Elsie, Stacy, Darren and I all did a little Skype chat last night about a game plan for releasing our album. We also started talking about how this project began. It appears that this all began on January 5th of 2010; that was the first night I started working on our first song. Oddly enough, that song will now be the opening track to the album. It feels like we've been working on this album for a decade, so I was surprised to see that it hadn't quite been two years yet.
While searching for our early emails to eachother, I found an email I sent to Darren about six months before we started working together. I was severely depressed about where my career was going, and was looking for an encouraging word. I talked in depth about what I wanted to do with my life/music, but didn't know how to get there. I won't go into detail here, but I will say that this email was a great reminder of how many of my goals and dreams have come true since then. The resume that I've built up, is almost exactly the resume I dreamed of having just two and a half years ago. I'm feeling very thankful today. Thanks for reading.
I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season. I thought I'd give you all an early Christmas present. Here's a new Fort Christmas song. Actually, I wrote it shortly after Elsie and I's wedding, so it's not that new anymore. I wrote it so I would always remember everything about our wedding day. I think it captures a lot of the feelings and thoughts that I had at the time. I really love listening to it; it brings that day to the front of my mind and makes me feel really nostalgic. Click the "down arrow" on the player to download it. And if you enjoy this song, PLEASE feel free to embed it on your blog or Facebook page! I'd greatly appreciate it.
If you'd like to hear/buy more Fort Christmas songs, you can do so here:
Thanks for reading!
If you own any of the Waves plugin bundles, theres a good chance you have a little plugin tucked away that you are not using- the Q Clone plugin. The Q Clone can in theory resolve a very common problem: you have one or two great outboard EQ's, and a full drum kit to mic. In other words, not enough outboard preamps to go around. The Q Clone plugin will allow you to use a single outboard EQ on as many tracks as you want in realtime without having to retrack through your preamp. Yeah, it's kind of a miracle!
Step By Step Setup
I'm using Nuendo, and these steps should work for Cubase as well.
1. Make sure "Direct Monitoring" is off. Go to Devices-Device Setup. You will see a checkbox that says "Direct Monitoring"- uncheck it.
2. Run a cable from one of the outputs on your interface, to the EQ you want to use. For instance, if you have 8 outputs on your interface, put one end of a cable into output number 8 (any output will work), and the other end into the input on the outboard EQ you want to use.
3. Run a cable from the output of your EQ back into your computer. For instance, if you have 8 inputs on your interface, you'd run a cable out of the EQ and into input number 8 on your interface.
4. Add a mono track in Nuendo or Cubase.
5. Make the input and output on that mono track the same as you did for steps 2 and 3. In this case, I'd select input 8, and output 8.
6. There are actually two halves to this plugin, and the first half we will use is the "Q Capture". So find the mono Q Capture in your plugin list, and put it on the mono track you just added. It will be look like this:
The Q Capture is sending and receiving signals from your outboard EQ.
7. Turn on the "monitor" button on this track.
8. Go to a track you'd like to EQ, for example, the lead vocal track in your project. Add the mono Q Clone into the first plugin slot. It will look like this:
9. Click on the "Capture" button, and start changing the EQ on your outboard preamp. You will notice that the Q Clone EQ is changing with it!
10. When you get the EQ where you want it, click "Hold", and it will hold on to that EQ for you- even after the preamp is turned off. You can move on and EQ as many other tracks as you'd like with it now. If you ever want to go back and change a setting, just turn the outboard EQ to "flat" first, then open up the Q Clone on that channel, and click "Add". Then it will simple add to what you already had, and click "Hold" when you are finished.
I had a lot of fun with this plugin yesterday, and I hope this is a useful guide for some of you. Thanks for reading.
This album (Stacy's album) will never be finished, but I'm hoping that I will soon decide to stop working on it.
Each of these disc's represent different mixes of the album. And these are just the ones that were in my car... The sad part is, if you listened to each one, most of you would think they kind of all sounded the same.
Once we pass this hurdle of mixing/mastering, I have a feeling things will start moving fairly quickly. You can probably expect a pre-order for this album in the coming months. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself.
Thanks for reading.
Still working on mastering this week. I took a day off, and my ears felt rested today. Moving right along. Darren, Stacy, Elsie, and I are brainstorming ideas for photo/video shoots for later on in the month.
This week I did an interview with Inspirer Magazine. Check it out here! That's all for now. Thanks for reading.
I forgot about this until the other day. I wrote and recorded a string arrangement for someone in the wrong key.
When MuteMath was working on their Armistice album, they asked me to write some string parts for several different songs. Several of those made it on to the album, but there was one that didn't. As I recall, I was getting ready to leave on tour with Sleeping At Last when Darren (MuteMath) called me. They were in a bit of a time crunch, but needed some string ideas tracked for a song. They hadn't tracked much of the song yet, mainly just drums and a little bit of bass. I was told to "just run with it". I only had one night to try to knock it out, so I had to make it count. I stayed up all night working on ideas and left for the tour the next day. I sent what I had to Darren, and basically told him, "This will have to work, because I'm gonna be gone for the next three weeks".
The next day, I was riding in the van when Darren called me. He asked, "What key did you record those parts in?". I said, "I tracked everything in E, just like the song." He said, "The song is in A...". I just sat there in silence, trying to wrap my head around it. How could this happen?!? Pretty simple actually. And you may need to know a little music theory to understand.
The song only had bass and drums, and the bass was pretty much playing only the root notes of the chord. So there are certain progressions that work in both E, and A, with minor variations. For instance, if the chord progression is A, E, B, E, it works in either key- EXCEPT for the B chord. In the key of E, the B is major, in the key of A the B is minor. It's amazing to me that moving one note, one half step in either direction can completely change the entire song.
That is how I recorded an entire string arrangement in the wrong key.
As I mentioned before, I've been spending the last few weeks trying to finish mixing and mastering Stacy's album. I'm learning a lot, and thankful for the chance to sharpen my mixing skills a bit. I thought I'd share something I learned yesterday.
I did not go to school for music production, and I have a bit of a rebellious nature towards people that did. Whenever I hear someone say, "When mixing, you should NEVER ________" I automatically want to do whatever it is I should never do. Whenever I hear someone say you have to make a cut between 400-1500hz on the drum kit, I will make a boost!
You should never put your low end elements anywhere but center of the mix. It's painful for me to say those words, but I've found it to be true. We have a song where we recorded multiple takes of marching bass drum with a mallet. Since we used the same mic, and same drum, I didn't want to put them in the center of the mix (because they would phase). So I panned them hard left and right. I knew it was unconventional, and against the rules, but again, I'll try anything. It sounded fine in the mix to me for a while. But when I got into trying to master it, the low end was ambiguous, and undefined. Those drums that seemed so punchy and defined on their own, seemed to by trying to hide in the corners. I tried all sorts of things in mastering to fix this (since for a while I didn't realize the problem) but no amount of eq could really clear up the problem. So I went back to the mix and panned them near the center, and gave them both a unique eq from each other to prevent phasing. Problem solved.
I guess I shouldn't say "never", since I recall the Beatles did on more than one occasion pan all of the drums (including the kick drum) to one side. But that's my mixing tip for today. Keep your low end elements centered- almost always. Thanks for reading.
All of these videos will be hosted on the new site soon anyway. What the heck. Here's another song from the upcoming live DVD.
I hope you all have an amazing weekend. Thanks for reading!
I have several different drum sets in my studio, and they serve very different purposes. But the kit I've used the most over the last few years, has been a Japanese kit from the 60's. The company is called Majestic, and I've become kind of obsessed with collecting their drums. It's a little bit silly to become a collector of something that is technically a "knock-off" brand, but I think they're amazing. My good friend Phillip texted me the other night and said he found a Majestic kick drum at a flea market for $25, so I ran over and grabbed it:
Sounds amazing. Just gotta get it cleaned up a little bit. And that's what I intend to do today. Thanks for reading.