Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's what goes in.

I love technology. Old, new, vintage, it's all good. I was reading an interview with producer Erol Alkan recently in Future Music. (if you don't know the UK mag, ignore the high cost and subscribe immediately) He was echoing something that has been said many times by many great producers; technology, plugins, convolution 'verbs and on board DSP are all great....but....what really matters is the ideas that are recorded. A producers job should be to take a really talented artist/band and capture what they do while carefully accentuating and accenting what they do. This is typically the process that makes the Great records and songs. Ya know, the ones that still hold up 20 years later. For some reason, when the opposite is true, ie. a producer takes pretty face and molds the syllables and songs into a quantized pop sensation, it doesn't seem to last. Why is that? They are both ideas coming from a person or team. I can think of a few possible reasons but I would love to hear from others what you think. One thought is this, if an artist evokes a song based on personal experience or a vivid imagination (which is based on past experiences) then it truly comes from a deep, personal place. When others hear this, they connect on a deep, personal level. While our lives change and circumstances change, deep personal things of the past will always have an important place in our memory. Good, bad or otherwise.
Ok, a thought to contrary; So, if this is true, then the cheesy pop song that helped us get through the traumatic breakup in high school that ruined our lives should still touch us when we hear the Muzak version 20 year later. And sometimes it does. Hmmm...So maybe it is a question of universality? IOW, concepts, ideas and melodies that ring true for a greater number of us even if they don't exactly apply to us. Like "Let it Be" for instance. I'm not catholic and don't worship Mother Mary. But none the less, I know that there are atheists that take comfort in the famous line from the song. Ok, so, maybe it is the Subtext that matters. I could see someone saying. "it's not about mother Mary, it's about the what the song Represents". Yeah, that may be true BUT, it is about what it represents to you!
This stuff is fun to look at sometimes becuase for the most part we work on instinct. We it and it flows from-who knows where?

Ok, my head hurts. Anyone wanna jump in the deep end with me?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Legendary Audio Engineer Eddie Kramer!

I had a blast hanging out with Eddie Kramer this week. He is on a small tour sponsored by Waves and Logic. He is a super nice guy with amazing stories to tell.
It is always interesting to hear how different people get the "big break". He said that when Hendrix was to come to the studio where he worked,(then unknown) the manager said "oh, you do all that weird music, you do the session", and a legendary team was born.
Some of photos we saw of him with Jimmy Page at the console and members of the Stones etc..were super cool.
Eddie also did something really neat; he brought in a recent Logic session from a band he recorded at Abby Road. (BTW, he records to Analog and then transfers to Logic) He walked us through virtually every track and talked about the mics and plugins he used, talked about why he used them and showed us the settings on each plug! Talk about a Master Class! He really likes using plugins and uses them extensively. He favored the Waves SSL and the Jack Joseph Puig plugs and achieved a hard hitting, fat and sometimes gritty tone with them. In terms of mixing, he likes to get different "colors" or "textures" together as he goes so that he is not faced with 80 tracks of "blank page" so to speak. You might call his approach "mixing as you go". Here is an example of an ancillary mixing concept that Eddie talked about; The bass guitar-he would use various treatments on the DI and then various treatments on the mic'ed signal. And then let's say...he had a room mic that he had compressed as a 3rd color. Then, when he gets to the mixing phase, it is just a matter of adding appropriate amounts of these colors together to achieve the desired sound. I really related to this approach as it one that I have always used. The trick is you are committing to a sound as you go. Of course depending on your workflow, many things can be undone but the more you work this way, the more your ears get tuned in to what works and the easier the final mix will be.

Next, Eddie had the guitar player from a band he'd been working with record some tracks on the spot. (using Waves GTR3 and PRS interface) It was fun and added excitement to the evening having him laying down rhythm and lead tracks as we watched. He did a fantastic job on the Rock/Blues track. (Does anyone remember his name??)

Eddie's final words of advice were "Up is Louder!" (did I mention he was hilarious?)