas so I scratched those itches. There’s a track called “Carry Me” which I’ve always loved: I wanted to do a bit more of a radio friendly mix, so for a couple of hours last night and tonight I made all the ear candy louder and brought the teaser parts forward to make it more commercial… It’s a lovely song itching to be heard and it was a pleasure to do. Don’t know whether the band like it or not, but I needed to get the ideas out.

Whilst in edit mode, I started an edit for the next (possibly) We Are Altered single.

Had a guest lecturer at day-job-work today: Paul Farrer : a man at the top of his game: writer of music for a host of TV shows and video games, too. Famously earning 40 quid a minute for his Weakest Link music, he need never work again. He spoke nothing but common sense, underlined a strong work ethic and professional attitude. He didn’t charge a penny for his time: he wanted to spread the pragmatist’s message. I real find and a pleasure to speak with. His monthly Sound on Sound columns perhaps sum his can-do attitude up best. I think, importantly for me, having a speaker like that (and we’ve been lucky to get a few crackers over the past year or two) rejuvenates how I feel in the day-job environment.

June 7th

Compiled a Spotify Playlist for Make Recordings here

June 1st

Spent a chunk of the evening prepping Logic resources.

May 26th

Made a video for the 2nd WAA One Hour Covers song. No, I’m not a video maker, but it’ll do

May 25th

Read a post by Peter Wyeth on his journey/battle with recording. Read it here.

May 24th

Had a couple of evenings on more tweaks for the Kafkadiva stuff. On it goes.

Tweaked a WAA track and remastered : listened to all the WAA finished masters in the car a half dozen times.. pleased with how theyre sounding (should do the amount of bloody time they’ve taken!)

Struggling to find time to finish my Logic resources, but will focus on them the rest of the week

May 21st

Spent a very inspirational afternoon at Sirkus in Nottingham. I tagged along to a visit that some of my students went on. I organised it for a couple of reasons.. the obvious one being ‘day out to the studio’, but mainly it was that Sirkus was pretty important to me in terms of defining what a studio should be. Around ten years ago, I recorded a single for a Kookaburra, and we mastered it at Sirkus. Up until that point I’d thought of a studio as a control room and live room divided by glass….but the session at Sirkus literally blew my mind.. lovely all in one room with not-too-much-gear around but the nicest vibe I’d ever experienced up til that point. (Matched by Seamus Wong tho, but that’s for another time). Of course, the room’s one thing but the people make it: Robin Junga runs it, and is just a brilliant communicator, but for me what makes him a cut above is his roll-your-sleeves-up common sense attitude… a true find

Today took me back… was lovely to feel that first pang of excitement when I went back in. Looking forwards to hearing what the students thought, but you could see lights going on…..and that’s just the best feeling to witness that.

May 20th

Watching a documentary on Soft Cell. Soft Cell aren’t viewed as experimental.. Tainted Love remains a millstone round their neck, but listen again to their poppiest singles.. Bedsitter, Torch… they are perfect cold melancholic pieces of beauty. Their three albums remain some of my favourite albums of all time. Much to enjoy in Marc Almond’s solo work too.Take a dip. I used to scour record fairs in Chesterfield and Sheffield to find imports of Soft Cell and Marc Almond… my first love in terms of band.

Am teaching a Logic Pro course soon so am prepping material for that.

May 17th

Listening to WAA tracks as I potter round. I think the masters sound good tho perspective is over a hill far away.

Mastered Hey No and did a radio edit too.. got rid of some of the flab I think, tho I like the flab .. this track was always meant to be the last track on the album so the extra length sways you on a journey

May 16th

Mastered 2 WAA tracks and remastered a third

May 10th

Listened through to the Peter Wyeth recordings from last week and ran some rough mixes off.

May 9th

Drum replacement work on a Kafkadiva track and more tweaks to their live tracks

May 8th

Spent the day in Macclesfield at Unconvention Factory. Click Un-Convention_Factory_programme[1]-1 for detailed info.

The broad idea was to be part of an event where an old silk mill was transformed into a recording environment, with workshops, panels, screenprinting, artists.. well lots of amazing things and people,  hung around the rerecording of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’ with bands such as I Am Kloot, Young Fathers, The Whip and Gallops. The panels were great: loved hearing from the record sleeve designers of Buzzcocks, Elbow, and PWEI, but that seemed lightweight compared to the Music and Culture, Managers as the New Labels and Digital Strategies for Bands panels: all full of interesting people contributing to strong debates.

The whole building felt alive, safe and vibrant.. so many forward thinking people, you could positively feel the energy.

The bands were under the spotlight to nail the tracks … half an hour per band: they recorded to two HD 24s: rock solid for this sort of thing: then went off to Bolton to be mixed.. the whole album back in time for the last band of the night’s show.

Particular highlights? Har Mar Superstar‘s impromptu set (stripping to his pants along the way), I Am Kloot’s set in the evening (remembering the power of one of your favourite bands playing one of your favourite songs ever live), Don Letts’ crazy legs while he spoke sense, the bloke from UB40 seemingly finding religion, Jon Robb’s coolness, the sound in the venue (super good) and the Macclesfield people (just lovely, and that accent…… wow)

Rarely has a day inspired me as much. Looking forwards to more Unconvention events: a genuine grass roots ‘I can feel a change’ movement.

May 6th

Tweaked a Kafkadiva mix and emailed. Will they notice I butchered the arrangement?

May 5th

Recorded Peter Wyeth tonight in a ‘proper’ studio. Did we crack it? Yes? No? Don’t know. We were speaking of how easy on paper the whole thing should be, but the reality is, it isn’t…..

We used a PA to monitor. Didn’t really work, so resorted to Pete’s practice amp…. pretty much miced that up close and had  a pair of room mics too and recorded for a while.Am yet to listen back, but there’s some magic going on somewhere. Getting more convinced it needs to be more of an event.. maybe filmed as well as recorded in lovely surroundings.

Am scratching my head.

May 4th

Mixing ‘Sally Average’ by KafkaDiva. Tricky one… fiddled for a while but think I have ‘the groove’ (man). Lots of fader riding and a massive structure change with maybe more to come.

May 2nd

JR mailed me an instrumental version of “Undone” we hope to use for our joint TV music publisher. Sounds great.

Meanwhile, I finished a couple of Hey (no) mixes and mailed them to JR.

May 1st

Been mixing the new Kafkadiva track as well as ‘Hey (no)’.. a WAA track: one of my ultimate faves: massive heart in that song. Gave me a chance to try out Logic 9’s Varispeed function. Worked a treat for this track.

April 30th

Just received some more Kafkadiva files to mix and got to carry on prepping for Logic 101 training soon, as well as finish the WAA album. This as well as day-job-marking is taking its toll 😦 Education: that’s what you need (as Roy Castle didn’t say)

Good news, I’ve been accepted to go to this . Pleased as punch.

April 22nd – 23rd

Went to the Apple conference in London. Lots of nice people from Europe in a lovely building, Westminster University. So much great advice from some lovely people.

Whenever I’m away I tend to live with new albums as its rare I get chance to listen uninterrupted to albums. This trip I took the new LCD Soundsystem album. Amazing. Sounds like it was recorded in a week with three mics (but wasnt) and an analogue synth. Lovely. What I love is James Murphy decamped to a nice big house and made a studio in a big room: great way of recording… I bet it was much cheaper than a ‘proper’ studio.

April 15th – 19th

Busy busy busy. Some mixing on a couple of  WAA tracks and a rough mix of ‘Sally Average’ for Kafkadiva. We start prepping the backing tracks for their gigs in tandem to the rest of the mixing

April 14th

Spent the evening mixing the WAA track ‘Love in Code’, and the 6U flightcase I ordered is now fully racked, but I’ve left a space for the Novation Drumstation I’ve been promising myself for a few years to go with my Super Basstation.

Had a little time at the old Phoenix Theatre in Leicester today looking at the renovation.. in particular there’s a new 32 Channel Soundcraft desk gone in, as well as a Roland Snake system….the future

April 13th

More tweaking on the ‘Quagmire’ mix and I picked up the mix of the WAA track ‘Love in Code’: I think it’s pretty much there.. there’s something quirky and ace about that track.

April 12th

Spent a while editing WAA bass takes from the other night. Tweaked some mixes for Kafkadiva, too.

April 11th

Tweaked ‘Quagmire’ and emailed 3 different mixes with different vocal treatments. Awaiting band reactions

April 10th

Mixing the ‘Quagmire’ track by Kafkadiva. Spent a long time thinning the various overdubs out and lots of automation. Rearranged the bass to be more solid and a more effective chorus and outro. Vocals are in ready for a final tweak for now til the band hear it.

Recorded some bass for WAA stuff: amazed that after 3 and a half years in a garage it was still in reasonable tune.

April 6th

Downloaded Kafkadiva files and did rough mix ready for vocals. Gone proper B52s : lots of crunch and spring reverbs and a nice Farfisa

April 4th

Old friend Naim Cortazzi put up an old track on You Tube by a band we were both in called Dizzy Valise. Haven’t heard this for, ooh, 7 or 8 years and we recorded it about ten years ago. Am amazed at the detail we put into it.

This was one of the first tracks I recorded in our old studio, so was very much a testing ground, and mighty ambitious it sounds after all these years, despite being recorded in what amounted to my old bedroom with a G4 and an Akai S2000!  In terms of success, looking back we did well: recorded at EMI twice, once with Steve Hillier (Dubstar) who also did us a nice remix, recorded at Peer Publishing, played the Dublin Castle, Water Rats, Barfly in London, In the City in Manchester with Maximo Park, had management who now manage Kaiser Chiefs and White Lies… so, better than your average Leicester band

I think if we had been doing what we were doing today, a record deal wouldn’t have been the goal, and we’d have just become our own label and just , well, ‘done it’ as we did with the recording side.

Famously, Frank the drummer is now in the Fun Lovin Criminals, and Naim records with Frank as Fatal Star and as Uncle Frank

Enjoy the track ‘Fatal Star’ below

April 2nd

Done rough mixes of the Kafkadiva drum takes, so the rest of the band can record. Tried out Logic’s Drum Replacement function for the first time. Impressed with the results. I’d normally avoid using drum replacement and spend time tuning the kit and capturing a good sound, but it’s perfect in this case, where the recording environment was limited.

April 1st

Recorded drum takes on 5 Kafkadiva songs. Again, we set the kit up in Tony and Lou’s spare room.. just enough room to get the kit, Tony and the mics in. Just.

It was the first full try out of the Saffire Pro 40 audio interface. Solid and really clean sound. Happy.

Will do rough mixes of the kit over the weekend, then over to them to record everything else. Nice and cheap for them, and pretty lovely in terms of their own creative control.

March 30th

Mixing some Peter Wyeth material recorded at Roasted Studios. Tricky… the room mic disappears on one of the takes, never to return. A new production trick? Emailed Marc at Roasted to check the Logic session his end. Awaiting his reply, but I don’t hold out much hope.

March 29th

We Are Altered RMXEP1 out. Here.

March 27th

Uploaded and tagged We Are Altered remixes to Bandcamp site. Released March 29th

March 23rd

Met up with Shortwave Fade to look at doing more remixes and a bit of help here and there for album 2. Some prepping Logic sessions for more Kafka Diva recordings over Easter

March 18th

Finished (?) a Shortwave Fade remix and another Kafkadiva mix.

March 12th

Continued mixing Kafkadiva track and reapproaching ‘Undone’ We Are Altered track: the hardest track to mix. There must’ve been 10 mixes!

March 11th

Mastered a batch of We Are Altered tracks, and then spent a while listening to the Peter Wyeth sessions from the other night. Am pretty convinced that its the looper thats part of the problem.. it needs to feed the environment and be part of the room mic recording. We’ll keep trying….

Downloaded some more Kafkadiva files ready to complete the mix of one of the tracks

March 10th 2010

Rough mix of Kafkadiva track for vocal recording, plus mastered We Are Altered Valentine track. Spent too long in rehearsal rooms without earplugs today, meaning ears are beaten up.. so will probably remaster tomorrow

March 9th 2010

Recorded Peter Wyeth last night. All didn’t go to plan, but we learned lots: ie monitoring with headphones simply doesn’t work for what Pete needed. Spent time tonight playing with levels of raw mics, and there’s something there, but it just didn’t work out as a ‘vibe’ (wrong word, but right word)

Used a lovely ribbon mic on Pete’s vocal which sounded nice and warm. Room mics worked less well : need to try AB Omni’s for the room next time, and a dead-er room.

Was difficult to monitor as we were in the hall together, so was pleased to listen back to the results tonight and hear some goegeousness come out.

Will regroup soon and try a pair of monitor wedges to monitor the looper in a controlled live room.

The wind’s with us as the material’s so strong.

Back on mastering We Are Altered stuff tomorrow. Had unmastered mixes on whilst washing up… the only way to fly. ‘You Should Know By Now’ has benefitted from removal of drums til last chorus… and only one chorus now. Oblique Strategies of sorts. Vocal levels need a tweak. And is the title terrible?

March 7th 2010

Have been preparing for recording Peter Wyeth tomorrow night at a village hall somewhere in Leicestershire. Last year we tried recording live and we both learned lots, not least of all how nice ribbon mics are.  Click here for some photos from last year’s session.

Pete mailed me a plan for tomorrow, so absolutely nothing can go wrong. 😉

Have tested my new interface and all the mics/leads. Am using stereo pairs for the room and guitar, a DI from the looper and a couple of mics on the voice. Will be recorded all as live. Looking forwards to it.

March 4th

Went to a truly inspirational performance by Tim Exile. Only a few people there. Part of the Cultural Exchange series of talks by DMU. Amazing live looping. Bloody Behringer controller surfaces a plenty!

March 3rd

Finished mixing a stack of We Are Altered mixes ready for mastering

Feb 28th

Just finished a remix of a Troels Abrahamsen track ‘End Scene’. Loved doing this. Proper minimal house with some mad acid stuff thrown in. Will , touch wood, be part of a free remix EP on Make Recordings

Feb 14th

We Are Altered Cassette and download of ‘We became so close’ is released. Cassette sold out in a day and a half! Was played on Tom Robinson last night. BBC Compressors truly sucked every ounce of dynamics from it, but sounded lovely and intimate. Nice to hear it on the BBC. Mum’s proud 😉

Feb 10th

Went to see Miike Snow at the Rescue Rooms. Brilliant. Spoke to the engineer.. turns out there’s no backing loops: all generated live by a kick drum trigger feeding MIDI clock to analogue sequencers. Sounded ace.

Dec 09 – March 10

Been mastering One Cure For Man‘s EP. Great stuff: up my indie alley, really. Strong songs. Guitarist and singer, James did a great job of recording and mixing totally unaided: a tough job to keep perspective, so he handed the mixes to me to master.

Dec 09

Mixed a track for Shortwave Fade called Levitate. It’s a demo for their second album. Am doing a We Are Altered mix of it, too.

Oct 09

Been recording Kafkadiva : lovely project: recording in a room a foot larger than the drum kit itself, the idea was to record drums, and the rest of the band track on their Boss multitrack, then fly the files to me to mix. Perfect for the budget, and some nice songs.