Doing a remix on an airplane. Am I crazy?

United Flight

I am about to jump on a nine hour flight. I have an important remix due in about ten days. I have not even opened the files to hear the song or the parts I was given to work with. Given M-Audio IE-30these facts I plan on making the most of tomorrow’s flight and see how much remixing I can do in coach!

I used this challenge as an excuse to go on a little shopping spree. I bought some M-Audio IE-30 in ear headphones and an extra Macbook Pro battery. I guess I should do an official review of the IE-30s when I get back. They certainly feel a lot nicer than the Apple earbuds I have been using.

With laptops we have full recording studios where ever we go. But do we ever really making music in the park or on a flight? I will tell you my answer soon!

photo credit: caribb

Interview with Eskil Simonsson of Covenant.

Eskil Simonsson

Covenant is one of the best known electronic bands from Sweden. Since the early 1990s they have sold a huge amount albums. I recently caught up with the lead singer Eskil in Berlin and asked him a few questions about songwriting, studio techniques, fashion and gear.

When you write a song do you work on the lyrics or music first?

Neither! We usually start with a sound, noise or the idea of a song. Then the melodies pop up as I start working on it while Joakim is starting up his lyrics engine.

Do you have any preferences when it come to a microphone and mic-pre for your voice?

Yes. When we did “Northern light” with long-time Rammstein producer Jacob Hellner we tried a bunch of different microphones and pre-amps, Neumann and stuff, but what we finally picked was a copy by Soundelux Inc of an all time classic: Telefunken Ela-M 251. The Universal Audio 6175 is a good companion and pre-amp.

Eskil SimonssonIs there any software, plug-ins or special effects you particularly like on your voice?

I used to love to put a subtle chorus from an old Roland unit but these days I try more to get the sound directly from my vocals and the mic rather than tweaking it.

How about sequencing? Ableton Live? Pro-tools? Or something else?

Yeah, we’re Steinberg users since Atari 1040ST. Before that we had a sequencer and before that we played everything manually, even live! So we have earned our sequencer so to speak. We were 5 guys and having fun.

I know you own a Moog Voyager. What other key hardware pieces do you use and enjoy?

Hm, I like my microphone, but the Waldorfs (Q, XT & Pulse) still sound like friends I like to know. And Joakim likes to surround himself with red synthesizers from that Swedish company. I love the computer.

What is the secret to writing a great song?

There is no secret, just listen to yourself. Some basic knowledge of structure helps but actually I sometimes feel the music is just passing through me and its up to me to use my craftsmanship to make the best of it. Maybe as a musician you are more of a talented receiver picking up signals than the creator of them. But I also devour popular culture output, maybe that helps.

You are always dressed quite well! Do you have a favorite fashion designer?

I like shoes, with decent shoes you could even wear jeans (I dont have any) but no shorts please. And I like hats. Church’s and Borsalino, way to go.

What is some music your are currently listening to?

Field recordings and drones without rhythm or melodies. This is a gem caught in the web:

What are 3 great websites you check often?

BBC, wiki, and as a bonus site.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We just completed one of the greatest DVDs known to the industrialized mankind. Do us a favor and check it up: In Transit by Covenant. See you around, take care and control. Eskil:

TAL-BassLine free Roland SH-101 emulation.

Tau Bassline

I used to own a blue Roland SH-101 with the cool modulation handle and shoulder strap. These days I use the Powercore01 which is a SH-101 emulation. There is a new free emulation for Mac and PC called TAL-Bassline. Not much more say here because this one is totally free so go an try it yourself! Here’s the details:

• VST Mac (Universal) and PC
• Band-limited oscillators (saw, pulse)
• Sub-oscillator: square -1 oct., square -2 oct., pulse -1 oct, pulse -2 oct
• -18 dB/octave low-pass filter (resonant/self-oscillating)
• LFO (frequency: 0,1 .. 30 Hz, waveforms: sin, tri, saw, rec, noise)
• Very fast nonlinear envelope (A: 1.5ms..4s, D: 2ms..10s, S: 0..100%, R: 2ms..10s)
• Simple Arpeggiator (up, down, one octave mode)
• 2x Unisono Mode
• Panic button
• MIDI automation for all sliders and pots
• Precise fader control while holding down the “Shift” button
• Supports all sample-rates
• 2x oversampling
• 23 presets
• Tutorial PDF
• ~2.5% CPU (Intel Core 2 CPU 6700, 44.1KHz, 24Bit, buffer-size 1024 Samples

via futuremusic

The Bricasti Design Model 7 Reverb.

Bricasti Model 7

A friend of mine Marc Acardipane is working on a new album. He is moving from dance music into full on pop. To make the move he went on a serious shopping spree. Recently during a phone conversation he went on for an hour about a new Reverb unit he bought.

Most people would be fine with the built in software reverb that comes with your DAW. I often use Ableton Live’s built in Reverb. A quick tip for the Ableton Reverb is to click the “Quality” drop down menu and pick “High”. Most of the people I know also spend some cash and grab a Convolution Reverb plug-in like Altiverb. I have my Altiverb loaded with vintage hardware reverb Impulse Responses.

Ableton Live - Reverb Quality Setting

But what if you want the absolute best reverb? Lexicon possibly? Nah! Bricasti! According to my friend Marc he just sat there for hours listening to vocals through the Bricasti Model 7 in total awe. I trust Marc as he owns every software and hardware Reverb there is. The specs are basic but this unit is all about sound quality:

  • Revolutionary new reverb algorithm
  • True Stereo Reverb Process
  • Classic and new Presets; Halls, Plates, Rooms, Chambers, Ambient Spaces
  • 12 Parametric Program Parameters
  • Custom design toroidal transfomer
  • High performace switching supply
  • Separate Digital and Analog modules
  • Postive feel 2 db stepped analog input level control
  • MIDI I/O
  • Hand Crafted in the USA

An optional remote control is coming soon. It’s $3700 USD. Are you game?

Photos from Schneiders Buero. Berlin, Germany.

Schneiders Buero

Did you think I would go to the coolest analog synth store in the world and not take a few photos? To go along with my last post here is a photo set from Schneiders Buero. Berlin, Germany. Feel free to tag and add notes to the photos if a synth or module isn’t labeled. I dare you to even attempt to label the Doepfer Modular!

To view the full set: click here

Scanned postcards and ads from Schneiders Buero!

MFB-Synth II

Last week I took a walk to my favorite store in the world Schneiders Buero. Herr Schneider is a really cool Geschaftsfuher (store owner). When you enter his palace of new analog synthesizers for sale a Theramin greets you by sounding off as you enter the door. Scattered around the shop there are postcards and adverts from some of our favorite gear. I grabbed some of them and scanned them for you. Remember when viewing images in flickr you can click “all sizes” to see larger versions of the scans.

To view the full set: click here

EZdrummer Twisted Kit created by Michael Blair.

Tom Waits

I am huge fan of Tom Waits. Even if your not into his style you have to appreciate the crazy broken pianos, drum kits and liquor induced vocals he produces. Besides his drunken rants he also creates some awesome love songs like Picture in a Frame and I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You.

Michael Blair is one of the people behind the Wait’s sound. He has created a drum kit expansion library for EZdrummer by Toontrack called “Twisted Kit“. It features some of these unique sounds based on real life objects such as Cardboard Box, Hubcap and Cakepan.

EZdrummer Twisted KitIn October of 1985 Tom Waits released the album Rain Dogs. The album was an instant classic and marked a new sound for him. A rough, dirty neo-blues style with awkward rhythms and hard edges. Part of the band that contributed to that sound was drummer and percussionist Michael Blair. His highly personal instrument set-up which included a mix of regular drums and odd bits and pieces like trashcans, bedroom furniture and rusty bicycle frames fit perfectly with the sound that Waits was looking for. The combination of Michael’s timing, expression, and junkyard sounds created a rich and useful range of musical textures to accent Waits’ intricate storytelling. –

Unless you make music that utilizes real drum kits EZDrummer is overkill. But this new expansion pack should at least be a good reminder that making your own sounds is a great way to spark creativity and be original.

Do you know of any great drum kits online free or for sale that feature offbeat real life objects?

photo credit: jorenobniano

Vermona DRM1 MKIII Analog Drum Machine

Vermona DRM1 MKIII

On my “must get in 2008” list is the Vermona DRM1 MKIII. It’s one of the very few analog drum machines being manufactured new today. It sounds similar to a vintage analog machine, somewhere in-between a Roland TR-CR78 and TR-808. The tuning pots for each sound allow it to reach a wide range of sound. The new MKIII version does away with the Distortion Effect and replaces it with a Waveshaper. It does not sound like a 909 or Jomox. Take a listen:

After the fall of the wall, the inventors from the GDR-label for electronic instruments, Vermona, founded a new company named HDB audio. Based in the east German Vogtland near the Czech border, they have been recognized throughout the years for their OEM, quality, production for well known brands of tube amplifiers, mixers, splitters and other gear. During the past ten years they have been financing their love of electronic instruments by working for these other manufacturers who respect their quality and on-time work. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the founders could buy their label back from investors. Now they are in full throttle with HDB for pro audio and Vermona for pro synth and effects. (The stuff they truly desire to create!) –

Each sound has an individual output and there is a stereo out and headphone jack. For a little extra money you can get it with silver knobs, blue LEDs and wood side panels. There’s not too much more to say other than this thing sounds really nice! In a recent trip to Schneider’s Buro in Berlin I picked up the advertisement for the DRM (MKII version). I scanned it for you to check out. If you click the image above it will take you to the full size scan.

A new synth is born. Analogue Solutions Leipzig.

Analogue Solutions Leipzig

Analogue Solutions is a wonderful UK company who creates new analog synthesizers. If your not aware of what they offer head directly to their website and check out some of their cool toys. This week they released a new rack mount monophonic synth called Leipzig.

  • Pure analogue voice circuitry.
  • Fat Moog style filter.
  • 2 VCOs with Glide and Sub-VCOs.
  • Plenty of modulation routing possibilities.
  • Extra tone controls and circuits for more sound variety e.g. LFO, CrossMod.
  • Rugged steel construction and ‘vintage’ wood design.
  • MIDI In for software sequencer control

It’s in stock and ready to ship for £549 +vat & shipping.

For more info click to:

via Matrixsynth

The RIAA negotiates to CUT artist Royalties.


I’m sure this is not the first time the RIAA has done this, but now that the company is under constant scrutiny by the net press we see a clear view of who these people really represent. Apparently the going rate for today’s artist is 13% and the RIAA is arguing in negotiations currently happening it should be lowered to 9%.

What the hell is going on here? 9%? For the person who created the music and lyrics? When we are talking about music sales aren’t we talking about the selling the music and lyrics?

Yes, the RIAA doesn’t think the record companies are making enough and that musicians are clearly making too much. I mean, they get 13% now. Like they deserve 13% for writing and creating the music that people are paying for. Hogwash! Someone had to, you know, encode it. That’s worth at least 40%. And hey, these shoes don’t shine themselves! So they’re pushing to get that rate cut down to a shameful 9%, giving artists even less of a slice of the pie than before. –

If your a musician you need to stay independent. There really is little reason to get into bed with any major label. If your music is great and you promote yourself online aggressively, fans will find you and over the long tail you will make your money. You don’t even have to give Apple or Amazon a cut if you don’t want. Install your own online store like the or WP e-Commerce store.

photo credit: sandrino