(I just swung through both Baton Rouge and New Orleans on a 5-day trip. I was going to Baton Rouge for the PreSonus annual PresonuSphere user conference, and because I have former NY friends who live in New Orleans half the year, and because I’ve never been to NOLA, I couldn’t pass up the chance. This is the first of two posts about the trip – by far the more technical of the two.)
I just returned from PreSonus Audio Electronics annual PresonuSphere user conference in Baton Rouge.
PreSonus put on a GREAT event. The opening night jambalaya dinner, with incredible live music on a rooftop looking over the Mississippi river was beautiful – and what a thrill it was to meet up with all these folks I had only known virtually… cemented more than a few friendships, too. (more on the music in the next post)
There were, as with any conference like this, sessions that didn’t apply to me, so I didn’t attend. But some highlights of a few that I did attend:
The opening and closing panels.
These were both moderated by Craig Anderton – who is a legend in the industry, and asked great questions both times. The panels were made up of the top execs from PreSonus and, in the case of the closer, included some of the folks who presented sessions as well. The first one focused more on what PreSonus was up to, but the closing one was wide-ranging, and delved into everything including live vs. recorded music, the state of music and the industry, appreciation of music and a whole bunch more.
I’m proud to say that I was the first one to stand for the ovation at the end. PreSonus makes awesome products, and it’s clear from not just the awesome conference, but my discussions with them at the conference, how much they care about their users. More importantly, it’s clear that they are all about empowering folks to do great things with what they make.
Plus – they changed the way I make music. For that alone, they get an ovation.
Joe Gilder – Why I switched from Pro Tools to Studio One
Joe Gilder is the man behind HomeStudioCorner.com, and he has a great podcast, and videos too. – http://www.youtube.com/homestudiocorner
While the subject wasn’t important to me, as I’m already a Studio One devotee, Joe knows the program inside out, and so I knew I’d learn something along the way. I was right. I got a whole boatload of little tips on using Studio One that you just don’t automatically get from reading the manual. Plus, Joe’s entertaining as all get-out, and one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. We became buddies during the conference, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be working together down the line a little.
Craig Anderton – Mastering in Studio One
As much as I learned about mastering in this session, I learned more about mixing beforehand. Craig took tracks from the audience, and mastered them on the fly. This was great, because you got to hear vastly-sonically different tracks whipped into shape. AND… the last one he did was my rough mix of “In Love Again”. Too cool… and another really great guy to boot.
There were a few other sessions that I dipped in and out of, but don’t need to write about.
There was a separate area for folks to check out various PreSonus (and others’) products – which did result in my meeting with Nimbit folks for a LONG time – they gave me a VERY thorough run-through of what they’ve got going – and what’s in the pipeline, and I’m pretty sure that all the MM releases in 2014 will be through Nimbit.
And the other attendees…what a great bunch of folks. So friendly, so open, and so much talent there – felt like family.
I’m already committed to being there next year.
Lastly – the folks in Baton Rouge couldn’t have been nicer.
Stay tuned for the New Orleans post, where I got my musical ass kicked in the best ways possible, and ran into a friend – from New York!
Thanks as always for being here.
Here are some pics from BR.
The ever charming Joe Gilder
Me and Rick Naqvi, head of sales
me, Jim Mack – CEO, Lee Hazelton and Kamaal Malak.
Me watching the opening panel. :)
Andy Arthur, Lee Hazelton and Moi
Craig Anderton and Rick Naqvi
Great little joint across the street.
Joe Gilder presenting
Craig Anderton holding court
The port of Baton Rouge
The closing night spread – yum.
Sometimes, ya just gotta wait ’til the time is right. in this case, about 18 years.
I wrote this song ages ago, and have recorded it at least three times before – but the recordings were never good enough for release.
Not this time. Gotta say – this is one of the most fun tracks I’ve worked on in a long time.
(This is part of the Born Wired album, which’ll be officially released on 1/21/2014, and is available for pre-order now.)
Here’s the unmastered rough mix. Enjoy!
There’s a great quote from Trent Reznor in the latest SPIN magazine:
“The way I work is that up to the last second stuff looks like shit, and at the last minute it comes together.”
I’m not a huge NIN fan, but I have always been a fan of what he’s accomplished. As someone who goes into a room alone, and tries to come out with finished recorded works, I know what a challenge it is… creation on it’s own is enough of a challenge, let alone creating and being a technician and a producer all at once. Not complaining, mind you… I love the process.
That having been said – one of the things that helped me get New Eye done was the album cover. Really. And the cover happened by sheer accident. I got a Photoshop plugin that did flames, so I started testing it out, and got this image…. I thought to myself “Wow, that’d make a really interesting album cover.” So I printed it out and slid it into a blank CD case. Well, that CD case sat on my coffee table, or in my studio for the entire time I was working on New Eye… it helped me maintain the idea of this finished thing, in the midst of a mess.
Fast forward 6 years… if you know anything about what I’ve been doing, you know that I decided to break my music up into separate albums this time… New Eye was a lovable hodgepodge of styles, but not everything appealed to everyone. Now I have no desire to appeal to everyone – really. But I do have some very different musical sides, so I thought that rather than cram them all into another album, I’d divide them up into Rock and Roll, Pop and Instrumental. And I’ve got two of the covers done already.
But the covers aren’t quite enough this time.
What IS working: in the software I use to write and record now, there’s a “Project” option, which lets you import songs you’re working on into an album – drag the order around, put in crossfades, etc. And when you’ve been doing work on a song, and then go back to a “project” – the project can see that you’ve changed the song, and will automatically update the song in the project at your will.
What this is giving me is a sonic version of the album cover… by hearing songs next to each other, I can feel the albums coming together. And honestly, it’s been really surprising how, for a long time, it’s felt like a mess… and now it feels like it’s coming together.
So far, I’ve got 5 or 6 solid tracks for each of the albums – there’s still final mixing and fixes to do on those, but that’s a really great start – and they sound good together, which is even better. And at the same time, I’ve got 3 or 4 for each that I’m still fleshing out in the studio. Not exactly the last minute, but it IS all coming together.
Best of all? I’m loving working on music again.
Blessed, and very, very grateful.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. – thanks so much to everyone for the lovely little buzz around The Other New Eye. And you folks pushed me into the top 400 worldwide at Reverbnation – just plain holy smokes.
In 2007, I released an album called New Eye.
It was recorded at home over the course of three years… a labor of love, it contained 19 tracks of varied styles and lengths – all of which I wrote, arranged, played and engineered.
As a lifelong lover of recorded music, there is no way I can overstate how grateful I was (and am) for the wonderful reception it got. I was so touched that people were touched BY it.
At the time, I was nearly broke, so I couldn’t even think about having it mastered. My only option was to wait… and I didn’t want to. So I let it go as is. In the end, it’s light years away from a real record… it was made on a shoestring with pretty crappy gear – and while there are certainly things I’d change if I had the chance, I love it for what it is… a snapshot in time, and a piece of my life in music.
Fast forward 6 years… my life has completely changed. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful relationship with an amazing woman, I’ve moved to a new town full of creative energy, where I have more true friends and great acquaintances than in any time in my life, and I have completely changed the technology I use to make music, and the way I write to boot.
During the course of those pretty profound life changes, I decided to revisit some of the tracks and music from New Eye. And therein lies the impetus for The Other New Eye.
I also promised some very patient diehard folks, who have been along with me on the ride to releasing new albums, that I would do this… and I wanted to honor some of these original tracks with proper remasters, and slip out some extra tracks that were recorded at the time, but never used.
There are tracks here that were the start of something, but didn’t pan out… songs I didn’t include because there wasn’t room on a CD for them… songs I hadn’t finished when it was time to go into “labor” and birth it, and a few little demo scraps for fun. There are also a couple of newer versions of New Eye songs, which I hope you’ll enjoy.
It also marks the end of a time for me… the stuff I’m working on now is from another universe entirely, both from a quality and a songwriting perspective. More on that in the weeks to come.
As promised, I’ve included the original New Eye album in its’ entirety, so this’ll keep you busy for quite a while.
But enough outta me for now. Here it is… The Other New Eye. Well over 2 hours of music from my heart to your ears. If you already know New Eye, I hope this gives you a little extra kick… if not, I hope you enjoy it all for the first time. I had a blast putting it together. (you can preview a few tracks from it below, or get the whole album for under 5 smackers. IMPORTANT NOTE: Four for 4 members will be getting download codes over this coming week.)
Most heartfelt thanks to Pure Tone for making “Something to Believe” all it was originally intended to be – that was, in part, the event that started this (And for the record… the acronym for The Other New Eye is TONE… coincidence? I think not.)
And a very big THANK YOU to Sal, Carl, and all of my friends, both virtual and real-world… to those folks who took me and New Eye under their wing and gave us a home… and above all, to Nancy for love and constant encouragement throughout.
And, to YOU, as always… thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening.
(I’ve written more about the individual tracks on The Other New Eye here, and the original New Eye mini-site is alive and well here if you’re interested in some history.)
I’ve been quiet for quite a while…. except on Facebook. This wasn’t by design – but out of necessity. Well, not necessity, but health. I had to find a center from which to operate. Artists and writers have a tendency to either find that and thrive, or else flame out or just plain fail. I wanted no part in either.
I LOVE a good song. As a child of 60′s pop radio, I was exposed to a whole boatload of ‘em. Which puts me in a precarious position as a songwriter… I want my stuff to be as good as the best of what I’ve always loved.
Talk about setting yourself up to fail.
Well… the last very public project I attempted tested that to the hilt. I spent well over a year in public writing and recording. The self-imposed (what a DOPE) pressure to produce shut me down big time. So much so that my writing suffered for years as a result. I did put down a bunch of music, and got a few songs done, but for the most part, sitting down to write was like sitting down for self-administered dentistry sans novocaine. Not so good.
And for an extended period of time, writing was more random scrawls (of which there are now MANY) than concentrated songwriting.
And after what I put myself through, I realized that pushing myself in any real way was putting me right back in that horrible position. So I laid low, kept making music (including a whole bunch of live cover stuff, which has been incredibly healing,) and didn’t force the issue.
And little by little, the flame has returned. And in many ways, brighter than ever before. You have no idea how grateful I am.
There are a few resources I found invaluable in getting back on the writing track… and I have my honey Nancy to thank for two of them:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
The Definitive Guide to Writing on Your Terms, Using Your Own, Honest-to-God, Gut-Wrenching Voice by my new dear friend Rebecca Dickson.
Every one of these has had it’s own place in my little writing rebirth… but a central theme has been to just keep doing it, unapologetically. Every day. No matter what, even if what you end up writing is crap, you write anyway.
So I have been. And after a very long, very dry spell, it’s back in a really beautiful – and really healthy – way.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to get this album out the door. I’ll write a separate post about it, but thought you’d want to know about it:
In the end, it’ll be about 32 tracks, give or take. If you’re a longtime listener, bless you, and you’ll know much of it – but there will also be a bunch you’ve never heard.
Thanks, as always for your kind attention…. and I hope this finds you and yours in the most lovely of places.