Methods

Since becoming a father 9 years ago, the way I work on music has changed dramatically.

Pre-kids, I used to go into the studio , pretty irregularly, whenever the inspiration took me for writing. For mixing, I only ever mixed in the studio.

When my son popped along, I bought my first Macbook… assuming it’d be just for ideas…. just to get me going, and I’d mix on the Mac Pro.. the ‘proper’ Mac. I rapidly found out that laptops rule the world, and despite less power than a tower, my northern frugal ways (auxes not inserts, bouncing not using more tracks) meant I found the laptop more than powerful enough for what I need.

I soon sold my Mac Pro and went Macbook only, and I’m on my 3rd laptop in 9 years.. 2nd Macbook Pro

I cant recommend them enough… whether a Windows machine or a Mac, the headspace of ‘I have 10 minutes free.. where are my headphones?’ is liberating, and it allows me to work much more than if I were relying on going into the studio to work.

So, these days, for mixing, I do lots of mix prep on headphones….. the Apple buds are great for 25 quid, but I have some Seinnheiser ones too that Ive had for years, and theyre really room-like. After basic balances, editing, pitching, I take the mixes to the studio for speaker treatment, but often the mix is better than I’d imagine. I’d never rely solely on headphones, but with time so tight, it’s reassuring I can get mixes mostly ‘there’ just by sitting on the sofa.

For writing, the studio’s a lovely space. Until I finished the studio (whilst I didn’t have one for 6 years), I’d happily write on a laptop only.. in fact it was such a new way to write I really enjoyed the structure: no MIDI keyboard, just Logic and a pair of headphones….and the built in Mic on the Macbook.

Now I’ve got the studio, it’s been brilliant to write on the toys in there.. I’m working on some piano tracks at the moment, so it was great to use the real piano and mic it up.. such an inspirational thing to play (despite my appalling playing). Today I spent a few hours mixing and writing a few new ideas, just on hardware: Copycat and old synths. Really pleased with the results so far….. importably, I had a brilliant time doing it….. and you just don’t get that purely from a laptop.

I rarely get extended time in the studio ..its an hour here and there these days, so I seem to save up inspiration, then out blurt a few ideas at once. It’ll take a while to turn those into whole tracks, but with my trust headphones, a glass of wine and a sofa, I can nail them in comfort.

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27th Sept. Jamie Says gaps for album

Spent a while tweaking gaps between tracks on the Jamie Says album. Astounding the difference a couple of milliseconds can have on the flow of the album. Not something I’ve had to do for a while… not many physical albums released: much more MP3 stuff. An oversight on my part, but .. what’s the album actually called?!

To sort the gaps and final fade ins and outs I use Waveburner. Used to be lots of money, but now bundled in with Logic. Ace.

Jamie Says Waveburner session

22nd / 23rd Aug Mix tweaks/Mastering One Cure For Man/ Logic Studio App / Kafka Diva mix

Debates over drum replacement yielded a successful mix OK from One Cure For Man… so mastered that track. They want me to mix the other 3 tracks on the EP now.

Emailed the Logic Studio questions off for the Logic revision Iphone app, then downloaded some more Kafkadiva files and prepped that mix.

John R had a great idea about cassette sleeve : note pad with cassette shape carved out. .. cassette inside it…Not sure we’d be able to do it but ace idea!

Aug 17th The perils of drum recording / One Cure for Man mix prepping / Vile-Viral ace video

Received the One Cure For Man files today. Spent a long time on the drums. The recordings were fine, bearing in mind they were done by the band themselves and not in a controlled studio environment: not an ideal snare or tom sound: needs to be very driving, but the gate on the snare made the snare disparate to the rest of the kit, so I did some drum doubling to allow the real snare to give the feel and the extra snare to give the drive. I miss not having a click for the track… have an urge to tweak timings, and this will take a lot longer with no bar reference. Will see how I get on tomorrow nite. Ended the night with a solid drum track, bass sound and a fake double tracked acoustic guitar for width and the ‘jangle’ element. Fake double track? In this case where the acoustic’s just doing a pushing job, I simply copied the take over and delayed it slightly (about 30 ticks in Logic) and applied different EQ, too and panned them left and right. Again, if we had worked to a click i would have copied other sections of the song over to make, effectively , two takes. I can already hear the swoony section, so I quickly chopped the single strums of acoustic and applied a nice tape delay…

I say the new Yeasayer video the other day. Absolutely brilliant. Totally vile. Amazing.Am a fan of the new album: very adventurous.