Thursday, January 29, 2004

Rehearsal for the Southern Backtones are really getting me excited. Hank, Mike, John, Todd, and I had a great time grooming the songs and discussing productive minutia at the famous Sterrett Street Studios on Tuesday. Hank blew me away with a new song that I liked better than all of the other contenders so far for our 5th song. It is so cool to have prolific and gifted writers like the guys in this band.

John Griffin reminded me how much I want a ZVEX SuperHardon Pedal. ( John got this cool modified boss pedal and it reminded me of the ZVEX stuff. Check it out.

I got a really cool letter from a young man, Brenden S. regarding modern day mixing techniques. I am very impressed by this young (?) man's curiousity and intelligent comments, so I am going to post the exchange here. If you have anything to add, email it to me, and I will see that it gets to Brenden

thelove, Dan


Your letter is intriguing. I have read it several times and I am going to respond to specific sections, in color, below. I am curious as to why you chose to email me (I�m flattered, actually), and I would love to know how you tracked me down. Finally, I�m curious as to where you are in your schooling.

On 1/28/04 6:39 PM, "brendan ess" wrote:

> Hi.
> I've sent this letter to you not only because I feel that you're someone who
> is most likely to have answers, but also because I believe you're a person
> of true talent in your field of work.
> It is 2004 and it seems that music creation is now something just about any
> intelligent person can master due to the availability of such programs as
> Pro Tools, Reason, Cool Edit Pro, and Fruity Loops. Mixing has apparently
> become but a simple task in the music creation process for lots of artists.

Yes, the tools have become inexpensive and ubiquitous, however, I get more production/engineering/mixing work than EVER before as a result of the �leveling of the technological playing field�. While this might seem to be a paradox, it�s not. Here�s how it works: I�m a pro. I spend all day, every work day, learning better ways to use the tools everyone now takes for granted. I�ve gotten to the point that my work has a certain character, and people pay for it. Many of them pay far more willingly in this time of �cheap tool�s � simply because they bought all of that newly accessible gear and found that they needed expert help to get their project to sound world class. For the people who cannot hear the difference, or are as talented as I think I am, they are happy and I never meet them as clients. Everyone else who comes to me is now �process-wise�; they appreciate what I do all the more because they realize my work sounds better than they could get themselves on that very same equipment. They are grateful, and I don�t have to talk them into believing that my work is worth it. Everybody wins.
> I am not contacting you in regard to these forms of music making. I am
> contacting you in regard to a sort of mixing that is so tedious and
> time-consuming that it may still produce a result far more original than one
> found with these modern easy-to-use programs mentioned above.
> I'm curious about mixing music in nothing but a wave editor. To simply begin
> in a stereo waveform editor and "cut & paste" every little thing until the
> song is finished. Presently, wave editors are meant to act as something for
> "perfecting" or "finalizing" a product other than actually creating the
> product itself.

Well the fact that this idea would no doubt be very boring,
> tedious, time-consuming, and somewhat miserable is probably what makes it so
> great. To make music in such "bad conditions" may build the artists
> character in conjunction with his or her creative abilities to the point
> where the music ends up being something much more interesting than the stuff
> we all hear every day.

On a more recent note, Walter Becker and Donald Fagan were rumored to have created solos on their first two albums by physically splicing individual notes together from individual performances (on the 2� master tape!!!) Is this the type of creation you are talking about---using the editing process, not to groom performances, but to create wholly new �performances� from disparate source material? I know that the last example fits under the category of normal editing to polish a standard performance, but it was TOTALLY over the top for it�s day, and their critics bashed them for such perfection-driven belly-button diving.>
> With experience, I think it could be a much greater way to find originality,
> at least for some people (such as those able to pay closer attention to
> detail for extended periods of time). And I am very interested in knowing
> about any information regarding this or of any artists or people known or
> unknown who have had their music created this way. Is there a known term to
> describe it? Is there even any record of it being done commercially or
> non-commercially? Is it something worth mastering?

Look up William Burroughs, and the words �cutups, or �cut ups� in google.
> Finally, I've contacting you not only for your help on getting information
> on this, but also for your thoughts on the subject. Please reply with
> absolutely anything that may be of interest to me.

You are really on to something, Brendan. On a final note, my band Culturcide, was involved in these types of experiments in the very early 1980�s. I find it totally intriguing that you have written me about this. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed talking about editing as a form of music creating.
> Thank you!
> -Brendan S. of Bar Harbor, Maine. Student

Monday, January 26, 2004

It's 5:54am, and, unlike most people in the music industry that would be up at this hour, I did NOT stay up all night. I've been getting to bed rather early in my somewhat unsuccessful attempt to reenter the world after finishing Sarah Sharp's CD. For some reason, I've had a hard time sleeping. I am excited about the project, and I have tons of other work that I'm already engaged in,, time to report.

Scott Hull from the Hit Factory did an OUTSTANDING job on the mastering of Sarah's songs. Props to Kevin for searching him out. Scott mastered off of the 1/4" tape master (with Dolby SR). He was able to get the mixes to sound full and loud without changing the tonal relationship of the mix elements. This is a first for me. The mixes sounded 'rounder' fuller and louder.....better versions of what left the console.

Kevin shot and edited a killer documentary short on Sarah which is going to be included on the CD. I'm going to get Leigh to find a way to stream it off of this site, so keep a look out. The only downside to this is that Kevin may become in-demand as a filmmaker which will keep him too busy to work on our projects(!)

I've started rehearsals with the Southern Backtones. The band, Steve Christensen, (who will be engineering the project), and I crowded into the cozy confines of my office and recorded our first acoustic rehearsal. The CD's have been in my car player ever since. 4 of the 5 songs we are going to cut are really obvious. The songs are great and tight arrangements, and just need instrumental arrangement, and presentation work. The 5th song is a bit up in the air, but Steve and I like 'Celebration' which borrows some of the songwriting vibe of their first CD, but sounds way more mature. Hank wants to recut 'Closer' from the last CD, but I am leaning against that pretty hard. My feeling is that a new body of work is not the place to seriously try to make up of the perceived short comings of a previous recording. The song is very good, the execution of it on the last record is somewhat less than it could be, but redoing it in this forum seems like a step backward. More will be revealed!

I need to set up a rehearsal and studio schedule for The Googe. We are ready to have Kevin come to rehearsal and get started on the orchestral arrangements, and the band and I have much work to do. This is going to be really a unique opportunity -- Kevin gets to get his 'Van Dyke Parks' hat on, and I get to find a way to make it all work together.

The Handsomes have tentatively set up a summer recording project with me. I am VERY happy about that because those guys rock, are great players on their instruments, and happen to be very popular at the moment, regionally. I thought we got along great at rehearsal, so I stand ready to execute on that deal.

On the female singer songwriter front, Winter Roberts is in the que. Kevin and I are poised to start songwriting sessions as soon as the business is ironed out.

I've done three rehearsals with Sound Breaking Ground. Interesting deal there. The band, and the music are great. The business includes a new twist, however. SBG's investor wants an unusual clause in the production agreement, to the effect of "If I don't like it, I don't pay the final half of the production advance". This is a first for me, although I have heard of the like before. I have never encountered this request from my major label clients, so I am having to research the precedents myself (yawn). In principle, I understand the investor's motive, but quantifying "I like it" in contractual terms concerning the delivery of what is, ostensibly, an artistic rendering, is really vague. More will be revealed (again!).

I'm eager to get back to Austin. I've got new friends and acquaintances up there: Liz Pappademas, John Dee Graham, Bruce Hughes, and Chris Masterson. Also, the guys at Top Hat Studios.

On one last note, check out Steve Wedermeyer. He is a singer songwriter who's last record was produced by John Dee Graham, and who is currently working with Charlie Sexton. Good stuff.

This early morning blogging feels pretty good. I hope I last the day, though.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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Sunday, January 18, 2004

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I just listened to my last 'audio blog' and I deleated it post haste! Man, I sounded like a self-absorbed uber nerd recounting the hollow victories he has to put up with until the undeserving world finally wakes up and realizes how truly important he has become!!!!!! Yuk!

In my defense, I had just come off of a six day mixing jag during which we finished Sarah Sharp's CD. So let me recount the four one one: LOOK OUT WORLD, SARAH SHARP IS A NAME THAT YOU WILL COME ACROSS WITH INCREASING FREQUENCY ONCE THIS WORK IS COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE!!!!!!!!!! We are mastering with Scott Hull whose credits are impressive. Once we are finished I will post a song on the site. I'm really pumped! I'm still sort of afraid of talking too much about this as not to screw up the incredible momentum of this project. Let me just say that this project completes me in a way that I suspect might be totally unique in one's life. We made great art, and I think, an incredible product. To quote Sarah: (in a restrained voice) "I'm Excited".

Next on my list is the Southern Backtones. I will be producing 5 songs with Steve Christensen engineering. Besides having Hank, Todd, and Mike of the Backtones to inspire us, we have the additional pleasure of having another supurb engineer/producer in the mix--John Griffin, guitarist of the Backtones and SugarHill Staff Engineer. This is going to be really huge in that I have always wanted to produce the band, now I get to do it right with a really killer team of guys.

I went to Sound Breaking Ground's rehearsal last night, and it looks like I am going to ink a 3 song deal with them. We rehearsed in a cavernous warehouse/office space for a fastener (screw, nuts, bolts, etc) When I walked in, it sounded like I was backstage at a huge venue. These guys are going to be a cool band to work with. Very melodic and heavy with good vocals. The drummer is exceptional, but he is recovering from a work mishap that screwed up his left hand. (---Get well, Chris!)

This weekend, I am going to meet with Liz Pappademas, a singer songwriter in Austin, Texas. Liz captured my interest when I heard her submission to a NARAS songwriting contest. I met her briefly at the awards ceremony and she gave me a demo. I liked it, passed it to Kevin Ryan, and now we get to go to Austin to spend some time together discussing the possibilities. I seem to be making a big love connection in Austin with lots of new friends: engineer/producer Stuart Sullivan at Wire Recording in Austin, Bruce Huges, who plays in a ton of cool bands and with artists such as Bob Schneider and Stephen Bruton, and Carlos Sosa whose sax playing, horn arrangement and producing continue to knock me out. I had planned an extended stay in Austin on Saturday, but it looks like I have to come home early. I'm contemplating a motorcycle trip back to Austin the very next day to catch Bruce and Stephen play at the Saxon Pub with The Resentments. I'll see if I feel like playing 'road warrior'.

Still on the horizon are Arkansas singer/songwriter Kendall Triplett, Houston songwriter, Winter Roberts, The Handsomes, more songs with Pale (who are playing some shows in New York in a couple of weeks), world beat groove dogs, Dreadneck, and my next stop on the rehearsal tour-- The Googe.

The Googe have repeatedly stated that they want to do some 'orchestral rock' and I know Kevin Ryan is excited about writing & recording some orchestral rock arrangements. We rehearse on Thursday night and we should come to a business arrangement soon after that (I suspect).

(This is SO much better than my audio blogg..... not that I don't dig the opportunity to phone in my stuff,... just I have GOT to get on top of self producing my phone delivery.....)

Finally, Tony Endieveri came and took pictures for a whole day while Kevin, Sarah, Steve and I mixed in SugarHill's Studio A. The pictures are simply incredible, although I am not suprised, (he designed this site!). Tony, is a real talent. His ability to discern visual art in seemingly mundane surroundings is phenomenal. Thank you, Tony. I have your payment sitting in my office right now. So come on by! Everyone else, PLEASE check out Tony's incredible work. Contact him at .

OH YEAH,..... those of you who sent me EPK's to check out. Logan is trying to respond to each and every sender,... we are just overwhelmed at the number of responses. THANKS!!!!!!! Please be patient. We check out every one so it takes a while to catch up.



Tuesday, January 06, 2004

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