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TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 11
4. Letter From the Editor 5. Record Reviews: The Best New Music 10. Records That Changed My Life: Jeff Daily 12. Live Reviews
Kim Edwards by Jacquinn Sinclair
16. Vinyl of the Month: Moon Types 33. Can MixRadio Be Indie’s New Best Friend? 34. Indie Artists Need to Know Their Data 36. Inside Chicago’s New Music Industry Engine
38. 20 MIDI Tips For Your Home Studio 40. Avoiding Series Overdub Mistakes 42. STUDIO TEST: Audio-Technica Mic/ Headphones
44. TOUR TEST: Mackie FreePlay PA 45. My Favorite Axe: Hibou 46. Gear Reviews: Electro-Voice & Focusrite
48. Flashback: Vintage Coles Ribbon Mic Cover
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Howdy, y’all! By the time you read this, I’ll be the proud papa of a newborn baby girl. That also means I’ll be outnumbered in my home 3-1 by women. Which is great, primarily because dudes are pretty smelly. I should know. Also, since my wife has been a little preoccupied with, you know, the whole creating-a-humanbeing-insider-her thing, I’ve been able to grow a hipster-approved beard. And by “grow a hipsterapproved beard,” I mean that I’ve been too lazy to shave, she’s been too tired to nag me about it, and therefore I have this childlike, patchwork terrain of hairstuffs growing out of my face in a generally displeasing, non-uniform-like fashion. Perhaps this is why beards are best left to Brooklyn. Oh well...
Anyhoooo, this is a new issue! And as such, I should probably describe its various fantastic articles and sections, of which there are many. I promise! How about some badass MIDI tips from Craig Anderton? Check. How about avoiding embarrassing overdub mistakes in the studio? Got you covered, my friend. And what about business articles to help my career? Boy, you’re full of questions today. Yes, we’ve got those, too. That and much more in the pages ahead. Go ahead and start flipping. Something tells me a little lady needs to be burped… Benjamin Ricci, editor
Volume 25, Issue 11 PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER William House Phone: 617-627-9919 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Benjamin Ricci email@example.com DESIGN & ART DIRECTION Cristian Iancu EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Bob Dobalina firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. – Newborns mean no sleep. Care packages of Red Bull and K-Cups can be sent care of the magazine to our PO Box. Also, don’t listen to what society tells you. It’s never tacky to send cash. Never.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alexandra Lane, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Candace McDuffie, Chris Devine, Craig Anderton, Don Miggs, Ethan Varian, Heidi Schmitt, Jaclyn Wing, Jacquinn Sinclair, Jeff Daily, John Francis Smith, Jordan Tishler, Lucy Fernandes, Mark Cowles, Matt Urmy, Michael St. James, Peter Michel, Rosalyn Lee, Sabrina Lambros, Shawn M Haney, Taylor Haag, Tony Eubank, Torbin Harding, Zach Blumenfeld CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Alex De Mora, Allison Harp, Bruce Kite, Evan Henry, Rachel Enneking, Rick Carroll, Rosalyn Lee, Zach Blumenfeld
ADVERTISING SALES William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com © 2015 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE.
Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
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4 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
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Moa HOLMSTEN Bruised Arms & Broken Rhythm Stockholm, Sweden (Fill In The Blank Records) Alexandra Lane Take a man-on-the-street approach, and you will be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have at least one Springsteen song that they couldn’t live without. The Boss has developed a career on a certain passion, a carefully crafted vulnerability and a workingman’s resoluteness that most everyone can find a way to identify with. His songs, in large part, define the heart and soul of the triumph and struggles of being American. Taking on a project like this – for any artist – is a bold move. But especially for Moa Holmsten, who, by all accounts, was not a huge Bruce fan when she started. The Swedish native hasn’t had the all-American Springsteen narrative engrained in her from birth like the rest of us. She learned to love him through him; and it shows. Her album, which reimagines 15 Springsteen tracks (both classic and deep-cuts), reaches for the heart of his songs in all new ways. Standouts like “Streets of Fire” lend themselves to showcasing the versatility of her vocals, while “Tougher Than the Rest” takes a much airier approach to gut-wrenching lyrics. These songs will fall short in the minds of Springsteen lovers – because let’s face it, what makes Bruce great is his humanness. And while that’s easy to adapt, maybe, it’s not necessarily easy to recreate. But, try lending your ears to each track as if it were your first time hearing it, and you may find a new way to appreciate some of his most visceral tunes, and some of Holmsten’s bravest work to date.
Follow online: @meetmoa.com PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 5
The Lonely WILD Chasing White Light
Los Angeles, CA (EOne Music/Fast Plastic)
The Lonely Wild’s follow-up to The Sun As It Comes is a modern-day Requiem, pulling from Andrew Carroll’s experience with the death of his wife’s grandmother last year. This time of reflection brought up remembrances of a childhood friend who died after growing apart in “Scar,” culminating in a dealing-with-loss song cycle. The cycle starts with “Snow” and its galloping “7 And 7 Is” beat before taking turns reminiscent of Coldplay, Guided By Voices and an Arcade Fire-ish Airborne Toxic Event. Working with John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone Studios, the album moves from acoustic to power guitar-driven mania before going into dense string arrangements. It all works together to create a modern Rock Opera meant to be heard in one round. Highly recommended: a masterwork.
Follow on Twitter: @thelonelywild
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Big Grams EP Atlanta, GA and New York, NY (Epic)
Mary Weaver Bar Harbor, ME (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records)
Yours and Mine Austin, TX (Self-released)
Synth poppers Phantogram and Outkast’s Big Boi have joined forces on the future hip-pop collaboration Big Grams. The seven track EP feels like a natural progression for the severely underrated Outkast cohort who previously dabbled in electro funk and pop on his last LP, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, were he first worked with Phantogram, as well as Little Dragon. The EP balances nicely balances singer Sara Barthel’s vocals with Big Boi’s word-craft, gliding from anthemic synth pop to the sexy esoteric funk of the stand out track “Put it on Her.” Big Grams is a solid, forward-thinking effort with few missteps, tailor-made for rocking big stage venues.
Coke Weed’s latest release Mary Weaver does it best when it does it simple. Along with the group’s funky, guitar-driven psychedelic rock instrumentation, Nina D.’s sultry voice drips out of the speakers, harkening the new wave stylings of Bow Wow Wow, the funk of The Waitresses or even just the raw vocals of Cat Power. But when the band experiments with reverb or auto-tuning, things get a bit muddier and Nina D.’s delivery of the lyrics sounds more petulant than pleasing. You will wish that they would have loosened up and toyed around with faster tempos and less tricks, but overall a solid, mellow effort.
Follow on Twitter @BigGrams T. Ali Eubank
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Follow on Twitter @cokeweedrockers Heidi Schmitt
Here is a delightful full-length LP written and recorded by the rising stars Dawn & Hawkes, who first turned heads and gained acclaim after their audition on The Voice. Eleven songs of introspective bliss, this singer/songwriter team genuinely helps the listener feel the spirit of life, all that is loved in life, the power of the Earth, the boldness of the human spirit. The record resonates with one’s heart, cheering them, lifting them up on gloomy days, as if each listen represents a trip to the beach or mountains. You’ll feel the resonating fullness of their guitars and golden vocals in tracks like “Your Eyes,” “Never Feel Alone” and “Life is a Good Song.” The production is stellar on this album, with vocal harmonies as sweet as the morning dew, and lyrics heartfelt, mingling with lush acoustic guitars. Art at its finest, the cream of the crop for singer/songwriter albums this year.
quick Follow on Twitter @DawnAndHawkes Shawn M. Haney
The Thread of Life Columbia, SC (Self-released)
Nomad Oakland, CA (OIM Records)
Chunks Portland, OR (Burger Records)
Drawing listeners in with soulful bass lines and infectious vocals, Villa*Nova provides a unique take on pop rock with their new album, The Thread of Life. Catchy melodies leave jams like “Can’t Let You Go” and “Blackhole” stuck in your head for hours, while ballads like “Sacred” are reminiscent of bands like The Script. The standout track is definitely the title track, closing the album with an utterly electrifying guitar solo and haunting melodies. However, the album as a whole is generally simple, and unfortunately, a bit on the redundant side. But that’s a minor quibble: The Thread of Life is sure to get you on your feet.
Graham Patzner’s voice ebbs and flows over a familiar, lush, guitar-based classic rock soundscape. With Will Lawrence on bass, Nick Cobbett on drums and Charles Lloyd on guitars, Whiskerman has created a warm, soulful sound that rejuvenates the genre. The use of strings on the LP adds a layer of complexity, and combined with expressive lyricism, Nomad highlights Whiskerman in all its glory. Patzner has perfected his craft and hones in on sultry and smoky vocals, which aptly reflect the mood of the lyrics. The album is bursting with familiarity and momentum.
Dead-set on debauchery, the latest release from the gnarly Stumptown rockers is rowdy beyond belief. There’s no time for nuance as the gritty tones roll out on the dissident growls of “Wrecked” and “Drugs I’ve Taken,” save for the swaying sweetness of “4-Track Mind”—these boys are troublemakers with guitars. Waist-deep in fuzzy distortion, the album’s riotous everyman anthems barrel past in 4/4 with simple catchy choruses, brief metal breakdowns and blaring interludes. With 16 tracks of revelry and destruction, Chunks is like a booze-soaked carousel that leaves you dissolute, but wanting more.
Follow online at villanovarocks.com Sabrina Lambros
Follow on Twitter @whiskermanlives Jaclyn Wing
Follow on Twitter @WhiteFang420 Taylor Haag
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 9
The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night (1964) In my youthful mind, the all-consuming question was: how do I write songs? The answer came with ringing, open-chord glory when, during a summer library investigation, I happened upon this 1964 “soundtrack” album. Thirteen songs that form the blueprint of what being in a rock band should sound like.
o paraphrase Pauline Kael, I lost it at the record player. Or given that it was the ’90s, the CD player. It was from thirteen to fifteen years of age, when I shifted away from playing basketball in the north Texas suburbs to retreating inward, staying indoors - exploring a sound world of guitars and melodies. Before founding the Austin based music and arts collective, Teflon Beast, playing weird music with the Plastic Uno (band), and producing Alizter James, I was an aspiring guitarist learning open G, C, & D chords. These are the albums that I carry with me from that time.
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REVIEWS Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)
R.E.M. Monster (1994)
Lyrics! The Beatles taught me guitar, song structure, and presentation, but Dylan made me want to understand poetry. He was the Mt. Olympus of lyricists. His phrasing on “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” and “Visions of Johanna” confused, delighted, and pushed my hand forward as I struggled to write beyond my age.
When I got my start recording on a cassette 4-track, I wanted nothing more than to be like Brian Wilson. Buying a TASCAM deck meant also learning about how to capture emotional music in a microphone. Wilson’s production work is, to my ears, still the single best pop album ever recorded.
I didn’t just relive the ’60s in my headphones, I paid attention to what was then current “alternative music” and one of the only bands that truly stuck out to me was R.E.M. Their Monster album had just been released and the loud, chiming, catchy, yet distorted “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” hit my earholes hard. I became an obsessive fan almost instantly.
For more on Jeff and the latest with Teflon Beast, head to teflonbeastrecords.blogspot.com and follow on Twitter @TeflonBeast Which records inspired you to become a musician? Let us know and you can be featured in a future column. Email email@example.com for more info.
S THAT D MY LIFE
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 11
2015 MidPoint Music F September 25- 27, 2015 Cincinnati, OH 12 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Kicking things off on Friday were Jr Jr (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), a Detroit pop duo comprised of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott, also coincidentally celebrating their latest release (Jr Jr), for the occasion. Playing in the raised bandstand pavilion of the Indie Craft Village, their catchy melodic harmonies wafted out over the Washington Park lawn, signaling the weekend music fest had begun. Chicago’s Bailiff caught my ear later on at The Woodward Theater. The powerful, rhythmic sound from this group carried up to the balconies. Drummer Ren Mathew, multi-instrumentalist Owen O’Malley, and singer Josh Siegel wove a strong blues-influenced musical tapestry. “When I Leave You Will Stay” and “Love Like Yours” were standouts in their set. Rounding out Friday’s experience, The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers from LA roused
some joyous tenthouse revival spirit outdoors at the Lightborne Lot, and Roadkill Ghost Choir from DeLand, FL packed in Mr. Pitiful’s. There, lead singer Andrew Shepard’s poignant delivery perfectly expressed the group’s often bleakly haunting lyrics.
his year, Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival celebrated its 14th annual incarnation. Since its startup in 2001, it has expanded from a more locally-focused music event into an up-and-coming showcase of fresh, diverse indie acts from all over the map, plus a few more established headliners, and a smattering of talented local groups. Two new stages also premiered this year: the new MidPoint Indie Craft Village bandstand in Washington Park, and the 14th Street Lightborne Lot. All but a few of the venues were directly in the Over The Rhine nightlife area, so things were even more foot-traffic friendly.
Saturday’s talent included impressive acoustic guitarist Ryley Walker from Chicago at the Woodward. His nimble fingerstyle playing and expressive voice echoed through the large hall, the audience held in rapt attention. At the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co outdoor stage, Sylvan Esso drew a thick throng for their highly anticipated performance. The Durham, NC vocal/keys duo was led by singer Amelia Meath, who ranged about the stage, backlit by flashing lights as their dance pop swirled through the mild air. St. Louis’ Pokey LaFarge put on a tour-deforce performance at the Washington Park stage Sunday night, channeling a distinct Hank Williams vibe as his big band burst through a combination country/ jazz/swing set. “Something In the Water” was a toe-tapping pleaser. And a raucous, bawdy romp from Philly’s Low Cut Connie on the Moerlein stage was not to be missed, as frontman Adam Weiner pounded his piano wildly, enticing the crowd into complete debauched abandon. Their song “Boozophilia” even made it onto the POTUS summer playlist! This year’s MPMF notched up yet another resounding success. Can’t wait until next year.
Follow on Twitter: @MidPointMusic
c Festival PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 13
Symbiosis Gathering 2015 September 17-20, 2015 Oakdale, California
had been patiently waiting for Symbiosis 2015 to arrive. It has been two years since their last gathering. Being able to cover so many festivals and music events of all sorts I must proclaim that this is my favorite event of all. I couldn’t wait to soak in the sun, swim in the water, hang with long-time friends, meet strangers who would become family, dance with all my heart, marvel at all the art, the sunsets and just submerge myself in all the love. Like every year, the line up was incredible with over a hundred bands. From famous DJs like Terrakroma and Majitope, amazing singers like Coco Rosie and Lynx. Jazz Mafia performed this year with a variety of special featured artists like Dublin from the Shotgun Wedding Quintet, Aima the Dreamer, and Dakini Star. I laughed and cried at Jamie DeWolf’s Tourettes Without Regrets variety show which had amazing clown dancers, beat boxers, rap battles, and slam poetry. I let my soul be free as a shooting star, which there were plenty of in the night skies. I danced through the night to Antennae and Emancipator deep into the morning sunrise with a surprise set from Tipper.
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I sweated out my demons and connected with other beautiful souls in the Kundalini and Tantric Yoga Workshops. I bathed and danced in the clear cool reservoir. I bought fancy and unique festival gear from one-of-a-kind vendors. I made friendships that will last a lifetime. It sounds cheesy, but this event is sincerely that glorious. The night lit up like an adult Disneyland and the daytime was spring break for conscious souls. Everyone is so beautiful at this event and the energy is uncanny. This is the ONE festival where people naturally leave their fear outside the event gates and enter with open hearts to share in the love. I was consistently amazed at the chill atmosphere, the lack of drama or bad vibrations. Even the sheriffs were cool. At one point they cruised up towards the lakeshore and dropped off a bunch of floaties for all the festival swimmers. At my low point of heat exhaustion, I let out a soft complaint I thought no one could hear. To my surprise I was then showered with hugs from strangers, halfdressed festival angels. It is just that kind of environment where if you feel down, you will not for long, for there is a hug eagerly awaiting to lift and fill you up with acceptance, compassion and high vibes. I am full of light and love and memories to last me until next year. Thank you Symbiosis Gathering for feeding my soul and making me feel whole again. You leave me in awe every time. I am blessed to have shared such a radical celebration; I can’t wait until the next explosive Symbiosis production.
Follow on Twitter: @SymbiosisEvents
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 15
“Like a jingle-jangle morning…”
ell, it ain’t ABBA, but Stockholm has finally produced something else equally amazing for my earballs. Kicking off with Bell and Sebastian-like ’verby vocals and trumpet, “Know The Reason” is a cute, jangly stab at pop immortality. You know how sometimes you just hear that one song – that ONE melody that cuts you to the bone? This is one of those rare tracks, existing in an odd bubble of timelessness that won’t pin it to any specific era, while still sounding contemporarily refreshing. 16 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Benjamin Ricci The track has a vague country tinge to it, which definitely gives it more of an American feel than a European one (a good thing, in our completely unbiased American opinion). And clocking in at 2:47, it even has the perfect pop song length. What more could you want? The 7-inch also features two more fine cuts, so there’s no way we can’t recommend this wholeheartedly. Wait for it to rain, pull this out of its sleeve, and drop the needle. Follow online at www.moontypes.com
Know The Reason Stockholm, Sweden (Jigsaw Records)
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Combining Post-Punk & Gospel Traditions to Craft Socially-Conscious Anthems
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Jaclyn Wing Alex De Mora
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 19
A “Music is a therapeutic exercise in catharsis…” 20 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
lgiers recently released their self-titled debut and their timing is impeccable. Their post-punk, gospel hymns are politically charged and have a hauntingly beautiful power. There is no denying that being from Atlanta played a role in determining Algiers’ place in the cultural and racial debate in today’s society. While “Atlanta proper has always been somewhat of a beacon for progressivism in the South… we all come from the suburbs of Atlanta… which is a world-away from the urban center of cultural exchange and progressive ideas,” says Franklin James Fisher, the band’s lead singer. He goes on to note that growing up in such an alienating environment, “the city of Atlanta served as a concrete representation of the psychological and political resistance with which we’d
come up.” To gain a better perspective of the environment they grew up in, all three band members left Atlanta to pursue graduate degrees overseas; studying art, literature, and politics gave them insight into themselves and where they came of age. Guitarist Lee Tesche notes that “having life experiences and an opportunity for growth and seeing the world had a tremendous impact on the music we make today. I don’t think I would have been able to write or be involved in something like this when I was a teenager or in my early twenties.” It is obvious that Tesche, Fisher and bassist Ryan Mahan have a deep-rooted interest in history and their knowledge has been transformed through their music. Mahan expresses that he has always been interested in the history of struggle, “from anti-slavery insurrections in the United States and Haiti to the major anti-colonial movements in mid-20th
While the band is certainly influenced and inspired by history, for Tesche, the biggest influences (both musically and politically) are the people he surrounds himself with. Tesche
up with. While the two sounds are distinctive, they share political and musical commonalities. Tesche sheds light on their unique sound, “[Post-punk and gospel] both give voices to dispossessed populations. Both can be emancipative, energetic, and communal. An important thing to keep in mind is that rock and roll was birthed from gospel and blues music, and re-associating the two after generations of disassociation shouldn’t be an odd thing.” By taking ideas, both musical and political, and pushing the boundaries, they are able to find an equilibrium. The songs are so solid that the instrumentals and lyrics can stand- lone and still embody all that Algiers represent. “Remains” reminds one of historic religious songs where drums were used to spread
“Seeing the world had a tremendous impact on the music we make today.” has worked with Mahan for close to 15 years and discloses, “I would be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that he has had a profound influence on me, same with Fisher.” It is evident that the band draws inspiration from each other. The songs on the album are packaged in such a way that their individual strengths are all highlighted, resulting in perfectly melded anthems. Combining post-punk and gospel traditions comes very naturally to the Algiers because they are the elements they grew
messages in a rhythmic language. The reverb in the beginning of the song, in combination with the humming, mimics how people toughen themselves psychologically. The beating drum and clapping mimics foot stomping and handclapping, which represents hardships. The first forty-three seconds of the song have no lyrics, but it sets the tone for the entire track to come. The raw emotion is tied together as the last line echoes and fades: “We’re your careless mistakes/We’re the spirits you raised/We are what remains.”
advantage. Taking the time to mull over ideas before reconvening and building has made their sound and messages that much stronger. Interestingly enough, the most notable element of their recording process was being in close proximity with each other. “We never thought we would ever have the opportunity to be together in the same place making a full-length record, and it was a very exciting time,” says Tesche.
Century Africa.” The word Algiers alludes to the struggle against colonialism in North Africa, and it’s no coincidence that is also the band’s name. Mahan expresses significant interest in the Algerian revolution and even quotes Frantz Fanon: “The time for Europe is over.” With regards to the band’s name, Mahan notes, “We wanted a name to represent this concept, the idea of pushing toward the new, referencing the past while breaking with the miserable inheritance of capitalism, racism and colonialism.” The idea of political conversation is engrained in their music, which confronts the idea of commercialized art and culture.
The album reflects on issues of the past and present, such as religion, race, economics and morality. For Algiers, music allows them to figure out the world as they experience it; it’s “a therapeutic exercise in catharsis,” says Fisher. He further articulates that Algiers is a progressive experiment, starting with “promoting a dialogue with whomever is interested in engaging with us.” While the entire band is introspective and awakened by shedding light on complex issues in our society, Mahan conveyed that postmodernism and consumer culture “have told us that seeking justice is dangerous, that working toward an egalitarian society is impossible, that the ideas of solidarity are outmoded in this era of self indulgence.” Their music is comprised of things that society has taught us not to talk about, but Algiers approaches them with class, affirmation and the promise of future action.
Follow on Twitter: @AlgiersMusic
The track “Irony. Utility. Pretext.” embraces more of the post-punk sound with techno-like drums, reverb and an upbeat dance tempo. The heavy downbeat gives the song roots and helps ground it lyrically. The balance between the two sounds is found when the song fades into an a cappella gospel hymn. It is arguable that there is no perfect formula for writing songs. Sometimes the melody forms first, and other times a lyrical idea leads to a musical structure. Before recording this collection, the band sifted through previous songs, demos, and sketches and picked pieces of each to craft their debut. A great deal of the writing for the record was done while the band was split between Atlanta, London, and a hamlet in France. Having had this process since their inception, they have figured out how to make the physical space between them work to their
ALGIERS S/T STANDOUT TRACK: “BLOOD”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 21
How Satanic Philosophies Influenced a Neo-Folk Masterwork
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What inspired you musically to want to do this EP? I’ve wanted to do this solo stuff for quite some time now, but I always seemed to chicken out. But finally I just said, ‘It’s time to finally just do this. I’ve been engulfed in all these musical ideas for so long.’ But in doing so I wanted to make that it sounded different than everything else. You’ll notice most punk and hardcore singers that go solo end up playing country (laughs). It’s like the same four chords, and it’s just very boring to me;
But, I guess it all started during what was known as the “Satanic Panic” back in the ’80s. And during this time, being in a Christian Church, you were pretty much trained to be terrified of these malicious Satanists who were out to get you. It seemed like most of the time I was in church I was being told all these scary, horrible things about rock music and Anton Szandor LaVey and the Church of Satan. It was so funny, when they’d be fishing around the Satanic Bible like, ‘This so bad, this so evil,’ I’d always be like, ‘I don’t know, that sounds about right to me, actually.’ So, full circle, I started looking back into things when I was young that I was too afraid to understand. And that’s where Satanism came back into my life. And I just started reading all of the books by Anton LaVey, burying myself in all these books about the Left Hand Path and it finally clicked and resounded with me. Living life to the fullest would be the perfect way to summarize Satanic philosophy. And for
“Living life to the fullest would be the perfect way to summarize Satanic philosophy.” I was trying to figure out how to stay away from that. And how I got away from that was with the help from my friend [Daniel Smith], who’s like my partner in crime with this, who has a way more industrial background than anything else. And I wanted to explore this genre because a lot of neo-folk that I’m heavily influenced by are people that came out of the industrial scene. I wanted to do something dark, meaningful and deep, and at the same time something that has a hook and something that gets stuck in your head. So, you know, listening to bands like Spiritual Front, Death In June, Rome, Christian Death, Samael, Front 242, Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails, it was sort of like my take on all those different kinds of sounds while adding my own approach to it, you know? Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with the Church of Satan and what made you choose the Left Hand Path? I grew up all my life in the Church with my dad as a Presbyterian Minister. There’s no over-the-top dramatic story behind it, I love my dad, you know?
reasons like that, I decided to implement my Satanic beliefs on the EP to inspire people to just enjoy life. It’s a very positive thing to encourage people to be themselves and be inspired instead of encouraging them to go through life being controlled by a belief system out of fear of the afterlife.
see them once in the late ’80s, and I wish I had a cooler story than this, but the experience fucking scared the shit out of me! I remember Henry Rollins looked a lot like Charles Manson (laughs), and there were all these angry punks who were breaking bottles, there was all this crazy shit going on, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get the fuck out of here.’ It wasn’t till later that I learned to appreciate that kind of energy.
f you’re a fan of neo-folk, death rock, industrial, dark ambient and hardcore punk music, then the new solo EP from BOYSETSFIRE and I AM HERESY front man Nathan Gray is a must have for your collection. This dark masterpiece can be described as a unique journey into symbolic enlightenment with its entrancing sounds and atmospheres, as well as its profoundly philosophical lyrical content. I was able to get in touch with Gray to learn more about the influences and insights that led to the creation of such a brilliant collection of music.
How would you describe the creative process while you’re in the studio? I would describe it as almost ritualistic. It’s the music in general that inspires me when I’m in the studio or on stage or what have you. There’s a feeling of belonging that just naturally takes over every single time I’m writing or performing music. The human mind can be a very dark and horrible place at times, and if you’re not able to expel all the negativity in your life it will take over, so having music as an outlet is almost a purification of all the negative energy in you. Whenever you’re in the studio or on stage, or just sitting around writing music, it’s always a ritual. I guess that’s why I enjoy doing it as often as I do. It’s a craving I always feel the need to satisfy.
Follow on Twitter: @nathangraysongs
Who were some of your favorite bands growing up? Well, funny enough, when I was a kid there were two Christian bands called Petra and Stryper that were both huge influences on me. But going back even further…I was digging through my parents’ record collection and there was stuff like Simon and Garfunkel, and old musicals like West Side Story and stuff like that. I think that’s where my appreciation for music began. And after that I was able to discover this whole world of different music outside of that realm, you know? Then bands like Black Flag came along into my life, and that was a life changing experience! Black Flag blew my fucking mind. There was a kid that I went to Christian school with who gave me a Black Flag tape and I took it home and wore that fucker out. Then I went to go
NATHAN GRAY NTHN GRY STANDOUT TRACK: “WOLVES”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 23
On Songwriting Techniques, Knowing Your Legalese & Allowing For Creative Maturity Bruce Kite & Allison Harp
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SPOTLIGHT PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 25
“There are moments in the studio when you hear things come together and it’s really magical.”
isdom and experience have helped shape singer/songwriter Kim Edwards’ Lovers and Loners EP, which was released September 25, into a soulbearing listen on unrequited love, broken hearts and determination. Her first album, Wanderlust, was funded through Kickstarter dollars and was a little brighter and bit more cheerful. But her new EP cuts through tough subject matter with clean, clear vocals, beautiful production and a dash of whimsy. One of the most vibrant moments is the end of “The Sweetest Sound,” with a dizzying array of strings urgently warning listeners to let their guards down and give in to love’s tug. Time has passed between her releases, but Edwards’ music remains relatable and well, her. She’s been compared to Regina Spektor, one of her favorite artists, but her music is uniquely her own. She is unapologetic about what she has to offer and her stick-to-my-guns sentiment is refreshing. There’s no sci-fi sounding pop or gimmicky synth sounds to distract, just pure music. The young artist has been busy promoting the new EP with performances at festivals and media tours. Just ten days before Lovers and Loners became available to the public, Edwards chatted with Performer about songwriting, family and relationships. 26 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Growing up, did your parents always support your pursuit of music? They did. They’ve been really great. [Growing up] I was always the one that was practical. In high school I thought maybe I should be a doctor. They said, ‘This is the time to do it. See how far you can get.’ It’s meant so much to have their support and encouragement. What they think matters. I couldn’t do this without them. Do you come from a musical family? I was actually adopted. I grew up in a house where my mom played the piano, and my dad sang. I do have a brother who plays drums. I have another brother who can’t carry a tune but loves music. I don’t think he knows that he can’t carry a tune! He turns me on to a lot of new music. Tell me about your songwriting process. I’ve been experimenting with creativity. Some people say sit down and do it every day. Some say wait until you feel it. Every January I attempt to write a song a day. This past January has been the best so far. It’s a surprise to see what comes out. I’ve been doing this for three or four years. It’s surprising how many songs end up on my record or got their start [using this technique]. But, I like to write when the mood hits me really. I’m more prone to write after something emotional like a book or music.
Are you loyal to certain music apps and or equipment? As far as writing goes, I use the B-Rhymes Dictionary all the time. It’s a great app for mirror rhymes. It [gives me ideas for] things that aren’t such a perfect match. Who are you listening to right now? Oh, man! So many. I try to listen to a bunch of different things. I was just listening to Regina Spektor, she’s always on rotation, Ingrid Michaelson…mostly singer/songwriter types. The Struts, Beach Boys, Lana Del Rey, I like all sorts of music. What do you hope people say about your music? I hope that ultimately it’s relatable. For me, the ones [performers] that impact me the most, I think: I know exactly what they’re singing about it. All the songs on the new EP go through the different stages of relationships. I hope it meets people wherever they are at. Tell me something you learned about yourself and about the world since Wanderlust? Since Wanderlust, it’s been a journey. I think I’ve grown up since then. Three to four years ago I was traveling across the country a lot. I had a lot more hunger to see the world. I still love to travel, but I feel more settled in some ways. I hope there’s a maturity that comes with that. I don’t feel like I’m striving all the time. I’m learning to be a little more at peace. A couple of years can make all the difference. That’s probably the biggest change - being okay with where I’m at. You have been taking piano lessons since you were four; are the keys the only thing you play? Well, I play the ukulele. I’m not a pro at it, but I can play enough to play my own songs. I got into playing acoustic guitar but I don’t have the biggest hands. I got two new guitars. I’m amassing a collection of instruments [laughs]. I have one semi-hollow thinline Telecaster. I’m debating whether or not to sell my short-scale Telecaster, which is smaller than your average sized guitar. Favorite composers? I really love W.C. Handy. He’s got these wonderful impressionist tones. He can play
all of these crazy sharps and flats. I also like Tchaikovsky and Gershwin. Pretty much anything that’s symphonic, I’m all about it. Have you been in love? [Laughing] You know…I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve ever been truly all out. I’ve been close. It’s always been one-sided for me or the other person. Not at the same time. So, I don’t think so. Honestly, I think I’ve come close, [but] not quite. I’ve always been a very cautious person with my emotions… Which do you prefer, the studio or the stage and why? Both are great and both are stressful at the same time. I prefer the stage in some ways. In the studio I stress myself out. Essentially you don’t want to waste time. So you have to decide ‘this is the right sound.’ I tend to be a perfectionist. I think I enjoy performing. I can have more fun with it. There’s the audience interaction. Although there are moments in the studio when you hear things come together and it’s really magical. It’s really gratifying. If I had to choose, I’d choose the stage. How do make sure that you continue to grow as an artist? Part of that for me is listening to other music. Being challenged. Being with other musicians. Just talking with and being in a community and conversation. Iron sharpens iron. There’s so much that blows my mind, so the bar always gets raised. Describe a good day. I feel like you’re asking the wrong person for this. I just had a conversation with a friend about this. You can go on Facebook and a post might say, ‘I got a parking spot in front of my building and I have freshly baked donuts. Today is a good day.’ A good day for me is something crazy like I won a Grammy! There are nice days with good weather, but a good day for me is something monumental. What advice would you give other independent artists? So many things. It seems very basic 101, but I have friends who do this. People sign agreements without running it past anyone in the music industry. I feel most musicians don’t know all the legalese. Do you know if you’re giving all your publishing rights away? Is this exclusive or nonexclusive? Be educated. Get agreements and contracts looked at. My friends and my uncle will ask, ‘When are you going to get signed by a label?’ I’m not sure if I want to. It would have to be the right deal. I have friends who have been shelved and dropped, and went the indie way after all.
I wondered if you would you prefer the backing of a major label. I think if it’s the right situation, great. It’s hard to say. I think the biggest thing for me is creative control. That would be very important to me. Mainstream pop is not important to me. I really just want to write the music I want to write and hopefully people will like it.
Which comes first? Lyrics or the melody? Music comes first. Words are tough. I’m picky. I tend not to do a lot of revising. I’ve thought about it so much, by the time it goes on the paper, that’s it. I’ve tried to start with words first. This isn’t conducive to co-writing. When I do that, I’m sitting in the corner and the other person is sharing all of these ideas!
Ingrid Michaelson is on a label but still considered independent. I think it’s cool that she’s been able to do what she’s done mostly independently. It’s funny, Regina [Spektor] is signed to major label. Major label execs will say you need this kind of personality, you need to be active on social media. Regina has a loyal following because she is who she is. Are you ready for love? In one of your songs you say, “Give me wedding rings.” You know what? I’m starting to become more ready for it. The timing of this interview is funny. I was thinking last night that I’m more ready to be in a relationship than before. I’ve always had a long-term perspective on life. How would that affect my career? So, I mean now, I think while music is still a high priority, I’m more open to the idea of being in a relationship. Right guy, right timing.
Follow on Twitter: @kimedwardsmusic
KIM EDWARDS LOVERS AND LONERS STANDOUT TRACK: “THE BOOK OF LOVE”
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SPOTLIGHT 28 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
On The Paradoxical Importance of Well-Recorded Lo-Fi Albums Rachel Enneking
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 29
o-fi enthusiasts love to debate the origins of the genre. Was it Bruce Springsteen’s famously home-recorded Nebraska? Or was it Captain Beefheart’s Zappaproduced Trout Mask Replica in 1969? Surely The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” or Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” - arguably the first rock and roll record - meet the aesthetic qualifications. And what do we make of recordings of the early Delta blues singers like Charlie Patton or Blind Lemon Jefferson? But the true birthplace of the lo-fi, at least in the terms that we think of the genre today, might well be traced to the cassette tapes Lou Barlow sent to his childhood friend as a kid growing up near Amherst, in western Massachusetts. “We would make cassette letters to each other,” Barlow remembers. “He started a fight with his mom for one of my letters and then I did one with my sister. Then we did prank phone calls, and from there I actually started to write songs for him, really short, kind of obnoxious songs on acoustic guitar. Those were the beginnings of my recordings on cassette, and I got really into it. I loved the way it sounded.” While Barlow doesn’t command the name recognition of fellow alt-rock pioneers like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore or his Dinosaur Jr. bandmate J Mascis, he’s been hugely influential upon a lineage of indie groups that followed him. After forming Dinosaur Jr. in 1984 with Mascis as the primary songwriter, Barlow started his own group, Sebadoh. Along with bands like Guided By Voices and Pavement, Sebadoh popularized the lo-fi aesthetic within the burgeoning underground rock scene—a sound marked by layered guitar soundscapes recorded on inexpensive 4-track tape machines, giving the music a ghostly, falling-apart quality.
basic ways to touch the guitar, and I was like ‘Wow!’ but I didn’t really learn anything beyond ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ I didn’t learn other people’s songs.” At the same time an adolescent Barlow was recording cassette letters to his friend, he heard punk rock for the first time. “Music wasn’t really a big part of my life until I heard The Ramones. It reignited my desire to play the guitar because it addressed my skill level. There was a band called the Young Marble Giants who were very stripped down, almost acoustic and incredibly quiet and hushed. It was obviously a do-it-yourself recording. And I was like, ‘That sounds great!’ They didn’t call it lo-fi at the time, but it was not the way records sounded on the radio. I thought, ‘This is something different, something simpler and more elemental that speaks to me directly.’ At that point, I decided, ‘It’s OK for me to make records that sound like shit—because they sound great!’” While Brace The Wave isn’t a lo-fi album, per se, that stripped down elemental quality is at the heart of its sound. Many of the tracks were tracked entirely live, while others are layered with angular guitar parts that meander in and out of the mix. Percussion is minimal, leaving Barlow’s distorted and often double-tracked vocals front and center. The album was recorded in under a week, and it’s meant to sound that way, its mistakes and sonic inconsistencies reflecting the urgent anxiety of the songwriting. Just because an album is recorded using lofi techniques, however, doesn’t mean it’s not well crafted. “There’s actually a lot of technique that goes into it,” Barlow explains. “You always want to make sure your voice is heard, and texture it with guitar. It’s not a completely dumb process. There are a lot of moves you have to make to make a recording that actually speaks to somebody.”
go somewhere, do something right now, keep your blood moving.’” Barlow has carried that industrious attitude throughout his entire career, which no doubt has contributed to his longevity. In addition to founding Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, he also formed The Folk Implosion in the ’90s with singer-songwriter John Davis, curated the soundtrack for the cult classic film Kids, and has been steadily touring and recording with Dinosaur Jr. since the group reunited in 2005. “When I think of something, I try to act on it. And when I’m done with something, I try to get away from it,” Barlow says. When asked if it’s any more difficult to sustain a career in music since his early days with Dinosaur Jr., he replies, “It seems about the same. It’s not easy. I’m still going to go out and play shows to like five people. That’s still going to happen. I’m still going to get bad reviews and I am still going to get some good reviews. It’s always been that way,” adding his mindset has always been to “keep going and figure something else out—keep thinking about it and try to stay a step ahead of myself.”
Follow on Twitter: @TheLouBarlow
“I never learned the on-beat approach…” In September, Barlow released his third solo LP, Brace The Wave, a record of intimate folk songs recorded using many of the same offbeat techniques and recording processes that date back to his early Sebadoh records, including playing detuned ukulele and baritone guitar. “I never learned the on-beat approach,” Barlow recalls, after first taking lessons from a local music teacher who taught him, along with an entire class of sixth graders, “Stairway to Heaven” in its entirety. “I learned a lot of really 30 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
To help create the record Barlow had in mind, he recorded Brace The Wave with producer Justin Pizzoferrato at his studio in western Massachusetts. Pizzoferrato recorded the past three Dinosaur Jr. albums with Barlow on bass, and since moving back to the area last year, Barlow says it has been a “motivating and real important factor, to be close to him.” Spending his first winter back in Massachusetts also inspired him to get to work, remarking, “Winter somehow, just makes you go, ‘Come on, keep moving,
LOU BARLOW BRACE THE WAVE STANDOUT TRACK: “REDEEMED”
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hile certainly not a new music streamer, MixRadio might be new to you, and is making a big splash this year. Available for free on iOS and Android, this one is heavily backed by 36 million tracks, and available in 31 countries without a subscription. So, why haven’t you heard of it? It’s been a long journey to here. MixRadio is trying to be your new radio, tuned to your musical taste with just a few clicks. Think of it as a hybrid between Pandora and ad-supported Spotify, where your tastes “tune” what the service is playing. Using a mix of algorithms and personal “Mixes” (their term for playlists), MixRadio is laser-focused on serving you relevant music you may not have heard and uncovering goodies you may have forgotten about. Additionally, there are Mixes from music tastemakers for you to explore (including Performer). Another great feature is the ability to listen to almost two hours worth of your mixes offline. This is a big deal for those of us who have been stuck at beach party without Wi-Fi or cell service. The actual origin of MixRadio was Peter Gabriel’s project in the late ’90s called OD2, which was a music distribution platform ahead of its time. In 2004, the project was purchased by Nokia, and the mobile product was developed by the handset maker in 2007 with a content partnership deal with the four major labels. It was then sold to Microsoft, and then later folded under the messaging app LINE Corporation in 2014. It’s been known by many names: Nokia MixRadio, Nokia Music, Nokia Music Store and OVI Music Store. Whatever it has been called, it has only been available on Windows phones and Nokia handsets until May of 2015, when it launched as an iOS and Android app. How is a late entry into the crowded U.S. streaming market going to distinguish itself ? MixRadio is trying to become your go-to music discovery app. The company claims they are “the most personalized, easy to use, music streamer on the planet.” With very little friction to join, MixRadio should attract a ton new users interested in trying it out. However, as I am sure you’ve read before (cough, Taylor Swift, cough), “free” and “ad-supported” music streaming might be great for users, but it is an ongoing issue
MIXRADIO: AN INDEPENDENT FRIENDLY GLOBAL MUSIC STREAMER?
of contention with artists, labels, and publishers (you know, OUR READERS). Speaking to CNN, Mike Bebel, the company’s COO, said, “What we are trying to do is remove all of the clutter and all the distance between music lovers and the music that they love.” When asked what MixRadio’s core mission is, Mr. Bebel said, “The more you interact with the service, the more we understand your musical taste, and the more we deliver to you music that you love to discover, or rediscover music that you’ve always loved.” One of the keys to MixRadio’s expertise is recognizing how it has penetrated markets like China and India, and has been able to deliver global music from outside to those users, while also licensing local music in the region. They are now effectively doing this in the U.S. Early on, MixRadio used exclusive releases from artists like Green Day and Charli XCX to increase subscriptions, but has since backed off that strategy. When asked whether MixRadio would be continuing the practice of windowing, Mr. Bebel responded, “We want to work with all artists around and the world, and in many cases, people don’t really know they love an artist until they have an opportunity to discover and experience them. We want to help artists bring the music they’re producing out to the world.”
Bebel added, “We want to help local artists, who maybe have just released music, get it into the hands and ears of our users globally. So, if you think of an artist that is just starting out, they have access to our user base, access to our promotional tools, and other opportunities we provide. They can deliver music to their fans through us, not only in their home market, but also around the world. So, we really represent an opportunity for up and coming artists…” Here’s hoping this streamer will actually utilize and pay some respect to the millions of members of the independent music community who are releasing the vast majority of music used on these platforms. Performer will be reviewing MixRadio’s artist promotional tools more indepth in an upcoming issue, but for now, try it out for yourself on Android or iOS by searching MixRadio and let us know what you think. For more, visit www.mixradiomusic.com. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development. PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 33
Indies, Know Your D To Botch an A A First-Hand Account by Matt Urmy, CEO of Artist Growth
ooking back, the outcome of our final meeting could have easily been predicted. However, at the time, I was completely disappointed. Our first meeting had gone very well, a lunch at a nice restaurant in midtown, with the publicist who had put us in touch.
excited to be having the conversation that I didn’t pay any attention to the difference in tone this meeting had compared to the one a week earlier over wine and a casual lunch.
“I’m hearing some really great buzz about your work,” was the first comment this potential manager made to me once we’d gotten through the initial small talk. I could feel every cell in my body smile when I heard those words — “lots of great buzz about your work” — what artist doesn’t dream of hearing an expert in their industry say that to them? This was going to happen, I could feel it.
I answered all of their questions passionately, honestly, with sound affirmations of my commitment to a strong work ethic and building a career over the course of decades. I was saying all the right things and just as I felt like the meeting was going well, that was when things took a turn down a path that I was not prepared for.
I went home that afternoon excited, called some friends, met for a few drinks. We talked about how hard we’d all worked, for so many years, and now finally, after so much time, I was going to get a break. The second meeting was more formal. We met at their Music Row office, with me sitting in one of the chairs in front of their desk. We discussed my influences, my vision, all the things a manager would need to have a deep understanding of in order to effectively guide my career. I was so
I was in the office of a professional, and they were sizing me up.
I was hit with several questions about my business... My business? I was an artist, not a businessman. It was at this point that I started to get that not-so-happy feeling in my stomach. How many albums have you sold since you released your last record? What do your monthly expenses look like on the road? How many new markets have you opened since you started promoting this album, and how do sales there compare to your more established markets? I couldn’t answer any of these business questions with any kind of absolute confidence.
Most of my responses started with, “Well, I think...” or “I’ll have to do some digging and get back to you on that...” After an hour or so, they politely thanked me for my time and told me they needed to think about everything, and that taking on a new client was not something they did lightly. So we shook hands, and off I went... feeling unnerved. A few days later, we spoke on the phone. They told me that they loved what I was doing, but I wasn’t someone that they could invest in at the time. There were just “too many unknowns” when it came to what kind of business I really had. Basically, they told me that I was too risky, and that I needed to build a more investable story that could show the growth of my business over time. The last thing they said before thanking me one last time, wishing me the best of luck and telling me to stay in touch was, “At the end of the day, it all comes down to the numbers.” That statement echoed in my head. To this very day I still think about their final decision. The numbers? What about the music? What about the passion and artistic integrity? In the years since, I’ve learned more about the industry than in all of my time touring as an independent singer-songwriter. When I look back, it blows me away how naive I was. So what have I learned? 1. It’s Still About the Music You still have to have a song that resonates if you are going to be able to write, record, play, and perform your music for a living. Period. Even though it is “all about the numbers,” you won’t get those numbers if you’re not still dedicating the majority of yourself to your craft and building a solid “product.” Using new tools available to musicians today, like Artist Growth, can make keeping track of the business side of things so much easier. I created Artist Growth to help myself and others streamline the time spent organizing and tracking everything from
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performance deals, to tour revenue and merchandise sales so that it would free up time to focus on the most important thing: making music.
data) and laying the foundation for a business. As those numbers grow, you start to become attractive to managers and other investors, like labels…
landed a booking agent and indie label deal by going into the meetings armed with reports and a 5-year plan that was built on his actual business data to that point.
2. Social Media Numbers Aren’t the Numbers to Worry About
And, with that growth…your social media engagement will also expand.
Yes, you should be present on the social networks that feel most comfortable to you, and you should engage... But you should not be spinning your wheels trying to figure out how to blow up your followers and shares.
3. They Don’t Have to Be Huge Numbers... You Just Have to Know Them
He didn’t get signed because he was making tons of money, but rather because those professionals saw a young artist who understood what it takes to build a career, someone they could truly partner with. Nothing good comes easy…but if you focus on the right things, you can make the right kind of progress.
The numbers you should be focusing on are: 1.) How many different markets to you perform in? 2.) How many people attended each show? 3.) How much merch did I sell? 4.) How much did it cost me to make my albums, promote them with a tour, etc.? The trend here is that you should be worrying about building up a narrative (via your
A perfect example of this is one of Artist Growth’s early indie artist adopters here in Nashville, Sam Lewis. Sam meticulously logged all of his revenues and expenses and events into AG, and after doing so for a few years he had built a pretty impressive portfolio. The numbers weren’t big, but he knew them to the penny. So much so, that he was able to cut his expenses and quit his day job to pursue music fulltime. From there he
r Data! Or, How Not A&R Meeting
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matt Urmy is a Nashville-based singersongwriter and Founder/CEO of Artist Growth, the only cloud-based solution on the market that offers managers and musicians the tools they need to comprehensively manage their career. Learn more at artistgrowth.com. PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 35
Fort Knox Studios Chicago’s New Music R
t’s Monday at the 2112 Music Incubator in Chicago’s Fort Knox Studios, and the place is absolutely packed.
2112 director Scott Fetters and I survey the wide-open landscape of desks, couches, and coffee tables from an airy staircase in the center of the room. He points out a few of today’s guests: a couple Music Dealers reps, Disturbed’s manager, some guys from radio stations WGN and XRT, the executive team of tech startup Nusiki. Everyone’s doing work or chatting animatedly, and business cards are flying between pockets. There will be an event later with industry polymath Martin Atkins, entitled “Under the Influence IV: How To Make Your Show An Event,” and most everyone is planning to stay for it. This is what 2112 and Fort Knox Studios are becoming for the burgeoning Chicago music industry: a central hub where musicians and the businesses that support them can congregate and make magic happen. “It’s about providing this comprehensive ecosystem where businesses in 2112 can interact with nearly a thousand artists that would be working in Fort Knox rehearsal space,” says Fetters. Fort Knox’s co-founders, Dan Mahoney and Kent Nielsen, have been working on the space for four years now. The former factory they purchased still looks like a factory from the outside, a vestige of Chicago’s industrial past in a neighborhood 36 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
overlooked by a rusty water tower. But step inside and you find a hotbed of creative activity. All of Knox’s 90-plus rehearsal rooms (available hourly or monthly) are sold out with a waiting list sixty bands long. There are studios both for recording and for tour prep, the latter of which has been used by acts like Jennifer Hudson and Devo. And the place continues to grow—construction workers mill about, constantly working on further development of the studio’s 160,000 square footage. In terms of catering to Chicago’s musicians, Fort Knox is already hitting the mark. Jon Nadel, the bassist for local band AudioBakery, has nothing but praise for the rehearsal space his group rents at the complex. “The staff has been extremely accommodating—they greet us by name and make us feel at home,” he says. “Fort Knox has an amazing guitar tech and amp tech on staff…it’s the best creative space in the city.” But Mahoney and Nielsen wanted to make Fort Knox more than just a hub for Chicago’s artists and bands. They realized that although Chicago has a bevy of music-related businesses and a strong tech startup culture, many of the companies are run by DIY entrepreneurs from coffee shops and spare bedrooms. There wasn’t a single place for this support network to come together, à la Nashville’s Music Row. “You have a lot of people doing great things, but it’s spread out throughout the city and people don’t realize everything that’s going on here,” says Fetters.
“I mean, you’re working from Starbucks with your iPhone and MacBook, that’s $2000 in equipment, and someone could be working right next to you,” adds Nielsen. “But what is working from Starbucks doing for you? We realized that the music industry, the film industry, all these industries, they run on relationships. What we needed to do was build a relationship factory.” To solve the problem, Nielsen and Mahoney conceptualized 2112, a startup incubator based on similar tech ventures, and brought in Fetters to direct it. It’s named after Rush’s prog rock epic, but it represents the antithesis of the song’s dystopian dictatorship. Here, a steady stream of music is always pumping over the PA system and collaboration is key—both between 2112 and its tenants and between the tenants themselves. The incubator is a social enterprise that can offer some funding to entrepreneurs who apply for grants, and it provides other resources such as mentorship, panels, and events for its members and Fort Knox artists. But most important to 2112’s potential is the simple reduction of space between members of the Chicago music industry. With booking agents, lawyers, merch companies, and dozens of other businesses all under the same roof and several hundred of the city’s best musicians, the exchange of ideas becomes much easier and everyone involved gains access to a wealth of resources. Several months into its development, 2112 has
made strong progress towards its founders’ vision. Nielsen notes that the events it hosts have been particularly popular as fountains of institutional knowledge— “instead of spending three years banging your head against a wall trying to figure something out, you figure out the answers in a couple of hours,” he says. And an additional 10,000 square feet will be added before the end of the year, according to Fetters.
os and 2112: Meet c Relationship Factory Though 2112 is by no means running at full capacity yet—this Monday is exceptionally busy— the buzz is slowly spreading and both its executives and its tenants are optimistic about the future. Matt Fredrickson, who runs his dynamic music startup Volcanoes for Hire out of the incubator, says the mentorship and networking opportunities he’s had there are “kind of ridiculous,” and he expects that as more people discover what Fort Knox and 2112 have to offer, they will explode with growth. “In my opinion, they’ve reached a point there where they’ve created a system with enough gravity to continue to pull bodies in from all over the creative business sector,” he says. And from the crowd of artists and industry workers gathered at 2112, the hype seems to be real. I walk around the bustling atrium and find myself in conversation with musicians, videographers, event coordinators, marketers, and countless other creative entrepreneurs. One of them, Hamon Kim of King Lizzy Music Group, takes in the scene like a kid in a toy store. “You bring all this together, something’s ready to pop,” he tells me. It’s not just LA, New York, and Nashville’s world anymore. The Chicago music industry is ready to pop, and on their current trajectories, Fort Knox and 2112 could create that explosion. For more, visit www.2112inc.com and www.fortknoxstudios.com. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Zach Blumenfeld is a recent alumnus of WRVU Nashville, Vanderbilt University’s student radio station. Over the past three years, he has interviewed over forty songwriters and bands on his weekly program The VU Backstage, as well as contributing music commentary and reviews to the WRVU blog. He has also worked at Nashville radio station Lightning 100.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 37
20 MIDI Tips You Need to Remember MIDI limiting. No hardware needed—add a constant value to MIDI velocities to create limiting (Fig. 1 ). After limiting, if needed subtract a constant to set the ceiling. Sometimes DAWs beat MIDI. The MIDI resolution for some Vis may be low enough to create level control “stair-stepping” (a lack of smoothness). A DAW’s level automation won’t do that. Bass likes space. Real bass players lift their fingers off strings to fret the next note, so don’t butt note-offs up against note-ons—leave some space, so the part breathes more. MIDI FX for songwriting. Don’t get hung up editing when creating—insert a quantization MIDI effect (Fig. 2 ) for temporary quantization. Deal with the details later. Fig. 1 : The 1st measure is the original part, the 2nd after limiting by adding a constant, the 3rd with a ceiling set to 95% of maximum velocity.
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USB beats DIN. Connect a MIDI device to your computer via USB for faster operation than with an interface’s 5-pin DIN connector.
The audio/MIDI bridge. Melodyne can convert audio parts to MIDI pretty reliably. If you can hum a few bars, you really can fake it.
Go to the library. Make a library of MIDI controller patterns—e.g., rhythmically chopped controller data, filter sweeps, fadeouts, fade-ins, etc.—then drag in as needed. Because they’re MIDI data, they’ll stretch to match tempo.
The percussionator. Not an action hero who plays timpani, but an arpeggiator set to trigger a soundset of percussion instruments mapped across the keys.
Transport your MIDI keyboard. Mapping DAW transport controls to MIDI keys is very convenient when doing overdubs. You don’t really use the top four notes of your 88-note keyboard, right? The jack of all trades. There’s a footpedal jack on the back of your synthesizer—use it for more expressiveness. Free the wheel. Vibrato? Bor-ing. Wiggle the pitch wheel with your fingers to create vibrato, which frees the mod wheel to control parameters like sub-octave, tone, morphing between waveforms, etc.
But with Windows, beware the MIDI port limit (more info at http://tinyurl.com/p5f3qym). Better humanization. Humans don’t really randomize (unless they’re drunk). Quantization strength “splits the difference” between metronomic precision and a part
Let it slide. Slide note start times a little ahead or behind the beat to change the “feel” (e.g., sliding a snare slightly later gives a bigger sound; sliding a hi-hat forward drives a song more). Paint your MIDI. With Cakewalk SONAR, use the MIDI Pattern tool (Fig. 3 ) to copy and paste entire sections easily.
The MIDI songstarter. It’s easier to change transposition and tempo changes with MIDI than with audio—great for finding the right vocal range and a comfortable tempo.
Jumble-aya. Edit the MIDI file that triggers REX file audio slices to create variations on loops and patterns. Not all software is the same. Look for “special sauce” features in programs like MIDI plug-ins, de-glitch options, special tools, fit data to time, and other useful processes. Try this—try this—try this. MIDI echo fell out of favor because synths didn’t have enough voices, but now they do: Create interesting polyrhythmic echoes that would be hard to do with audio. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Craig Anderton is the Executive Vice P resident, Evangelist at Gibson . P rior to joining Gibson , Anderton was Editor in Chief of Harmony Central . In a long and distinguished career as musician , author, musicologist and innovator, Anderton has played Carnegie Hall , published over two dozen books, and written thousands of articles.
: Quantization MIDI FX set to 82% strength.
with more feel but shaky timing. Try 80-85% strength. “Strum” your MIDI notes. If you don’t have something like A|A|S Strum, give chords a guitar vibe by moving the lower notes a little ahead of the beat, and the higher notes a little later. Try layer cake. Copy a part, transpose it up or down an octave, then layer it with the original notes to thicken a sound.
: The MIDI Pattern tool has “painted” the 1st two measures into six more measures. PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 39
WHY YOU SHOULD OVERDUBS IN
ne of the things that I learned, the hard way, early on in my career as a producer is that albums made by “serial overdub” do not often come out well. Let me tell you about why you should avoid this. First, the serial overdub record is a common approach among singer-songwriters who want a band sound, but don’t actually have a band. If you’re in this situation, there are many solutions that do work well, but piecemeal not so much. WHAT IS SERIAL OVERDUBBING? Serial overdub, which is really my term, means recording each instrument one after the other. Overdubbing, a practice invented by the late Les Paul, enables us to record an instrument or part after other parts have already been recorded. This is a great help as it allows us to focus on getting a great performance for lead instruments like voice or guitar. It also allows us to stack a million of you as your own backup singers.
As with all technological advances, the new capabilities leave us with the question of just because we can do it, should we? Just like we might think twice about that stack of a million of you as backing vox, recording each part separately is doable, but inadvisable. Records need a fine balance between solid groove and performance, and creativity and human 40 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
feel. This balance, of course, varies by genre (EDM need not apply) but since we’re talking about overdubbing, we’re focused on played instruments. Serial overdubs may allow for doing it all yourself, or bringing in friends to play on your tracks, or even spreading cost of the project over time, but it usually ends up killing that essential human vibe. WHY IT KILLS THE VIBE A band, or even a “sounds like there’s a band, but I don’t really have one” is an organic beast. The goal is never perfection in the recording, but rather capturing a living, breathing, emotionally moving experience. You get that with people in a room playing together. There’s a dynamic, a push-pull, between players who are listening to what each other are doing in real time. Assuming that everyone is playing well (insert rant about pre-production) this is where the magic happens. It’s really hard to fake this when you are recording each person alone in the studio, one after another!
TIME IS MONEY & A BUZZKILL Another issue with the serial overdub record is that it can take forever to complete. I think the record that took the longest to record was over 18 months! That wasn’t a “let’s work on this a bit, table it, come back to it” kind of thing; this was continual work. Let me tell you this kills the buzz! Over that
period of time the artist has come to hate their music, has grown and moved on musically, and her fans have stopped wondering what happened to her and given up. Furthermore, serial overdub projects cost more. Studio time will increase to be sure, although arguably you could work in a smaller, less expensive studio (or at home). Likely, however, since this is your baby you don’t want to skimp on the quality of the room or microphone locker, and smaller studios don’t have much to offer there. Overdubs also often require more extensive editing. This, of course, gets us right back to the issue of the vibe of the finished record. REAL WORLD EXAMPLES & BEST PRACTICES An album that I love to hate (and hate to love) that is a perfect example is Eric
Johnson’s Ah Via Musicom. An early-’90s tour-de-force of DIY overdubbing, it took him two years to complete, is a textbook of technicality, and is nearly devoid of any gutwrenching moments. I admire it, but am not moved by it. (This brings up another rant about virtuosity without musicality. Insert shredder of your choice as an example here).
As counterpoint, I will remind you that all Boston records (whether you like them or not, they inarguably engaged the fans of the time) were done by serial overdub, but Tom Scholz is just, well, Tom Scholz. So what’s the better way? Believe or not, it’s old school. Get your band together with your producer and rehearse! If you don’t have a band, your producer should hire one for you (that’s part of their job), then get together with them and rehearse! When it’s all come together, then book the studio time at a place that can host a full band with adequate isolation for each instrument. Ideally, that means all the people in one room together, but the amps in other rooms/booths. There are
fewer of these rooms in existence today, but those that survive are great. I’d be happy to help you connect with them. After you’ve captured all the “basics,” which should include drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, and any other “rhythm” instruments, you’ll want to stop and edit together the ideal arrangement. This is not the time for micro-editing, but rather a simple comp between takes to get the best performance in each section. From there you may want to re-track an instrument, or add overdubs as we mentioned before, but the basic structure and vibe will have that balance between groove and humanness that grabs listeners by the ear!
LD AVOID SERIAL N THE STUDIO
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Award winning mix engineer and producer Jordan Tishler runs Digital Bear Entertainment in Boston MA. A large Augsburger designed mix/overdub room with SSL console and racks upon racks of analogue outboard gear, tape machine, and gazillions of instruments, Tishler has credits including B Spears, JLo, Iggy A, MOTi, Justin Prime, SIA, and London Grammar. Contact me about producing your next record, or mixing the one you’re working on now! For more, visit www. digitalbear.com.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 41
We Had A Producer Put t AT2020USBi Mic & ATH Through Their Paces. H
Editor’s Note: Back in August we put out a call for readers to win a cool recording bundle from our friends at Audio-Technica, consisting of the AT2020USBi Mic & ATH-M40x Headphones. We wanted someone to put these bad boys through their paces and report back on their findings. Below are the thoughts of one of the winners, Torbin Harding, after using the gear for a few months in his studio. We’ll also be publishing the write-ups of our other winners, exclusively at performermag.com
have been happily using Audio-Technica products for 20 years. I have captured many great recordings with my AT822 stereo microphone and AT headphones are my first choice in the recording studio. When Performer Magazine gave me the opportunity to test the AT2020USBi cardioid condenser USB microphone and ATHM40x professional monitor headphones, I was
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“The AT2020USBi microphone provides convenience, excellent sound quality, and is a great value. The ATH-M40x headphones sound amazing and are essential to your studio.”
thrilled beyond belief. I jumped at the chance, began posting on Twitter, Instagram and my website. The AT2020USBi microphone provides convenience, excellent sound quality, and is a great value. The ATH-M40x headphones sound amazing and are essential to your studio. The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones are comfortable and balanced on my head, they stay on my ears and do not slide down. I love the sound and feel of these headphones. They have terrific sound quality, true reproduction of the music and great bass response. The closed back style and snug fit keeps bleed-through to a minimum when tracking (a bonus for home recorders). Audio-Technica provides two cables with the headset, one straight and one coiled. I prefer the coiled cable while recording guitar and bass. Our Lo-z Records house drummer prefers recording with the straight cord he wears behind his back. The ATH-M40x headphones allow for the ear cups to fold out so I can listen to a song with one ear when practicing guitar. The headphones fold up nicely into a protective pouch for protection. I simply love these ATH-M40x headphones. They sound great and are not equalized, so you hear the song as it was truly recorded.
recorded audio) while recording, go to setup menu, then configure hardware driver. Lower the buffer size for tracking to decrease latency. Regarding buffer size, lower values for tracking and higher values for mixing yield best results. The AT2020USBi microphone has a builtin preamp with a volume dial on the front of the mic. You increase gain by dialing to the right and decrease by dialing to the left. The AT2020USBi also has a built in analog to digital converter. You do not need an interface. The audio is converted up to 96K sampling rate and 24-bit depth. I recorded nylon string acoustic guitar, bongos, and voice at 96k and 24-bit on my iPhone and my MacBook. The bongos sound natural, not harsh. The AT2020USBi produces a pleasing representation of the low notes on the bongo and a nice clear slap of the higher pitched bongo. The guitars sound great, with a full body to the chords of the rhythm track and great clarity to the high notes of the lead guitar. My
ut the AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M40x Headphones Here’s What He Found. voice sounds full and clear. This microphone has a mellow rounded sound. This is a great condenser microphone, period. I am very pleased with its sound and performance. The AT2020USBi microphone and ATHM40x headphones are an awesome, affordable, easy-to-set-up recording bundle. High quality recording, built in microphone preamp, highresolution analog to digital converter and very enjoyable listening on the go. This recording bundle is perfect for studio and field recording, voice over work for YouTube videos and even podcasts. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Torbin Harding is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, B.A. in Music Synthesis Production 1995, and founded Lo-Z Records in 1997. He currently works in both the analog tape and digital recording mediums. For more info visit www.Lo-ZRecords.com.
The AT2020USBi mic is easy to setup. Assemble the tripod and mount. Screw the microphone into the mount. Plug one end of the connector cable into the bottom of the microphone and plug the other side into the lighting connector on your iPhone, and you are ready to record. A blue light on the front of the microphone indicates power. The AT2020USBi replaces the iPhone’s built-in microphone automatically. I used the AT2020USBi with iTalk and MultiTrack DAW and was very pleased with the results. This microphone is a dream to use with iPhone and can turn any iOS device into an on-the-go studio for capturing riffs, song ideas and more while you’re on tour. Connecting the AT2020USBi with my MacBook and using Digital Performer as my DAW was a little more complicated. I assembled the microphone exactly as above, except using a USB cable to connect to the MacBook. Open the DAW setup menu and select AT2020USBi as the sound input and the built-in output for sound output. In order to decrease latency (late return of the PERFORMER MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2015 43
Rocking the New Mackie FreePlay Live (And In The Woods!) With Saint John and the Revelations Editor’s Note: Earlier this summer we put out a call for readers to win a cool new Mackie FreePlay Personal PA. We wanted someone to test out the new system live, at gigs, and give us the rundown on what they think. Below are the thoughts of Seattle’s Saint John, after using the system for a few months live – and in the woods! For your chance to win awesome gear and get featured in the mag, keep an eye out for more “Tour Test” opportunities EXCLUSIVELY at performermag.com
t looks like a boombox!” was my first thought when I saw and lifted my newly arrived Mackie FreePlay PA System, but this little 11-pound beast has since replaced another sound system that was at least eight times its size and weight, improved my overall sound, and made me more portable. Setting up and connecting the Mackie FreePlay was quick and simple. Within about four minutes, I downloaded the free iOS FreePlay Mixer app, turned on the PA, plugged in my mic and guitar, paired it over Bluetooth to my phone, and started sliding the mixer controls through the app. I adjusted the EQ, Gain, and Reverb with a few quick swipes of my finger, strummed and sang a couple of songs, and smiled happily realizing the FreePlay will create many more possibilities of when and where I can perform, and it will sound fantastic doing it. The Mackie FreePlay is surprisingly loud. Within one week of getting the FreePlay I performed with it at shows in bars, a convention center, and even in a forest; it sounded full and present in each scenario. With 300 Watts to push sound, the FreePlay
rises above chatter and background noise but still carries the nuances and character of my voice, and my acoustic guitar comes through strong and pristine when strumming heavily or picking finely. The Mackie FreePlay is superb for events and parties. I hosted a couple of shows using my FreePlay and at least 40 singer-songwriters have performed through it - we’ve all been surprised and awed at how loud and good it sounds for being so small and convenient to carry around. It is also very cool when I’m hosting a show to be able to adjust the mix levels while wandering the room so I can really hear what it sounds like to the audience rather than having to guess from beside the stage. In between sets, I stream music from my phone through the FreePlay Bluetooth/Aux channel mixed through the FreePlay app: seamless and convenient. I mostly use the system untethered via the optional lithium-ion battery so I can position it
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wherever I want rather than having to be near an electrical socket, and also outdoors. The exact specifications for the Mackie FreePlay are easily found in their online manual, but as a singer-songwriter who performs 200+ shows per year, the relevant specs to me are: 300 Watts of strong clear sound, 2 mic/instrument channels, 1 Bluetooth/Aux channel, very light and easy to carry, quick to set up and adjust with the app, and a long-lasting battery. The Mackie FreePlay is an excellent personal PA; I’ve only had it a few weeks but it sounds so good I have quickly integrated it into more of my shows, and because of its portability I can book shows I couldn’t have booked before. I highly recommend it. For more on Saint John and the Revelations, head to www.sjatr.com. And for more info on the Mackie FreePlay, be sure to visit mackie.com/products/freeplay.
MY FAVORITE AXE
my Evan Henry
Peter Michel is a 22-year-old Seattleite who creates summer inspired tunes under the name Hibou. With a self-titled debut LP about to drop, Michel and his band will hit the road for a nation wide tour this month. MAKE & MODEL
1980 Martin EM-18 WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
I saw this guitar pop up on Facebook’s Seattle Music Gear Swap and Sale. It stuck around the page for a few weeks, taunting and teasing me with its dune buggy body and elven headstock. As soon as I got the cash, I claimed it as my baby. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
This is one of the most versatile guitars I’ve ever played. It’s tremendously easy to change the sound from a ’60s surf lead, to a full sounding chorus, which is important for Hibou. CUSTOM MODS
I haven’t made any, but whoever owned the guitar before me decided to carve ‘Sam’ into the back of the guitar three times. So Sam shall be its name. OTHER NOTES
The hard shell case is actually an old modified rifle case. CAN BE HEARD ON Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I got this guitar after all the recording for the album was done. So as of now it can only be seen and heard when Hibou plays live. It will be on the next album undoubtedly. For more, visit facebook.com/hibouband and instagram.com/hibouband
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ELECTRO-VOICE EKX-15SP Powered 15” Subwoofer - $899
Fantastic lowend response, solid enclosures, decent price. CONS
Super heavy for “portable” use.
esigned to complement the badass EKX loudspeaker line, the new 15-inch powered sub from Electro-Voice is a behemoth, a mammoth of low-end butt-thumpitude. And we mean that in a good way. For an installed situation (club, venue, live event), these would be ideal to carry low-end frequencies to even the most faraway, back-wall club dwellers. With 1,300 watts of Class D power on tap, you’ve got enough wattage to handle pretty much any demanding situation.
betcha – in spades. Our only gripe is that EV has positioned the EKX line as portable in some of their marketing materials. And while yes, technically these speakers and subs are moveable, our test units weighed about 60 pounds each. So for bands without their own on-theroad chiropractors, probably not so much. For DJs, event producers, etc. – yeah, maybe. But really we see these shining in clubs and live venues looking for PA upgrades (read: installed systems, not pack-itin-the-van-for-the-tour systems).
You’d think overheating would be a problem, but EV even has that covered, too. Internal sensors and specially designed fans keep the subs running perfectly in any environment. For our tests, which included a dance hall/live venue, we were happy that the built-like-atank enclosures were, well…built like tanks. With the energy of a live show, you need a PA system that can take some abuse, and we’re hard pressed to imagine even the most metal of shows getting rowdy enough to damage these beef-tastic enclosures.
The interface is hella simple (one knob for dummies like me) and the LCD readout is great for low-light club situations. You can even position the output directionally for less-than-optimal crowd discernments, and you’ve got two XLR outs for easy expansion (awesome for larger stage shows and festivals). Brian Anderton
At the end of the day, watts and ruggedness are great features in a sub, but it really comes down to sound quality. Can these 15-inch speakers handle earthquake-inducing bass? Simple answer? You › Low Pass Frequency Adjustable: 80 Hz, 100 Hz, 120 Hz, 150 Hz › Maximum SPL: 133 dB peak dB Maximum
› Power Consumption: 1.8 A Current rating is 1/8 power › Power Rating: 1300 W › Frequency Response (-3 dB): 45 Hz - 150 Hz › Frequency Response (-10 dB): 40 Hz - 180 Hz › LF Transducer: EVS-15C 381 mm (15 in) › Connector Type: (2) XLR/TRS combo jacks and (2) XLR link outputs › Enclosure Material: 15 mm, plywood with EVCoat 46 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
ocusrite made their mark with preamps and audio consoles in the 1980s. In the 21st Century the name is still paramount with quality sound, and the Clarett Preamps offer up their classic sound, in the digital recording realm.
feature allows the headphone outputs to have custom mixes; for example, if the bass player wants more kick and snare in their headphones, while the guitar player wants more vocal in his, both can be satisfied individually, an excellent feature that can make session tracking go easier.
It’s hard to believe that this single rack space houses 8 combo XLR/TRS inputs (2 on the front, 6 on the rear) that utilize Focusrite’s “Air” preamps, derived from their classic ISA (isolated signal amplifier) preamps. Phantom power is available for microphones that require it. The 8 input controls and the LED metering and monitoring display takes a lot of the real estate on the front panel but there are still 2 individual headphone outs and level controls. The two inputs on the front are a great ergonomic feature giving quick connections, without having to dig around the backside, when only two inputs might be needed for a quick dub session or simple guitar line.
Sound wise, it’s fantastic; the AIR preamps can also be bypassed, but considering how amazing they sound, it’s hard to imagine a situation where they wouldn’t want to be used. If there’s a need for more channels, it can interface with other digital preamps, via optical and/or S/ PDIF connections, so expandability is not an issue either. It does come with the plug-ins of Focusrite’s Red 2 EQ, which has 6 bands, and their Red 3 Compressor, which are great additions 9especially given our fondness for the Red 3 limiter). The EQ can act like a sonic scalpel, easily sculpting tones, without a lot of effort, and
Installing their Focusrite control software gives plenty of options for sound routing, especially the outputs and it interfaces with pretty much every DAW platform out there. A great
the flexibility of the compressor also reacts well musically to the signal path. Rupert Neve always instilled musical qualities to the gear he built, with low noise to signal ratios, and those qualities are present in the hardware and the software in this package. The only bummer was one key piece of gear wasn’t included: a Thunderbolt cable, which would have been nice. With a street price of $999, it won’t break the bank if you’re putting together a killer home studio and want to beef up your pre’s, and considering that the plug-ins alone are $300, it’s a great value for the money. Chris Devine
› Computer Connectivity: Thunderbolt › Form Factor: Rackmount › Simultaneous I/O: 18 x 20 › Analog Inputs: 8 x XLR/TRS Combo
The rear panel has the connections with aforementioned 6 combo XLR/TRS inputs, 10 TRS outputs, MIDI, S/PDIF, optical and coax clock connections. Connection to a computer is via Thunderbolt.
FOCUSRITE Clarett 8Pre - $999
› Analog Outputs: 10 x 1/4”, 2 x 1/4” (Headphones) › Digital Inputs: 1 x Coax, 1 x Optical
Great preamps, expandable, plenty of audio routing options.
› Digital Outputs: 1 x Coax, 1 x Optical › Number of Preamps: 8
› MIDI I/O: In/Out › Clock I/O: 1 x Word Clock
› Rack Spaces: 1U
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1970s Coles 4038 Ribbon Microphone
“Simply The Best For Drum Overheads”
BACKGROUND Designed by the BBC in the 1950s and originally known as the STC 4038, this mic was intended for both sound and radio broadcasting. WHY IT WAS USED The attenuation of high frequencies reduces sibilance on vocals but also reduces details, which is why they are best for drum overheads and brass instruments. The sound of the microphone has been described as very “British.” INTERESTING FEATURES It looks like a waffle iron! CAN BE HEARD ON Anything produced by Daniel Lanois, so U2 to Bob Dylan to half of your cool record collection. LESSONS LEARNED They give you the best option for really recording drum overheads. Steve Albini once said if he could only own one mic, it would be this one. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Chat music & gear with him @donmiggs or miggsmusic.com, lalamansion.com, or his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7PM EST).
Gabriel Burgos 48 NOVEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Be heard with Mackie FreePlay, the personal PA you can control wirelessly from your phone. It’s the shockingly powerful sound solution that has nothing to apologize for.
B AT T E R Y P O W E R A B L E
B U I LT - I N M I X E R
©2015 LOUD Technologies Inc. All rights reserved. “Mackie.”, the “Running Man” figure, and FreePlay are trademarks or registered trademarks of LOUD Technologies Inc. The Bluetooth® word mark is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. Any use of such marks by LOUD Technologies is under license.
MK4 TRULY YOURS
From the soft, subtle intricacies of a finger-picking guitar solo to the powerfully loud vocals on your latest track, the MK 4 is the perfect addition to your mic collection â€“ whether youâ€™re buying your first mic or your fiftieth. Designed and manufactured in Germany, the MK 4 is a true condenser, cardioid microphone that features a one-inch 24-carat gold-plated diaphragm and a full metal housing. Its internal shock mounted capsule enables this versatile tool to be taken from your studio to the stage, and everywhere in between, to capture your music precisely how you hear it.
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MK8 SURPRISING TALENTS
The MK 8 has dual one-inch diaphragms precisely spattered with 24-carat gold. The shock-mounted capsule is accommodated within a sturdy metal housing.
Designed to bring multiple polar pattern flexibility to home and project studios, the MK 8 - Multiple-Pattern Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone allows for a selection between omnidirectional, wide cardioid, cardioid, supercardioid, and figure-8 polar patterns. A 3-position pad switch lets you select between 0, -10, and -20dB while a second switch controls a multi-stage roll-off at 0, 60 Hz and 100 Hz, allowing the MK 8 to be used on a variety of sources.
Featuring Kim Edwards, Algiers, Nathan Gray, Lou Barlow and more...