Modern – The Horrorist

Modern by thingstocome

Now that I released my latest album Joyless Pleasure one thing that has me excited is that I can now talk about the songs. If you don’t mind I am going to make a post for each song going into as much detail as I can about the inspiration, influences and production. There is a reason for all the pro-audio gear lust that happens on this site. The crazy plastic and metal boxes full of buttons and dials are my secret weapons in song-writing.

I recorded a large amount of music and only picked ten songs to release. Narrowing the selection was easy because my criteria was simple. I only picked songs that were completely inspired by true events in my own life. The first song was Modern.

It’s hard for me to label my success as an musician. I don’t sell millions of albums and there are no paparazzi on my front door. However, I can make a living solely from music and I have fans pretty much in any city I go to. The music I listen to and love isn’t popular so I don’t expect my own releases to be on the billboard 100. I can’t make pop music or trance or even Minimal tracks with a purpose to chart. I can only really make my own songs. I’ve tried to conform but all that happens is I pull my hair out and stress. Music like my own had it’s day in the 80s backed by a very different kind of music industry.

As I entered my late 30s I realized I wanted more. I began to see my friends begin to purchase homes, cars and start families. I knew if I wanted to afford more than rent and drum machines I would need to get a day job. I also knew that even though I was a full time musician I only actually worked on music when I was inspired. I could easily take on more in my life. This was the point I decided to move back to NYC. I loved my time in Berlin but if you’re going after large buckets of cash my home town is where it’s at. I crossed the ocean and started looking. My only requirement is that the pay had to be high. I looked into music jobs such as cataloging sounds for Toys R Us or running a Pro-Tools rig at a small television advertising company. Too boring. I decided I needed some help so I looked for an employment agency. I walked into a place called Tomorrow’s Workplace and immediately saw a sign for a job at an Energy Services company. I knew there was green stuff in energy in both senses of the word. I have no idea why I thought I could land the job. Amazingly I got the job on the spot and quickly learned my tech savyness made be popular. I could also sell quite well. Afterall I’ve been selling music for years. A commodity most people don’t even want to buy! Fast foward to today. I left that company and started my own ESCO called ENVEN with a 78 year old ex-lawyer, mortgage broker named Charlie. In some ways we couldn’t be more different. He’s a religous concervative who thinks in numbers. Yet we have become best friends and I’ve unearthed his not so secret past as a party animal. While parts of my job are unfun I am on my way to the things I want.

As my team modernizes around Manhattan I watch the old become new. Many of the things I love about Berlin are happening here. Glass, steel and cool white futuristic lighting replace what’s left of urban decay. I’ve learned more in the past two years than the ten before it. I’ve modernized myself. That’s the inspiration behind this song.

You can hear many of my music influences in Modern such as Kraftwerk and Joy Division yet I think it has my stamp on it. Now let’s talk tech! This song is very much an analog affair. Every single synth sound and the white noise comes from a Yamaha CS-5. It took me about a week to piece the panned layers into it’s repetitive verse chorus. The drums except the kick are from my favorite piece of equipment the Vermona DRM1 MKIII. I think the DRM is so under rated under noticed. The kick is from my Jomox Mbase which is signed by J├╝rgen Michaelis himself. The vocals were recorded using my API 512c mic pre and Shure KSM32 microphone. There is panned Altiverb on my voice. I used a Lexicon PCM90 Impulse Response. I recorded some NYC street sounds on my iPhone which you can hear in the background throughout the song. Everything was sequenced in Ableton Live.

“All the modern. All the modern. Super Building. Super Building. Growing into a new day. Growing into a new day.”

Available on: iTunes | Amazon MP3 | Amazon CD | Beatport

Label Label

Here’s a quick beginner tip that may save you from loosing a sound. If your using hardware and you want to remember what patch you are using label your Ableton clip with the same patch number! Some hardware will respond to a MIDI Program change. In Ableton double click a MIDI clip to enter Clip View and in the Notes section you will see Bank, Sub-Bank and Program. That’s where you can pick and save the corresponding hardware’s patch number.

When I used DR. T’s KCS and a Roland Juno-106 I would create a sound then slightly change it, save it over 16 patch locations and then have DR. T’s cycle through each patch using Program Change messages. With different filter settings saved in each Patch the Juno sounded like a more expensive synth. Imagine old school Depeche Mode arpeggio patterns with filters opening and closing. It was a pain to set up but worth it in the end.

Happy music making.