blink of an eye

I turn 24 in 5 months. That’s only 151 days. I am overwhelmed by how fast life is moving. Grad school starts next week. October is almost over. Fall is my favorite.

We had another packed weekend. Friday after work Erin and I went pumpkin hunting at a local orchard. WAIT THAT REMINDS ME I still have cider in the fridge yay. Anyway. We’ll carve the pumpkins some time soon.

PUMPKINS!

We packed up and drove down to Dover and played at 33 West. Lots of friends came out. We took a short break and my father played a couple songs. Erin sang one with him too.

Erin and my father at 33 West!

Saturday was UD’s HOMECOMING! Greg was nice enough to play techno music at 6am while cooking eggs so I got up and made a couple pounds of bacon and people kept on arriving and after one tailgating false-start, we eventually were able to set up and tailgate and grill and eat and it was fun.

Erin and I got back and changed and went to Wilmington to be a part of Noelle Picara‘s music video for her new single, “Zombie Girl.” It was my first time acting for a video. I enjoyed it even though I’m so awkward. The producer had me sprinting down streets and jumping fences and running up and down tall staircases multiple times for different takes and angles and fancy stuff. SPOILERS: At the end of the video I get eaten. Sometimes the zombies tickled me too. It was a fun night. Noelle’s show went really well too. They covered Muse and The Cranberries and she played two sets of new and older originals. I’ll upload videos sometime soon ^_^

Filming!
Noelle and her backing band! (Jeremy on drums and someone awesome on bass)

Sunday we had a second full-day recording session with Diner Club! It was more relaxed than last month’s session. I think that is mainly because I felt a little bit more comfortable running things and also because the different groups were more scheduled and knew what they wanted. Em had us streaming live via her laptop all day and at one point there were 99 viewers!? That was cool. We got five more tracks mostly finished. Now I need to start mixing and figuring out what else we need to complete everything.

Steffi and Tim recording keys and scratch vocals for their song!

Last night Erin and I went back to Supermagic Studios to track some of her vocals and also to record Shane‘s song. It was nice. Shane’s mother Judy made an amazing soup with this fancy stuff called “quinoa” and it was delicious. That’s all. Back to the grind. We are seeing Ingrid Michaelson tomorrow at the Queen!

reflections on the Dewey Beach Music Conference part 1

“The Process of Making a Great Recording”

Friday, September 21, 1:30pm

Speakers:

Garrett Davis – Salisbury, MD (Notable projects: Train, Lovedrug)
Jeff Juliano – Lewes, DE (Notable projects: Shinedown, O.A.R.)
Dustin Burnett – Nashville, TN (Notable projects: Newsboys)
Jon King – Nashville, TN
Will Yip – Philadelphia, PA (Notable projects: The Fray, Keane)

In this four-part series of updates, I will summarize some of the things that I learned while attending the Dewey Beach Music Conference last weekend. This is mostly so that I don’t forget some pretty obvious yet important ideas regarding recording, the music industry, and technology. Yay.


This talk was run as more of a discussion – the panelists spoke for about twenty minutes and then asked for questions. One of the first things that came up was how to choose which songs to use on a record. The answer was: with your producer, play through the songs that you currently perform, but also listen through older songs to find ones you may be able to use or update or renew and match them with your more recent songs in order to create an album of similar-themed but not identical-sounding material.

Pre-production was heavily emphasized. This is something that I don’t ever do enough of. A balance of being prepared but also staying creative must be found.

“There is a lost art to recording things. If the project is tracked well by a great engineer, the end product will sound great.”

In this digital DIY era, there is too much music being created. Everyone with Garage Band thinks that they are amazing and will tell you they are “professionals.” People need to learn the craft before expecting decent results. Great products can be made in basements and bedrooms, but you need to know what you are doing.

“What do you think of crowd funding for studio time?”

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Prosper were all mentioned as sources for funding the majority of the independent projects that they work with. Help yourself to make your record profitable. If people pay to see you, they would pay for your CD. Crowd funding is the same idea as a pre-order of your CD. If you have the fan base, use it to decrease your risk/investment.

Surround yourself with the best team possible to produce your vision and build your sound and product.

Everything is so accessible in 2012. Find the engineers and producers who created the music that you like and email or call them to see if they are interested or able to work with you. These people need work in this economy, they are willing to bargain and bring their prices down because they would rather have some work than no work. They do it for the music anyway.

“Where should I get my CD mastered?”

The first names they all stated were Brad Blackwood (Euphonic Masters) and Gateway Mastering.

Engineering and mixing can do a lot, but a good master is affordable now. They can make various recommendations. Once you’re happy with the mix, then the master should enhance things. Look for free test masters – the cheapest option might be the best. Get a few different studios to send you a test and choose the one that sounds the best. Mastering is the final step – make sure the mixes are great first. Listen to the mixing engineer about who should master it.

“What is the best vocal microphone?”

(Laughter from audience and panelists)

(Shure) SM7(b), (Neumann) U87, U89, etc.

Use what sounds best for the type of music you’re playing. Definitely A/B a few mics and judge based on sound, not price.

“What do you think of giving producers points?”

Definitely get “money stuff” taken care of early. For local bands that might not last very long, just charge a bit more  up front and get this out of the way (don’t worry about points). For better/more marketable bands that might “make it,” discuss points.

“How do you deal with bands that don’t want to spend time getting things right when paying hourly rates?” – Bluelight Studio engineer

Use day rates (8-10 hrs) or per song rates.

Get the guitars set up correctly with tuning, intonation, etc. ahead of time. Studio preparation is a key to not wasting valuable time.

Pre-production – take care of setting up instruments early, have options available for amps and guitars. One way to do this is to have “stations” set up with different guitar and amp combinations.

“What session sample rates and bit rates do you use?”

24 bit, 48 kHz for the most part, because things are going to be mixed down lower eventually anyway. Unless you’re working on something that will be released in HD, surround sound, etc., don’t waste your time worrying about that. 24 bit gets you plenty of headroom.

(Referring to session settings and practice)

“You tell me to build that wall and you give me one hammer and one nail and I’m like, I need a whole set of guys and a bunch of tools.”

“How do you feel about guitar amp emulation?”

It’s all about the guitar player technique and tone. The right hand is crucial to tone. “What you put in is what you get out, man.”

Emulators: Superior Drums, Axe-FX (for heavy music), Pro Tools 11 Rack, Kemper profiling amplifier, etc.

Also try using multiple mics on guitar cabinets, and use a DI to re-amp.

(RE: using DI on electric guitars) “Be a man, get it right and commit.” (His opinion was don’t use a DI)

“I’m on a very low budget and want to pay for recording by myself – what’s the best place to start?”

Always get an outside mastering guy. If you can track vocals and acoustics at home and then just pay for one day in the studio to record drums, do it. Then just mix by yourself and send it off for a decent master. Ask someone that you trust what else it needs.


Overall, I enjoyed this talk and learned a bit and it was a wonderful way to start off the weekend. The guys were all successful professionals working with world-class acts and the fact that some of them were so local impressed me even more.

septemblog!

This month concluded my summer of music-making adventures. It flew by so incredibly fast. Life is strange and awesome and delicious all at once.

Erin and I played so many shows and I met so many people and sang so many songs that I have lost track of time and space and if it wasn’t for bacon and coffee and occasional sleep, I wouldn’t have stayed sane through all of it. Maybe.

Badgering. Photo by Erin!
Doctor Who premiere party! Bow ties are cool.

I’ll step through things since I haven’t posted many blogs lately..

JUNE
Bought some fancy suits, attended UD alumni mug night and a Siemens conference, watched my brother graduate from my high school which I no longer recognize, signed the lease to rent our new house, went to a bunch of Miss Delaware-type events and watched my pretty girlfriend, played company softball, and went to weddings and music festivals.

JULY
Worked storm duty overtime, had a housewarming, played a wedding, bartended at a fundraiser, ran intern program events for work, attended Firefly music festival, went to the state fair, and took a mini vacation to Shenandoah.

AUGUST
Played at Musikfest, was interviewed by the FBI as a character reference for a friend, beach’d, recorded Emkeev, went to Maine for a week, and played the Beta Hi-Fi festival at World Cafe Live Wilmington in addition to many other shows.

SEPTEMBER
Watched the Doctor Who Series 7 premiere!, played lots of Honey Badger shows, mastered Emkeev’s instrumental EP, got a free piano from Craigslist, played music at my cousin’s wedding, golfed, ran lots, went to the Dewey Beach Music conference, and recorded Honey Badgers and also lots of friends collaboratively.

Whoa. So many things. So much fun and learning and performing. Hopefully the momentum keeps building into the fall.

We’re playing 33 West again this Friday night (9/28) in Dover, DE, and at Kelly’s Logan House again this Saturday (9/29) in Trolley Square Wilmington, DE. Working on a Christmas tune Sunday for Hometown Heroes.

Exciting ^_^