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

 

 

 

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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:

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