I’m very good at being prepared. When I buy airline tickets I buy them way in advance and always plan my seat out. If there is no way to pick my seat online when buying a ticket I will call the airline and reserve a seat by voice. When I bought my ticket to Hamburg for this tour I logged onto KLM.com (The Royal Dutch Airline) and before hitting “confirm purchase” I chose my seat. I picked a nice bulkhead window seat toward the front of the airplane. When I printed my e-ticket reservation number it printed my seat number which was the same one I chose online. When I got to the airport I used the automated kiosks to print my boarding pass. I didn’t bother checking my seat number again because I figured I was all set. You know where my story is heading right? I get on the airplane and look at my e-ticket and surprise, I’m sitting in the last row of the entire plane in the middle seat. After sandwiching myself between to large people with giant arms already planted on my arm rests I realized this last row seat doesn’t even lean back. I don’t mind sitting upright until the person in front of me leans his seat into the furthest back position possible. Of course that’s exactly what happened just a few minutes after takeoff. I was about six inches from some guys greasy curly hair for seven hours. I knew KLM screwed me over because before the plane took off a stewardess came over and ask if I was Oliver Chesler. I said, “Yep. Why are you asking?” She said she just wanted to confirm I was on board. Huh?!
I had a short layover in The Netherlands at Schiphol airport. I was pretty thirsty to the point I was getting a headache so I bought a bottle of water. I’m my long travel delirium I didn’t flinch when the check out woman told me the water was 3.50€. To be clear that is $4.92 USD for a small bottle of water. No wonder why airlines don’t let you bring liquids over 100ml through security. What a bunch of scamming bastards. Truthfully I’m used to tour chaos and these are pretty minor pains compared to the long delays and canceled flights that could happen.
Everything got a lot more comfortable once I arrived in Hamburg. I took a free shuttle to the Marriot which like all Marriots was nice with a swimming pool, free WiFi and 24 hour room service. I had my Christmas meal alone in my room and watched some CNN. Before show time I was able to video chat with my wife and see photos of my families Lobster dinner. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
The event was full and my show went off without a hitch. German clubs are the easiest for me to perform at. The sound systems are usually amazing and the kids are really out to party. If you scream at Germans they scream back at you.
The next morning I took a bus to Berlin and the past few days have been nice catching up with friends. I never lived in Kruezberg and my friends apartment I am babysitting is right on Paul-Lincke-Ufe next to the canal. As you can see by the photo it’s really nice. The only thing driving me a bit nuts is that fireworks are legal in Berlin and on New Year’s they all go crazy. Unfortunately for my sleep some kids around here are celebrating early.
I’m going to start making a new tune today. Traveling alone is pretty strange so I suspect I will be inspired. Wednesday I fly to Belgium for the New Year’s eve show.
So another year has gone by and it’s Christmas and New Years. Did 2008 live up to your expectations? Are you ready for 2009? This holiday season I have to “work”. I’m playing an event on Christmas day in Hamburg and I do the countdown and first hour of 2009 at a huge event near Brussels on New Years Eve. The best thing about holiday gigs is I can ask double my normal fee. The worst part is I’m traveling alone for days and away from family when it’s the most important time to be together. I can understand throwing a big NYE event but who’s going to come to a techno party on Xmas day? I guess I’m about to find out! In case your interested here’s the links where you can see the full info for the events:
I have my iPhone loaded with some movies including: The Black Hole, Transsiberian, Inside Man and Purple Violets. I just looked at what iTunes had for rent that also had a high Rotten Tomatoes rating. I also have some music apps loaded: synthPond, Beatmaker, iDrum and Bloom. I bought this little plastic thing called an iBend which props up the iPhone so I don’t have to hold it in my hand. Of course my Macbook Pro is armed with Ableton if I want to get serious.
What else? Hmm… Oh I bought some new retro Nike sneakers and I will surely be blogging during my trip. If I remember Ill do some interviews with some DJs using the Griffn iTalk. I’ll also test how well it does at recording music in a nightclub. If it doesn’t have a limiter I guess it will sound horrid.
See you from the road… don’t drink too much eggnog!
I don’t wear any bling other than my wedding ring but Japanese artist Sakurako Shimizu is tempting me with his waveform jewelry.
“Waveform Series is the laser-cut shapes of the waveform of the sound in sound editing software environment. I used some human sound such as yawn, atchoum, giggle, wow, and the sound of church bell. Materials: Silver Laser cut/ hand fabricated.” – http://sakurakoshimizu.blogspot.com/
These would be good gifts for mastering engineers who brick-wall everything. Long live dynamic range!
Considering most computers come with video editing software I think it’s a requirement bands should have a nice video show going along behind them as they perform. I don’t think it matters if it’s HD footage shot with a new Canon 5D Mark II, a Flip or even a built-in cell phone camera. As with audio it’s the content that counts. Last year I did a post titled, “The best codec for video in Ableton Live on a Mac.” in which I discuss which codec will tax your CPU the least. My finding was a bit surprising and there is a good discussion in the comments so check it out: click here
Most of the time I bring my small but powerful Casio XJ-360 LCD projector with me. I also bring a scrim which is essentially a see through cloth that doesn’t have any wrinkles when pulled tight. An advantage of getting a proper scrim is I can shoot back towards it or I can place the projector behind it (aka reverse projection). You could put a projector in your rider and rely on the club to have one for you. However, I’ve found that most of the time the projectors they have waiting are ancient and the bulbs are dim. Another issue with using the club’s house projector is many times their units are attached to the ceiling in front of the stage so you would have to run a long cable to your computer.
“A scrim or gauze is a very light textile made from cotton, or sometimes flax. Its light weight and translucence means it is often used for making curtains. The fabric can also be used for bookbinding and upholstery. Scrims have also seen extensive use in theatre. The variety used for special effects is properly called sharktooth scrim. However, in theater a scrim can refer to any such thin screen, and are made out of a wide variety of materials. Scrim has a rectangular weave that is similar in size in its openings to a window screen.” – Wikipedia.org
When I play huge events I leave my projector at home. When there is more than 20,000 people in a stadium my own set up is pretty useless. I do come prepared though bringing with me two types of adapters allowing the visual crew to hook into my system. My Macbook Pro came with an Apple DVI to VGA Display Adapter connector and I also purchased the Apple DVI to Video Adapter. With these two adapters my computer has inputs any proper video crew should be able to utilize.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you want a cheap fast way to have a slick video produced for you head over to Animoto.com, upload a bunch of photos of your band, pay $3 and viola they shoot you back a pretty good looking video.
Everyone has a favorite Christmas song right? Whenever I hear Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” I get stupid happy for some reason. Imagine this song with different lyrics and it would still be pretty kick ass. Something about this song is punkish and in your face. It says to me, “Yeah whatever… it’s Xmas so freak out!”. See that pink tree below? That’s a photo of my tree.
“”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is a Christmas song, written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 on Decca 9-30776. Although Decca released it in both 1958 and again in 1959, it did not sell well until Lee became a popular star in 1960; that Christmas season, it hit #16 on the Billboard pop chart and turned into a perennial holiday favorite. It continued to sell well during the holiday season, hitting #5 on the Christmas chart as late as 1984. Brenda Lee’s recording still receives a great deal of airplay. For decades, Brenda Lee’s recording was the only notable version of the song. Radio stations ranging from Top 40 to Adult Contemporary to Country Music to Oldies to even Adult Standards played this version. The song has been covered by numerous artists, with one of the most successful versions being recorded by Amy Grant, Ronnie Spector with Darlene Love, Dion and a version by Kim Wilde and Mel Smith featuring Pete Thomas. It reached #3 on the UK Singles Chart during the 1987 Christmas season. Today there are dozens of different versions of this song with about half a dozen versions being heard on the radio but Brenda Lee’s version remains by far the most widely played.” – Wikipedia.org
Now sing along kiddies: Rocking around the Christmas Tree at the Christmas party hop. Mistletoe hung where you can see. Ev’ry couple tries to stop. You will get a sentimental feeling When you hear voices singing. “Let’s be jolly; Deck the halls with boughs of holly” Rocking around the Christmas Tree. Have a happy holiday. Everyone’s dancing merrily. In a new old fashioned way. Rocking around the Christmas Tree. Let the Christmas Spirit ring. Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie. and we’ll do some carolin. You will get a sentimental feeling When you hear voices singing “Let’s be jolly; Deck the halls with boughs of holly”. Rocking around the Christmas Tree. Have a happy holiday. Everyone’s dancing merrily. In a new old fashioned way.
Not so long ago computers for producing music were all seriously underpowered. I remember on my old Mac clone, a Power Computer PowerCenter Pro210 I could only open 2-3 plug-ins before the computer would click and glitch to a halt. However, today we live in an amazing time as far as music technology. I can load up my Macbook Pro all day long with plug-ins and it seems my CPU never jumps past 50%. It actually took me a few months to get used to piling on plug-ins without freezing or bouncing tracks. I realized I was wasting time bouncing everything by watching younger kids demo their Ableton and Cubase tracks on YouTube. My keen eye caught mountains of plug-ins placed frivolously over twenty plus channels. I realized I better “un-old fogey” myself and start painting with thick strokes of live effects or be left behind.
So today’s quick tip is to start a song with plenty of effects placed on assorted channels before you ever even place a sound producing synth, sample or voice anywhere. What do I mean? Well how about putting Altiverb with a Neuman Mic IR (Impulse Response) on the Master Channel? Why not also put a nice compressor there too? Now as your build your song and mix as you go building into those plug-ins. In effect it’s almost like you bought a new sounding mixer.
There’s no reason to be subtle either. Try creating a sub-mixer of 6+ channels and on the Group’s master fader and have a flanger set to 100% wet. Next place all your synths in your new flanger group and adjust the oscillators and filters toward the flanger not the other way around. The key is to start off fully loaded with effects on so everything you hear isn’t the same ole, same ole…
A few weeks ago Propellerhead asked me to send them my favorite Patches that come with Reason. I picked my top five and wrote a little about why each sound tickles my brain in a happy way. To view my choices: click here
“Artist Patch Charts. Go-to sounds of the pros. Ever wondered what the bass sound in that track was? How they made the harp glissandos in that movie, the shimmering strings in that commercial, or why the snare in that track sounds so familiar? We did. And that’s why we’re presenting our favorite producer’s and artist’s top sounds.” – Propellerheads.se
In the United States the FCC will kill analog TV next February (2009). Apparently anything that uses the old analog signals may stop working or run into interference. There are some cordless mics that will be affected. I own two systems (110/220V versions) both from Shure. I like Shure the best because I find they are the least susceptible to feedback. In fact, I returned another brand because it caused such a non-stop screech I thought the audience was going to kill me.
“This ruling does not address the issue of wireless microphone operations in the 700 MHz band. The FCC had proposed earlier that wireless microphone operations in the 700 MHz band should cease in February 2009, but a final transition date has not been announced.” – Shure.com
I have a PGX system which by quickly reading the Shure website I believe will keep on working without a fuss. Am I wrong?
Sometimes I like to add the sound of thousands of screaming fans into my recordings. You can find Creative Commons licensed large crowd samples online at the Free Sound Project. Another great place to search is SugarMegs which is a huge archive of free, legal concert recordings. Be sure that there’s no music playing even softly in the background or you risk the possibility of being outed as faker. If possible grab a section of pure crowd that’s long enough to fill the section of your own song in which your placing it because properly looping audience noise can be tricky.
A fun example of a fake crowd placed into a techno track is Slaves to the Rave by the Inferno Bros:
Sometimes I like to start a track with the large crowd fading in. Next I will add a single kick with a ton of reverb on it creating a boom. I then automated the crowd’s volume envelope to jump up after the boom sound creating the effect that the audience is reacting excitedly. I also use this triangular looking volume curve after a few opening screaming vocal sentences. With some careful placement and tweaking the end result kind be quite realistic.
On the other hand experimenting and creating something wild out of the crowd noise also can work. I’ve pitch shifted, flanged and “trance gated” crowd sounds into really worthwhile parts.