A One-Man-Band's DIY Production Journal.

music

Dusty Instruments

I’m back from my usual 100 year creative hiatus.

I’m working on remastering the first two releases face:the.music (2008) and King Friday (2010). Some songs will be re-done, while the others will be fine-tuned, and King Friday gets a brand new 11th song as a bonus track.

The new song is titled “Midnight Smile”, (a roadhouse-rock song I had partially written during the 2010 recordings, but never finished) and should fit stylistically and chronologically with the overall concept album as it continues with the 3rd upcoming record, “Destiny”.

20121210-152202.jpg

I feel a little weird ‘George-Lucasing’ my earlier works, but whatever… I feel like some songs could sound better, and that King Friday definitely needed one more sexy, party track.

So, the new record “Destiny” cleans up the mess from the story told in King Friday, and will be a book-end/story arc that started with face:the.music. Again, loosely based on personal accounts, and… yea. Overall, it’s a musical trilogy. I’m trying to not be the pop-punk version of Taylor Swift or Adele about this, writing about more break-ups and heartache, but instead looking those from another angle… The challenge now is telling that same break up story, but leaving the adolescent emo-style behind… been there, done that.


“Wake Up” Music Video shot on iPhone 4S

20120228-072616.jpg

Hello everyone! Check out the video to my newest song from the upcoming album Destiny coming this summer! This video was filmed completely on an iPhone 4S, using tools such as the Olloclip 3-Lens system, the Glif + tripod mount and the Manfrotto Modosteady!

“Wake Up” Music Video:

iTunes $.99
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wake-up-single/id506458750?uo=4

“Wake Up” SoundCloud stream:

iPhone Video Gadgets Review:


You want fries with that?

20120106-133844.jpg

After an on and off schedule, I’m finally done working on my mini-project, Fast Food. It was originally slated to be a 6-song release, but for a couple of songs, I just wasn’t feeling the source material. It was way too teen-angsty for me.

Overall, I’m happy with the outcome, although I think it could sound a lot better. There were some limitations that I definitely take for granted when I’m producing on a full computer… There was no automated volume/EQ, no pitch correction, I was limited to 8 tracks of audio, limited vocal and guitar effects… On top of that, the vocals were recorded inside a closet with a heavy blanket over me… I was concerned over my neighbors hearing me sing take after take. And I was definitely not all there in terms of tuning. The vocals were pitchy at times and the guitars might be off.

I tried to setup one ground rule for this project: the music cannot be edited on a PC/Mac AT ALL. So, from conception to distribution, the entire album can only be produced on an iPad or iPhone without the aid of a computer.

So I recorded all of the music directly on my iPad using GarageBand, edited the final mix in an app called MultiTrack, directly uploaded to SoundCloud for streaming, and shared on Facebook for people to hear.

I like how it still sounds raw. These were some of the first songs I had written and recorded back in the 2000’s. It was back to recording on “a budget” and the source material reflects that.

Listen and download on SoundCloud:
soundcloud.com/richy923/sets/fastfood


Fast Food Back In Production

I spent the past two weeks putting together my latest project titled “Fast Food”.

To recap, Fast Food is a 6-song album. The songs? These are songs I wrote from high school. The rules? Use only an iPad and an iPhone to record and edit.

I’m recording using GarageBand for iPad, which allows a maximum of 8 tracks, no volume automation, no manual EQ, no pitch correction, little mastering.

20111025-143500.jpg

So now 8 tracks… That’s room for: Drums, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Bass and 4 left for vocals and harmonies. Sounds like it’s enough, right? Not quite. I’m a 16-24 track kinda guy. I layer my guitars nowadays and go nuts with the vocals.

And as I said before, no volume automation, which means no fading out of vocals or guitar sustains. And no pitch correction, so I really gotta be on point with these harmonies.

I have 3 songs done so far… they’re far from perfect, but that’s what’s to be expected for my experiment. I wanna see how far I can go with the iPad.

Since it’s a return to the days of teenage angst, singing songs about heartbreak and broken dreams, it’s also a return to the days of limited production tools.

I’ll have these three songs available later this week on YouTube, “Unrequited Love” “The Glory Days” and “Dream Girl”.

I’ll also be giving the music video for “Unrequited Love” the same production treatment. Nothing but an iPhone and an iPad.


“A Night on the Town” music video!

20110627-124025.jpg

Filmed and edited at studio923, here’s the newest video from the album King Friday:

This was filmed with Sony’s Bloggie Duo and edited with Apple iMovie HD 6.


Mobile Vocals

Last Sunday, I found myself at 8AM, in a parking lot of a hotel off of Route 17 in Mahwah… recording vocals for a song on my iPad. I’m taking this mobile/minimalistic recording approach seriously. Since I’m kinda limited in the amount of singing I do in my apartment (due to the thin walls and my neighbors), I took the recording on the road. I figure since I’m the type to wail out and sing-a-long while driving, maybe a car was my perfect comfort zone.

I was singing to the new version of “At The Bridge” using the built-in mic of the headphones that came with the iPhone. It really sounded like shit.

The other night during my midnight window shopping at the 24-hour Best Buy in Union Square, I found the Samson GO MIC

Tiny. Mobile. Capable. PERFECT.

Here’s my overview:

I’m gonna try my luck with this thing later this week.


Making Fast Food

It’s time to go to work and use my iPad 2 for the reason I bought it. I’ve tinkered around with the new GarageBand app, just to see what I can and can’t do.

Just this past week, I was able to hook up my electronic drum kit to the iPad as a midi controller! For my technically challenged friends: I can use my physical drums to control and record the software drums on the iPad. No more tapping beats on the screen 🙂 Using Apple ‘iPad Camera Connection Kit’, I can add a USB device to the iPad. Then, using an old MIDI to USB cable, I can interface the drums into the GarageBand app. So awesome.

Here’s a tutorial I made:

I started recording for my mini album called “Fast Food”, which is a compilation of 6 songs that will be recorded ONLY on an iPad. They’re going to be re-recordings of songs I did back in high school. Going back to those teen angst years, I suppose.

So, I’m already able to input my guitar to the iPad, and now I can input drums, vocals should be a no-brainer.

When all that is done, the next step is cutting an entire music video with the iPad. Technology is great.

20110519-111542.jpg


“Her Name Here” Video!

Here it is! World premiere of my latest music video!

From the new album King Friday, here’s “Her Name Here”

Filmed with a Sony bloggie HD pocket camcorder, at Studio923 in Manhattan.

Originally, the video was supposed to open with a 1960’s talk show host introducing the band known as “Richy and the 923’s” and I was going to play the part of the host, but I didn’t want to overkill the fact I was doing multiple roles. (also I ran out of disguises).

So instead of getting too crazy with the cuts, angles and edits, I wanted to keep it simple. I figured I should get a little stylistic with some good coloring and film grain filters instead.

And through my “band” I get to present my geeky/creative side which is the singer, along with the mild/chilled side with the bassist and my goofy/hyper side with the drummer.


Video Shoots

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been preparing to shoot two music videos for the King Friday album, “Her Name Here” and “It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt”.

I’ve gotten a hold of a new HD pocket camera, some tripods/monopods/misc camera mounts (to get some pretty cool high angle shots), FINALLY some lighting equipment, as well as a couple of camera-happy friends who are willing to help me out.

“Her Name Here” is gonna take a classic 50-60’s ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ kind of approach, while “It’s Not Karma…” will have more of a conventional style with a narrative intercutting with the “band” performing.

Now… the past few music videos I’ve done, it’s always been: fast cuts of different angles of me in different outfits, playing the different instruments to kinda create the feel that it’s a full band. I’ve always thought getting a ‘mock band’ together might be a good idea (with actors playing the other members) but then I feel like I should promote the fact that I am a one man band. So I’ll be doing the same for these music
videos.

Video production starts after the weekend.

And on the music production side of things, I kinda put my “Fast Food” mini-album-made-on-an-iPad side project on the back-burner to focus on writing my 3rd official record. But with the new GarageBand app coming soon for iPad, I will definitely be going back to that side project.


Heavy Steady

Sunday afternoon, I started work on a new track for the Destiny album called “Taking Over”.

It’s going to be one of the heavier, hardcore songs of the entire record. So far, I’ve layered 3 guitars, some heavy bass playing, strong, crunchy drums and I plan to add a strings section in the last half to make it more of an epic piece.

I have yet to record the vocals, mainly because there’s some rearranging I have to do with the lyrics to fit the structure of the song. Also, I definitely have to record it somewhere other than my apartment… there’s gonna be some screaming involved.

For those familiar with my music and the past few albums before face:the.music, there’s gonna be a special treat in there as well.


RECALLED

The album that wouldn’t die.

I had to send an email request to my distribution company last night asking them to take down King Friday. I had a problem with one song, “Her Name Here”. The guitar that comes in during the chorus was WAY too hot. I have no idea how that was overlooked. All of the final mixes sounded fine in the places I gave them a test listen… but over the weekend, I was listening to the album in a car and started to notice things were off during that song.

I had to fire up the studio earlier this week and do some more adjustments and what I had discovered with the guitar levels was definitely apparent. I’ll have the album ready to be re-uploaded tonight. Sucks that it’s gonna cost me another upload fee. It’s a cost I’ll have to eat. Like I said, you really can’t rush art. Sloppiness on my part?

To those that have already bought the album, no worries since it’s the only song that needed to be recalled. I’ll be offering “Her Name Here” as a free download when I release the music video.


Afterthoughts

The album’s finished, been listened to, received feedback, released on iTunes, now Amazon.com, and even purchased by some (thanks!)

Now here’s my little year-retrospective. Cue the “I’m an arteeest” cap!

Production wise, I’ve been told by others that this record “is the clearest they’ve heard from me yet”. I’ve gotten a little less bookwormy, less technical and broke some of my traditional production rules and went more with my heart guiding my ears during the recording/engineering process. I’ve tried to capture the purest sound with the tools and limited space I have. Yea there’s some distortion, some clipping… fuck it. Call it ignorance or sloppiness, I didn’t get any complaints. It beats an over-compressed or over-produced sound in my book. 

Musically, the feedback I’ve gotten is that “my sound has matured” and that I’ve “developed a new sound” for myself.  I’ve been trying to play some lead guitar for the first time, more bass grooves that don’t just mimic the guitar progression and also trying more challenging drum patterns/fills. Now my songs end up having their individuality while maintaining a signature sound.

Content wise, the general feedback was “the lyrics still go pretty deep” and a “story is definitely apparent”. Everything has pretty much changed since it’s inception, with the album originally titled “geekology.” What was supposed to be a meek outlook on life during one’s mid-twenties, has (in a sense) grown a set of balls and told a similar story in a “monster out of control” kind of fashion. 

Looking back to last year’s album face:the.music, maybe the switching between rock and hip-hop was more of a weakness than strength. So, the choice to make King Friday completely a rock record (save for the Rush house remix) was inevitable. Rapping just isn’t me anymore and it’s not the way I wanna tell this story. Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades musician across genres, maybe it’s time to be a king in one.


Now on iTunes!

Well, you know it’s Friday night…

King Friday is officially available on iTunes! Priced at $9.90

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/king-friday/id404106516

Also check out the new media widget on the right side of this blog!


Slowly But Surely

Last week, I finalized the artwork to be used for the hard copies of King Friday. This time around, I omitted the printing of an inside lyrics section… not just due to costs, but I don’t feel it’s necessary. The lyrics are more intelligible and aren’t as obscure as last year’s album face:the.music. I only plan to press about 100-150 copies this time, compared to last year’s 250 copies. I still have a butt-load of face:the.music CDs collecting dust. Digital media is definitely the way to go, but professional hard copies are always necessary.

I still have some minor audio tweaking left to do, mostly vocal compression on a couple of tracks and possibly re-doing some guitar work on the first and last songs. Should take no longer than a day. Hopefully I can lay down one new song as an iTunes bonus song or as a hidden track on the CD before the end of the week.

Here is the artwork. All shot with an iPhone 4 and edited with Photogene on iPad.

King Friday should be submitted to iTunes and Amazon this Friday.


Final Product

Since the wrap up of recording and mixing this past Thursday, I had to fix two tracks: I added an instrumental to the voicemail track “One New Message”. It adds an epic feel to the album and a better lead-in to “A Night on the Town”. Gotta love those rock beats in 6/8… Also, I re-tweaked “Payday”. I didn’t like my original vocal take during the chorus.

I handed the final version of King Friday to a few friends and family. The general consensus was positive, but the thing that was brought up often was the use of the phone/megaphone voice filter on a majority of the tracks. I’ll admit, I’m addicted to that filter, but the reason is simple: I’m recording these vocals in my room in my apartment, and the acoustics aren’t the best. In the solo-ed tracks, you can hear AC units running, as well as cars and sirens in the background. Had to help it out a bit.

So now that the album is final final final final, it’s time to design the artwork and plan out how to market it.

You can listen to the full album here:
kingfriday.richy923.com


Can’t Rush Art

New song up for streaming: “A Night on the Town” !

http://soundcloud.com/richy923/A-Night-on-the-Town

I had originally posted the song on Thursday night, but pulled it down on the following evening after it gained 14 listens on Soundcloud. It just didn’t sound right. The vocals REALLY sounded like shit, to the point where I would cringe when I played it back. Everything from my tone to my annunciation was just off.

I guess it was one of those moments where it all sounded right at the time. Perhaps I was just burnt out when I was cutting this track and by the end of it all, my perception was all skewed. Plus I was eager to release it on a Friday, given the lyrical content of the song.

I spent Sunday afternoon retooling “A Night on the Town”. I fixed the lyrics up to make a little more sense, re-recorded the vocals and played a new lead guitar section so it gives a little more context to the melody of the chorus and the key of the verse that follows it. I also did more of the random adlibs between the verse and chorus… I feel like the little “uh! yea! ooh!” gives the song a little more UMPH during the chord changes.

Another song in the can and I got two, maybe three more to go. The infamous date of 9/23 is four days away, so I don’t think I can reach my goal of completing the album before then. After this weekend’s lesson, you can’t rush art.


The Home Stretch

First off, I love how Myspace’s “custom wallpaper” looks absolutely NOTHING like the album artwork for face:the.music.

Coincidence? Hardly.

Now as for the production for King Friday, I have 4 more tracks to go before I can start the mastering process for the CD.

-(untitled Intro)
-101 Days (Away From Home)
-A Night on the Town
-(untitled Outro)

Hopefully I can cut two a week, master by the third week and be ready for the release by the infamous date of Sept. 23 (9/23)! Not likely, since there’s more to be done after the mastering; new distribution methods, marketing, etc.

But in the event I am done before then, I’ll have it available for a free download for Facebook friends on 9/23 and plan a US release through iTunes, Amazon, Napster and Rhapsody by Mid-October.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing the typical “check out this song” posting on Facebook and Twitter. I’m sure it’s probably annoying to some of my friends on there (maybe they consider it spam or whatever) but shameless plugs are part of the gig being a one-man band. It’s just gotta be done. Some of my “friends” either don’t know that I make music or they’re checking their Facebook on mobile devices, so my music posts are pretty much hit or miss. But I do wanna say thanks for those who have given feedback, through FB Likes and retweets, your feedback lets me know I’m doing the right thing.


Two Brand New Songs!

I spent the day sick in bed Friday, so I decided to not be a total chump and work on some final mixes of some songs I’ve been working on. And now… two new songs!

“Her Name Here”

and

“Losing Myself”

Photo courtesy of Raphael Salgado.


Get funky.

Last night, I started work on a new track called “Losing Myself”. It’s one of the more funky sounding songs on the King Friday album, trying to steer away from the heavy bar chords.

Without giving too much away lyric-wise, the setting for the song is intimacy in a club, so it’s only appropriate to build the song with some groovy bass and drums to create the vibe.

Again, it’s been one of those recordings where I dive in with a certain idea, but then the end result is surprising. I laid down a bass line, supported it with a steady drum groove, then added some guitar licks. Now it sounds like some kinda weird Chili Peppers hybrid.

Pretty dope stuff so far.


Spotlight: “The Wake-Up Call” by The BackPackers

The BackPackers consist of emcees E.dot Fresco and Johnny McFly aka john.m.thirtheen, and they’ve just released their latest album “The Wake-Up Call” absolutely free:

http://www.mediafire.com/?dgmjwhtingw

Once you press play, The BackPackers take you for a ride around the Rockland suburbs and beyond, singing songs about girls, love-lost, partying and the love for hip-hop itself. Sure those topics are a dime a dozen in the genre nowadays, but these two are smart about it and do it with zero gimmicks.

Notable tracks: “Untouchable”, “Breezy” and “A Beautiful Life” (and thanks for the shout out in “Up!” haha).

I really don’t like to take credit, but both E.dot and Johnny say I was one of the reasons they got into hip-hop when I was rapping and doing beats back in the day, and now they’ve gone and done it the RIGHT way. THIS is hip-hop. Fresh lyrics, smooth beats, “The Wake-Up Call” is a perfect soundtrack to let rock for a Saturday afternoon… pssh, maybe all weekend. Hell, the whole year. Awesome job BP!


Song Premiere: “It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt”

Sunday morning was another release from the King Friday album; the first official single “It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt”. You can download it FREE here: www.richy923.com/_music/itsnotkarma.mp3

Listen on YouTube:

———-
“It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt”
(Written, Performed and Produced by R. Salgado)
from the album King Friday

I’m gonna lie and say that I don’t think about it
Was it that long ago?
Maybe it has to come and bite me in the ass
Just to come full circle

Answer a question with another
Delay inevitability
I don’t know if it’s pretend
Anti-Love, she thinks about me

It was never really worth it, I’m sure
A familiar taste in her kiss
And it came back to haunt me today
Anti-Love to make you sick

The grass was always greener
If you had only seen her
I need to take a breather
Anti-Love made me a believer
———–


King on the Horizon

Getting back on track (for like the 4th time) I started production of 2 new tracks this past week: “It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt” and the intro “The Breaking”.

‘Karma’ breaks from the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus lyrical structure, it’s an upbeat punk style with a little bit of rapcore for some of the breaks… and a tad of surf-style guitar. the vocals can be comparable to “Rush” from face:the.music.

‘Breaking’ is somewhat of an epic introduction to the album. it’ll be in 3/4, mainly instrumental, following these lyrics:
—–
“The Breaking”
by Richy923

I’ve smashed the fourth wall long ago
This time the whole house goes

I’ve got battlescars
From the age of desperado
They’re underneath my clothes
But it shows on my face

This is life in song
With a pre-chorus far too long
I am waiting
I am waiting
For the unknown?
For I don’t know…
——

eh? short and sweet.

More to come in the next week.


And the show continues

I finished two of the four tracks that I’ve been working on since last week and decided to release them online, a trend that I’ll be following every couple weeks or so. You can check out the following two songs on YouTube and richy923.com.

Califormula:

Insomnia In Song:

“Insomnia In Song” turned out EXACTLY how I wanted it to be; dark, heavy, slow… and I feel it was fitting to release it along with the bright, perky-punky, fast tune of “Califormula”.

For “Califormula”, between the new version and the demo version I released back in September, I modified the lead guitar to be a little more catchy, redid the bass, fixed some vocals and did an overall remaster of the song.

For both songs (and pretty much the whole record), the real challenge for me has been playing more lead guitar. Punk power chords can only get you so far. I try to sit with my guitar for an hour or so everyday just messing around trying my hand at playing solos and shit. I definitely need more practice.

Also on the front, besides finishing the recordings “A Night On The Town” and “Her Name Here”, I’ll be going back to face:the.music to shoot a couple videos for “The Diffusion” and “Running With Roses”. It may be a little ass-backwards, but I’ve been dying to see those songs translated on screen.


Um, Delays?

Okay, so maybe I was overly ambitious setting the release date for 11/13. Fact of the matter is, I kinda got tied up with work, paying some bills… ::ahem:: the social scene… and recovering from a cold.

During the last two weeks of September, I was heavily concentrated on this record and ended up kinda stressing after that from some more studio/technological issues. But after a few weeks getting my head clear, I’m ready to dive back in to my King Friday project. So the new release date? Not gonna get too specific, but I’ll say mid December.

This week, I’ll be laying down 3 tracks (sans vocals, until my voice is 100%) “A Night On The Town” “Insomnia In Song” and a newly written piece called “Her Name Here”.

In the meantime, I’ve re-uploaded “Promise Me This” on to my Myspace Music page http://www.richy923.com in light of my brother’s new freestyle project he’s working on. Check it out 🙂