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

Posts tagged “production

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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.


Broke-Ass

Last night, I got a good amount done for King Friday. I re-recorded a few parts to “It’s Not Karma”: opening guitars and the surf/western type melody in the chorus. Finalized for mastering. But the bigger accomplishment is the completed ‘working’ instrumental to a new piece titled “Broke-Ass”. Song meaning is pretty self-explanatory.

It’s one of those pieces that was envisioned one way, but turned into something completely different once laid down. To give you an idea about how the song sounds, it’s a steady, rolling beat (Think: “Pork and Beans” by Weezer) and the chorus gets heavy and is something you can jump around to. Lyrics and vocals will be less emo for this one.

I started off with my weakest area: bass guitar. I need more songs that focus on bass. Anyways, things were fine after I laid down drums and a couple of guitars… then came trying to rearrange parts for verse 2. The first verse was carried by the bass melody with rhythm guitar lightly mimicking it… With the second, I just played the rhythm a little heavier. Meh. I tried rhythm again, this time a little more harsh and scratchy. Played around with this “Super Flange” plug-in: weird. Totally weird. I like it. You know what would sound cool over this? A rap. Not me though.

I immediately texted E.dot Fresco of The Backpackers and said he’s gotta get on this. It’s not a typical beat to spit over, but I know he’ll pull it off nicely. We’ll get together Thursday night and put something together. On top of that, I’m adding a ‘call and response’ after the bridge… featuring some hoochie-mama vocals shouting “You’re a broke-ass!” and some crowd shouting “Hey! Hey!” Any females out there care to contribute?

This should be one of the lighter tracks on this record.


For real. Fall 2010.

Enough bullshitting. It’s go time. Fall 2010. Pop-punk. Synths. Beats. Alcohol. King Friday.

This week, I’ll be working on two new songs. “Her Name Here” (a 50’s-ish bop) and “Broke-Ass” (a gritty, rolling punk-jam).


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 🙂


Planning Ahead

After long and careful consideration, I’ve set the release date for King Friday: November 13, 2009. And yes, it’s a Friday… the 13th. dun-dun-DUN!

Now, of course I’m talking about hardcopy availability. Once the completed album is sent to TuneCore (my independent middleman distributor), it’s out of my hands when it will be approved on the iTunes and Amazon music stores, so I can’t get you an exact release date for the online availability. I’ll say late November, early December.

As for production, so far so good. I was able to get a helping hand from an old friend who was able to lend me a spare interface. Now I’m back in the recording game… Just waiting until I get my new permanent hardware too.

Similar to face:the.music, this album will feature 2 to 3 hip-hop tracks along with the different rock styles I’ve got going here, but more avant-garde hip-hop. Not too sure if you’ll hear a club banger on this one, except the infamous Rush remix that John.M.Thirteen and I let leak a couple of months ago.

The first official single “A Night On The Town” should be out in the middle of October… and again, hopefully with a video.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks with production updates and new album artwork!


Desperate Rhymes Call For Desperate Measures

So… it’s official. My studio is kaput since my Alesis Multimix croaked. Corrupted firmware, restoring didn’t work, sledgehammers are expensive…

I got a hold of an old interface to borrow (M-Audio Fast Track USB) and I’m gonna have to say ‘screw it’ to the fact my neighbors are gonna hear my emo singing. I’m not gonna let anything get in the way of me finishing this record. I just hope the quality of the M-Audio is decent enough to match the Alesis or else I’ll have to re-track the drums and guitars all over again… just so it ALL sounds shitty. Meh.

In the meantime, I’ll try to save up $250 towards a new interface. Any suggestions or perhaps one can sell me something they’re not using?


This blows.

So I go home yesterday, all amped up to fix up a final version of Califormula …and my mixer goes on strike.

I troubleshooted (troubleshot?) the situation for about an hour and I’ve come to the conclusion… that it’s not working anymore and it’s a year past it’s warranty.

Basically I have no way to record any audio to my computer. Maybe it’s got a bad power supply or something, but the damn thing is like a big paper weight and buying a new one isn’t an option right now.

I wanted to at least re-record the vocals last night, but now I’m stuck listening to this shitty version until I find a cost effective alternative.

I’m pretty crushed right now.

Now what?


Should’ve Seen That One Coming…

So I finished putting together the rough version of the emo track “Califormula” together over the weekend… So far, so good except for one thing: the vocals. I was recording the first verse and did a couple of takes… only to realize that my neighbors can pretty much hear me wailing and screaming through the vents of my AC, totally making me self conscious after the fact… and you can hear it in this demo.

I recorded a majority of it an octave down from what I wanted it to be and in the end, I get a half assed demo. The energy level I was trying to get wasn’t achieved… It sounds kind of boring.

So now I have to find a new place to do these vocals. I might have to go back to my parents house upstate and record it all in the basement, but that’s gonna be a lot of equipment to bring back and forth. I don’t wanna spend on renting out a studio either…

I would really love to share what I have so far. I feel I tackled those drum fills I wanted and hopefully my guitar playing got a little more melodic, but those vocals just make me cringe.

Also this past weekend, I’ve started recording for this other track “Insomnia In Song”. It sounds kinda old school… like some of those Weezer slow jams and a little bit of “Popular” by Nada Surf… haha. I’m aiming for something that sounds a little disillusioned and mellow.

Anywhoos, enough rambling. “Califormula” should be up by the weekend.


First recording sessions

For the past week, aside from writing out lyrics, I’ve set up my own personal jam sessions, pumping out some nice chord progressions, drum beats and working on my drum fills… but last night I started the tracking for a new song I’ve been working on, Califormula. It’s one of the few straight-up emo songs on the record, so expect some crazy rhythm changes and more of my pre-chorus/chorus screaming.

My challenges for this song are pretty much tackling drum fills (I tend to stutter when playing too fast…) and trying my hand at finally playing some lead guitar.

I’ll have a decent cut of it ready for streaming by this time next week, hopefully with a video as well.

Also, as for artwork, I’ll be teaming up again with Roz Friend from The Branding Iron LLC as well as Lion and Rooster co-founder Leonard Salgado for some awesome photography and design. Distribution this time will be mainly online sales with very limited hard copy availability.

————
“Califormula”

Kicked it to the curb again
The winter didn’t end like it’s supposed to

Though the snow started to melt
I had reminded myself that I hate these times

And now I stand here freezing
Arms folded and dreaming
of the warmth that I deserve
Oh yes, I do

Take me away
to the place where the days are longer
I wanna fly
to a high where the sky is clearer

I’ve been lonesome way too long
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not the lonely one

And now I stand here freezing
Heart open and beating
But am I the passerby
just standing still?

Take me away
To the place where the days are longer
I wanna fly
To a high where the sky is clearer

I’ve seen the sun
And it smells like roses
Oh no, it’s happening again
I swear this time
That it will be different
I just need another minute

Let me catch my breath
—————–


All Hail, King Friday

With the writing process almost complete, I’ve taken a step back and looked at the picture that I’ve painted so far and have decided to rename the album: King Friday.
——
“It’s Not Karma If It Doesn’t Hurt”

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

Answer a question with a question
Or just 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
It was 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
———

(album artwork in progress)


Taking Shape

Let me just start by taking a moment to recognize a dear family member of mine who passed away last week: my uncle / my father’s best friend / and father of fellow artists and entrepreneurs such as DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist, Anthem Salgado, Leonard Salgado of Lion & Rooster and E.Dot Fresco of The Backpackers.

Rest in peace, Tito Tony.

As we slowly try to get back into the groove of things, this week I will be final mixing and mastering face:the.music. Early last week, I met with Roz to review the album artwork, and I am very pleased with what she came up with. The new cover will debut here next week, with the CD release to hopefully follow the week after.


finished:the.music

Saturday afternoon marked the final day of recording for the new album… I’m really excited that everything is finally coming together. Saturday evening, I met with creative designer Rozlilia Friend of The Branding Iron design company for the photoshoot for the album artwork. A new cd cover is in the works…

So all this week, I will be mastering all the tracks, and the album should be ready for the presses by this Saturday.

The recording may be done, but the journey isn’t done yet… Concert planning, finding/training session players, and distribution are still on the road ahead, but nothing is as important as reaching other people’s ears…

This is gonna be fun…


IN PRODUCTION

Since last Friday, I’ve been in the studio cutting tracks.

Saturday morning, I released my new single “Running With Roses” on my MySpace music site, (www.myspace.com/richy923)

And earlier today, E.Dot released a new exclusive hip-hop I produced “Trackburner 2009” featuring him and myself. (www.myspace.com/therealenmusic)

So far, production of the new record has been really smooth, averaging about 1 new song a day. Previously released songs such as “Rush” and “I Need Today” have received new treatment, based upon how “Running With Roses” came out.

I should be done recording by Saturday, and I will be with a talented graphic designer from The Branding Iron, LLC to work on the album artwork. Possible photoshoots in downtown manhattan.

I’m really pleased how things are coming together… but now I must take a break, spending time with family and friends on this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Running With Afterthoughts

So last night, I decided to track the first rough cut of “Running With Roses (Death of Desperado, Part 1)”… long title, huh?

I got mixed results.

Originally aiming for an brighter, emo sound, the end result was a hybrid between some heavy linkin park and nirvana… this song is heavy… a little too heavy for me.

I began tracking guitar (direct-in), applied some amp effects… and next tracked drums with my trusty Roland TD-3, and layered on some bass grooves and finally screamed my ass off on my C1000 condensor mic… Added some background vocals, did some minor pitch shifting since my 1am singing voice can be compared to the likes to William Hung…

I still have the next few nights to tinker with the sound some more, But maybe this song was born to be heavy… It’s different from the stuff I usually play, but this album is all about diversity, so it could be a blessing… The final version should be up by Sunday.


Best of Both Worlds

So was able to scrape up enough ::ahem:: pocket money to pick up a new drum set…

To solve the problem of shitty sounding drums, I had to go the electroinic route… That compromised not just the “live” sound of drums, but also the “human” sound of drums, it really sounded like I just pushed buttons to make the beats… which I did.

So now, I present my latest haul: the Roland TD-3SW V-Drums.

Now I can actually play the drums and record any hour I want without disturbing anybody. Although a part of me regrets not tracking drums the traditional way, using my 6-piece mic kit, mixing and all that fancy shit, this new e-kit should be the most efficient way for me to cut this record.

It’s got a mesh drum head on the snare, which gives it more of a realistic, snappy feel that a snare drum needs (compared to the rubber pads of the tomtoms) and a “choke” feature on the cymbals; so I can hit them, the physically grasp them to silence them instantly. Also the TD-3 sound brain comes with 32 different drum kit sounds to beat off to. Wait, that sounded wrong.

Financed with no interest for 12-months at Guitar Center.


Studio away from studio…

I spend a lot of time away from the studio… this is what makes me such a gadget freak.

I crank out the PSP when I feel like kicking ass in Tekken, or the Nintendo DS when I want to race some Mario karts, or if i have some lyrics to type up, i whip out my new macbook… but when I get a little inspiration for a melody, I can’t exactly bring around my guitar or drumset, or voice record myself singing that melody… so I spent $1.99 on my iPhone and purchased this app called “Band”.

it gives me a drumpad, a piano and a bass guitar that I can tap with multi-fingers… it can also record whatever I play (in layers) so I can punch up a little song demo right on my iPhone.

pretty sick if you ask me…