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

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First Live Performance

So last night, I performed my first solo gig. Some thought I was on fire, others (including myself) might’ve thought I crashed and burned, but overall, I was glad I got behind the wheel. Small deal for some, big deal for me. Here’s my rundown of last night.

Before I got to the gig, I decided to do away with playing acoustic and instead just play along to a fake band on CD. I rendered “stage versions” of the two songs I planned to perform: Rush and Running With Roses. I took the original tracks and just cut the volume of the guitar/main vocals by 40% and kept the harmonies. Tuned my guitar to the instrumental, practiced along with it about 5 times and it sounded great. The 3 hours later at the venue, it’s 5 minutes to showtime and all hell breaks loose. Some performers were no shows, so I was asked to play two more songs.

The last guy just finished singing and rapping. Then the host brings this short, baby-faced Asian kid to the stage, armed with a guitar plugged in to his iPhone (using an app that turns it into a amp) and an iPad with lyrics. Might I mention, I’m about 3 beers and a couple of stoges in …just to calm my nerves on an empty stomach. This would be my first time singing to a crowd. Ever. I figure I’d start off with a disclaimer, something like, “I know this is hip-hop night, but I was asked to bring something different tonight.” That got some cheers. Then I nod to the DJ to kick off the first song.

1) “Insomnia In Song”
This was one of the songs that was added last minute …and I played it first. I figure I’d start off with a slow jam to keep with the vibe. Probably not the best way to start off, due to lack of rehearsal and prep time. Since I didnt have a “stage version” of the song ready, I just played along to the original version from the CD. Kinda wack. The guitar was out of tune with the song, I missed some chords, forgot some lyrics, dropped my pick… It was a real shitshow. But whatever, the show must go on, right? I promised the crowd that the next one wouldn’t suck.

2) “Running With Roses”
Okay, this is it. I rehearsed this one. Again and again. Song starts. For the most part, all goes well. The guitar tuning was a little better than last song, I didn’t drop the pick, missed a few unnoticed chords and the lyrics were on point, save for some minor pitchy-ness.

3) “Rush”
Even though they wanted me to do 4 songs, they wanted to split up my act into two. I was ready to walk off stage, but then I hear the opening cymbals of Rush. I look at the DJ confused, and he tells me to keep going. I start the song… then half way through the chorus, the DJ cuts the track to a slow spin-out. I thought he was either remixing it or telling me I suck. I see the host and the DJ give me the “kill it” hand motion. Apparently I exceeded my 6 minute spot. I say thanks to the crowd and I walk off stage. I guess 2.5 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Overall… I crashed and burned. But I enjoyed myself doing it, in an afterschool-special-learned-my-lesson kind of way. I contemplated if I should continue with the second set (Rush and Payday). I was already a little embarrassed and felt out of my league… but I hate running away from challenges. Ultimately, I asked to scrap my second spot on stage, since I would’ve had to wait another 45 mins… and I was already starving. I thanked the host, packed up and my friends and I went to eat at the Filipino bar up the block… where they had another Open Mic. It was a smaller, laid back atmosphere, so I figured I would jump on the mic with the acoustic guitar they provided and repeat my setlist to redeem myself. It felt good… and I had some Bistek and a Red Horse too.

Videos coming soon.

Karma?

Through the magic of Facebook, an old highschool classmate offered me a spot on a monthly Open Mic that goes on in East Village.

It’s at Karma lounge on 1st Ave and 4th St. I’ll be performing 2 or 3 of my rock songs (either backed by a bass/drum instrumental or just acoustic).

-Rush
-Running With Roses
-Payday

(If I suck, i should end it with “It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt” …lol. Because it’ll hurt, and it’s at a lounge called Karma.)

It’s mainly a hip-hop open mic, but they feature poets and guitarists as well. It’s also my first performance. Ever. Wish me broken legs.

karmanyc.com Tonight @7pm.

Destiny 2011

I’m currently developing my next full length album, titled “Destiny”.


Here’s the album cover. I like to start backwards with the artwork developed first. Having a visual to work towards keeps me more productive. Aiming for late spring 2011.

Story-wise, it continues from “King Friday” and will serve as a bookend to 2008’s “face:the.music” like the third chapter in a trilogy.

Production and composition-wise, I’ll of course have to push my limits further. More lead guitar, more range in vocals and harmonies, more groovy bass lines… And style-wise, although I do want to go back to more pop-punk styles to reflect “face:the.music”, I plan to incorporate some 60’s garage and funk as well as some epic-sounding prog rock.

I’m hoping to create a more dynamic masterpiece this time around. Not to say it’s going to be a darker album overall, but some songs will get pretty deep while others will maintain that pop-punk edge. I’m hoping everything I’ve learned along the way, musically, thematically, lyrically and at the production level, will converge in this new project.

And the reason I’m doing this so soon after the release of King Friday is a little bit of a personal experiment of my own. I don’t really like to discuss song meanings and get all artsy-fartsy on this blog, but I’ll say this much; I guess it’s no secret that the past couple of albums are a loose interpretation of my past few of years. For all writers, it’s always “write what you know”. This time I want to have a little bit of “write what will be” and see if we have the power to write our own… destiny. Ooooohh!!!

In the meantime, help me with some funding and buy King Friday from iTunes 🙂
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/king-friday/id404106516

Richy2011

Along side my “Fast Food” recording experiment, I’ve decided to keep the creative juices flowing and start putting together songs for the 3rd official Richy923 record.

Here’s a new song “At The Bridge”, which might appear on the album…

Fast Food

FYI: Saturday afternoon, King Friday returned to iTunes… Everything sounds as it should. Support a starving artist please at $9.90 🙂 Buy: King Friday

Speaking of starving, I have a new project in the works:

Richy923 Presents: Fast Food

1) Unrequited Love
2) Dream Girl
3) Glory Days
4) Faded Fortune From A Cookie
5) The Day We Cried

Five new renditions of classic songs from my high school years recorded entirely on an iPad and an iPhone.

I’ll be cutting the record using:

iRig (device):
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irig/iphone/

AmpliTube (app):
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irig/moreinfo/moreinfo3.php

Multitrack DAW (app):
http://www.harmonicdog.com

Also, I’ll be using the iPad Camera Connection Kit that adds a USB port that I can plug my M-Audio Interface into:

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC531ZM/A

Let’s see how this goes! It’ll be a free download at the end of the month.

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