Music, 2014

Working for Abbey Road Studios, First Live Performance and Recording Artists!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty reality of what I have been getting my hands into over the last few months, I’d like to touch on something has been constantly inhabiting my head as of late (skip to the second paragraph if you want my music-related news!). Social media is becoming ever-more painful for me to deal with, as it seems like a platform in which people use to boost their own egos and manipulate the perceptions others have of them, just so that they may become socially accepted by those who follow the exact same routine. It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to share anything online about my life, as I know that not only does it feel self indulgent and incredibly narcissistic, but by me promoting the ‘great things’ I have been doing I can make someone else’s day worse. I will therefore post a new blog post every Monday, touching on either the previous week’s goings on’s or just whatever topics I wish to discuss! I can promote this blog on social media, so if people do wish to find out what I have been getting up to and are interested in my life, they have the option to read about my life, rather than being subject to it! Now that’s out of the way, let’s proceed shall we?

Firstly, I have been fortunate enough to work with Abbey Road Studios recently; this has involved working with a team that record performances live at arenas around the UK and then producing/selling these CDs around 10 minutes after the performance. I have worked on nights where there have been performances by both Boyzone and Wet Wet Wet, which was certainly, erm, different. At the end of each night I was given the CD of that night’s performance, which was nice of them! It has been a great experience, not only the practical work of having to help promote this service, but also being around people who regularly enter and leave Abbey Road Studios on a regular basis! They are in a fortunate position, a position many would die for – including myself! They say hard work pays off…

The date of my first live performance  has been given a date – Tuesday 11th February 2014 at NCN Clarendon College. I will be running the event, so expect to see the unexpected! I would like to have art and photography displayed around the venue, for both sale and for pleasure – so if any local artists or photographers would like their work to be displayed please get in touch with my via my Facebook account! It is free entry and should be at a time appropriate for any age group (starting around 5 or 6 in the evening, official time released soon), so if you would be interested in hearing what I have to offer and the other students on my course you should certainly come down and support us!

I have also taken the first step into hopefully a long and successful career as a recording engineer, by recording a range of artists – from rock bands, pop and hip hop artists, to experimental and metal bands! It is a privilege to have worked with these artists and having the reception back from my recordings of them – I just consider myself fortunate and will continue to make sure that I can be the best I can possibly be at my craft! For anyone wishing to hear my recording catalogue or is interested in working together to record a project you have in mind, contact me on my Facebook page and we will arrange it!

Thank you to everyone who supported me in 2013. For now, bare this in mind. It’s not about the work that’s done when people are watching, it’s about the work you put in behind the scenes when no one is looking and no one is there to praise you. Happy New Year everyone!

2013, Music

First Performance, Old Material and New Material!

It’s not very often nowadays that I am able to sit down at a computer on my own accord; usually I am required to do so in order to complete a college-set assignment or something of the sorts. I will definitely be updating my blog much more often as this year will be much less chaotic than the previous!

Firstly, in order to complete one of my assignments for college within the upcoming months I will be scheduled to perform inside of NCN Clarendon. This performance will be available to the general public and will be ran by me and a few others from my college course – this event will include others on my course performing too. It should be free and may also include a small art/photography exhibition around the venue. If you would like to promote any of your artwork or photography and are able to print it on canvas (or would like to take/draw some for me for the video accompaniment to my performance) please let me know, as I will place these around the venue with information as to how you are and the price at which you could be willing to sell them at! It will be a nice little earner for you!

Over the course of this coming week and next week I will be releasing material that I created throughout the last year – this will mostly involve ambient pads, psychedelic lead lines, dramatic and aggressive sounding drums and mostly likely without vocals. I will also be making more ambient tracks in the future and will be released regularly. As for those interested in music involving real instruments, I am recording this in my own time and will be released hopefully through a label. Once I have finished I will definitely keep everyone posted, but as of now, it is not something to concern yourselves about!

Thanks again for the continual support, I am so happy I have been able to take part in the things I have this year and will continue to make use of the opportunities that arise! Thanks guys!

2013, Music

Recording an album!

As I briefly mentioned in the previous post I made yesterday, I am in the process of recording a large collection of tracks! I don’t know how long it will take me to finish the tracks, but I can say all of the tracks I will be recording are to be in my set when I perform. However, this essentially means I cannot perform until I have finished recording so I am in between a rock and a hard place in that aspect! But with the recent opportunities I have been given and how well things seem to be going for me, I have no doubt that it should all work out fine as long as I keep at it!

In the meantime, within the next two weeks two previous tracks I created for college will be mixed, mastered and put up on my Soundcloud, so make sure you visit my Facebook page that I have linked below so you are notified when they are out! Thanks everyone for your support. I never thought I would be here and I will never take it for granted!

2013, Music

Reinvention – Recording an album, Performing, Reviews

It’s been a minute since I have written about the goings on in my life; in the most part that is because it has been so yet hectic yet so appealing for me that I have been living in the moment. Looking back these moments later on in life I will be thankful for the positions I have been put in as of recent and the experiences that have came with these ever expanding opportunities I have been presented with.

So first of all, my music. My Soundcloud has remained fairly inactive for the most part of this year as there are a number of reasons for this. One of those is due to having gained more experience recording audio and getting back into creating music in real life rather than just sat at a mac. Just sitting at a mac staring at a screen for hours on end became tedious, monotonous and sucked the feeling out of my music. There are two tracks I created for a synthesis and sampling assignment that I will be putting on my Soundcloud relatively soon, but as for perusing the route of computer music I won’t be doing so for a while. I love sound design and editing audio, but the actual song side of music, for me right now, should not be done merely on a computer. This being said, I have recorded two tracks in their entirety visiting a range of different studios and I cannot wait to get more done!

The tracks I am recording right now are also the tracks I will be performing. I tend to write my music whilst I record as I unfortunately do not have the ability to play several guitar motifs at once. This means once I roughly record these tracks I will be all set to perform! I am not too far off now, but there are things I want to nail before performing!

Meantime, whilst I have been recording, I have had some great reception from my reviews! As you may or may not know, I write music-related for Nottingham LIVE and people seem to like them so I thank everyone that continues to support them! I will continue to write them as it really does take some creativity to transfer what you hear into text for an individual to interpret and relive the moment I lived.

If you have gotten to this point, send me a message on my Facebook fan page saying ‘gypsyfishsticks 8==D’ and you will be given a superior rank amongst all over living individuals for all eternity. Thanks for sticking round guys, things have never been better than this and I will continue to better what I do and hopefully offer some pretty unique services! Thanks again!

2012, Music

Do You Live Your Own Life? (Or In The Shadow Of Others), Jacaranda Foundation + Future Projects!

It seems each and every time I start to write a new post it just strikes me how much has happened within the duration of the note I am writing and the previous written note! So this will be an update around essentially what has been going on in my life within that duration!

Something I have been thinking quite a lot about is the notion of living your life in the shadow of others; to be living your life in accordance to social norms or to expectations. One of the biggest concerns I was faced with when starting my college course was “If I study music I will be academically bound to this one area, whereas if I study A Levels it could allow be to branch out.” What I came to realise when declaring my decision was that it would be a decision I would live to regret if I chose to do A Levels, and here is why. I believe everyone has a forte, something they succeed in but most importantly something they enjoy. This very profession, whether it is to become a candle maker, an engineer or a freelance worker, is the profession that particular person is destined to persue, and to give up on that would be a waste of a life in my eyes. So in terms of music, it being something I love, I enjoy and ultimately makes me happy, I don’t think I should have taken the route of ‘playing it safe’ by doing what ‘you should do’. Anyone with more than half a gram of brain matter should know that within any sector of work right now their are cuts, less job opportunities and carrying on into further education does not necessarily secure you a job. So with this point in mind, no matter what area of work you go into, you are equally as screwed. So why not go for something you do well in and enjoy, right?

Apart from this point, which I think will have a few brains thinking, a lot has happened since my last blog post and since I put the two tracks up on Soundcloud (relevant links provided at the end). First of all, I have got in contact with my auntie who runs a charity called Jacaranda which is based in my deceased Great Grandma’s home in Malawi. Her charity provides educational resources, available accommodation and food for orphans and AIDS victims. Hopefully, after I have built up a decent amount of music, a few of the tracks I will be releasing will be available to down as an MP3/FLAC file for a minimal price, but with all of the proceeds going to the Jacaranda Foundation.

Also, I think it will be the right time to say this, but I will not just be releasing music under my name (even that might change). I will be running two projects; the music that I have been putting out as of recent (created as part of college assignments, made in spare time etc) being one project, the other being based around synthesis techniques and replicating drums/bass/guitar all live; on the spot. This will be under an alias, which I will announce, but essentially it will just be the name I go under when playing gigs and the more serious music I make. Ultimately, it’s what I want to be known for!

It’s great to be able to get back into writing, I really enjoy doing this! I think it gives everyone an insight towards the progress I am making and also the creative process I sometimes go through when making my music. As long as you guys keep supporting them, I will keep them coming! As always, all the links including a link to the Jacaranda Foundation webpage and my Soundcloud will be below, so if you have some spare time hopefully you could check them out! Thanks guys.

2012, Music

Atmosphere – The Breakdown

It’s here! The second track I have put onto my Soundcloud, called ‘Atmosphere’.

This was a bunch of fun to create; at first there was a lot of stopping and starting, deleting project files and restarting, but eventually after adapted my musical style to the samples the sampler ‘Sample Tank’ gave me, I made this! It was a stress inducing time as I said initially as I started this project as the sounds audible in my composition are essentially the factory settings given to you by the ‘Sample Tank 2′. What I really think stands out for me anyway is how I was able to transform these factory presets into sounds of my own, to change the poorly recorded audio into something that is usable and works well. I did this with the three note progression that starts at 1:02. I used the ‘Bitcrusher’ insert  in Logic which essentially decreased the bit rate and downgrades the sampling rate of the audio the insert is applied to, which creates a distorted effect but often results in a audibly pleasing ‘crunch’ in the high end frequencies. With some added  reverb to replicate how sound interacts within an artificial environment and some EQ to remove frequencies I did not want to hear this changes what was once an organ into a sound of my own! Once I had that sound at my disposal the melody came near enough instantly; I think that is generally a good rule of thumb in music to keep in mind, work with the sounds you like and do not settle for ones that don’t suit your tastes!

Again a lot of the composition really flourished during the mixing stages; bouncing the file down and listening to the track through my stereo system really gave me a feel to how people would perceive my track, and often highlighted any previous mixing errors. The transition between headphones to speakers is extremely noticeable for me now, so sometimes after I have spent hours making something sound how I want it to sound I then have to make it compliment with the other elements within the track!  It’s a long approach to mixing my tracks, going back and forth between my college and home set up, but until I get a mac I guess I will have to continue to work this way!

I really would like to say thanks to Karl from Spotlight Kid again, by mastering this track it really made the low frequencies shine and have more kick with a low end bite to them and really brought out the tone in mid-to- frequencies, I was honestly astonished how the composition could transform in just a matter of days! Once his website is up during the months of January-February I will link it below!

This was by far the most fun I have had with creating a track; it became little less than a full time job – it completely captured me and I felt compelled to spend every hour of every day for two weeks to work on it! I hope this shows throughout the track, I think I have jumped over leaps and boundaries since creating this, but I feel by putting this out it will allow people who enjoy music to contrast between what I was doing back then and the music I am intending to release! It’s like watching my progression! If there was no room for improvement then I would be doing something wrong, so for now check out the track below and all of the appropriate links and I hope you enjoyed either reading this or listening to the track! Thanks!

2012, Music

8-Bit Trip – The Breakdown

I am finally at this point; the point where I let my baby go, for the whole world to hear and for them to be the critics of my work rather than my biased self! It’s a really big moment for me, it will help me find out where  I am in terms of creating music and where I can advance from this point. Since creating these four tracks that I am releasing I have already noticed massive improvements in creating and analysing my music, so it’s exciting to think of the prospect of releasing my next batch of tracks! This is a dreaded cycle for an artist; creating music and by the time you are ready to release it you are either sick to death of hearing it or think you can make something better! But hey if we did that there would be no audible music! So the purpose of this post is to explain what was going on inside of my head when creating this track, what kind of sounds I used and what effect I was going for; so let’s get into it!

This track was created for the sole purpose of meeting the requirements for a Logic sampling assignment I was set. It was my very first assignment set on the course I am studying. I have had no sequencing experience up until this point, just knowledge on the subject, so this was the first time I could implement techniques I have learnt over the years and programme MIDI effectively. The very first step in sequencing and sampling music is to find sounds you are comfortable with, sounds that coincide with your taste. I spent around an hour and a half or so searching through sample CDs to find sounds that are interesting and have a different timbre about them; that’s when I came across an 8-bit collection. In basic terms, the old sounds of an early Nintendo gaming system. I inserted EQ at around maybe 1.5-2khz to remove the annoying ‘edge’ that some of the sounds had to them and from there I had a sound I could manipulate by changing playback parameters of the sample and by adding effects such as reverb! Logic has a function within it’s factory EXS24 sampler that allows you to map a particular audio file/sample across the whole keyboard with the pitch of the samples playback is directly related to the key that is pressed, so this allowed me to create melodies with sounds that are audibly completely different to what they originally were! I did this with probably all the samples that were not one shot, so the organ at the beginning of the track for example! I did use a lot of other elements too, including my own one shot drum samples and even time stretched audio!

The most time consuming and tedious work was after I had actually created the composition and it was time to make all of the present elements compliment each other. It took around 2 weeks of bouncing the file down, listening to the track through your standard stereo system, writing down the problems, attempting to rectify them and then rinse and repeat. As this was my first real attempt and having made around 10+ tracks since this one, I have definitely realised the importance of EQ! Every musical element occupies a specific frequency range within the spectrum; a kick drum will be around 20-100hz with high frequencies starting from around 1.5khz onwards. So a good example being that the kick drum will often clash with the bass present in the track, so you could use an EQ or HPF to remove low frequencies from the bass to give that newly created space to the kick drum. Techniques like this help create the separation between the elements present in this track!

Hopefully this explains how I created a few of the sounds and a few techniques I used to express the ideas in my head at the time! Thanks to Karl from Spotlight Kid for mastering all four tracks, he did a great job and I will link his mastering website once it is up and running. I cannot wait for everyone to hear my future tracks, as always all the appropriate links will be down below including a link to my Soundcloud where you can hear the track! I hope you enjoyed the track and reading this little summary, thanks!