Category Archives: music production

new ideas and old ideas revisited about producing music, studio work, unconventional production approaches…

Music of Ghouls – Live Stream from the Recording Session

as most of you know already, I’m going to record my current album “Music of Ghouls” on 18th and 19th of august at Seizures Palace in a new fashion. 2 days with the band El Chico Blanco from New York will have to be enough time to record about 90% of the album.

the remaining 10 % I pre-recorded on upright bass and vocals as guide tracks. so on AUG 18/19 we’re adding and jamming additional material for the record.

there will be 3 additional tracks which we will do as a live group. the new thing here is that there will be no bass on these tracks, since I’d like to get the pure El Chico Blanco sound without interfering with my bass playing.

set up
we’ll do a rehearsal of the material in the mornings and then record and do overdubs in the afternoon. I’m aiming for a fresh live sound instead of a rehearsed and polished one.

live stream
I’ll stream the rehearsal part of the recording (which will also be recorded, of course) and what you get to see is the first edition of us trying these songs, forming, improvising, jamming them to get a live-feel for the album.

so, naturally, there’ll be plenty of surprises in the music, I guess, so tune in to see us work live and hopefully get some great moments on tape for you to watch.

here are the dates and times

AUG 18, 12pm-2pm (EST) (=18-20h Germany Time)
AUG 19, 11am-1pm (EST) (=17-19h Germany Time)

here’s the stream

The Horse Dark Lady – how to never speak to anyone anymore

so, this is the third of the series of production videos from the album “Music of Ghouls”. this time let me introduce to you a lady who can’t stand it if people talk to her. she gets physically sick when someone opens their mouth to talk to her. she feels as if the words hit her face like stones. what to do? simple. she moved out of society to live with horses. horses are quiet, calm and peaceful animals and make her feel comfortable. now, she moves from stable to stable to be with horses. she calles herself the Horse Dark Lady and she pulls a gun on anyone who tries to speak to her.

here’s the production video where I explain how I record the bass stereo with 2 mics, how I used breakpads, car shocks and a baby drum to get the percussion section going and how a shaker can play straight 8ths over a triplet swing groove.

here are the lyrics:

she didn’t learn a lot in school
with people she don’t get along
and though she knows all the words
she becomes a mute when spoken to

when spoken to she cries
she’s ashamed of other people’s words
cause all people do is talk talk talk
why doesn’t anybody ever shut up

if she had the time she could prepare herself
for the words that haven’t yet been said
but everytime someone speaks to her
they throw words like stones into her face

when spoken to she cries
she’s ashamed of other people’s words
cause all people do is talk talk talk
why doesn’t anybody ever shut up

she doesn’t want to be compared to others
only the unknown makes her feel safe
over time she grew hard an mean
now she’s a nightmare for husbands fathers and mothers

when spoken to she cries
she’s ashamed of other people’s words
cause all people do is talk talk talk
why doesn’t anybody ever shut up

she moved out of town a long time ago
she lives with horses now in stables dark and cold
she calls herself the horse dark lady
she pulls a gun on any man who speaks to her

now she’s a saint
she’s a sinner
she’s every man’s dream for sure
she calls herself the horse dark lady
she pulls a gun on any man who speaks to her

if you like this song and the production videos, please go ahead and sign up here for more background info on my creative adventures and experiments in the music business.

you can become a sponsor of the Music of Ghouls album and release here.

I’ve Got Money – or can you provide for my millionaire lifestyle?

this is another production video of a song that’s going to be on the album Music of Ghouls.
the song is called “I’ve got Money” and is about a young kid who’s only dream is to live the life of a millionaire. but he doesn’t want to work for it so he just clings to those who seem to have money until they either run out of cash or prove not to provide the desired lifestyle. a real parasite, sucking people dry.

here’s the production video of what I’ve done so far: (sorry for the video quality, I’m new to this and it’s going to get better, I promise!)

here are the lyrics:

I’ve got money in the bank
now you wanna be my friend
a millionaire you want to be
but even if you were
not even your mother would care

you’ll never be that pure again
you’re an angel with a dream
you’re a bird too young to die
bit when the moon shines through the clowds
you’ll fly

all my money, now it’s gone
now you went, you went away
same old story, same old tale
I put my blue, my blue coat on

I hope you enjoy this series of production vids. please leave a comment and tell me what you’d like to see here.

also, you can become part of the album by producing it here.

The Xpert – production vlog, celebrial archives and lyrics of a true nerd

The Xpert has read everything that’s ever been written. He knows any author and can quote passages from any book at any time. if a lady wants to spend time with him (which apparently happens quite frequently) she has to write him letters devoteldly asking him for information and one day she might be accepted into the realm of the Xperts celebrial archives.

here’s how I’m going to record the Xpert:

here’s what the Xpert told me:

give me a book and I read it
as long as it’s heavy as lead
give me books long forgotton and rare
I read them all as long as they’re not popular
I read them all, and I understand them
I can quote passages from them at any given time
a 17 I looked like 47
but the more I read the more I stay the same
give me a name, be assured I know it
cause I’m the Xpert in any given field

I look like a cupboard that’s never been opened
I could graduate from any school at any given time
if I say “I don’t know” you know it’s a lie
I just say it so you can say something as well
my world is only books and listeners.

I honor your silence with my speach
I never tell the same tale twice
and everything I say is utterly important
I just regret I have to sleep like any regular guy

and if your only desire is to detect a lie in my speach
be aware, baby, I’m the Xpert
I’m the Xpert in any given field

Although I speak of many different things
for years I’ve stayed the same
only women come and go
well, that has always been insane
I’ll never visit your town
unless I’ve read everything about it
and then your town will want to be
exactly what I know about it

and if your only desire is to detect a lie in my speach
be aware, baby, I’m the Xpert
I’m the Xpert in any given field

If you want to be with me you have to write me letters
devotedly asking me for information
and if you write them letters well and if you write them long enough
I might accept to like you some day
and then I will agree to be surrounded
by your questions forever and a day

and if your only desire is to detect a lie in my speach
be aware, baby, I’m the Xpert
I’m the Xpert in any given field

and if you’ve come this far, thank you! here’s a little treat for you of another version of the song.

Music of Ghouls recording experiment

as many of you already know, I like to do experiments in the musicindustry and regarding every aspect of music making. this whole site is dedicated to that.

so, for the recording of my current project Music of Ghouls I came up with the following scheme.

1. I pre-recorded most of the 12 songs in my own studio in munich, playing almost all the percussion tracks on the upright bass. the bass is the ideal instrument to not only play notes, but to make it screech and punch it anyway possible to get interesting sounds out of it. there’s a whole genre based on it. my favourite bassist being Joelle Leandre from paris, whom I had the pleasure studying with in 1998. check her out, she’s amazing.

so, about 10 of the 12 songs already have all the percussions tracks.

2. now I’m in new york and I decided to ask my friend Steve Blanco, if his new not-fitting-into-any-category 3 piece band (drums, keyboards, guitar) would like to record the album with me. instead of hiring freelance musicians and putting a band together I asked an existing band to play with me. this has one bis advantage, they’re well rehearsed, have good chemistry going on between them and they know what they are doing and what their sound is.
the aband is called El Chico Blanco, check them out.

3. since most of the percussion tracks are already done I only need drums on 2-3 songs, which I wanted to record live to get a live atmosphere on the tape. the other tracks will be only my percussions, bass, vocals, plus guitar and keyboards. the other 2 songs will be live band plus my vocals.

4. I decided that for the live tracks with the full band I don’t want to use any bass on the recording. I want the band sound of El Chico Blanco and I’m afraid I would water it down if I added my own bassplaying.

the recording process experiment: this is the real challenge here.

5. instead of doing rehearsals and then the recording I limited the time of both to 2 days. yes, two days to rehearse and record an entire album. we’re going to rehearse intensely in the mornings and record in the afternoon. this way everything we rehearsed stays fresh and the recording will still have that kind of raw and unpolished sound I aim for.
the big challenge here is the timeframe, of course. there’s no room for bullshit or distraction of any kind. we’re going in, set up, play our hearts out and that’s what you will get on the CD. another benefit of doing this is, that I can record the rehearsals, too, and maybe there’s a couple of tracks that can go on the CD as sort of a bootleg prior to the finished recording.

6. the rehearsals will hopefully be streamed live online. we still have to figure out the internet connection and how to best set it up. if all fails and the live stream is not possible I go to plan B, which is to video tape the rehearsals to provide a video for you of the creative process of those two days. I’ll let you kknow the status of the internet issue so you can all tune in when it happens.

this is a real challenge, because I set the timeframe very tight and I hope we can get everything on tape that needs to be recorded. I believe we can pull it off, because the band is excellent and the musicians are strong musical beasts with a fullhearted can-do mentality I’ve seldomly come across.

here are the dates:

August 18th & 19th 2010
Live Stream on the same days, times to be arranged.

“we’ll fix it in the mix” sucks – rehearse before recording

when you record in the studio, make things simple. easy and fast. most of all, don’t waste your money on studio time! here are 10 simple tricks to avoid high costs, nerve wrecking sessions and mediocre final recordings.

1. rehearse the shit out of your material.  play it in front of live audiences, tweak, make it perfect, then play it again live as often as possible. tweak some more. then, after hours, days, weeks on tour, months, go and book studio time.

2. don’t book more time than you need. there should be no “we’ll play until it’s good, then go on to the next track”. instead, count on playing no more than 3 takes per song. after that they’re not going to get any better. choose the best version and move on. saves money, lots of money.

3. no “we’ll fix it in the mix”. there’s no such thing. bad quality on the tape is going to be the bad spot of the final mix. fix it right away. play it again! done. next! (this saves not only your nerves, but also the nerves of your engineer. you want to keep them happy, because they are a key factor of the recording quality!) it also keeps momentum in the recording process, which again makes the whole recording, sound and quality more energetic. it will show in the final product!

4. repeat the first recorded song again towards the end of the session. this way you can warm up while already recording when you play the track the first time. you repeat the song when you’re warmed up later in the session and get a more relaxed and energetic atmosphere in the music!

5. 2 days before the studio session, check all your equipment, batteries ok? all cables ok? sound ok? strings good? (don’t start to change strings in the studio! wastes everybody’s time and money!). I say 2 days before, because this gives you another day to fix things, buy batteries etc.

6. day before recording: (my favourite routine) go get some really nice light food to eat in the studio. I prefer italian antipasti, get drinks, some sweets etc. to bring to the studio. don’t forget your engineer! they’re very happy when they get a treat (often even ends in a little discount at the end!). it’s also a nice gesture. you’re invading their workspace for the day, treat them and yourself right. makes all the difference. also, this saves studio time because you don’t overeat on junkfood, which makes you tired and slow.

7. recording day: get up in time (go to sleep in time to be fit!). light breakfast, relax! grab coffee or tee, enjoy the morning, don’t do anything music related. just breathe.

8. make quick decicions in the studio. don’t rush it, of course, but make quick decicions following your instinct. choose the right version fairly quickly and build on it. don’t listen to every track 100 times before making the choice. trust your gut feeling.

9. delete all versions you didn’t choose! why keep tracks you chose not to use? you want to build on the strong tracks, kick the week ones out. they only take up space on tape or harddrives, and they make it really complicated to keep track of what’s what, especially in larger productions.

10. plan the recording process. who’s going to record when? don’t record the saxophone for an hour when the backing singer is already waiting outside for their turn. having to wait around turns people off and takes the edge out of their performance.

bottom line: have your shit together before recording. don’t rush to have a cd in your hands. build your art in front of live audiences and then, when you’re really ready, hit the studio like a thunderstorm. burn down the house. done. next.

rework – embrace constraints

I read the book rework by jason fried and loved it. it’s like your best buddy giving you great tips on how to do business. forget all the dry business books that tell you how to write a business plan so you can spend the next 10 years perfecting only that instead of actually doing something useful right now!

there’s a chapter about constraints. use what you have and don’t take constraints as a crutch or an excuse not to start something you’d love to do.

I’m in the middle of recording my new album “music of ghouls” and the way I wanted to do it, I wanted to record all the basic tracks (actually up to 80% of the album) myself here in my studio. it’s limited. 3 microphones, a bass, my voice, a laptop and a couple of weird instruments I collected at a scrapyard.

I wasn’t happy with the sound of most of it, struggling with how to properly play a cool groove on car wheels etc.

so, after having read the book I decided to throw out everything I thought I desperately needed to get the right sound. forget all the weird instruments.

now it’s just me and my bass. going to record 80% of the album with just my voice and the upright bass. the other 20% will be recorded in new york in the summer, adding attitional kickass sounds played by kickass musicians!

if you’re interested in the recording process, follow me on twitter or facebook. I’ll do regular online live streams from the recording sessions until the album is complete!

the live streams will be here.

constraints rock!