Sunday, February 22, 2004


Just when you think you are on top of it... OK, Kevin Ryan took a moment off from being his hyper talented self to prompt me to prompt all of you to check out Sarah Sharp's documentary video on this very site! There is a new page in the menu called 'the viewing room'. Leigh set it up for me so I can post video clips of my work in progress, but for now, Sarah's documentary is there, and it is a wonderful look into her work, and the process of making her CD. Kevin shot and edited the piece, and as usual, it is world class, (no hyperbole).

One caveat: It's a BIG file, like 39meg, so I recomend downloading it instead of streaming it, or simply pausing the playback until the buffer has loaded halfway or so. For my dialup buddies, this is an 'overnighter' for sure, but it is really worth it. Also, the video is available in a much higher res. format on her new CD, 'Fourth Person', available direct at

A quick report: I recorded a rehearsal for a band with no name today. I also sat in on keyboards which is either easy or difficult, in that I don't play keys worth a damn..... I just find a cool sounding sample or patch, and play the root, third, &/or fifth. (today was one of the difficult days on the ivories...) I've toyed around with getting a guitar-midi controller so I can flog the cool sounds with an instrument I can actually play. If any of you have current experience with the Ghost pickup system, I'm all ears. This is a 13pin setup that drives a Roland converter. I have never played with the modeling systems out there (such as the Line 6), but I am told that they rock, but you are limited to the sounds in the unit (right?) Much to learn.

Finally, on my wish list is to get Logic 6 and have Kevin teach it to me. Being an old ProTools hand means that the conversion of my DAW skills will be somewhat brutal. (I remember having to learn to sample and sequence on the Fairlight CMI Series III -- with huge 8 inch floppy disks!!!!!!)

Off to do some more gtr-midi research...


Saturday, February 21, 2004

Sarah Sharp's CDs arrived via her dad, BJ, this week. They look super great. Somehow CDs always seem to sound better once the artwork is on 'em. I worked pretty hard trying to write a bio for Sarah to use, in fact, both Logan and I cranked one out yesterday. That type of writing is hard but satisfying. I'm not sure Sarah liked what I did, but I think my 'arty' bio has some legs.... we'll see.

Kevin Ryan finished the first orchestral arrangement for The Googe. Their song 'After All' is now an epic in the tradition of Van Dyke Parks (famous composer arranger,... look him up). Kevin's work, as usual, is simply breath-taking.

I went to two local shows last night. I saw Pale, who was doing a showcase for Universal and Hollywood records along with Silvertrip. I missed Silvertrip, but Steve Christensen, said they blew his mind (this is good). Pale, however, I was there for. I got in the club, checked in with Logan, and immediatley went to the front of the stage. (This is very rewarding because Pale always has a bunch of willowy-Goth-vixens who gyrate in dewey-eyed extasy over Calvin's sexy-but-aloof self. While I was in this carnal pit, Pale turned in a show that certainly blew my mind. I've GOT to work with these guys again soon. They just returned from a showcase in NYC, and the travel has made them more confident. They rock as hard as any band I have ever seen in my life. If they don't get signed, I'm going to have to get Sarah to teach them how to raise the serious cash to fund their own full length. BTW: the show was at the 19th Hole on Rayford Road at I 45 N. This venue is a great place to see a band.

Before I went to see the showcase, I stopped by a place that was new to me, Forgettaboutit. Sound Breaking Ground was headlining the show there, and it was the first time I have seen them live. We start cutting basics next month so the show was an opportunity for me to get some impressions. Chris the drummer, played way better than he has in rehearsal, so now I know what he can do. Michael the bassist rocks hard, and parties hard. Channing (lead vocals, front man) works the bar HARD, and Dave the guitarist, simply holds it down great. The thing I learned last night, was that Channing can sing really well when he's in the groove. Now it's up to me to set up the context in the studio to get that out of him (& Chris) while recording.

Logan and I have a lot to do to prepare for South by Southwest. I'll check in later with the details.

Now I've got to go wash the 'club smell' out of my cool pair of jeans...


Thursday, February 12, 2004

I was SO pumped watching the Grammy's earlier this week. Beyonce sounded totally killer on the opening number with Prince. It's hard to believe that when we started working together she was only 17 years old! Now she's won 5 Grammys, and she's still a nice person to boot. Those wins were very cool for me because she got to perform the title cut of her album, "Dangerously In Love", later in the show. THAT was a cool moment because I cut the vocals for that song, and played guitar on it as well. Short of getting a Grammy for engineering or producing, this is as big as it gets for someone in my line of work!

Funny thing happened. Monday morning, after the show, I came into work, and my platinum record award for my work on that record was delivered. Bonus!

On to new stuff. I had the last band rehearsal, and first vocal rehearsal with The Googe. I recorded the band rehearsal into ProTools while I was there, and I am playing around with arrangement ideas today. The vocal rehearsal was just a lot of me giving assignments, and Matt and Denise put up with my ideas quite well.

Southern Backtones rehearsals have been going great except for some occasional crises of confidence. I'm here to tell you that the band rocks, and the record is going to be extraordinery. Check out the psychadelic rehearsal shots in the photo album.

My computer spending spree has come to an end. I'm writing on my new G4 Powerbook, and it is the shiznit. Being able to record rehearsals, make written notes, and keep a photo archive, all in the same place, ROCKS.

I'm off to pack for Sound Breaking Ground rehearsal tonight.



Saturday, February 07, 2004

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Sunday, February 01, 2004

I'm in gear acquisition mode, and OMG!, what a precarious balance between $$fear$$, and 'the business gotta have it'. I bought a Powerbook G4, and it's hard drive imploded in the first evening. Got another one on the way, though. I'm buying an MBox to record my rehearsals with (yes, Kevin, to a click, I promise!!!), and I am toying around with buying a USB keyboard M Audio 49, or Oxygen so I can play with the cool samples. It will be great to be able to do vocal edits, guitar parts, and keyboard overdubs, even when the rooms at the studio are booked. Kevin suggested that I could do vocal edits in the john if I wanted, which merely pointed out the need for solid work/home boundries, (and Kevin's ability to discern what's possible, even if it's ill advised).

The artwork is done for Sarah's record, now officially titled, 'Fourth Person', and it looks incredible. I'll have to ask if I can post the cover before it's release. I'm sure there is some chatter on Sarah's site;

For those of you that read the email I published, from Brendan Ess, the final installment of that thread is included here for your consideration.


On 1/31/04 7:35 PM, "brendan ess" wrote:

i love the way i make my music. but lately, i've been looking at things like
propellerheads 'reason' (yes! i've been considering reason . . hehe . . a
joke.) and protools. they're amazing programs! i need to decide whether or
not i should continue what i've been doing now that i'm so damned good at it
. . when there are such easier ways . .

>>>my reply:

You just described my normal state of ?creative tension? with the comment above. We make music with the tools at hand, (for me, my first years were a Fostex cassette four track, and an old PA mixer). When I stepped up to a better mixer (way before computer software), I had to totally recreate some of my normal tool routines which interrupted my normal, somewhat subliminal, flow between my heart, mind, and my music. Some new tools invite me to explore new territory, some ask me to meet them half way and experiment to see if they will enhance the manifestation of my vision, or not. Most new tools do not offer enough information to suggest how they might be worth the learning curve investment to even try. (That said, I still LOVE to experiment,.... And one of the advantages of doing this for a living is that I have a lot of people who turn me onto what?s working for them.

>>I asked Brendan: "What is YOUR vision that requires recording and mixing as you describe?"

B's reply--> My vision, to hear music the way i want to hear it, is to make it the
way i want to make it. <--

>>DW:Good Answer.

when i'm finished . . that is when i'll be able to determine whether or not
my mixing technique has had an effect on it's 'originality' or not . . but
i'm beginning to think it won't as much i had thought.

DW: (imagine non-condecending but wise-non-the-less tone of voice):

This is also a very familiar spot for me. As an engineer, I give myself permission to 'fall in and out of love' with certain techniques, mics, preamps, etc. Because what I do is an artist process (instead of just a technical one), I follow my heart a lot in my decisions as to what sounds right in a certain situation. I am always fascinated about how the outcomes of these different decisions still sound like 'my stuff' at the end of the mix. Go Figure.

>>Brendan: you may want to tell me 'hey brendan thats great! follow your dreams! good
luck and godspeed!'

>>DW:How about this instead; I have REALLY enjoyed the exchange, (oh yeah, btw: Thrill Kill Cult is the shiznit), and I am super glad you are doing your thing. If you post any of your work, PLEASE send it to me so I can hear the results of the process you have been generous enough to let me in on. You seem articulate, and considered in your writing, and I am inclined to believe you are one of the people who ?burn brightly? in my world: those who are living the life, doing what it is they do and liking it, instead of targeting the sheep?s rear end in front of you and never looking at what surrounds the obvious and easy path.

brendan works under the name 'saketrick'