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THE MUSICIAN ’S RESO URCE

BASS NEC TAR

SEPT. ‘15 FREE

Igniting FAN ENGAGEMENT Without Being a SOCIAL MEDIA JUNKIE

POWER YOUR TOUR WITH MOBILE TECH MAXIMIZE ONLINE COLLABORATIONS SIMPLIFY YOUR MIXING SESSIONS MAKE KILLER DIY MUSIC VIDEOS

IN TER VIEWS

THE BRETON SOUND JOHN VANDERSLICE CAYUCAS JEEN


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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 – whether you’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.


24

Adrian Younge

14

The Breton Sound

16

Cayucas

20

by Jaclyn Wing

by Chris M Junior

by Brad Hardisty

TABLE OF CONTENTS

VOLUME 25, ISSUE 9

28 Jeen

by Jen Emmert

4. Letter From the Editor 6. Vinyl of the Month 8. Live Reviews 30. DIY Video Tips for Musicians 32. The Ins and Outs of Sync Licensing 34. Use Mobile Tech to Power Your Tour 35. Maximize Online Collaborations 36. Tour Test: Audio-Technica Artist Series Mics

38. John Vanderslice on Tiny Telephone

Bassnectar cover story

by Jaclyn Wing

40. Using Presets in Your Mix 42. My Favorite Axe: Chris Wyse of Owl 43. Gear Reviews: Blue Microphones; Sonar Platinum; TC Electronic; AudioTechnica; Sennheiser

48. Flashback: RCA 77-DX Microphone PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 3


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Howdy, y’all! Hope you guys and gals enjoyed our Home Recording Issue last month. If you missed it, print copies are still available (shoot us an email) and all the articles have been posted to our site at performermag.com/tag/the-homerecording-issue. Bookmark and share that link, and then remind your friends that we’re crazy as shit for giving this all away for FREE. Anyway, we were very excited to hear all the positive feedback from our readers about the issue, and we plan on doing more of them in the future (did someone say a 48-page Leif Garrett retrospective?). Remember, we do this all for you, Constant Reader, so if you have an idea for a theme issue, just shoot us an email or find us on social media. We’re super nice, I promise. And we post cute pictures of cats - so come join us on the interwebs, won’t you? [editor’s note – cat pictures not guaranteed]

performermag.com

But that was the past, and we must look ever onward, amirite? So let’s take stock of what’s ahead in this issue, shall we? We’ve got the über-badass Bassnectar gracing the centerfold, along with an excellent interview with John Vanderslice about Tiny Telephone and affordable analog recording in the Bay Area, plus some rad tips for your next mix, a slew of new gear reviews, a vintage RCA mic that’s sure to make you drool, and a heapin’ helpin’ of music business articles to help you license your tracks and shoot kick-ass DIY videos. Did I mention this shit’s all free? And we’ll gladly do it all again next month. So until then: Excelsior! Benjamin Ricci, editor P.S. – Dear Stan Lee and Stephen King, please don’t sue us.

/performermagazine

@performermag

Volume 25, Issue 9 PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER William House Phone: 617-627-9919 bill@performermag.com EDITOR Benjamin Ricci ben@performermag.com DESIGN & ART DIRECTION Cristian Iancu EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Bob Dobalina editorial@performermag.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alexandria Sardam, Anton Patzner, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Chris Devine, Chris M Junior, Chris Wyse, Don Miggs, Ethan Varian, Hannah Lowry, Ian Doreian, Jaclyn Wing, Jen Emmert, Joe Nunez, Jordan Tishler, Lauren Harman, Matt Lambert, Michael St. James, Timothy Burkhead, Zach Blumenfeld CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Alexandria Sardam, aLIVE Coverage, Andy Buchanan, Artform Studio, Beth Doreian, Caesar Sebastian, Chris M Junior, Cole Villageslum, Dusdin Condren, John Vanderslice, Matt Lambert, Mona Kuhn, Peter Samuels, Rosalyn Lee, Warik Likes Concerts ADVERTISING SALES William House Phone: 617-627-9919 bill@performermag.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.

ABOUT US

CORRECTIONS

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.

Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact editorial@performermag.com and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”

MUSIC SUBMISSIONS We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to editorial@performermag.com.No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143

4 SEPTEMBER 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 editorial@performermag.com 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?”

Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.


PODCASTS...

...ARRIVING 2015 #PodOutWithYourRodOut


REVIEWS

Frog

Kind of Blah

New York, NY (Audio Antihero Records)

“New York through the ages, blended into a fine liquid…”

Lead single “Judy Garland” is a plinky, tinkley Americana-tinged jangler that plugs away against a steady backbeat and the playful vocal interplay between Tom White and Dan Bateman. The other standout is “Wish Upon A Bar,” featuring more vocal harmonies and a sense of melodic droning that never feels atonal or nonmusical. It all propels the track forward, with a bizarre, off-kilter indie pop chorus that would sit right in the pocket of the best ’80s college rock staples. Kind of Blah is odd, at times, but so damn endearing in its earnestness and darling soundscapes that you can’t help but lift the needle and drop it down on the lead-in groove just one more time…

Benjamin Ricci

Mastered for vinyl by Alex DeTurk

Follow on Twitter: @heyitsfrog

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If you were asked to distill New York into a single set of sounds, perhaps to accompany a film montage, you might end up with something like the new LP by Frog, Kind of Blah. Miles Davis namechecks asides, Kind of Blah is kinda folky, kinda guitary, kinda lo-fi and all sorts of dreamy.


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REVIEWS

NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL 2015 July 24-26, 2015 / Newport, RI

T

Ian and Beth Doreian

he Newport Folk Festival has built a sterling reputation for magical moments. The magic of Newport takes many forms. It’s driving on Route 138 as the road crests past beaches towards mansions. It’s looking beyond Fort Adams to the flotilla of boaters basking in the harbor. It’s watching bands rushing to catch a friend playing on the Quad Stage. Truly, magic.

for the main Fort Stage were unlabeled. Rumors swirled, mostly focused on who would take part in the half-century commemoration of Dylan going electric; so when Roger Waters asked My Morning Jacket to serve as his backing band, and James Taylor sat down for a nostalgic set filled with witty anecdotes, Newport Folk Festival reproved how it holds a unique cache for musical magic.

For its 56th year, Newport Folk Festival introduced a new kind of magic: the unannounced performer. Expectations are already high for the festival, proven by how tickets sold out months prior to announcing the lineup. Yet as the daily schedules were released this year, conspicuous afternoon slots

Juggling three stages, two children, and one marriage, we photographed and experienced the magic for Performer.

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Andy Shauf (Harbor Stage) The tempered emotions, and Canadian phrasings of Andy Shauf demanded a darker

Ian Doreian

setting. His presence filled the Harbor Stage, treating early arrivers with gems from The Bearer of Bad News. Spirit Family Reunion (Quad Stage) There are times when Newport takes on a “Guitar Hero feel” with musicians working their way around different stages (especially this year as Christopher Paul Stelling was invited to play after busking outside the gates in the past). Spirit Family Reunion nailed their opening Harbor Stage performance three years ago, and even at the expansive Quad Stage they orchestrated a foot stomping, open-door gospel dance party. Everything about this band is harmonious, employing a center microphone for huddled choruses, and


REVIEWS hopefully they can play the Fort Stage in years to come. Luluc (Harbor Stage) Lush and yearning, the duo of Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett fleshed out the songs from Passerby with strident guitar lines. The set was a reminder of just how much a live performance can reimagine songs from their recorded form. Joe Pugg (Family Tent) “Sorry, but this next song is about drugs.” Shade, organic chips, and great music made kids and adults happy all day. Courtney Barnett (Quad Stage) Hype was fully realized for Courtney Barnett and her band at Newport. She has been characterized as slacker, but there is nothing slack in her set. From her flailing hair and infectious smile, to a guitar style that dashes her index finger as a pick, Courtney Barnett is the real KO. Joel Savoy & Jesse Lége Lucius Colin Meloy (Museum Stage) Giving tribute to the legacy of Pete Seeger, Newport has introduced “For Pete’s Sake,” hosted by The Decemberists’ Chris Funk. Funk invited friends to clog, strum, and sing out songs that evoke the foundations of contemporary folk music. From Cajun country, Joel Savoy and Jesse Lége offered a history of fiddle and accordion dance tunes. The mirrored singing of Lucius became an intimate question and answer session with Jess and Holly. And Colin Meloy belted out, removing all amplification from voice, guitar, and harmonica, a collection of Welsh and Irish songs. Jason Isbell (Fort Stage) “I can’t think of a better place on Earth to play these rock songs, these country songs, these folk songs; I think it’s all folk music if it’s done right.”

Tommy Stinson (Harbor Stage) While the entire festival was gathered to hear James Taylor at the Fort, the hard-core Replacements fans held court. Sturgill Simpson (Quad Stage) Side glancing, nonchalant, and forceful, Sturgill Simpson hurled a dose of country bandit into the folk mix. Alluding to Dylan 50 years past, Simpson smirked as he noted they would have booed him, too. Sufjan Stevens (Fort Stage) For a man who eschews festivals, wrapping his recent theater tours with dance productions (The Age of Adz) and family movies (Carrie & Lowell), Sufjan Stevens looked right at home at Newport. He spun stories of a mother’s death, religious revelations, and painful love, themes that capture the light and dark of human experience. For an artist who could have delivered a blistering freak folk attack, Stevens approached Newport with hallowed reverence. And his banjo.    The Decemberists (Fort Stage) As the headlining band on Saturday, The Decemberists and their oeuvre of sea shanties provided a fitting coda. The grandiose romance in their songs, paradoxically approachable with sing-along choruses but distancing with esoteric diction and imagery, was accompanied by a sparking sunset and harbor breeze. Magic. For more visit www.newportfolk.org

Follow on Twitter: @Newportfolkfest PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 9


REVIEWS

PEDAL STEEL: AN OBESSION

Catching up with Ed Williams of The Revivalists at Forecastle 2015 Alexandria Sardam

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that you can use to make it sound like a synth. Just by playing around? That’s what I do all day and I just fell in love with the thing. And I was lucky because there weren’t a lot of steel players, so people wanted to play with me because there was nobody else [around]. And that really helped get me on the scene quickly. So, steel guitar just became an obsession. It really is an addiction and I wish more people played it. A lot of people think it’s tough. You know, the saxophone is tough; I tried that and I was like, “no way.” Pedal steel came easily to me just by the way I was thinking about it. Music theory and stuff like that. I will tell people that it’s not as tough as you think it is if you put some time in it and get a couple lessons.   What’s it like playing with six other guys? How do you decide which direction to go in? We’re a very rare breed. We’re a complete democracy. We’re all songwriters; everybody puts in their own two cents. So it’s great because you feel like you’re important and everyone is an

“Steel guitar just became an obsession. It really is an addiction and I wish more people played it.” school, my friends started making fun of me. So I picked up trumpet…thinking that’d make me cooler. Didn’t work? [Laughs and shakes head] Band nerd. Then I picked up guitar, played that for a while. Then I heard the steel guitar played by this guy named Chuck Campbell and he just kind of blew me away. Then Robert Randolph and all that [was] coming up and I was just like, “I’ve got to learn to play this thing.” I was probably 16, 17?   What did your parents think? They didn’t buy it because they’re expensive, so I saved up money and then I finally got my first one and it was like an obsession. I would play like ten hours a day.   So was that a little bit cooler for the ladies? [Laughs] You know, at that point I had grown into my own skin pretty well, so it kind of worked out. I don’t know if it had much to do with the pedal steel, but you can really make it sound like anything. I really can’t sing very well but you can make it sing and mimic the organ. I’ve figured out techniques

equal. But it takes a long time to get things done. Oh I’m sure. Especially when it’s deciding the track order of an album. So what’s that process look like?  It’s tough. We all get in a room and listen to the beginnings and ends of songs as they transition from one to the other. And obviously the ones that the label wants the singles to be [go] up front. So some of those things are a conversation with them, too, about what they’re trying to pitch as the singles. You usually want to get that in the first four. And then after that it’s just whatever sounds good going into each other. And it took hours. Hours of us sitting there going over it and over it and then once we were done we changed it three or four more times.   Tell me a little bit about the new album Men Amongst Mountains. How did that come about? A lot of the songs on there we were so happy to finally get on an album because our last album we recorded in 2010 (City of Sound) - that came out in 2012 but then our label re-released it in ‘13 or ‘14, so we’ve been sitting on this stuff for a

REVIEWS

T

he Waterfront in Louisville, Kentucky played gracious host once again to this year’s Forecastle Festival. Among the eager festival-goes, Hunter S. Thompson inspiredlibations and flash tattoos (metallic sticker-tats) were four stages of non-stop musical action. 7-member New Orleans band, The Revivalists, joined the weekend jamboree with their highenergy set. Bouncing in-between insanely funky jams and constant crowd interaction, The Revivalists kept the audience on their feet with one helluva sampler platter.   Ed Williams, pedal steel guitar player for band, was kind enough to sit down with Performer for a little chat on the instrument he calls his “obsession,” what it’s like playing with six other guys on stage and the future for this band that’s about to blow up.   Pedal steel guitar: how did you get into that? I’ve played a lot of instruments, played violin and piano since I was about three. And then in middle

while. Some of these songs we’ve been playing live for a while and fans have been clamoring for it. But you’ve just got to wait for the cycle of the last one to go through. We put a lot of effort into preproduction on this one and making sure the songs are right. We were so busy before when we were putting out the albums ourselves. We kind of just went into the studio for a week and threw stuff at the wall and put a lot of things together. But for this one we really had an idea of what we wanted to do. It definitely concentrates less on - and this is something that’s always going to happen when you get towards your third album - you want to get a little bit away from what you were doing in the past. I mean, we would really jam it out on some of these songs and they’d be 7-minutes long. And on an album for commercial use, that’s not always easy to get out there - a song with a three-minute pedal steel solo in the middle of it. [Laughs] Save that for the live shows. Yeah, we can expand. That’s one thing we’ve realized; you’ve got to take the live show and the album as two separate things. Each of them tells their own story of where you are at that time. And it’s really hard to capture the energy either way it transferred over, and I think that’s one thing we’ve really started to get comfortable with. We can take a song on an album that’s maybe three or four minutes long and take that live and add in things. And maybe it turns into a six [minute] live song.   Well, what’s next for you guys? We’re touring constantly. People ask us, “What’s the name of this tour?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. The never-ending tour!” It’s never going to stop. We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky. I’m so appreciative. One of the hard things in the music industry is finding people who have the same ideas you do and who also have the same motivation to accomplish them.

Follow on Twitter: @therevivalists PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 11


REVIEWS

Mountain Vibe Music Gathering 2015 July 17-18, 2015 / Wilseyville, CA

T

he planning team behind Mountain Vibe went into their sixth year with the confidence of seasoned veterans who’ve been humbled by both the challenges of putting together a successful festival, and bolstered by the outpouring of fervent support by a dedicated fan base. Unlike the growing cynicism towards mega festivals like Burning Man and Bonnaroo from long-time attendees decrying the commercialization of their beloved summer adventures, Mountain Vibe has cultivated a feeling of family and freedom that only grows stronger with each passing year. The idea has always been to eschew the traditional narrative of the festival experience. Bigger doesn’t always equal better. Sure, more tickets sold means bigger bands, better facilities and more exposure, but putting the emphasis on intimacy, family, and inclusiveness allows the rest to coalesce naturally, and allows the festival to find its voice through the fans. The pictures, the 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

stories, the cellphone video clips all paint a clear picture of the joy and merriment, and that word of mouth is the beating heart that continues to keep the vibe alive. MVMG is a true grassroots, DIY, communitydriven enterprise. By focusing on quality over quantity, they have demonstrated that building a strong lineup of independent musicians and creating an intimate atmosphere of vendors and art is the best way to nurture and grow an audience. A random sampling of festival-goers confirms that for every first timer, there is a camper celebrating their sixth straight summer of vibing. The same can be said for the bands, many of whom have been booked for four, five or even six years running. That loyalty is a driving force for the faithful to keep returning, aided by the promise of new friends and new musical discoveries. For more visit mountainvibemusic.com and follow on Twitter @MtnVibeMusic

Rosalyn Lee

Joe Nunez


July 30, 2015 / The Paradise – Boston, MA

Matt Lambert

REVIEWS

Veruca Salt

I

t’s been over 20 years since Nina Gordon and Louise Post met and formed Veruca Salt, along with Jim Shapiro and Steve Lack. After a few lineup changes through the years and a hiatus from 2012-2013, the founding (OG) members are back. Celebrating the release of their fifth and current album Ghost Notes, they stopped by the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on their latest tour. Playing to a packed house of eager fans, they did not disappoint while New York’s Charly Bliss opened the night with an equally satisfying mix of garage/pop/rock.

Follow on Twitter: @verucasalt

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 13


SPOTLIGHT

ADRIAN

YOUNGE

Injecting Analog Warmth & Cinematic Soul Into Latest Wu-Tang Collab

P

ushing the boundaries of music, Adrian Younge can be classified as a renaissance man. He taught himself how to play the keyboards, drums, saxophone, guitar and bass, solely because he wanted to fully understand his vision. Those instruments, typically found in classical and soul music, have a distinct sound, and when played together, a unique listening experience emerges. Younge, an introspective and humble artist, realized in the beginning of his production career that the source material he was sampling inspired him more than the hip-hop culture of the time. “Classic rock, R&B, eclectic instruments… those instruments were integral to the sound of the music that was inspiring me, and for that reason, I wanted to learn them,” says Younge. The vibe of Italian soundtracks is a prominent theme throughout the albums Younge has been involved in. After he started making music in the ’90s, his fascination with Italian soundtracks grew; it’s a genre of music that he had to find as a DJ and producer. Younge reflected, “It’s a sound I was searching for, for a long time.” Adrian Younge and  Ghostface Killah  have joined forces once again for the sequel to their 2013  album,  Twelve  Reasons to Die  - aptly titled  Twelve  Reasons to Die II. This new album perfectly combines all of the aforementioned styles, musical vision, and passion; it’s a record with a truly balanced sound and lyrical prowess. The album tells the story of a resurrected Tony Starks (Ghostface), who is in search of revenge against the DeLuca mob family. Ghostface Killah is also known as Iron Man, so that connection to, and his involvement with, the album makes complete sense. Capturing the cinematic soul of the ’70s is not an easy task, but for Younge, it seems to come naturally. He has consistently used psychedelic soul and cinematic instruments blended with hip-hop aesthetics to enhance his vision as an artist. The sound he has created “coincides with the perspective of my label 14 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Jaclyn Wing (Linear Labs), utilizing handcrafted, tailored production approaches that make intriguing sonic landscapes,” says Younge. Younge’s passion for music and creativity became clear when reflected about his musical vision: “I have a desire for people to feel something different when they listen to my music...I hope they feel the organic nature of our creation.” This album synthesizes the perspectives of modern lyrical takes over stylized ’70s musical cues, resulting in a fresh and contemporary take on traditional rap music. Special guests such as RZA, Raekwon, Vince Staples, and Bilal appear on the album and they each bring a distinct feeling but together, a unique sound emerged. No, this album is no darker from the first; it represents a continuation of the storyline. Each song is strong enough to stand on its own but “Death’s Invitation Interlude (ft. RZA)” and “Let The Record Spin Interlude (ft. RZA)” specifically highlight the balance between darker lyrics and light instrumentation to create a new tone. The storyline, feelings, and instrumentation complement each other well. “People listening to the instruments should be able to feel where the story is going and the lyrics should be illuminating the direction.” Younge notes that a fan said she was moved by his music because it sounds like nothing else ever created before: “This hit home with me because you can’t and shouldn’t compare my music to anything. Her comment inspired me to continue,” he says. The importance of maintaining positive working relationships with other artists seems to be a critical element to Younge’s vision. Not only does he compose music for his ten-piece band, Venice Dawn, but he notes that he “always wants to make sure they are represented on the albums…they are my family.” The collaboration process with Ghostface Killah and the members of Wu-Tang Clan is filled with a mutual feeling of respect because they all “really dig” what the other does. “I have mad respect and mad love

Artform Studio

for those dudes,” says Younge. This positivity and sense of family makes itself apparent in this resilient album. “The working relationship is great. For this album, I put a plot together, and Ghostface went with it. A member of my band wrote the storyline, which was then turned into lyrics. I wrote the music and they [Wu-Tang Clan] rapped over each track,” says Younge. Younge, a prominent force in the hip-hop industry, sets himself apart from all competition. He only does analogue recording. The music on Twelve Reasons to Die II was crafted with precision and nostalgia and Younge notes that it was “illuminated by the music of hip-hop for the masses.” The music came first and the lyrics were layered over it; Ghostface Killah and Raekwon recorded the vocals in Pro Tools and then Younge transferred it to tape and morphed the analogue music and vocals into one beautiful sound. Younge offers advice for musicians trying to break into the industry. “Try to be the van Gogh of music and go in a new direction. Try to create a league of your own. Do things that are counter to what everyone else is creating.” He goes on to say, “Try to make music that you love, even if it doesn’t necessarily fall within a trendy category, and when you do that, you become inclined and can cultivate a very devoted audience.”


SPOTLIGHT

“Try to create a league of your own.”

Follow on Twitter: @AdrianYounge

ADRIAN YOUNGE PRESENTS: TWELVE REASONS TO DIE I STARRING GHOSTFACE KILLAH STANDOUT TRACK: “LET THE RECORD SPIN”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 15


SPOTLIGHT How Recording in Cramped Spaces Illuminated The Band’s Latest EP

THE BRETO 16 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


SPOTLIGHT

ON SOUND

Chris M. Junior

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 17


SPOTLIGHT

W

herever there’s a bar, there’s usually music involved, and that certainly applies to the drinking establishments throughout the French Quarter in New Orleans. The Chart Room, a small joint at the corner of Chartres and Bienville, isn’t a go-to destination for live music. However, it has a pretty good jukebox, and on this Saturday morning in late June, the four members of the New Orleansbased rock band The Breton Sound are among its customers. It’s already sweltering by 11:30 a.m., and the uncomfortable weather conditions prompt the bandmates to wonder with dry humor and genuine sincerity how legend Allen Toussaint could ever play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — held in late April and early May, when it’s also quite warm — while wearing a suit and somehow appear not to sweat. “Is there something that happens once you get a certain amount of money that you can go pay and get your sweat glands removed?” asks guitarist Stephen Turner, as a funky instrumental fills the room. “I think so,” deadpans singer and fellow guitarist Jonathan Pretus. Turner and Pretus, along with bassist Joe Bourgeois and drummer John Bourgeois (they’re twins), are also in tune with the doings of other musicians from the city. One New Orleans notable of more recent vintage has been The Breton Sound’s producer for all three of the band’s releases to date: Better Than Ezra bassist Tom Drummond. “He’s so easy to work with because he’s a musician,” says Pretus. “He never says you can’t try something, and that’s really important. Half of what I think has made our band sound the way we do is us just experimenting and trying things, seeing what works and what doesn’t work.”

“I would love nothing more than to put out a full-length album…but for a band that’s building its name and reputation, we don’t have that luxury yet.” 18 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

“He pushes us to stay more relevant than I think we would on our own,” adds Turner. “He’ll say, ‘Let’s put some technology into this.’ That’s allowed us, even in our live sound, to include things like samples and backing tracks. You don’t have to just be guitar, bass, drums and vocals.” Keyboards and Mellotron are also featured on The Breton Sound’s latest release, and the title serves as a provocation, a policy and a promise of things to come: Don’t Be Afraid of Rock & Roll, Volume 1. It’s the third Breton Sound EP since Turner and Pretus formed the band in 2010. “I would love nothing more than to put out a full-length album that has some kind


There’s more to it than that. Pretus and Turner acknowledge it’s cost-effective to record an EP. They also like the idea of working really hard on a smaller batch of quality tunes, “so there’s zero filler,” Turner adds.

hiatus, that helped him regain his chops. It was important for him to get back into shape fast because the band was two weeks away from starting to track a new EP at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Recording there was an easy sell for Pretus, a fan of the Ardent-associated powerpop band Big Star. The Breton Sound tracked “Illuminate” (sans the busy bass intro, scrapped by

with Better Than Ezra. Pretus expects his own band to play its share of shows before and after returning to the studio. “We’re looking at a really busy fall,” he says. For a band still building its name and reputation, there’s nothing uncomfortable about that long-range forecast.

SPOTLIGHT

of flow and theme to it,” Pretus says. “But for a band that’s building its name and reputation, we don’t have that luxury yet, unfortunately.”

“We were all cramped in a room, playing live to each other. The air conditioner was broken, so it was unbelievably hot, but it made for great energy — everybody just in a circle, sweating and playing our asses off.” The five-song Don’t Be Afraid of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 gets off to a rowdy start with “Rivers Cuomo.” Coming from a band whose guitarists were in a Weezer cover act called Tweezer while in college (“It was the biggest thing in Baton Rouge for 10 minutes,” cracks Turner), it would be natural to assume the song is a superficial fanboy ode. Actually, the Weezer leader’s name plays a small role in the song’s overall lyrical theme, which was conceived by Pretus. “It came about when I read this article that said as you age, you lose the ability to make the same connection to music,” says Pretus. “At the same time, I was reading a review of the recent Weezer record; the writer trashed it. And I was thinking: Aside from whatever connection this guy can’t make with it, is it a bad record? Is it the performer’s fault that as listeners age they can’t connect to it?” The seeds for “Illuminate,” the EP’s first single, were planted shortly before John Bourgeois became the band’s drummer in 2013. The song really began to take shape after the addition of Joe Bourgeois, who was asked by Pretus in spring 2014 to replace Brian Pretus (his brother) on bass. “Illuminate” initially featured a busy bass introduction, and with Joe coming off a musical

producer Drummond) and “Love You More” (an acoustic duet) at spacious Ardent in May 2014. The following month, the band traveled to the Atlanta area’s much cozier Southern Ground to record “Rivers Cuomo” and the Foo Fightersesque “Stitches.”

Follow on Twitter: @TheBretonSound

“It’s a real basement studio,” Pretus says. “We were all cramped in a room, playing live to each other. The air conditioner was broken, so it was unbelievably hot, but it made for great energy — everybody just in a circle, sweating and playing our asses off.” In August 2014, the band recorded “Walking Backwards” and duet guest Cherie LeJeune’s vocals for “Love You More” back home in New Orleans at Music Shed Studios, whose past clients include Kermit Ruffins, R.E.M. and The Cure. Back to the promise part of the new EP’s title: Pretus says the band’s plan from the start was to make a sequel, something to give the project “more of a hook. It feels like you can’t just put out music anymore. There has to be some sort of event to it.”

THE BRETON SOUND DON’T BE AFRAID OF ROCK & ROLL VOLUME 1 STANDOUT TRACK: “ILLUMINATE”

Recording Volume 2 will commence after Drummond finishes a summer tour PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 19


SPOTLIGHT

CAYU On Home Recording Your Demos & Triple-Tracking Vocal Techniques

20 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


SPOTLIGHT

UCAS Dusdin Condren

Brad Hardisty

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 21


SPOTLIGHT

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Seattle area musicians that helped build on the Yudin brothers’ ideas - producing a panoramic post card of post Laurel Canyonera songcraft.

The band, comprised of brothers Zach and Ben Yudin, spent time working up demos

There is a very acoustic feel to the recording. How did the process start? It started with the acoustic version [“Dancing At The Blue Lagoon”]. My brother [Ben Yudin] and I had written out and recorded demos in my apartment.

ayucas recently retreated to Woodinville, Washington at rustic Bear Creek Studio to work with producer Ryan Hadlock on their latest Dancing At The Blue Lagoon [Secretly Canadian]. The goal was to capture the right combination of vintage vibes and modern technology to create a warm, natural ambience on their West Coast inspired, laid-back sound.

On home demo recording: “I’m just trying to write out all the parts so they sound pretty good and I know what to do before going into the studio.” at home to create a blueprint before travelling from SoCal to the Pacific Northwest, where Hadlock worked with a group of trusted 22 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

So, you demo in your apartment. What kind of gear are you using? I use Logic Pro. I have a Blue Bottle microphone

and it’s just a place to record and edit. I’m not trying to make it off the demo. I’m just trying to write out all the parts so they sound pretty good and I know what to do before going into the studio. So how does the demo process work between you two? He would send me a demo with electric guitar. He’d write the song on guitar or piano. He wrote the main riff on guitar [“Dancing At The Blue Lagoon”] and I took it and added a vocal and the lyrics. That was pretty much it for the demo. We just kind of went back and forth until it was finished. Do you run direct for the demos? Yeah, then I do all the vocals and the lyrics. Do you use patches in Logic Pro? I just use Logic Pro and whatever is available


What was the go-to microphone for vocals? We did kind of an interesting set up for vocals. I use three different microphones for the voice. Every vocal is tripled. It’s powerful when you triple it; it kind of puts more right on top really well. I had the Neumann [87 or 47 per producer, Ryan Hadlock], a Shure SM7 and then the last one was the RCA mic, which is total vintage, the harshest of the three.

SPOTLIGHT

You have a lot more complex song structures on the new recording. Well, for example, one of the songs “Ditches” we wrote a very basic piano chord progression. When we were in the studio, we thought why don’t we get a really good pianist and just kind of add a little bit to it, make it sound just a little bit prettier. We had this guy [Charles Wicklander] who our producer uses a lot - he came in and took

On recording at Bear Creek Studio: “It’s a very big, wooden room and from the kick drum to the guitars, it just gives everything a nice reverb.” the basic chord progression and added nice little fills. He was really good so that is what it evolved into. How did you end up working with Ryan Hadlock to produce the album? We talked to a handful of people and there was not like a personal connection, but we really liked The Lumineers album that he had done. So you knew his production techniques. Yeah, his production. We liked the sound. Now did you work out of his studio? Yeah, it’s a place called Bear Creek. It’s outside of Seattle and it’s really cool.

The SM7 kind of creates a fat upper midrange, right? The SM7 definitely has a lot of punch. Very raw is the best way to describe that, and it sounds great but the Neumann is just great; it sounds so good [on record]. What do you think was the key to this recording session? The room. The space of the room really helps. It gives it a natural reverb. It’s a very big, wooden room and from the kick drum to the guitars, it just gives everything a nice reverb.

So, you relocated to record. How long were you up there? We did it all in three weeks.

as a plug-in. I did a little bit of sampling on the demos but when we did the album everything was recorded live. There was no MIDI or anything. When I’m writing a demo and I want to do a violin and cello part, I end up recording that as MIDI information; that’s the way it works. But, when we go into the studio and record we just have a real violinist. She can play it really easily. Do you feel like it saves time by having the structure on the demos before going into the studio? Yeah, exactly, you save time. There is no harm in fleshing out the demos as much as possible but the gist is that it gives you a real clear focus on where the song is. We had one or two demos that were real basic - barebones - just like a guitar riff or something. Some things came together in the studio but for the most part, we like to have everything pretty much planned out.

Did you bring any musicians with you from LA? It was just me and my brother. We did a lot of the instrumentation. Our friend Davey, who actually lives in Seattle, did all the drums for the album. He’s a really good drummer. He does percussion for Modest Mouse. The three of us were the core people and then we brought in Matt Santos to add some bass to a few songs. The producer connected us with the cellist, horn players and pianists, too.

Follow on Twitter: @cayucasband

There are a lot of dynamics within the song order as well as within each song. We went in there thinking without any boundaries. We sort of went where we wanted and found a way to record it. What software and hardware was he working with? Obviously, he’s using Pro Tools [HD]. He has a mix between vintage analog stuff and new [gear]. Like a new production room in an old setting. We let him do his thing. We really liked his ideas. I mean, we wrote out the string arrangements. We just had our friend play them. They were notated out but he did add his own little pizzazz to them.

CAYUCAS DANCING AT THE BLUE LAGOON STANDOUT TRACK: “BIG WINTER JACKET”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 23


SPOTLIGHT

Looping The Sounds of Life to Push Electronic Music Past Its Boundaries

BASS NEC TAR Hannah Lowry

24 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


SPOTLIGHT aLIVE Coverage

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 25


SPOTLIGHT

Ceaesar Sebastian

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orin Ashton, better known as electronic music guru/producer Bassnectar, sat down with Performer to discuss his past musical history, his current love, and where he plans on steering his career in the future. Before I sat down with him, I spent some time trying to formulate the questions that would get this guy talking. This creative hurricane, who has ‘superfans’ all over the country - people who follow him from show to show. I actually know

at one of his shows. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s get to the actual interview. Performer: Tell me a bit about how you got into this part of your life. Ashton: Music has always been a lifelong love of mine, and the transformation that comes with growing up with music. In high school, I was super into Nirvana and Metallica, and growing up on the West Coast, I picked up guitar and was a part of a number of different bands. I also

“I’m not looking for any fame or anything. I actually don’t like social networking…” one of these people myself (an old friend from high school) and I wanted to know what kind of magic Lorin Ashton bestowed upon these individuals to cause them to exhibit behavior not entirely dissimilar to the groupies that followed the Beatles around the world in the ’60s. Yet, as I conducted the interview, I found myself mesmerized by what I can only imagine is a similar presence that those superfans experience 26 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

loved organizing events around music as well. But what was really cool about growing up in that area and time was the underground death metal scene that was present in Cali. We would spend so much time getting involved with that kind of music. There was a librarian who would rent out her basement in Cupertino and let us come play down there, and even host shows sometimes. Then, I found myself on a 2am radio show with

Stanford Radio. I even took electronic music classes in college. But I never thought of myself as a DJ. I just really liked putting on shows, I loved music, and I loved being involved in the music community. Performer: So how did you decide to develop your electronic side if you have a bigger background in death metal? Ashton: Well, I don’t really consider my music to be electronic music because I just like recording snippets of life - looping and playing with them. So, calling my music ‘electronic’ is like calling life ‘electronic.’ I’m so in love with music and life, so I don’t consider myself to have a specific sound, but instead, I just like to play with what I love. Performer: Do you have a favorite piece of gear that you’ve enjoyed working with? Ashton: I really like using the sampler. It records audio snippets and you can replay them at will, mess with the sound, play it back, loop it - really anything you could want to. Once I’ve done that, I like to transfer the sounds to my computer and use Ableton Live software to keep messing with it and to round out the sound. Ableton Live is like shooting the sampler full of steroids. Performer: Do you have any career goals set for yourself? Ashton: I don’t have a clear vision for the


SPOTLIGHT

Peter Samuels Photography

“I’m more interested in the depth of my music than the number of records I put out.” future. What got me to where I am now was just pure drive and ambition. Now that I’m here, I’m more interested in the depth of my music than the number of records I put out. It’s more about what is special and magical to people. What parts of life they consider beautiful - that’s become the question. Then it becomes, ‘How do you refine this notion to a single looped sound?’ Beyond that, I’m not looking for any fame or anything. I actually don’t like social networking or any of that. Performer: And what about your superfans? Ashton: I really have a high amount of enthusiasm for those people. I’m in awe of how they come together, and how they work together to make every show different and magical in its own way. I have complete respect for those people! Performer: What is your favorite song to perform live? Ashton: I can’t really pick a favorite. That’s like asking a father to pick his favorite child. I love that each of the songs turn out so different, and that makes them almost immeasurable compared to each other. Performer: If you could pick one person, living or dead, to play a show with, who would it be? Ashton: I don’t even think I’d need to play a

show with them, but I’d love to be able to go to a show and see John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. They’d be amazing to see on their own, and I’d rather see them in action than get distracted by my own music. So now you have it, folks. Maybe you can imagine why I felt so uplifted after this conversation with Lorin, even though it was unlike any interview I’ve ever held before. The only way I can explain this conversation is that Ashton constantly pointed back to the love he feels for life and music as reasons for why he does what he does, and what he wants to continue doing.

“Ableton Live is like shooting the sampler full of steroids.”

Follow on Twitter: @bassnectar

BASSNECTAR INTO THE SUN STANDOUT TRACK: “CHASING HEAVEN”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 27


SPOTLIGHT

J E E N

Jen Emmert

On Recording in Her Attic & Not Overworking Songs During the Creative Process

“I’m picky, so getting an album’s worth of tracks together that I didn’t hate took a while.” 28 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

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anadian indie-pop songstress Jeen is perhaps best known as a member of Cookie Duster, Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene’s other band, but this summer sees her solo release Tourist get a deluxe edition across North America. The new LP is a treasure trove of vocals, blending Veruca Saltmeets-Breeders intensity and catchiness to what has become an otherwise disappointing summer slate of new music. We recently Q’d and she A’d about the record and her career. So without further ado… At what point did you know that you wanted to pursue music seriously, and since that revelation, how have you evolved into who you are today? I was into musical theater stuff when I was really young, in elementary school, so singing is something I’ve really always done. It just shifted

into songwriting and being in rock bands when I was around 13. I guess I evolved because I never stopped. I never quit and have never had ‘a real job’…for better or worse. I think there is a lot to say for perseverance. I’ve only ever really had one focus. You’ve worked with a number of reputable artists and companies - what have those experiences been like? Were you able to fully exercise your creativity, or were there parameters? As long as the outcome is of good quality I’m pretty happy. I feel lucky to get hired to do what I would do regardless so…most of the companies/ people that come to me are looking for something fairly authentic and I get to do my thing without too many barriers. They call me because they want what I have to offer, so I don’t have to fake


SPOTLIGHT hoping for a producer but found waiting for one to be very distracting and drawn out so I did it myself. What’s the motto/philosophy for your career? Right now I’d say…one foot in front of the other. This helps. What recent challenges have you faced, and how have you worked to overcome them? Just trying to stay positive…there’s so much music out there now it’s easy to feel swallowed up. It’s pretty over-saturated and the landscape has really changed. I find there is a lot of fake shit out there these days. It’s a challenge weeding through it but I’d rather be in the game than out, so… it…like if you want a burger you don’t go to a sushi restaurant kinda thing, haha. What was the theme/concept behind Tourist, and how does it compare/contrast to your previous material? What was the writing and recording process like?

How do you define success? Doing what you want to do and making a living doing it.

Follow on Twitter: @jeen_obrien

Is there an ideal environment when and where you get your best work done? I’ve written in the worst environments and it’s taught me not be a victim of my surroundings when it comes to writing…I don’t wait for inspiration to hit me or wait for some ideal surroundings, because otherwise I’d get nothing

“I’ve written in the worst environments and it’s taught me not be a victim of my surroundings.” I just wanted to have a record that didn’t suck, to be honest…I’m picky, so getting an album’s worth of tracks together that I didn’t hate took a while. I wrote these songs over a pretty wide spread period of time and thought, ‘If I don’t release it now I never will.’ I recorded it in my attic…was

when I try to adjust things but I find I’m just making it worse. That’s always a good sign you’re done. I try not to overwork things for the sake of the song and my sanity.

done. I don’t have that luxury; I still procrastinate - don’t get me wrong - but I really have no excuse when I do.

JEEN TOURIST STANDOUT TRACK: “BUENA VISTA”

How do you know when a song is complete? When I’m sick of working on it, haha…or like PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 29


MUSIC BUSINESS

Make The Most of Your Video: DIY Film Tips For Musicians T

hese days being in a band is about way more than just playing music. We’re learning how to record ourselves, program lights, take pictures and of course, make videos. I’ve always produced no-budget, DIY videos for my bands (cellphone psychedelics, stick figure cartoons, etc.) but I recently took the plunge to produce a video that actually cost a little bit of money. It was an awesome experience and I learned a ton of stuff that I’m here to share, in addition to offering a few DIY film tips. MEET THE CAMERA CREW “Far Away And Long” was my first time working with a “director of photography” (Matt Rome). His job was to assemble and direct the camera and lighting crews. Because our video is a single, moving shot with multiple twists and turns, these guys really had their work cut out for them. The camera we used was the Red Epic, which is the same camera they used to film Jurassic World. It’s big and expensive, even to rent. You definitely don’t want to drop it, which is why you have a “camera operator” (Joe Lindsay). This guy wore a giant body-harness with a long arm attached to it, called a “Steadicam,” which holds the camera and keeps the shot smooth. It’s looks like the machine gun from Aliens and he had to walk backwards with it, around corners and up stairs, always keeping our singer Laura in the center of the shot. Maintaining focus is the job of the “assistant camera operator” (David Bourke), who remote controls the lens while watching the footage on a screen, traveling with the camera operator and spotting him.

music videos. The trickier part is keeping track of everybody. Maintaining a contact list and keeping everyone up-to-date with emails is a must. Also, it’s OK to ask your friends to help out for free but you’re going to want to at least feed them, so you should figure out how you’re going to do that.

DIY FILM TIPS If you have a great resource, use it Does your aunt have access to a hundred-year-old schoolhouse? Does your neighbor run a dance troupe? There are some times when an available resource is so good that it’s worth developing an entire video concept just to use it. When our director Dominic Mercurio (also our drummer), told us that he had access to a historic mansion, we knew it would be worth spending the time and money to do it there and do it right.

“When You Hear It, You See It” Your video should always correspond to the music in one way or another. This might seem obvious, but it’s crazy how many videos don’t. Maybe new visual elements are introduced as new instruments enter the song. Maybe the visuals are edited to the beat. When this is done well the editor becomes a part of the band and the visuals take the song to the next level. It’s great to learn to edit your own videos. Good musicians tend to be good editors.

It’s a Party! It’s never hard to find friends to help out with a video. That’s because it’s really fun to make

Don’t Be Intimidated It’s easy to think that you’ll never be able to make anything as amazing as your favorite Michel

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Gondry or Spike Jonze video. After all, their videos had huge budgets, fx, wardrobes and big stars. That’s just not true. Today you can get incredible HD footage with a smartphone and you can easily learn how to edit and process it yourself on a laptop. Never forget the value of a good story. If you come up with a good concept, you should be able to make a great video with or without a budget. And as far as star power goes, your band already has that, right? ABOUT THE AUTHOR Anton Patzner is a violinist, composer and arranger who is a founding member of Judgement Day, has been featured on several major label and indie label records, frequently tours with Bright Eyes and Audrye Sessions and has also toured with Mates of State, The Faint, dredg, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s and Street to Nowhere. He is currently the violinist for Foxtails Brigade. Follow on Twitter @FoxtailsBrigade.


Brooklyn’s premiere music recording

& video production studio

since 1991. metrosonic.net 718-782-1872


MUSIC BUSINESS

THE FILTHY L BETWEEN ART Lauren Harman, CEO of Lip Sync Music, Shares the Ins & Outs of Sync Licensing WHAT WE DO Lip Sync represents music for film/TV/ advertisement/video games/new media, acting as an agent on behalf of our artists to tastemakers and “music supervisors.” It is our job to not only throw music at these people but to understand their needs and make their jobs easier. It is our duty to the artists we sign to market and service their music to these purveyors of music, and them into better artists, composers, and business people. We pride ourselves on enabling a number of our independent artist to stay on the independent path and even quit their day jobs. They can do this, because we (Lip Sync) don’t own anything of theirs. They retain all ownership of their work while still having the same services provided as one would at a label or publisher. Also, because we don’t own anything, we are genuinely signing and prioritizing what we love and not what is on the corporate agenda. HOW WE HELP ARTISTS 2015 is especially exciting for us because we have expanded our business model into ways that we can work with our artists to create even more revenue streams for them. Scissorbox is a division of Lip Sync where we create and service sound design releases, most interestingly is the component of our artists’ songs remixed into a “trailerized” format… more dramatic highs and lows, rises, explosions, orchestral elements. Trailer music is very specific and often needs

more edits than other projects, so we thought, “Why not do those edits ourselves and make the work easier for supervisors and editors?” We also started administering publishing and are partnered with Strictly Confidential internationally. So far we’ve only signed a few select artists, with whom we are in a musicmaking, writer-pairing frenzy right now (and

To sum it up: we are Art vs. Commerce and the filthy love affair between the two. HOW WE SELECT ARTISTS I’d like to answer with one word: passion. But the truth is it’s like 80% “are we over the moon about this” and 20% “is this realistic”? Ultimately we ask ourselves two questions: Is it

“It is our job to not only throw music at these people but to understand their needs and make their jobs easier.” I just love it). What is coming out of it is this explosion of great music and every day is like waking up to a Christmas tree of mp3s in my inbox that I helped create.

“syncy” but not cheesy? Is it interesting/Do we love it? If an artist isn’t necessarily “syncy” but has a cool sound and story, I know our clients will become fans and go out of their way to look for spots for that artist. Someone like a Nosaj Thing isn’t “syncy” per se, but he has that other, “star” quality. Every two weeks we conduct A&R meetings. We gather as a team to go over between 30-50 submissions – from industry colleagues. We require all submissions to be pre-screened so that it’s 1) Not crap and 2) We know the basics, like what the best songs are, when the release date is, etc. This is a lightning-in-a-bottle business and the way to increase your chances is to work along the parameters of how each respective

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field operates. For example, we know that supervisors always want “new, upcoming, or unreleased” songs that will give them an edge against their competitors.

MUSIC BUSINESS

LOVE AFFAIR RT & COMMERCE Mona Kuhn

DOING WHAT WE LOVE Before starting Lip Sync I had been in the sync business for a while when it became clear that my current situation was not panning out for me. There was no growth. I had found my niche, but couldn’t keep the lights on. My family gave me an intervention, mostly because I was living with them in order to work at my cool, penniless job. It hadn’t occurred to me to leave, but when they said they wouldn’t let me stay unless I did, I left my job and started Lip Sync. The first few months were anxiety-ridden, but I kept plugging away, and the relationships I had garnered followed me into my own venture. I’m so glad I did jump off that cliff and that a couple of my bands and labels came with me (Au Revoir Simone, Arts & Crafts, Frenchkiss Records). We got our first placement about a month later and it’s been steady growth ever since. It’s an investment of time and relationships. Hard work and hustle are at the core of our company. I firmly believe that with an “eat what you kill” mentality, you’re going to kill it hard because we all like to eat! WHO DOES WHAT Six years in, Lip Sync is now made up of an incredible team of people. Ezra Remer (President/ COO) calls himself the Renée Zellweger to my Tom Cruise in this silly Jerry Maguire metaphor. He is the gravity of this company, he keeps us grounded and keeps it running smoothly. Cynthia Roxanne Daft-Blondelle is the Director/Manager at Lip Sync, and a Producer for Scissorbox. She makes sure the ship runs smoothly and that everything gets done. Natasha Solovyeva, our newest addition, is the music coordinator. She is our eyes and ears, helping us function and acting as liaison to the artists we work with. Kristina Benson (LA Record) and Jon Sidel (BMG) are consultants for us, meaning they scour the streets for bands and bring them to our A&R, taking a commission on what they bring in. For more information, please visit www.lipsyncmusic.com and follow us on Twitter @LipSyncMusic.

pictured: Lauren Harman PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 33


MUSIC BUSINESS

Engage Fans to Power Your Tour With Mobile Tech

T

Book More Effectively & Mitigate Road Risks With Free App Fanflex

ouring is hard, always has been. There’s the constant scheduling with booking agents, clubs that want to ram a mid-week discount down your throat, and that nagging feeling that you’re going to play a half-empty venue. Sure, it’s not a big deal for major bands that pretty much get the cash in hand even before the first amp is loaded, but for most of us, touring is an expensive risk that can end up crippling a band’s year - or it just might give you the break you need. So, how can we mitigate some risk, serve our fans all over the country wherever they may live, and tour effectively? Many platforms have cropped up trying to solve this problem by crowdfunding a tour with fan support before that proverbial amp is loaded. The problem is, most of those platforms make bands decide on the dates, cities, and venues before finding out whether there is enough fan support to do so. Consequently, many of these campaigns fail to come to fruition and the bands end up cancelling all or part of the tour they probably never had the support for anyway. One new app trying to solve this problem is called Fanflex. Yes, it is a crowdfunding platform, but there are some major differences that might make it a better option for you as an artist to take control of your touring, and hopefully take your music to more people. Fanflex is available as a free app for iPhone (no word on Android), and the setup is fairly straightforward. Bands setup a profile and then create a campaign to put the power into fans’ hands. The bands pick regions and timeframes to tour, as well as the threshold of ticket sales they need to meet to go out on the road. Fans can then pre-pay for tickets to a future show within those parameters. This enables a band to reach out to their fanbase and find those who maybe wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see them on a normal tour. Fans are actually helping bands chart the path of the tour. This is where the technology comes in. The app then pairs the regions, timeframes, and venues into a valid touring plan and it gives fans earliest access to show tickets, plus premium add-ons. Once the band’s threshold has been met by fans, the campaign is then “Flex’d,” hence the name. As any vet of crowdfunding will tell you, it’s all about the premium add-ons. Fanflex does a good job of integrating these seamlessly into the

34 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

campaign. We’re not just talking about t-shirts, either. Some examples of cool offers I noticed were “sing along on stage,” “fan photographer,” “signed EP,” “have breakfast with the band,” and more. These add-ons are powerful way to get early buy-in from demanding fans. For fans, they can browse opportunities, and set their region preferences, all without signing up. For artists, you can sign up and add videos, beautiful cover photos, premium add-ons, and then start your campaign, which is free for 30 days. Let’s break it down. In the following screenshots, you can see the band Carmela (love them) has set a campaign for “Orange County” (meaning it may happen anywhere in that county, no specific club yet), with the dates of June 10-July10. (Screen 1 ) When a fan signs up, they choose which region they want to see available touring campaigns in. So, I have Orange County selected, and I’ll see this campaign. (Screen 2 ) Fans then click on campaign and can see that there are only 15 tickets left before the campaign is “Flex’d.” Once that threshold is reached, the money for the tickets will be charged, and the shows are booked. Fans then get emails telling them where and when the show is, as well as any info on how to get the premiums ordered. (Screen 3 ) Simple enough. It’s early, Fanflex has just begun, but there a few things to note here. The app needs to have a lot more regions locked in for this to work. That means your band needs to sign up and give it a try. Second, as someone who works with booking agents and venue owners, I’m concerned about how Fanflex is penetrating these clubs for very late bookings. But so far, bands that are using are not having problems. Anything that can help bands tour, while also building a valuable fanbase is worth your time, in my opinion. Give it a whirl and see if it works for you: http://fanflex.com/bandsign-up 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.

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BUILD RELATIONSHIPS Nothing can ever replace the magic of meeting face-to-face with fellow musicians in the studio to write or record, but the power of the Internet and modern music technology has made online collaboration easier than ever. During my threeyear tenure as the host of The VU Backstage, a music talk program at Vanderbilt University’s radio station, many of the student-musicians I interviewed on the show spoke about writing songs on a regular basis with musicians from their faraway hometowns or creative hubs like New York and Los Angeles. While each discussed the importance of competence in various DAWs and Google Drive to making music over the Internet, the most constant theme was the notion that effective online collaboration is, first and foremost, a matter of building a relationship that matches the strength of an in-person partnership. This truism holds whether you’re working with someone you’ve known for a long time or a partner you contacted via an online music platform or classifieds database.

someone you are familiar with than someone you just met, because you don’t want to come off as too aggressive or too negative right away.”

BALANCE SUPPORT & HONESTY Eli Sones, who appeared as my guest on show three times, made extensive use of online collaboration over his collegiate career as one half of the rising EDM duo Two Friends. The other half, his friend Matt Halper, attended Stanford. Using mostly Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Pro Tools, Sones and Halper overcame the long distance to create music that has attracted an online following of 118,000 likes on Facebook and 47,000 followers on SoundCloud. Commenting on the twosome’s successful online dynamic, Sones cited the balance of support and honesty that stemmed from the close friendship he and Halper had developed over the course of their childhood.

More effective than email, and an important step up in the collaboration, is Internet video calling via Google Hangout, FaceTime, or Skype. Video calling isn’t a first step, particularly with a new creative partner, but the move away from email should happen as quickly as possible to facilitate a stronger bond. A 2013 study undertaken by three psychology professors from UCLA and Cal State-Los Angeles found a “significantly lower level of bonding,” both on a subjective level and in observations of non-verbal behavior associated with bonding, in text-based messaging as compared to video communication.

“In any collaboration, it’s important to be totally honest with each other and not be afraid to voice any concerns, criticisms, or any ‘out-there’ creative ideas,” Sones told me. “It’s a lot easier to do this with

COME WITH IDEAS & THE IMPORTANCE OF VIDEO CHAT The key, then, to developing a great working relationship over the Internet - particularly with someone you haven’t yet met in person - is to treat the process much the same as you would treat a regular, face-to-face co-write. Come into the conversation with ideas in hand (preferably via an MP3 or .wav demo that can be easily sent by email) and spend the first few back-and-forths discussing what you and your collaborator want to get out of the project. Even over email, it should be relatively easy to read a collaborator’s level of enthusiasm and the personality they will bring to the co-writing sessions. It’s also a good idea, as long as you go about it in a quick and professional manner, to establish how any finished product will be credited and to whom any copyright will belong.

As effective as online communication can be, it’s important to know the limits of what it can accomplish and adjust accordingly. Michael Pollack, currently signed to Warner/Chappell Music and Pure Tone Music uses online collaboration extensively during the school year, and likes to keep

MUSIC BUSINESS

ONLINE COLLABORATION: Regardless of Technology, It’s All About Personal Relationships his Internet co-writing sessions short because he finds it harder to stay focused. “The expectations should be low for an online session,” he told me. “I also don’t like to start from scratch when I write with someone online…video chat co-writes are more effective when you already have a concept.” While in-person collaboration may not be an option at first, it’s the next logical step, and determining the level of success or involvement at which your project requires face-to-face meetings is key to raising its potential ceiling. KEEP THE LINES OPEN Until that point, the most important thing you can do is to maintain an open line of communication with your creative partner. Whether you’re spontaneously sending a voice memo when you get an idea or following a rigorous co-writing schedule, Pollack said he would reserve four hours each Sunday night for Skypes with a partner in New York. The more time you spend on your collaborator’s mind, the more invested they will be in your creative relationship and the projects you share. At the end of the day, all collaboration boils down to relationships, and online relationships are built through the same steps in communication as physical ones. The digital age may have made collaboration far easier, but technology can’t account for your determination to stay in constant contact and develop an effective chemistry with your creative partner. 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 SEPTEMBER 2015 35


TOUR TEST 36 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


Young Buffalo Takes

AUDIO-TECHNICA

TOUR TEST

TOUR TEST:

Artist Series Mics on the Road

L

et’s start out by agreeing with one thing. The cardinal rule of music, musicians, and fans alike: Sound.

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a very visually stimulated person. I believe the “look” is of the most important aspects of a live show, of a band, of an event. I believe the colors should be right, the grass should be cut, the car should be clean, forever, etc. Even then the greatest of these, the most important part of life and existence, is love and love is equal to sound. As luck would have it, I’ve been blessed with a few special things in my short life. I was born to a caring, brilliant mother and a talented, determined father. From these two I inherited my musical talents. With these talents I was chosen to play in a band with “the sound of what’s happening now,” Young Buffalo. With a few emails and a good-time band, I was blessed to try out a new series of mics from Audio-Technica by way of Performer Magazine and my new friend Benjamin Ricci [editor’s note: aww, shucks]. I’ll take you around our mic set-up piece by piece as if we were doing a sound check on our last tour supporting Little Hurricane. My 22” Mapex kick drum sported an ATM250, which provided a well-rounded tone. I personally prefer a little bit of attack with a fair amount of low end as well, but this just may be the mic for you. We

Warik Likes Concerts also used this mic on Andy’s Ampeg SVT 6-10 bass cab in conjunction with a DI box, which gave us full range, hi and ultra-low with the DI and beautiful mid-low range and space with the mic. My Pearl Chad Smith Signature Snare used an ATM 650 Hypercardioid Dynamic mic that allowed the true, fat with top end crack, sound of my snare blend well into its spot in the mix. The ATM650 was also used on Ben’s Fender 4x10 guitar cab and Jim’s Roland JC120 and Fender Hotrod Deluxe, allowing the same explosion of sound from the guitars, solid and supportive midlow sound, beefy distortions, ambient delay and chorus, and clear solos over top the music. The Zildjian hi-hats and cymbals I use were amplified by the ATM450 Cardioid Condenser mics: low profile, clean, with the sparkle you want from your cymbals and tambourines. My 13” and 15” Mapex toms used the super discreet ATM350 Cardioid Condenser clip-ons. The Young Buffalo sound is focused around very percussive beats, mainly on toms. This is certainly an area not to overlook and these mics gave us the robust, symmetrical tones we love in our tom sounds. Pumping out the vocals for the band, Ben and Jim used the ATM410 Cardioid Dynamics in conjunction with Boss VE-20 vocal pedals, while I used the ATM610 Hypercardioid Dynamic. This combination of vocal mics not

Timothy “Kanye South” Burkhead

only helped keep our harmonies tight, but put the vocals in their precise place in the mix without bleeding into the EQs of the other sounds on stage, in the monitors, and out front. We plan to add a few percussion pieces to Will’s key world and I’m positive we’ll start with the Artist Series when choosing our mics. If you need a second opinion, ask tour FOH Engineer Ryan Hall or you can come see us for yourself. You’ll like the sound. If it’s that (insert explosion emoticon here) your band is looking for, that new thing we’re all listening for, that tune that will stay in one’s head and transcend the atmosphere as we currently know it, if you’re ready to fully “go for it,” invest in yourself and practice, then invest in your sound. Try out these Artist Series mics from our friends at Audio-Technica and tell them Timothy sent you. Peace, Bud.

Follow on Twitter: @YOUNGBUFFALO And for more on Audio-Technica Artist Series Mics, visit www.audio-technica.com PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 37


STUDIO TOUR

John Vanderslice on Tiny Telephone: Giving Independent Bands Access to the Craft of Analogue Recording courtesy of Tiny Telephone

“T

his is what everyone gets wrong,” John Vanderslice explains as he prepares a pot of organic third-wave coffee. “They don’t heat up the cup, and that’s violence on fucking coffee, man.” He proceeds to show us how to warm the mugs under the sink, grind the locally roasted beans, rinse any dust out of the filter, and measure the right amount of water to fill the stainless steel pour-over coffee maker. “But if you want to see the true baller move,” he continues, motioning to the fridge, “it’s this fucking raw milk. It’s from a small farm and we have a deal with them. They only have like three hundred cows—they visited the studio once.” A band has just arrived for their first session at Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Studios and he’s quick to make them feel at home. Vanderslice— 38 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

rocking a handy REI headlamp atop a Cobainesque bleached blonde haircut—is an energetic and supremely engaging dude. He understands how big a deal it is for the band to be booking

Ethan Varian

This commitment to quality is not limited to Tiny Telephone’s kitchen. The studio boasts a world-class collection of vintage analog gear—including two Neve mixing consoles and

“Art is permanent. You have to have a responsible relationship with the craft or it will just rule you.” studio time and he’s genuinely excited to make sure that they have the best recording experience possible. And as anyone who’s spent time in the studio knows, a good pot of coffee is essential to a successful recording session.

Studer tape machines, numerous high-end microphones, and a bevy of analog synthesizers, compressors, and effects. For this reason, it has become a destination for bands looking to make great sounding records. Death Cab For Cutie,


Spoon, Sleater-Kinney, and The Mountain Goats have all recorded excellent albums here, but even with the notable client list, the studio retains a distinctly DIY vibe. Vanderslice began renting the space in 1997 as a co-op rehearsal area. Located in a (then) down-and-out neighborhood in San Francisco’s Mission District, Tiny Telephone started small, just one room in a warehouse complex neighboring an auto shop. But as his collection of vintage audio gear grew, the space transitioned organically into a full-blown, fully-operational operating studio. Since then, Vanderslice has added a B Room within the same complex and plans to open a new studio across the bay in Oakland later this year. Tiny Telephone’s proprietor makes very clear that the studio is a business first and not any sort of vanity project. Each of its rooms is open to the public and booked nearly every day of the year, giving independent musicians affordable access to the kind of hi-fi analog recording equipment typically found only in private boutique studios. “A lot of people fetishize this old gear; I don’t really do that. I’m much more clinical about it,” Vanderslice says, explaining the advantages of analog recording, “It just sounds better. The idea is when you have good gear, you just get out of the way and it’s pretty amazing.” In describing the studio’s vintage Neve mixing consoles, he adds, “Some of it is just math. Those consoles have point-to-point wiring, and they’re all discreet so there’s no IC chip, and each individual EQ circuit has its own amplifier. So you’re asking a computer to do all that? I mean, come on! It’s like walking up to a vending machine and expecting to get Chez Panisse.” If you doubt the efficacy of this analog recording equipment, then check out any one of the ten solo albums Vanderslice has recorded at Tiny Telephone since releasing his debut in 2000. His music draws inspiration from the kaleidoscope pop/rock of groups like The Kinks, David Bowie, and early Pink Floyd, and each of his albums is layered with the same sonic scope and meticulous attention to detail as those artists’ classic records from the ’60s and ’70s. (He even recorded his own interpretation of Bowie’s glam-opus Diamond Dogs.) [Editor’s note – listen at https:// johnvanderslice.bandcamp.com/album/ vanderslice-plays-diamond-dogs]

When pressed as to whether anyone today even cares about the fidelity of the music they listen to, Vanderslice fires back, “Why not spread that line of thinking to every square inch of your life? Why do you even get out of fucking bed? Why even open your mouth because everyone is just going to misunderstand what you say? How about this, you could say no one’s going to even hear your record anyway.” Instead, he argues, “Art is permanent. You have to have a responsible relationship with the craft or it will just rule you.”

STUDIO TOUR

“A lot of people fetishize this old gear; I don’t really do that. I’m much more clinical about it.”

Tiny Telephone isn’t just a place to record music; it’s a space to make great art, and the entire goal is to guide working musicians in their pursuit of creating something of lasting value. “It’s sacred and very meaningful to be able to price out a working class budget for a working class band…We budget out for records that sell a thousand copies— records that makes sense for bands trying to have a sustainable career in the arts. We fucking buy the tape for them! I’m such a loudmouth with this shit that I back it up by buying thirty, forty thousand dollars worth of tape. I’m like,‘Fuck you world, and fuck you [big box chains], and fuck you all you lazy motherfuckers. I’m going to show you how we’re going to do it.’” In addition to the free analog tape and vintage gear, the affordably priced engineers, and even the official house orchestra (SF’s Magik*Magik Orchestra), what sets Tiny Telephone apart is Vanderslice’s commitment to fostering an environment where every band can do truly exceptional work. There’s a communal vibe to the place, and a sense that everyone involved is working in service of a kind of greater artistic good. At Tiny Telephone, recording a three song demo for a local garage rock outfit is every bit as righteous an endeavor as recording Ben Gibbard. “If you’re going to be in the art game, the whole goal is absolute genius. What’s the point otherwise?” Vanderslice asks in utter sincerity. And with what may as well be the Tiny Telephone mission statement, he declares, “Let’s have a mature, fucking fierce relationship to the craft— be a fucking warrior.” For more info, visit Tiny Telephone online at http://www.tinytelephone.com PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 39


RECORDING

In Defense of Presets

And How to Incorporate Them Into Your Studio Sessions

A TIME & PLACE FOR EVERYTHING Life is too full to do everything, all the time. Ultimately, even within music, you’ll have to define yourself by what you do best and most love to do. For me, that’s producing and mixing music for my clients. For others, that may be recording, writing jingles, performing, songwriting, or sound design. What you do will likely dictate how you do it. A songwriter may work well at a coffee shop, but it would be hard to mix in that environment. 40 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Similarly, a great studio is well suited to mixing or recording, but probably not an ideal place to write songs. In the middle of a mix session when a sound needs to be replaced, or when producing with a client, isn’t the best time to stop and dive into the deep waters of making a new sound from scratch. WHAT ARE PRESETS? Presets provide a partial solution to this workflow problem. Presets are the sounds that come already loaded with hardware and software

devices. Time was that they were uniformly lousy, but were included to show a glimpse of what that device could do. We all remember the horrible “built-in song” that came with the keyboard we just bought. As a result, many of us were convinced that presets were “non-musical,” lazy, or required a talentless person to use. A hardcore mentality arose in which all sounds had to be invented, on the spot, to be considered worthy. It turns out that some music folk just love to tweak parameters and invent new sounds! That’s


KNOB-TWEAKING & HOW TO USE PRESETS I’ve had interns over the years who just loved this tweaking. Many have turned out not to be the engineers they sought to be, but have come to recognize their love of sound design and have successfully pointed their career in that direction. Couple those sound designers with the ever increasing power of computers, and the virtual world has allowed manufacturers to go well beyond those embarrassing “songs” and provide deep banks of pre-made sounds. As professionals, then, we have to re-evaluate our hardcore notion of what presets are and how to use them. There’s really good stuff in there! On the other hand, we all still hear productions all day long that use the same sounds over and over again. Clearly there must be a middle ground that is neither a showstopper for the workflow nor boring, lazy, and talentless. I use presets as a starting point. Maybe I’m looking for a particular kind of sound, or maybe I’m looking for inspiration. A preset gets me “in the ballpark.” From there, it’s not hard or timeconsuming to figure out what needs changing. Perhaps the LFO needs to be sync’d to MIDI, or the waveform of that LFO needs to be a triangle instead of a sine. Maybe the modulation and delay are perfect, but the oscillator or the wavetable needs to be altered. Whatever it is, it’s quick and easy from the starting point of the preset.

WHEN NOT TO USE PRESETS There are processors that I won’t use from a preset: compressors and EQ. Arguably these are in a different category, they’re less “effects” and more about shaping tone (see my columns from June and July 2015 for more). In those cases, the outcome is so dependent on the starting audio that a preset isn’t really helpful. Those devices just need you to understand them, and use your ears.

RECORDING

their “thing.” We should be deeply grateful for those sorts of musicians. They have swollen the ranks of sound designers, a field once reserved for oddball synthetists and Foley artists wielding coconut shells.

Ultimately, it comes down to getting the work done, and the art made. How you get there depends on your preferences, talent, and workflow. I always say, “If it sounds good, it is good,” meaning it doesn’t matter how you got there, so long as it’s undeniably good. Sound designers love to tweak and tweak, and I thank them for having a different set of skills and desires than I. My clients hire me to make them sound great. That’s my thing. Presets, carefully designed by those happy tweakers, and tweaked further by me on-the-fly, help me make my clients happy. 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 SEPTEMBER 2015 41


MY FAVORITE AXE

Andy Buchanan

with Chris

WYSE

Chris Wyse is the frontman and bass player in Owl, the rock band whose third album - the propulsive and powerful Things You Can’t See, dropped on July 28th. Chris is also the bass player for former lead guitarist and founding member of KISS, Ace Frehley, and was the bass player in seminal rock outfit The Cult for a decade. MAKE & MODEL

My “bastard” Fender Precision Bass with a ‘54 neck and ‘95 body. WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU

It’s my number one bass and always wins in the studio. While recording Ace Frehely’s Space Invader, Ace said, “Chris, you should leave this one home for the studio and local shows only.” So this one is special.

Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at editorial@performermag.com

WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE

Super round, piano-like tone that allows me to do the tone-shaping with my fingers - like it should be. SPECIAL FEATURES

It’s got a DiMarzio Jazz pickup as well as a Seymour Duncan “quarter pounder” pick-up. I also put a hip-shot on it for quick Drop D tuning. CAN BE HEARD ON

Owl: self-titled debut; The Right Thing; Things You Can’t See Ozzy Osbourne - Under Cover; Prince of Darkness box set Cult - Choice of Weapon; Born into This; Beyond Good and Evil; Live at Irving Plaza Tal Bachman - self-titled debut Ace Frehley - Space Invader 42 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

LISTEN NOW at www.owltheband.net and check out Owl’s Things You Can’t See album teaser at http://bit.ly/1FXccEe


PROS

GEAR REVIEWS

BLUE MICROPHONES Hummingbird Condenser Microphone - $299 Great design, easy to pivot head, excellent sound. CONS

None.

C

ondenser mics are great for picking up the “acoustic-ness” of pretty much everything. Think guitars, drums and stringed instruments. Blue has been making high-end microphones for years and now has a small-footprint condenser that’s on par with the rest of their offerings. Condensers with a larger size diaphragm will generally capture more sound, but can get big, and when that happens, the mic can get ungainly, requiring a specialized shock mount or mic clip just to get it close to an instrument. It can make balancing on a mic stand to properly capture an audio source a “Cirque du Soleil” task of intricate positioning.

Blue’s solved this with a 180-degree pivoting head, allowing easy placement with a standard mic stand and clip. It’s a cardioid pattern condenser that can handle plenty of headroom, approximately 130 dB, and a frequency response of 20Hz through 20kHz. The casing is beefy, and the arm the pivoting head feels robust. It doesn’t have the feel of a “gimmicky” feature, but has plenty of movement, and once the “head” is rotated

into place, it stays put. A mic clip is included, as well as a padded storage case (nice touch). Sound wise, for acoustics it’s fantastic, with plenty of depth, and no noise. It can maintain the crispness of high frequencies without getting shrill, and can still handle booming bass frequencies with clarity (not mud). The pivoting head can really get into positions that could be tough for some other microphones. Placement is key for a condenser, and adjusting the “head” to different angles can really change the presence of the “attack” the mic can pick up. For drum applications, this would be great for hi-hats. Acoustic pianos, stringed instruments, vocals, or even as a room mic, there’s plenty of dynamics and applications here. A studio armed with a pair of these can really capture acoustic instruments and environments with ease, and that alone should make it worth every penny for home recorders and commercial studios alike. It’s a wonder more microphone manufacturers haven’t incorporated this rotating head feature into their mics…yet.   Chris Devine

› Microphone Type: Condenser › Polar Pattern: Cardioid

FEATURES

› Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz › Max SPL: 130dB › Output Impedance: 50 ohms › Signal to Noise Ratio: 85.5dB › Self Noise: 8.5dB › Connector: XLR › Weight: 0.47 lbs. › Included Accessories: Case, Mic Clip, Windscreen PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 43


GEAR REVIEWS

CAKEWALK Sonar Platinum – pricing options include full purchase (appx $500) or monthly subscription ($49/mo) PROS

Flexible pricing options, plenty of virtual instruments and options, fairly easy to use. CONS

Windows only.

R

ecording software was divided in the past; professional grade that required high powered computers, and home versions that could record, but any actual editing or processing was limited. Cakewalk has a new version of their well-loved Sonar software out now that goes pro, while maintaining affordable pricing for home users. Sonar now offers a new pricing setup; it can be purchased for about $500 outright, or on a monthly subscription plan. Buy it outright, and for the next year there’s free tech support and free updates. Go with the subscription method of 12 monthly payments, and, once the cost of the software has been met, no more subscription fees. Miss or skip a month; it will still work, albeit in demo mode. The only downside is this is a Windows only platform. For the vast majority of DIY and home recorders out there, this is a serious drawback and consideration when weighing DAW options. That said, there are unlimited audio, MIDI, and virtual tracks, making this a one-stop

digital media production package. A solo artist has plenty of tools to create pretty much anything, with guitar options like Overloud’s TH2 amp and pedal simulations. There is also Sonar’s Strum Acoustic feature that can trigger a virtual acoustic background guitar accompaniment, as well as a handy notation feature that can transcribe in staff view, as well as tablature. For recording real drums, and the problems that come with them, the drum replacer can really change things up, replacing sounds with Sonar’s Addictive Drums or Session drummer package. Virtual drums, basses and synths are also easily accessible, and thankfully don’t sound “boxed” or synthetic (see our article this month on presets for more on this topic). Vocal-wise, there’s a sync feature that can take multiple vocal tracks and align them, which can transform a background vocal into something Queen would have given their right arms for back in the day.

› Complete Digital Audio Workstation

FEATURES

› Analog-style ProChannel Strip with 9 modules › Cutting-edge VocalSync vocal alignment tool › Addictive Drums 2 Producer Bundle › Cakewalk Drum Replacer with ARA integration › 57 professional mixing and mastering effects › 21 virtual instruments including Rapture and Dimension Pro 44 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

On the mixing end of the spectrum, Nomad’s Factory Blue Tubes plug-ins are available to warm up a final mix. After mixing is done, the world of social media is also at your fingertips; the ability to post finished (or works in progress) to SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are available from within Sonar. Considering the price, what’s included, and the ease of use, even for a novice it’s a steal. Getting another piece of recording software, and all the plug-ins and virtual instruments would be over three times the cost of Sonar Platinum! Cakewalk was pretty much the first home audio recording suite to be taken seriously (other than Pro Tools), and it’s expanded itself even further into the professional and home recorder worlds. And even with all of Sonar Platinum’s features and abilities, it doesn’t feel like the user could fall down the rabbit hole trying to find a solution to whatever audio problem could arise. The only problem is now creating music, and that’s a good problem to have. 

Chris Devine


O PROS

Small, plenty of tuning options and modes, easy to use. CONS

May harm certain finishes with prolonged use.

riginally, clip-on tuners were kind of cheesy, looking like they were created by a “as seen on TV” designer. But the concept was great, and soon major manufacturers started to make their own. With a sleek design, TC Electronics’ PolyTune Clip brings their revolutionary polytune method of tuning to a slim, unassuming package that fits easily in any gig bag. It resembles an Apple product, with a thin white plastic body and a multi colored LED display. The mounting clip feels strong and has plenty of grip, and has a hinge to allow easy viewing from pretty much any angle on a headstock. There are only three buttons on the casing. The first button is a standard on/ off button. On the adjacent side is the tuning mode button, and the display mode sit here. Even in bright sunlight the display is super easy to read. TC has revolutionized tuning with their polytune function: just strum, and the tuner

› New strobe tuner with +/- 0.02 cent accuracy

FEATURES

› Ultra-bright and easy to read display › Adaptive screen ensures a perfect readout › High quality stainless steel clip › Flat Tunings and Capo Mode › Chromatic Only Mode › Up to 18 hours of usage via a standard Lithium Coin Battery

GEAR REVIEWS

TC ELECTRONIC PolyTune Clip Tuner - $49

will display which strings are out of/in tune. It can also function as a standard needle tuner, as well as a strobe unit. Each mode works great, and delivers accuracy - the varying modes should satisfy any player’s preference in tuning. Alternate tunings aren’t a problem, and are easily selectable via the tuning mode button. It can also handle tuning with a capo, from a capo at the 1st fret up to the 7th fret. This isn’t just for guitars either; it can be set into a bass mode as well. Even better, when selecting a new mode, it remembers which mode it’s in, meaning no having to reset it each time it’s turned on or off. The only downside is the rubberized clamp ends may (or may not) harm the finish of an instrument, more than likely regarding fragile nitrocellulose vintageish finishes, and only over long-term use. Thankfully, TC points this out in the manual, and suggests not having it on an instrument in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Overall for a street price of about $50, TC has offered a headstock tuner that is slim, with plenty of functionality. The perfect accessory for any performing musician. 

Chris Devine PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 45


GEAR REVIEWS

AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-R70x Headphones - $349

PROS

Lightweight, great design, excellent audio quality. CONS

Slightly pricey.

H

eadphones in a studio environment are a must - they’re excellent references for audio, but headphones specifically meant for a true audio professional aren’t usually talked about. Audio-Technica’s ATH-R70X will make any listener (audiophile or engineer) think about headphones differently. They’re a bit vintage looking in overall design, with a simple metal band, and 2 spring-loaded pads. The drivers are neodymium magnets, which are super light, and have a 5Hz-40kHz frequency range. With no coloring, the f lat-tuned response gives a “what you hear is what you get” listening experience. A detachable stereo cable and soft carry bag are included in the package. These are open back headphones, which means no sound isolation and outside noise isn’t masked out. So why shell out the $350 street price for a set? For a studio environment, listening on a set of closedback cans seals the listener in, while an open-backed set allows the environment in, hearing how audio in the room also interacts with the audio in the headphones (one of the reasons we love Grados). A music studio or audio engineer would be foolish to overlook a set of these. An audiophile will like them as they’re great for personal › Type: Open-back reference

FEATURES

› Driver Diameter: 45 mm › Frequency Response: 5 - 40,000 Hz › Maximum Input Power: 1,000 mW at 1 kHz › Sensitivity: 99 dB › Impedance: 470 ohms › Weight: 210 g (7.4 oz), without cable and connector › Accessories Included: Protective carrying pouch 46 SEPTEMBER 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

listing in an environment without a lot of outside noise. These are not meant for listening to an MP3 player on the subway or an airplane. For home recorders especially, listening to a mix on a set of these can help diagnose “trouble areas” that live somewhere in the sound spectrum between a studio monitor situation and a closed-back set of headphones. With the lightweight design, it translates into a lightweight sound, giving the listener an unprocessed experience of what the audio is actually doing in the room. 

Chris Devine


GEAR REVIEWS

W

ireless systems used to be expensive, and any cheap or mid-priced unit usually skimped, wiping out any actual sound and build quality or value to getting one (especially for DIY and indie performers). Sennheiser’s new (and awesome) D1 system brings the high-end feel and sound to a reasonable price point.

SENNHEISER EW D1-835S Evolution Wireless D1 Digital Vocal System - $699

Our test unit came with Sennheiser’s E835 wireless mic, but can work with their instrument belt pack, lavalier microphone pack, headset microphone pack, or their E845S microphone. The ability to pair up eight systems makes this a consistent and scalable package, regardless of the transmitting device. The E835 mic is well made, with metal construction, and only two switches: 1) a small mute switch, which is super sturdy and won’t accidently switch on or off and 2) the power on button, which lights up, and is just as difficult to accidentally engage. A small LCD display indicates battery power and signal strength. Power is supplied by 2 AA batteries, and has about five-six hours hours in normal use (our tests back that up).

Under the audio settings, there’s a lot of tweaking power; Low Cut, EQ, De-Esser & Auto Gain controls. This really provides the options necessary to tweak the sound source, and not to have to rely on any outboard effects for tone shaping. It’s a digital system, operating at 2.4Ghz. The unit works on an Audio Frequency Management platform that continuously scans for interference or low signal frequencies,

switching automatically to the strongest frequency and constantly checking the strength of the wireless signal (so you don’t have to – you’re there to perform, and not monitor signal strength, right?). Sound wise, it has plenty of punch and no loss of signal. For any performer who wants a quality wireless setup, this shouldn’t be overlooked. For the pro-audio professional, eight of these would fit in a four space rack - no need to do the math on size and performance, it’s worth it.  Chris Devine

PROS

Great sound, sonically adjustable, expandable. CONS

Rack mounting hardware not included.

› 2.4 GHz digital transmission with license-free operation

FEATURES

The receiver is really where the action happens. It is a half rack configuration, and the antennas are mounted on the back. There are a few (not included) optional mounting kits that can move the antennas to the front, or even mount two units side by side. The pair button does just that, and easily. There are a few digital menus that can be browsed, but thankfully don’t go too deep to overwhelm the user. Naming the device (when pairing multiple units, this is a great function to have), a walk test function also allows the user to walk the room and get a sense if there are any interference issues. Network settings (for paring multiple units), system settings, and audio settings are all handy.

› Automatic Frequency Management continuously scans for interference › AFM Automatically changes frequencies if needed › Adaptive high-power transmission continuously checks wireless signal strength › Adjusts transmission power for consistent, reliable performance › D1 systems deliver up to 100 mW, which delivers generous usable working range PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015 47


FLASHBACK

RCA 77-DX Microphone

1954 HISTORY The RCA 77-DX microphone was originally intended for television use, which is why its finish is low-gloss umber-gray enamel – for eliminating glare. HOW IT WAS USED Began for TV and became the “go-to” for most of the early “crooners.” It’s poly-directional, giving the engineer many options and decisions to make when using. CAN BE HEARD ON Countless TV/News personalities such as Edward R. Murrow used it. Musically, all of the early Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash tunes employed its services. MODERN EQUIVALENT A reissue of the mic can be found. Expect compromises, but overall it’s a great replica. LESSONS LEARNED Mic placement and positioning is essential to getting the performance you are after. There are many variations available with this mic and understanding what each does will go a long way. There is a ribbon on the mic, so be careful with putting too of a loud a noise directly into it. You can “blow” it easily. 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). 48 SEPTEMBER 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.

300W

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B AT T E R Y P O W E R A B L E

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B U I LT - I N M I X E R

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B LU E TO OT H ® C O N N E CT I V I T Y

®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.


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Profile for Performer Magazine

Performer Magazine: September 2015  

Featuring Bassnectar, The Breton Sound, John Vanderslice, Jeen, Caucus and more...

Performer Magazine: September 2015  

Featuring Bassnectar, The Breton Sound, John Vanderslice, Jeen, Caucus and more...