The Work

Read the quote below. I think it’s a true statement. I know this is the way it was for me. I fell in love with music in my teens. It took me years to create music as good as the music I loved. It was worth the years of loops and failures.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. – Ira Glass

photo credit: dub_ee

via nprfreshair

Trade Remixes

Now that I’ve finished my album I am putting together the same album full of remixes. Instead of paying 20 people to do remixes for me I am trading a remix of my own for one of theirs. This serves three purposes. I don’t have to shell out a bunch of cash. It forces me to work on material that’s not my own which I find a challenge. Lastly, every remix I do for someone else gets promoted by that artist therefore extending my own name into the world. I know this is obvious but maybe this post will trigger you to go trade with your friends, fans and if your lucky music heros. This weekend I am finishing remixes for Haujobb and Steinkind. See how they just got some free press?

“A remixer uses audio mixing to compose an alternate master recording of a song, adding or subtracting elements, or simply changing the equalization, dynamics, pitch, tempo, playing time, or almost any other aspect of the various musical components. Some remixes involve substantial changes to the arrangement of a recorded work, but many are harmonic, such as creating a “vocal up” version of an album cut that emphasizes the lead singer’s voice.” – Wikipedia

For more info: facebook.com/thehorrorist

Get the Balance Right

It took me a while but I finally struck a balance between my day job and my music career. Three week day nights and weekends I am in front of knobs, dials, touch screen, API and Ableton. Weekdays as Director of Operations at ENVEN Energy Services I stare at Windows 7 via Bootcamp, Excel tracking sheets, Quickbooks or I am in the field auditing commercial lighting systems in Rockland, Orange and Sullivan Counties. Once and a while live performances as The Horrorist steal a Friday away from ENVEN but since I am a partner in the company it’s a perk I am allowed. Mornings before anything starts thirty minutes goes here to Wire to the Ear and these words. I know balance has found it’s equilibrium because my to do list gets cleared and I am not having those “missing class” nightmares. I admit I struggled to make this work and for a while it cost me some music creating time. The key is I pretend I am far more important than I am. I pretend I am a CEO. I wake up early, eat super healthy and spend 45 minutes on the Elliptical trainer each day. I allow myself one or two planned, scheduled fun short late afternoon meet ups with friends and family per week. I know this all sounds pretentious and needlessly stiff. In between all the positivity there is a blackness. I regularly feel like I am missing something somewhere. I have huge doubts and I feel I’ve become a mouse on a wheel. That said, I am doing my life’s plan and I hope in the end people will have noticed.

“There’s more besides joyrides. Little house in the countryside. Understand, learn to demand, Compromise, sometimes lie. You think you’ve got a hold of it all. You haven’t got a hold at all. When you reach the top, get ready to drop. Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall. It’s almost predictable.” – Depeche Mode

For more info: Get the Balance Right, Depeche Mode (iTunes link)

photo credit: Colin Harris

Letting Go

Over the past three months I’ve been experiencing Chinese Democracy syndrome. Chinese Democracy was the Guns and Roses album that took them a decade to release. They wrote, erased, rewrote, sweated, talked and stressed instead of just letting it out. The truth is I have recorded almost 30 songs for my next album called Joyless Pleasure. I’ve worked harder and I’ve been more inspired while making these songs than ever in my life. Certainly it will be my best effort and about half I consider gems. Yet I still sit wanting to make one more song. One more that will be the one that will take it all over the top. I don’t have any advice in this post. I’m only sharing this strange experience. I am going to let go. I have my last song in Ableton. Maybe I just don’t want to go take the album photos!

“In the music industry, a release is usually a term referring to the creative output from an artist available for sale or distribution.” – Wikipedia

photo credit: Karola Riegler

nhow Berlin

The nhow is a hotel in the center of Berlin on the Spree river. Why would I be posting information about a hotel on Wire to the Ear? Well this hotel has two recording studios in it available to guests. Not only that Gibson guitars are available to use through room service. Most musicians need really cheap rooms and Berlin is one of the cities where you can find nice hotel rooms for less than a hundred euros. The nhow hotel is going for 174 euro per night so if you stay get your studio time in to make it worth it. I like this idea and there should be hotels for any type of person no? Video game hotels, cat people hotels, etc… Let’s hope this nhow hotel has sound proof rooms, locks on the minibars and paid their insurance bills if they are inviting rock stars to stay with them.

“Located directly on the banks of the river Spree, the Nhow Berlin bills itself as the only hotel in Europe offering two professional music studios. A dedicated music manager is on staff, as is a team drawing heavily from local music colleges. Regular live events and concerts take place in the hotel’s event spaces and terraces, while first-rate DJs are on hand in the bar. The music studios are operated in collaboration with Lautstark Music GmbH/René Rennefeld, which also manage the legendary Berlin Hansa recording studios. The Nhow’s 304 rooms, meanwhile, are kitted out with iPod connections and more than 30 TV and 100 music radio stations integrated in a state-of-the-art entertainment system. Wireless Internet and more than 5,000 videos-on-demand are available in every room; Gibson guitars are even available through room service.” – springwise.com

For more info: nhow-hotels.com/berlin/

via twitter.com/#!/mrtunes

Analogue Solutions to 1984

Every time I see an Analogue Solutions Europa Sequencer demo I know I have to get one soon. It’s a good time machine especially here set up with Depeche Mode’s People are People drum kit. By the way if you haven’t heard the B-Side “In Your Memory” and your a DM fan go find it… it’s good.

“The beat was created using Europa’s Internal mode (not synced to MIDI clock or using outside sequencers). An Ensoniq ASR-10 was providing the drum samples in this case. The Europa was also used to sequence the AS Telemark synthesizer at the end of the video and uses the Europa’s velocity controls (per step key) to control the Telemark’s filter (velocity to filter). At the end of the vid, Europa is put into External clock mode and synced to MIDI clock (DAW sequencer). At this point, Europa will start/stop when the computer sequencer starts/stops. Europa also is sending sync to the AS Oberkorn MK3 sequencer, which is controlling the SE ObieRack.” – rezfilter

photo credit: Affendaddy

via Synthtopia

Inspiro

Inspiro is an iOS App that could help you write song lyrics (among other things). Three modes help you on your creative journey: The Muse, Scenarios and The Daydream Machine. I always have a thesaurus or Masterwriter open and I just added this guy to my tool chest. It’s current in the App store for $3.99: click here

“INSPIRO is more than an idea generator, it’s an “imagination stimulator”. Using dynamic word randomization and an easily customizable vocabulary, this engaging app is always ready with fresh concepts to inspire any creative activity, game or daydream. Lyricists can find the words for their next song. This nifty app may just be the final cure for writer’s block.” – inspiroapp.com

For more info: inspiroapp.com

USA German Production

K1 Clip – Demo by thingstocome

Here’s some music I recorded for a German female producer. It’s in her court to add vocals for this and send it back to me. You’re hearing two slightly detuned Yamaha CS5 lines. Both are going through D16 Devator’s. You also hear white noise from the CS5 modulated through Ableton’s Auto-Pan. Assorted booms are my own recordings and swing is up.

Alles klar?

Depeche Mode – Some Great Reward Demos

Depeche Mode’s Some Great Reward album from 1984 is one of my favorites. I can sing every lyric on the album in order from beginning to end. It has a romantic feel with plenty of melodies, early sampling and fantastic 80s drums. I don’t know the story behind these demo versions of the album tracks but from a musician’s stand point they are very interesting. The highly produced gloss is gone revealing many of the songs parts which on the CD meld together (in a good way).

“In September 1984, Some Great Reward was released. Melody Maker claimed that the album made one “sit up and take notice of what is happening here, right under your nose.” In contrast to the political and environmental subjects addressed on the previous album, the songs on Some Great Reward were mostly concerned with more personal themes such as sexual politics (“Master and Servant”), adulterous relationships (“Lie to Me”), and arbitrary divine justice (“Blasphemous Rumours”). Also included was the first Martin Gore ballad (“Somebody”) – such songs would become a feature of all following albums. “Somebody” was released as a double a-side with “Blasphemous Rumours” and was the first single with Gore on lead vocals. Some Great Reward was the first Depeche Mode album to enter the US album charts, and it made the Top 10 in several European countries.” – Wikipedia.org

Be sure to own the original album!

via ASUKLTD

Every Pop Song is the same 4 Chords

Considering this video from Australian comedy band Axis of Awesome has almost 5 million views most of you have probably seen this. For those musicians who haven’t you have to admit is pretty interesting. It surely explains why everything on the radio sounds the same.

“Australian comedy group ‘Axis Of Awesome’ perform a sketch from the 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Footage courtesy of Network Ten Australia. See http://www.axisofawesome.net/ for more details of the comedy trio including Jordan Raskopoulos, Lee Naimo, & Benny Davis.” – random804

For more info: wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_(music)