THE MUSICIAN ’S RESO URCE
SEPT/OCT ‘16 FREE
The Musician’s Guide to Successful Crowdfunding The Best FX Pedals Under $200 How to Press Vinyl On Demand
How Learning New Instruments Can Retrain Your Brain’s Approach to Music
JENN CHAMPION NICK WATERHOUSE TEETH & TONGUE
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME 26, ISSUE 9
Kishi Bashi cover story by Michael Garfield
4. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 5. VINYL OF THE MONTH: Animal Daydream
6. RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: Gary Blanchard
Nick Waterhouse by Jacquinn Sinclair
8. QRATES: A New Vinyl Solution for Artists 10. Behind the Scenes of W Hotels Sound Suites Launch
12. How to Successfully Crowdfund Your Next Record
14. Catching up with DistroKid 32. TOUR TEST: Mackie Reach PA System 34. MEET YOUR MAKER:
Jenn Champion by Anthony Cammalleri
36. RECORDING: The Importance of Mentoring
38. GEAR GUIDE: The Best FX Pedals Under $200
43. GEAR REVIEWS: JBL, Cort, PreSonus, Mad Professor
Teeth & Tongue by Sarah Brooks
47. MY FAVORITE AXE: Brian Byrne 48. FLASHBACK: 1977 Fender Telecaster Thinline PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Howdy, y’all! Welcome to Thunderdome. OK, so it’s only the new issue, but there are an awful lot of scruffy looking Mad Max types around these parts, so it’s fun to pretend. Anyhooooo…back in the swing of things here with another jam-packed 48 pages of fun. This month we go in-depth with Kishi Bashi on his creative process, learn all there is to learn about crowdfunding your next LP, find out how to press some on-demand vinyl with QRATES and even check out some super rad pedal recommendations from the folks at Pedal Genie. After our mega-guide on building your own partscaster last month, we also caught up with one of the industry’s best builders, Dan Strain of Danocaster Guitars. Of course what he does goes way beyond the typical world of parts builds – he’s a true luthier who’s making some damn fine
instruments for some of the world’s top players (you can check out one of his gorgeous singlecuts on the cover of our June issue, featuring Margaret Glaspy.) So do check out our new “meet your maker” column to learn all about Dan’s amazing creations, and tell him Performer sent you when you go to place your next order (because trust me, after drooling over his work, you’re gonna be begging him to take your money). So sit back, relax, and if you see Tina Turner show up in some sexy post-apocalyptic chain mail, it’s time to turn tail and run. Until next time: courage. Benjamin Ricci, editor
PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT
Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER
William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com EDITOR
Benjamin Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN & ART DIRECTION
Bob Dobalina email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Anthony Cammalleri, Benjamin Ricci, Brian Byrne, Chris Devine, Dan Strain, Don Miggs, Gary Blanchard, Jacquinn Sinclair, Jordan Tishler, Katie Cole, Michael Garfield, Michael St. James, Sarah Brooks, Scott Parsons, Tony Schreiber
P.S. – yeah, we don’t know what’s going on with CMJ either. It’s getting a bit late now to announce the annual marathon (seeing as how it typically takes place this month), and this newly announced Mondo event in NYC seems to be taking its place…I guess? No website or social media updates for months, so we hate to speculate, but without any news it doesn’t appear as though it’s happening this year. Of course we’ll post any updates as we get them…
Volume 26, Issue 9
Angel Ceballos, Erin Rambo, Katie Cole, Laura Grey Roberts, Rob Meigel, Shervin Lainez ADVERTISING SALES
William House Phone: 617-627-9919 firstname.lastname@example.org © 2016 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. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143
4 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 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 email@example.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?”
C Animal Daydream Citrus (7-inch EP) Gothenburg, Sweden (Jigsaw Records)
itrus, the latest release from Swedish pop/rock outfit Animal Daydream, is a jangly, sun-soaked trip back to the late-’60s, when California dreamin’ influenced the entire landscape (and soundscape) of pop music. The leadoff number (and title track) “Citrus” is a hazy, lazy journey filled with “cool water,” trippy slide guitars, beautiful pop harmonies and the perfect groove for an AM radio throwback party.
All in all, what’s great about Citrus is that it doesn’t just spin a lame, hamfisted nostalgia trip at 45 revolutions per minute; it also incorporates elements of more contemporary styles, including hints of shoegaze and even chamber pop (along the lines of Fleet Foxes and a touch of Belle and Sebastian). It never feels forced or inauthentic, which is a great change of pace from other attempts we’ve heard lately.
Follow on Facebook: @animaldaydream Listen now at animaldaydream.bandcamp.com
Daniel Fridlund Brandt and Alexander Wahl, the duo that makes up Animal Daydream, have just released an EP that will put a smile on the face of even the most jaded indie pop fan, who (like us) feels that 2016 has been a bit of a letdown for the genre so far. Fear not! Citrus has basically redeemed the entire year for you, and it comes highly recommended. PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gary Blanchard is a singer/songwriter in the Brookfields in Central Massachusetts. He is also a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and is the author of Counseling for Medication Assisted Recovery, Success-Centered Addiction Recovery Facilitation, and Building and Maintaining Recovery.
eing born in the early 1950s, I came of age musically in the time between the folk revival and The Beatles. I’d say these records and albums were most inf luential in my life.
Kingston Trio “Tom Dooley”
Peter, Paul, and Mary “Blowin’ In the Wind”
The guitar/banjo combination and the story It was 1963, I was almost 12, and had read a told by the song caught my attention and got me biography of Gandhi a year or so earlier. The thinking of being a folk singer. I was 7 years old. blending of the voices and the depth of the words affected me.
With Gary Blanchard
6 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
REVIEWS Donovan “Catch the Wind”
Pete Seeger We Shall Overcome: Live at Carnegie Hall
Graham Nash Wild Tales
It was 1965, I was 14, and heard this on the radio. I became determined to learn to play guitar (and harmonica). I rarely play cover tunes. but this is one that does appear at times in my own performances.
Though it was recorded in 1963, I didn’t find it until 1966. This confirmed to me that music could be used not just to entertain, but to enlighten and inspire. Soon after, I got my first banjo.
This came out in 1974, and I had already been writing and performing for eight years. This album, however, inspired me to continue to blend the personal with social awareness, and influenced much of my writing since then.
Which records inspired you to become a musician? Let us know and you can be featured in a future column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
S THAT D MY LIFE
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 7
Prepare for the N Vinyl Revolution
ou love vinyl. Your fans love vinyl. You want to offer your music on vinyl. That’s where the problems begin: production minimums, costs, design and specifications, and the headache of how to ship them to stores, fans, and stores. The resurgence of vinyl is real, but it has mainly been driven by well-funded labels until now. Enter Qrates.com, an innovative music tech company based in Japan, which was founded to enable musicians and labels to design, fund, press, sell, fulfill and distribute their vinyl within minutes to customers and retailers worldwide. I was fortunate to chat with the company’s CMO, Taishi Fukuyama (pictured, left), to get a feel for how QRATES can be a part of any independent artist’s or label’s strategy. Are you calling this a crowdfunding platform 8 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
or an on-demand platform? Both terms are a little bit infamous. We describe QRATES as an analog on-demand crowdfunding platform. By combining the power of crowdfunding with “just-in-time” production and expanding distribution channels, we can collapse the value chain and make on-demand vinyl work for the niche and indie artist. The future is the on-demand space. We see it starting with digital content, then moving into physical realm, much like Uber or Airbnb. What specifically got you interested in the vinyl space? Well, it’s a growth market in the music industry, and valuable to fans. As we launched QRATES, there was a demand for small batch pressing and automated fulfilment, but it was/is a complicated procedure for most artists and labels. Usually, it took ten or twelve steps to get into pressing vinyl; we’ve simplified that down to three. By
Next Wave of the on with QRATES with a huge community of indies and now labels. Why only this partner, and not any song from any source? Fans put up their Vinylyze.it compilation for request, which pre-populates the demand. But, only rights holders initiate the process. In effect, they control what is ultimately pressed. Let’s say on SoundCloud, someone put up X - we could go hunt down the owner and sign the rights, and manage it on QRATES, without a vinyl order. But, obviously, a catalog of millions is hard to scale. It would take a lot of resources and time. This process makes the licensing simple for rights holders to control.
optimizing funding, production, and distribution, we find savings that make the project realistic. How have you gotten to such low minimum orders (100 units)? Yes, we feel that is the key. It’s really the production partners and plants in Europe, Asia, and of course, Japan (U.S. coming soon). The way disruption happens with any “just in time” company comes down to capability and capacity. Finding where the gaps are and fulfilling needs in a timely matter. We have an incredible staff that tracks this, and as the process becomes more automated, it will only get better. Vinyl distribution is such a barrier for independents. Can you speak to that? Absolutely, the shipping and packaging can be difficult and just the physical action of personally mailing [can be a challenge]. In addition to providing shipping directly to your fans and supporters, or your own home for live shows, etc., we also have store delivery without a distribution deal. We have retailers like HMV, Jet Set, Juno
Records, and more, combing through the projects on our platform. Project owners can set their own wholesale prices, too. So, what is the difference in marketing channels between Qrates.com and Vinylize. it? Great question. Qrates.com is where it all begins - artists and labels can get a free account and start setting up projects for anyone to help fund immediately. Your music does not have to be on SoundCloud (although it should be). Vinylize.it is QRATES’ integration with SoundCloud for an on-demand vinyl offering to fans and listeners. The SoundCloud integration is a great start
Where do you stand on music streaming (ondemand digital music streaming)? Analog on-demand music on vinyl is a form of on-demand streaming. So, how does that live into that space? I think it goes back to opening up the services and tools to multiple third parties. It seems to me that all of these platforms are heading in a way to milk music, and have already gone to video. How do you uncap your super users out of the $9.99/month thing to get them into premium upsells? Becoming epicenters, where physical items and services are mixed with streaming; that seems to be the way forward to me. It helps the artists and pleases the fans. Head over to Qrates.com and setup your free account to start playing with the online designer and to get a feel for all of the options you have to fund a killer vinyl release for your fans. And if your music is on SoundCloud, encourage your fans to create their own vinyl (including your tracks) with Vinylize.it. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 9
RECORD YOUR N A SOUND SUITE
An interview with Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide, on the
How are the Sound Suites booked? Do you have to book a room for the night, can they be booked separately? The W Sound Suite at W Bali – Seminyak can be booked whether you are staying with us or not. We recognize that touring musicians need a space like this, but hotel guests also enjoy channeling their inner rock star for a master class with the hotel’s resident Music Curator. It is also a great resource for local musicians. In fact, we are also connecting with the local music scene to support emerging artists by offering then a space to record. By building these relationships we can introduce them to the W brand and hopefully open up opportunities for them. Are suites booked by the hour, 1/2 day, lockout, etc.? Sessions can be booked for a half day (4 hours) or a full day (8 hours). Hourly bookings are also available. The W Bali Sound Suite is open every 10 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
day from 9am-1am – perfect for night owls, which most of our artistic guests tend to be. Do suites come with an engineer? Absolutely – our Music Curator will be on hand to provide best-in-class sound engineering. Often our equipment is still in the bus storage on tour - what equipment is available for Sound Suites, and is there an extra charge or is that included? The first W Sound Suite at W Bali – Seminyak offers a sound-proof space with the main mixing room decked out with equipment from Native Instruments, Pioneer and Moog. There’s also a private vocal booth overlooking a tropical garden, and all of that equipment is included when using the space. Each Sound Suite will have prograde equipment, which our North American Music Director Paul Blair (DJ White Shadow) is advising on. Our W Insider and Music Curator
are also on hand to help you source additional equipment upon request. Whatever/whenever applies to every part of a W stay. Talk to me a little about the Music Curator (Is this a studio host? Will there be different ones in each hotel?) Many of our W Hotels around the world have a resident Music Curator who is either on staff or a freelance DJ that plays at the hotel and takes on this role on in addition to performing. They are responsible for the sounds you hear in all of the public spaces of the hotel, which vary depending on where in the hotel you are. The WET Deck sounds different from the Living Room which sounds different than the Spa. At W Bali, Damian Saint (a world-class DJ that lives full time in Bali) is now also focused on programming the Sound Suite, and ensuring that musicians and hotel guests have a fantastic experience within.
R NEXT HIT IN TE BY W HOTELS
on the launch of W Sound Suites – recording studios onsite at W Hotels worldwide.
I can see this as a real “unique event” that many artists would want to record and shoot video for… We’re certainly open to sessions being shot for video content! Most of our guests share so much of their hotel stays via social media anyway that we predict this space will be no exception. In addition, we also capture fun content from within the Sound Suite on our side, too. W Bali has an upcoming artist series called ‘Sounding Off With…’ which are monthly video vignettes that capture podcast-style conversations with artists and provide a raw, real and rare peak into the life of a touring musician. Do you envision most artists doing one song or full sessions? For instance, are you limiting bookings to say, 4 hours, so that multiple creators can use them in one day? W’s service philosophy is Whatever/Whenever, so the same rules apply to our Sound Suites. We
aren’t currently limiting bookings and anticipate artists coming to check in for several days and nights at a time. We’re even exploring someone staying longer and recording a whole album. W is known for being a hip and forwardthinking brand, especially when it comes to hotel music in the lobby and lounges. Will some of the music from the W Sound Suites be made available for play in the hotels? We are very focused on figuring out ways to bring the music from our Sound Suites to our hotel guests and brand loyalists around the world. In fact, W Bali plans to bring together unique musical talent from around the world to produce exclusive mixes, premiere new tracks and deliver intimate in-studio performances which will be available via our digital magazine, The Angle (whotels.com/theangle), which celebrates life with a W slant. I know Bali is open for bookings, what are the future plans for other locations? We have W Sound Suites planned for W Hollywood, W Seattle and W Barcelona this year in addition to the already open W Bali – Seminyak. We are also exploring the opportunity for Sound Suites at any of our hotels in music Meccas, and hope to have more to announce in
the near future. For more information, please visit http:// theangle.whotels.com/w-sound-suiteskick-off-in-bali ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 11
How to Get M Your Next Mu H
ow do you make a music project happen? Good question. The romantic in me wants to say that it’s all about, passion, inspiration, hard work and perseverance... And it is. To some extent… But we all know what it’s really about. That big fat M-word. Nope, it’s not magic (although a little magic would be nice every now and then). As hard as it is to say, it’s about M-O-N-E-Y. Sure, sometimes it’s yucky to admit. But every musician has to think about money eventually. Especially if you wanna take music promotion seriously. So how do you turn a following into funding? Easy. It’s called crowdfunding. But where do you start? And more importantly, how do you make it work? Here’s everything musicians need to know about crowdfunding and how to use it to get funding for your next project. WHAT IS CROWDFUNDING AND HOW DOES IT WORK FOR MY PROJECT? Crowdfunding means getting a small amount of support from a large audience (like your fans). It lets you stop looking for a huge advance from one source (like a record label, or a loan). Crowdfunding lets you tap into all those loyal followers you’ve been building through learning how to promote your music.
THE 3 BEST CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS FOR MUSICIANS KICKSTARTER Kickstarter is the most established crowdfunding platform. If you know what crowdfunding is you probably know what Kickstarter is. A Kickstarter campaign is easy to setup and free to start. The funding is pretty straightforward: you set a goal for funding and set a deadline. If you meet your goal in time you receive all the funding you managed to get (Kickstarter takes 5%). If you don’t meet your goal on time, every donation made by your fanbase is refunded.
And guess what? Your fans WANT to support you. All you have to do is ask. Crowdfunding lets you do it in a manageable way. Plus, you get to give back to your fans along the way. If you apply yourself right and promote smart, crowdfunding really works.
It’s an all or nothing gamble, but it’s the most wellknown and recognizable platform for creating a campaign. Depending on how much a fan donates they get rewards that you decide on. Like tickets to gigs, albums, posters, private shows, or anything else you wanna give away (maybe even a pair of stinky old shoes?). It’s a great way to use some imagination in your campaign and give back to your fans.
Bands like Misery Signals (pictured) have used it to fund albums. Independent musician Rob Harris funded his entire album in five days. And since its launch, Kickstarter has helped creators raise over $2.5 billion dollars in funding. So, which crowdfunding tool should you use to support your next project?
Overall, Kickstarter is easy to use and a great way to give back to your fans on a one-on-one basis. The only downside is the size of Kickstarter. They offer crowdfunding services to all types of projects. So it can be hard to get support for your project. It’s pretty much all up to you once you get it going.
12 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Not meeting your goal is also risky. But if you plan it out, promote well and get some momentum, Kickstarter can pay off in a big way. PATREON Patreon is newer than some of the other, more established crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. But it’s also a bit different from these other services. Instead of asking for a one-time amount, Patreon lets you set up an ongoing funding campaign. You can decide if you want your Patreon to be on a monthly or per-project basis. For example: if one of your fans chooses to pledge $5, it would be a recurring $5 donation every month or every project you start. It’s great for funding an entire album project that will unfold over time, or for branding your project all around with music videos, gigs, tours or merchandise. Just like your SoundCloud, Twitter, or Instagram, Patreon needs constant maintenance. That means talking to your fans, keeping them up to date with your project, delivering on your promises, and interacting one-on-one with everyone who donates. INDIEGOGO Indiegogo is another one of the original crowdfunding platforms for creators. Their services are more tailored to artists like
Money for Music Project
THE MUSICIAN’S GUIDE TO CROWDFUNDING
musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives. It’s pretty similar to Kickstarter, and it’s also free to get started. You create a page and video explaining your project, then you set a goal and deadline for your campaign. If you meet your goal, you get the money (Indiegogo takes 4%). If you don’t meet the goal, you get nothing.
a lot of DIY work. Promoting your campaign will take solid planning, a promotional plan, and help from everyone involved. But when it’s done right, it will help you meet your financial goals for your next project and then some. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re starting your crowdfunding campaign…
Where it differs from Kickstarter is their ‘Flex Funding’ option. Flex Funding gives you the option to collect your earnings even if you don’t meet the goal (Indiegogo takes 9% if you don’t make it and 4% if you do, plus some small processing fees).
DO’S AND DONT’S OF CROWDFUNDING
Indiegogo is perfect for bands or other music projects. They are a ‘creators-first’ platform that offers easy-to-follow analytics to see who’s interested in your project. Overall, it’s easy to use and optimized for musicians (unlike other, larger platforms that cater to all types of projects). They even provide an essential guide to crowdfunding that’s super helpful. HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY USE CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS Smart crowdfunding is all about your community. You can definitely add to your community through smart crowdfunding. But it’s easier if you have a fanbase and network first before you get started. That means growing your following through SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MailChimp or any other social media platform that you use for your music promotion. Crowdfunding lets you do three very important things: 1. Give back to your loyal fans. 2. Get valuable insight into what your fanbase cares about and what your project means to them. 3. Turn your community into a sustainable resource for your future projects. Crowdfunding isn’t a money machine you can turn on and let the bucks roll in. Campaigns need
Do: Make a business plan When you’re setting a goal for your project, make sure you know your budget. That means making a business plan and sticking to it. If you’re recording an album, make sure you consider everything you’re gonna need. That means thinking about studio time, gear, mixing, mastering and anything else that needs funding. This will help you set a realistic goal for your crowdfunding campaign. It will also ensure that you’re able to deliver on what you promised to your fans. Do: Promote the F outta your campaign Remember what I said earlier about everything being up to you? Well, when it comes to promoting your crowdfund campaign, this couldn’t be more true. You need to tell ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE (especially Grandma). This is where all your other platforms come in. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even your live gigs to get the word out about your campaign. Most platforms claim that your project is easy to promote right inside the platform, but you’ll see a way bigger return if you use every possible channel. That means face-toface word of mouth as well! Do: Tell a story It’s easy to tell people WHAT you want. But you need to tell them WHY, too. Tell your story. Use your campaign to let everyone know what you’re trying to accomplish. Tell them where you’ve been and where you want to go. But most of all, tell them why you’re using crowdfunding. If you’ve had bad experiences in the past with projects, let people know! Telling a story will help your project gain traction and make you more personable to your audience. If a fan knows WHY
you create for them, they’ll be way more likely to hit that donate button. Don’t: Over promise and under deliver When someone donates to your crowdfunding campaign, they’re doing it because they expect you to complete your project. Don’t promise something unrealistic. Start simple so you can deliver something well-made to your fans. When it comes to building a fanbase, crowdfunding can backfire if you don’t follow through. So be real with your fans and deliver something they’ll love. Don’t: Take the money and run Just because your campaign ends doesn’t mean you can stop engaging with your fans. Crowdfunding means staying involved long after you have secured your funding. Keep your fans up-to-date with what you’ve been working on. Send out all the rewards you promised as soon as you can, and turn all your funders into superfans. Crowdfunding can help you get money, but it also helps you build and maintain an audience. So work hard at keeping all of them engaged long after the campaign is over. The next time you launch a crowdfunding campaign, they’ll be right there with you. TURN PLAYS INTO FANS AND TURN FANS INTO FUNDING Smart crowdfunding gives you infinite opportunities, but it’s hard work. That said, if it works it pays off in a big way. Plus, everyone is happy. Your fans get to help you out directly and you get to give back to your community in ways you never thought you could. So start a crowdfunding campaign today. Turn fans into your #1 backers and grow your fanbase while you’re at it! ABOUT THE AUTHOR Scott Parsons is a full-time music enthusiast, semi-professional pinball player and editor at LANDR. This article was previously published at http://blog.landr.com/crowdfunding-formusicians and has been re-published here with permission. PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 13
DistroKid Canâ€™t W
14 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
AN UPDATE WITH FOUNDER PHILIP KAPLAN
few years back, I introduced you to DistroKid, a digital distribution platform that acts as an aggregator to digital stores and streamers such as iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and more. For basically $20 a year all of your music would be delivered to every digital store that matters. It appears many of you took my advice to heart, as the company has exploded with members over that time.
I caught up with Philip Kaplan (@pud), the founder and all-around cool cat behind DistroKid, to get an update. Any dude in tech who rocks Sepultura is alright in my book. (Full disclosure: I use DistroKid for all of my music release projects) Performer Mag: Congrats on the Platinum record for “Hit the Quan!” Let’s catch everyone up on DistroKid. Philip Kaplan: Thanks, man. That was crazy. Hopefully, there’s many more to come. We’ve distributed over 700,000 songs from 90,000 artists. We had a #1 worldwide iTunes hit (“Calibraska” by Jack & Jack), a top-10 Billboard hit (“Hit The Quan” by iHeartMemphis), and many more great releases from indie musicians, labels, and YouTube creators. We’re also paying out about $1,000,000 each month in royalties. That’s not just one big artist, either; it’s representative of a big family of independents. In addition to Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, we service to 150+ more stores and streamers. It’s, um, going well. PM: The intro account is still only $19.99/year for one artist and unlimited songs, but you’ve added some valuable bonus services, too. Right?
locked into 99 cents per track. We’re really excited about covers clearances too - making it easy and legal to release cover songs. And it’s a little geeky, but we’ve adopted accounting with 20 decimal places so your simple and beautiful dashboard displays your stats, spins, and sales daily, and you get exact earnings amounts just like the majors. PM: OK, let’s get into the big story: the launch of DistroKid Payments Network. This makes you the world’s first service that lets artists, creators, and collaborators automatically share revenue with each other. This is so needed. PK: Yes! I cannot believe that this hasn’t been done yet. Music is still not an accounting-friendly business…just yet. Currently, every existing aggregator and distributor pays only one recipient per release. This means that whoever gets paid has to pay any other contributors their share. It’s a problem. Royalty reports, split payments, tracking down contact information - this is not what musicians should be doing. DistroKid members are now able to automatically route any percentage of earnings, from any track or album, to anyone.
Wait to Pay You
who gets the payments wanted to split them, they probably couldn’t do it correctly. Add to that, the collaborators have to chase down the payments, and it seems like something is being hidden, but it’s really just an impossible task. It’s very much a pain in the ass, even if it’s 50/50. Or, let’s say you are a YouTube creator and you do collaborations with other creators, you need an automated way to make sure everyone involved gets paid. DistroKid not only routes money from music services (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) automatically, but also routes money from ads on YouTube videos (your own or anyone that uses your music), via our Content ID integration. PM: How exactly do you do this? PK: We make it easy to set up a “team” for each song. When you upload a song just specify the email address and percentage of each collaborator; DistroKid will then automatically route the proper percentage of earnings to each person. And all team members have full access to DistroKid’s pretty stats, charts, and graphs.
PM: Give us some examples of how difficult this process has been, and how you fixed it.
Want to see it in action? Pick one of your recordings with the most collaborators, and go distribute it right here: http://distrokid.com/signup
PK: It’s not unusual for a hip-hop album to have 15 songwriters, multiple guests and publishers. EDM tracks often have multiple rights holders, and it’s super common to have a few co-writers on an album or a song. So, even if the person
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.
PK: Yes, we’re still a fraction of the price that our competitors charge for just one album. We’ve added YouTube Content ID integration and a Shazam option to aid in discovery. And of course, we do not take any percentage of your earnings, no cut at all, that’s your money. We are working to implement a few other surprises this year. PM: But wait, that’s not all… PK: (laughs) Right? As we’ve grown, we’ve listened closely to our members’ requests and just recently launched some features that further separate us from any other service like Customized Pricing in iTunes, Google, and Amazon. You’re no longer PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 15
How a DJ Background Prepared the Soulful Singer For Ground-Level Fan Interaction
Waterhouse Erin Rambo
16 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
SPOTLIGHT PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 17
usic is spirit.
It’s the culmination of life’s sounds and smells wrapped up in all of the ups and downs, resting atop a groove. Good music remains timeless, with songs that spark nostalgia, ease heartache or act as the soundtrack for an epic night out. Nick Waterhouse, a California based guitarist and singer whose music is rooted in rhythm and blues and jazz, knows how to do just that. His music takes a deep, respectful bow to the past while meshing it with the new to create effortlessly classic tunes. Over the last few years, Waterhouse has taken the threads of his life and woven them into his forthcoming album, Never Twice, which will be released on Sept. 30. “I feel like this record was influenced a lot by the changes in my life. Moving from L.A. to San Francisco, the layers and the textures I’ve encountered. My exposure to things,” he shares. As a result, his songs are a little less Ray Charles and more diverse in sound. Waterhouse enlisted different soloists and players for the recording and reconnected with his old engineer, Mike McHugh. McHugh—who has a long list of credits including Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” and The Growlers’ album Hung at Heart—helped shape the sound. “We have a lot of history. We met when we were 15 years old,” says Waterhouse. Despite some challenges that arose with McHugh during the recording process, Waterhouse wouldn’t have had it any other way. He accepts and perhaps even embraces the not-so-easiness of life. “It all goes into the music,” he claims. Waterhouse has always been a lover of music. He worked as a vinyl D.J. for almost four years before he assembled some local musicians to cut a 45 record of his howl-fueled single “Some Place.” The immediate success of the single led to a number of gigs and later, his 2012 LP, Time’s All Gone.
The years he spent as a D.J. prepared Waterhouse for life as a singer and performer. “After listening to so many records so closely, I have a profound, deep respect for them. But they’re records. It [being a DJ] makes music a
Gift throughout his new record—got a degree in literature. The former Brooks Brothers employee, who is heralded by some as a style icon, fancied that he could make money after college with his degree in hand. “I thought I was doing the
“When everyone who works with or for me tells me to get rid of horn players or singers, defending it [the decision] can feel Kafkaesque.” His first gig as a D.J. at Edinburgh Castle, a Scottish bar in San Francisco, was pretty magical, as he recalls. “It was a back room party where you could smoke,” says Waterhouse. Before he was of age, he used to sneak in to the venue and dance. 18 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
social thing. It’s about being on the ground level and seeing how people react. As a singer, it’s the same.”
more responsible thing by getting a degree, but journalism and publishing are equally tenuous,” Waterhouse says.
Before music, Waterhouse—who explains that there’s also a thread of the book, Humboldt’s
Without a lucrative career path made easier by a degree in literature, he jumped into music
with a guerrilla-like ferocity, and it’s paying off. Just two years after his previous LP, Waterhouse released Holly (and no, it’s not about a girl), his second album on the Innovative Leisure label which houses a number of outstanding artists including BADBADNOTGOOD and Nosaj Thing. But when does signing a record contract trump independence? Waterhouse says, “Well, if you can write the check, then do it yourself. At a certain point, I lost several thousand dollars. [When I got signed] I got a humble recording budget, but it was a lot of money to me. The process is fragmented. Some people want a laptop. I want 12 players. You have to pay all the musicians and that doesn’t include the engineer or studio time. It’s like the difference between deciding to do a sculpture or a 3-D graphic. It’s created in a different way, [but] it’s all art. It’s about subsidizing getting your work done. The way people perceive the music business is different than other industries. Music is taken as a consumptive piece. There’s no incentive for a patron to pay the money to artists.” Now that Waterhouse is settled in his career and with a new album on the way, it may appear that his life is picture-perfect. But every journey has its kinks. Waterhouse likes to do things his own way, and holding on to his creative vision
to feel good to me. I don’t sit down and tear out my hair.” Waterhouse is patient with his art. He knows that if he waits, good things will come. “Attempting to create a routine scares my selfconscious,” Waterhouse shares. Besides, forcing it doesn’t mean one will end up saying anything worthwhile.
“I’d say dealing with the reality of the business of commerce and art constantly creates a friction point that can manifest in many ways. I literally broke my teeth from grinding them. Every time I have to defend a creative decision [is a friction point]. When everyone who works with or for me tells me to get rid of horn players or singers, defending it [the decision] can feel Kafkaesque,” he explains. His sensibilities, though sometimes contested, are spot-on and his songwriting rings of truth and fun. When working on songs, he tends to be a “big picture writer.” He says, “I have a lot stuff on reserve, like hooks or lyrics. I’m not mathematical with those things. ‘Sleeping Pills,’ on my second record felt like it wrote itself. There are others where I’ll sit on lyrics for a while. A lot of it is about rhythm and syncopation. It’s just got
If he listens “to the sound of the truth that God puts into us,” as author Saul Bellow’s character Charlie Citrine commands in Humboldt’s Gift, Waterhouse will continue to be the victor in his daily battles.
Outside of touring and recording—which
On songwriting: “A lot of it is about rhythm and syncopation. It’s just got to feel good to me. I don’t sit down and tear out my hair.” is something that’s important. Battling over it, however, is draining.
years to come. He won’t bend unless he wants to. “Every day is a fight. It’s just a different fight,” he explains.
Follow on Twitter: @nickwaterhouse
he loves equally—Waterhouse likes to spend his free time in different cities just walking around, ducking into delis for sandwiches, hanging out with friends and his dog. Recently, he shared a memorable night with John “The Chief” Seiter and his band in a basement in New York cutting tapes with an Ampex 351 machine Waterhouse likes. “It was unprofessional. It was pretty wild.” But the secret to the sound, Waterhouse says, is in the Ampex. It’s clear from his choices—from clothing to his Gibson guitar to tape recorders— that Waterhouse is partial to the things of old and isn’t quick to follow the latest trends. “Trendiness is so exhausting,” he says. “I keep sharp on my own code. No need to copulate with the populace.” It’s this need to go his own way, despite naysayers, that could keep Waterhouse busy making music that listeners are eager to hear for
NICK WATERHOUSE NEVER TWICE STANDOUT TRACK: “IT’S TIME”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 19
Jenn Champion Puts a Sad Twist on EDM Or how not to fall into musical quicksandâ€¦ Anthony Cammalleri
20 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
t can be said that in the past few decades, popular music has evolved almost entirely. Artists, once primarily relying on instrumentation as a means to deliver their artistic statements, have been taken by a great tidal wave known as electronic dance music. It exploded as a vibrant energy unparalleled by any previous occurrence - one which is not reflected, but instead absorbed by the neon colors on the backs of those who not only embrace the change, but are intoxicated by its very nature. In the array of musicians wishing to plunge into the world of electronic music whilst still holding tight to his or her great message or musical complexity, not many can deliver at the same level as musician and songwriter Jenn Champion. Formerly known as Jenn Ghetto from her earlier days as a member of the alternative rock band Carissa’s Weird, and eventually a later role recording solo albums with former Carissa’s Wierd members under the name “S,” Champion’s ongoing enthusiasm towards dance music provoked her to record her first solo EP, No One (available digitally on iTunes and Bandcamp). The No One EP is essentially a compilation of remixes centered around the record’s title track, a mixture of ethereal sounds orchestrated to center the somewhat morose chorus line shared by each song, “And there’s no one, and there’s no way out…” Despite the melancholy nature of the lyrics, the piece progresses to include fast-paced, dance-friendly bass beats. Incorporating struggle and sorrow into the lyrics of upbeat dance music proved to be a challenge in the process of creating No One for Champion, as she states, “I have always loved dance music, and it always felt a little off…How can I do what I do, which is kind of sad, and [be] dance music at the same time?” Champion asks. While describing the process which brought her to writing the track, Champion says, “I must have just been feeling a little bleak, I guess. It’s kind of like, ‘Which way do I turn?’” Although originally backed by personal emotions, Champion claims that the “nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide” style lyrics of her new piece correspond with the current political situation in the United States. She hints at an unintended link between “No One” and the 2016 presidential elections.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 21
“In today’s world this song feels kind of appropriate. I guess now with our political conflict in the U.S, it seems like there is a lot of turmoil. I suppose I have some hope that things will keep getting better and change, but as a human in the world, I can’t help but think, ‘What’s going to happen?’” Starting from no more than an interesting bass line, the single grew in its complexity to eventually include piano and digital layers, creating the cornerstone of the seven-track release. “What’s funny is that I wrote that song [“No One”] on bass. I was learning some bass parts for another band, and then I was just writing and said to myself, ‘Oh, this is a cool riff.’ I then ended up transferring it onto the piano,” she says. This simple track, however, ended up being the perfect mix for Champion’s longtime plan to enter the world of electronic music: “[Once] I already had this track laid out on the piano, I had this side project that is all electronic music. I thought, ‘What if I made this into an electronic song instead of a sad piano ballad?’ At first, I was just messing around with it, and then it kind of built up, layer upon layer,” she says. While signed to the Hardy Art label, a sister company to Sub Pop, No One was then recorded independently by Champion in her basement recording studio, originally in an attempt to prepare for a tour last year.
“I thought, ‘What if I made this into an electronic song instead of a sad piano ballad?’” 22 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
“I thought to myself: ‘Alright, let me try to record this song really quick and try to get it off for this tour,’ and then sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to, and it got pushed until now. That’s when I added the remixes and all of that,” she says.
until it can no longer be seen. On August 5th, No One displayed clearer than ever that the mystic, dark, gloomy and soulful Jenn Champion has not fallen into the quicksand.
In discussing future plans, Champion says that she has been writing more ever since her last tour in October of last year. She plans to release a new album next year, but is not planning on touring in the near future. “I didn’t really want to do another headline tour,” she says. “Attending to a tour is so much work, and I would have to deal with that and writing a record. Some people can do it, but I just can’t,” she says.
Follow on Twitter: @jenntchampion
Champion hopes for her next record to be released next year, and for it to follow in the footsteps of No One, being dance-focused, with a similar negativity to her previous work. In regards to her future record, she outlines her current vision. “Dance piano songs,” she says. “There’s going to be a dance element, or hip-hop, but I feel like it’s still going to be kind of dark, and piano heavy on this one.”. There is, without a doubt, a musical quicksand that any artist will inevitably try leaping over during the process of going electronic. The aid of effects and stray sounds can certainly make a song more powerful for the listener, helping them to enrich the meaning of their music, or evoke his or her own feelings into the hearts of listeners. At the same time, though, it is just as frequent that the mystique and energy of electronic sound, like quicksand, consumes the song entirely, leaving the piece’s identity to sink deeper and deeper
JENN CHAMPION NO ONE EP STANDOUT TRACK: “NO ONE”
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Violin, Ableton, & Brain Stimulation:
Kishi Bashi on the Past, Present & Future of Music Shervin Lainez
24 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
K aoru Ishibashi, stage name Kishi Bashi, is an acclaimed singer-songwriter and looping violinist. His third studio album, Sonderlust, produced by Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) and engineered by Pat Dillett (David Byrne), launched on Joyful Noise Recordings on September 16th – along with an extensive tour of North America.
Interviewer Michael Garfield is a singersongwriter and pedal-heavy avant-guitarist based in Austin, Texas. He founded and cohosts the Future Fossils Podcast. What were the challenges of bringing this new material to stage? Well, what I used to do is make music on my violin – this time around, I got into Ableton Live, and took the approach of what music I thought was cool to my ears instead of what I thought people would appreciate on my album. I was making these really cool, interesting loops chopping up stuff like string samples, and that’s what inspired the songs, these sounds. And they’re all super dance-y and electronic, not like, “lush, orchestral textures” – kind of pop, upbeat sounds. So in many ways I was breaking my own barriers, in that I’m swimming in this orchestral kiddie pool, and now I’m adult swimming in the rest of Music Land. One of the great things about your work is that you include tempo changes and other temporal elements from classical music in there. Are you getting more comfortable with that robotic groove element by now, three albums in? Sticking to the grid, you mean? [laughs] Yeah, I dunno, with Ableton you definitely want to be on the grid, because there are so many more possibilities. Ableton is made for dance music, I feel like, and it’s geared toward that kind of creation. There are some tempo changes on this new one, but…if you have a great drummer – I have Matt Chamberlain on this one, who is considered one of the great studio drummers – he can play with a click and sound like he’s free-forming. If you play with a band, sometimes it’s better not to go with a click, because it’s more natural and you can get more groove-kinda things. But you never know – in the digital age there are so many possibilities. If you stick to the grid you can do some amazing things. There’s almost no point not to…but I don’t know, I’m still on the fence. PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 25
Well, Ableton Live allows pretty complex time warping on the fly. So since you’ve moved onto that platform, you may have the opportunity to reconcile those two worlds. People say that classical musicians don’t groove. Or that they rush everything, you know? And it’s kinda true. When you’re writing this kind of music, when you’re writing for a string section, there are some difficult things they cannot handle. But time is a valuable thing. I think I heard somebody say, ‘Time is a white man’s problem.’ [laughs] I think Luther Vandross said that, whatever that means. Have you read Douglas Rushkoff’s book, Present Shock? He’s a New York media theorist who thinks the next few decades will be about us attempting to reconcile organic time with the infinite capacity of the digital world… Yeah, I’m going to have to read that, because I’m thinking about technology all the time, and how crazy it is. I read this book, not quite as academic, Ready Player One. It’s this dystopia in the future where your VR world is definitely going to be better than your real-world life. And that’s already happening in Japan. I don’t know if you’ve seen these phones where, when you take selfies, they automatically update your eyes, they take care of your blemishes for you, so everybody’s perfect. They look like a pop star in their photos that they send to their friends. So that’s their image, and they don’t like the way they look in real life. Looping that into the concept of “Sonderlust”... Yeah! Sonder is this word that’s made up, it’s a neologism by this guy, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I fell in love with this guy. His idea about language and the creation of language resonated with me, and who’s to say what’s a word or not? I feel like I take that same approach to language, and who’s to say, ‘Is this good?’ or ‘Is this music?’ It’s not up to anybody to say what art is. My approach is iconoclastic, I guess, in that I don’t care about punctuation, I don’t care what pop music is supposed to be, I just kind of do what I want. And obviously, I’d like to make a living doing it, so I have to kind of conform, I have to make some decisions. But I go with my gut. And what my gut says, a lot of people agree. Hopefully. Or have so far. One interesting thing I was thinking about the other day is the value of music, and a lot of people today don’t realize that a hundred years ago, the only time you’d listen to music is…probably not that much. Before record players, you’d wake up and you wouldn’t hear music. You wouldn’t hear music while you ate. You’d be walking down the street to work, and you wouldn’t hear music. Maybe you’d go to the bar on the weekend, you’d see some guy hacking away at a Scott Joplin
26 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
song. And maybe your wife plays parlor piano or something. And other than that, it’s all silence. For the most part, music was a really special event. But for the modern listener…not to say it’s any less valuable because there’s more of it, but we live in a completely different time, and I always reflect on that, to know that it’s a state that humanity was in less than a hundred years ago. You’re one of these people who is trying to derive new grammars from different musical influences and traditions, and that sort of places you in this historical moment, you know? Do you think about that? Not just where we’re coming from, but where we’re going, and how your music might fit into this next thing? I’ve been in this rat race, as a songwriter, for a long time, you know? And it’s basically anything you can do to inspire someone else, and is a little unique, to stand out, is something I’ve been looking for, for a while. So when I found out that not too many people are writing songs on violin and pursuing these orchestral textures – they take a little bit more effort, I think – I’m very lucky that it’s afforded me the ability to pursue this. That being said, I feel like people are constantly innovating, and human beings are SO creative, that I’m excited to see where the world is going, all the time. Because some day someone will take some stupid software and turn it into an amazing creative tool. I also had this thought the other day that in the future there may not be any music. Neuroscience will be at such a point where, I feel like within my generation, we’ll be able to recreate the effect of hearing a great song in our head. That little dose of that Dylan song you love and gives you goosebumps? That feeling will probably be able to be recreated, and there’s going to be people who will be able to map out the emotion of a great song, or a great movie, or a great book. Some of them will probably be more complicated than others, but I think people will start combining THAT with new visual and physical experiences. It’ll be a weird world by the time I’m dead. [laughs]…But I think the emotion of the song, we’ll be able to figure out chemically by the end of this century. So much of your work draws from this sense of yearning for intimacy, and it’s going to be a really weird world where we’re capable of communicating our inner state with that much speed and fidelity, and yet WHAT we’re communicating is a Kishi Bashi album where the whole emotional theme is, ‘I’m yearning for you.’ That’s simulated yearning in a world that you’d think would be OVER it, right?
“In the future there may not be any music. I feel like within my generation, we’ll be able to recreate the effect of hearing a great song in our head.”
When I was in music school – I graduated in ’99 from Berklee - it was still the height of what they called ‘New Jazz,’ and now it’s like jazz is dead. And I feel like jazz is the highest form of the study of improvisation, and in twenty years, the next generation, there’ll be an itch for just, like, SHREDDING again. There’re going to be some serious, either metalheads, shredding, or some kind of new weird instrument online, and there’ll be some kind of technical masters, they’ll worship gamers. I’m into soft synths, now. I’ll basically get a soft synth if there’s ONE usable sound that’s cool and will inspire a song. I also get a lot of different instruments, I have a lot of keyboards, and basically, if it makes me want to play music, if it makes me want to noodle around and come up with a new idea, or inspires a song, then I think that’s totally worth the instrument. So for any songwriter who’s stuck on their guitar, it’s really cool to play other instruments. Just get a new instrument to learn. There’s nothing more beneficial than trying to learn a new instrument. It will inspire you in a new way, and probably reinspire your old instrument in a new way.
mostly her voice cutting through the PA and her piano as a spare, but powerful, accompanist. So as I started doing Kishi Bashi stuff and with my loops, I was really conscious of making sure to add only what was needed. The other thing is, if they’re silent, it means that they’re listening. Always remember that. It took me a while to get used to.
I think people always desire something. And things ebb and flow, just like the tides. So even this thing where you think, ‘God, music is going to shit,’ I don’t think it is. It’ll probably just go in another direction. I also feel like playing a live instrument is going to make a comeback. I think in a few years, people are just going to get bored of not playing music. And when you can play music again, dexterously, and have that kind of ability to share an instrument with another person as a form of communication, I think people will realize what they’ve lost. Right now, musicianship is kind of waning, I feel like it’s a little dip.
There’re other things…I don’t take the mysterious approach. I just say what I want, and I drink a lot, [laughs] and people really like that. Some people say you should be really mysterious and be above your audience, you know? Cuz you’re on stage, and you should be this ‘experience’ as opposed to a person. And that’s one approach. A Bowie, or somebody – a pop star – will take this ‘fantastic’ approach. And that’s amazing to watch. But my approach is more intimate, where I kind of bring them into my own personality. And then I share my songs with them. So it’s kind of a communal experience, except I’m on stage with a microphone. But I give them that experience, and I let everybody know that I’m SO appreciative of them. That I’m there for them, to perform for them. Because without them, I wouldn’t have a tour. Or a career. Or anything.
Follow on Twitter: @Kishi_bashi
Do you have any parting thoughts for other musical performers? One thing I’ve noticed a lot of performers take a while to realize is that sometimes a solo voice is even stronger than a rocking band on stage. If you have an awesome band, that’s one thing, then you’re already on the right track. But if you’re a songwriter, if you add a drummer, you add a bass player, you add all these other elements to it – if you’re not careful, each of those things can completely take away from your song and your voice, and if you’re a songwriter especially, you have to be really, really careful of that. As a solo performer, when I started Kishi Bashi, I came from a rock band, Jupiter One, where it was just Testosterone City, to going solo, to being more intimate. I kind of learned that from Regina Spektor when I was touring with her. I could really see how she completely HAD the audience. She had them by the throat. She knew how powerful her voice would be, just having
KISHI BASHI SONDERLUST STANDOUT TRACK: “SAY YEAH”
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 27
SPOTLIGHT 28 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
How Forced Isolation Can Act as a Catalyst for Creativity
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 29
The process for the album’s creation was arduous, yet more than worth it. Cornelius endured hardships throughout the creative process, though it brought her to a most intimate state of being with her thoughts and lyricism. She traveled the globe to Iceland, where she was able to find a creative haven and make music her way. “It’s funny because yes, I did go and do this residence with the intention of writing an album, but only one of the songs I wrote there actually ended up being used. I did it because I wanted to see what would happen if I shut myself away and spent an intense period of time just writing, rather than working and socializing and doing all the other things I normally do between songs,” she says.
eeth & Tongue, the Australian group helmed by the talented and ubiquitous songstress, Jess Cornelius, has had quite the groundbreaking year. Coming off the immense success driven by their 2011 album, Tambourine, and their engaging follow-up, Grids, the band toured with Courtney Barnett, an Australian tourde-force with banter just as witty as her songs. The sound has never emerged stale or stagnant as the band has continued on their journey. Now, Teeth & Tongue is preparing to release their latest album, Give Up Your Health, filled with vulnerable storytelling, lush synth production, and unforgettable melodies. Cornelius’ voice is commanding and mesmerizing, recalling a diverse blend of female vocalists as influences. She grew up listening to greats such as Nina Simone, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, the Talking Heads, and Lucinda Williams, along with some ’90s New Zealand hip-hop artists. Later, her tastes turned to Sonic Youth, The Chills, and Straightjacket Fits, but she’s unsure if these
The solitary nature of her songwriting process this time around wasn’t cumbersome, but rather, illuminating: “It was definitely an interesting and pretty challenging process. I wrote quite a few songs there, but because I was so isolated and lonely they became very inward-looking, introspective songs, and when I got back I decided I didn’t want to make an album like that this time around.” After her Icelandic jaunt, Cornelius experimented with different sonic techniques while crafting Give Up Your Health. The music sounds like it could fit within a few separate eras, with synth beats and dance rhythms permeating many ballads. “I guess we were quite conscious of the sound we wanted to achieve with this album, but I don’t know that we had any particular eras in mind. I mean, you always want the songs to seem timeless in a way, and not be instantly identifiable as coming from a certain decade, because that can date [things] so quickly. But we’re definitely more influenced by the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s than we are by the 1930s or ’40s,” she explains.
“I wanted to see what would happen if I shut myself away and spent an intense period of time just writing.” influences permeate Teeth & Tongue’s unique sound: “I think sometimes the artists who influence you and the ones who actually come through your music as obvious influences can be two different things.” 30 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Cornelius has described the process as being more about keen observation and a stream-of-consciousness, inspired by poet Eileen Myles. She cobbled together nearly 40 songs in their initial state between the last
album and this new release, but wasn’t satisfied with many of the results. “I guess I chose to persevere with the ones that were a little more interesting to me at the time, and they tended to be the less introspective ones. But the album is still really personal. In fact, it’s probably more personal, because it references quite specific situations and experiences rather than abstract ideas.” This album absolutely feels more personal, more raw, and it comes from a place of pure truth. Many songs feel like advice-giving ballads for listeners, a direct story to tell. Cornelius didn’t have a specific theme in mind when crafting the album or consider the response, when it was illicit anyhow. “I didn’t have a theme or concept in mind in terms of lyrical content. Not at all. I guess with every song I’m just trying to deal with my own problems and anxieties and satisfy my emotional curiosity. So thinking about how someone else will respond kind of doesn’t come until later,” she states.
“I think sometimes the artists who influence you and the ones who actually come through your music as obvious influences can be two different things.”
Follow on Twitter: @teethandtongue Lyrics on Give Up Your Health are haunting, lingering in consciousness beyond their closing notes. “Once you start changing/ It’s hard to stop changing” and “When we met/ We both had a lot to forget/ You came with a warning/ I came with a messed up head” showcase a deliberate life of experience and stories to tell. When asked about the scenarios that prompted these lyrics, Cornelius is curt: “Some of them are so personal I actually can’t bring myself to publicly talk about what’s behind them. I guess it doesn’t always seem that way because you can frame things in the universal. But I did try to avoid censoring myself too much in the songs. ‘Dianne,’ ‘Do Harm’ and ‘Are You Satisfied’ are probably the ones that kept me awake at night.” While some songs are plucked directly from life experiences and dusted off, others are augmented and aggravated. “Sometimes things get a little warped or exaggerated or downplayed or flipped around to another person’s perspective. But it’s all my own personal bullshit,” Cornelius explains with total honesty.
When it comes to deciding which elements and layers will be present on an album, Teeth & Tongue go song by song. Whether it be minimal instrumentation or a barrage of electro-pop textures, they’ve explored their sound with no limits. Give Up Your Health features a thread of continuity weaved throughout: “We obviously used a lot more synths and electronic instruments than I have in the past, and we wanted to carry that through the album to make it cohesive. But some songs just need less, I guess,” she says. As for the future of Teeth & Tongue, the band is poised for more critical acclaim, more tour circuits, and a further exploration of their own sound. It’s all a surprise, and Cornelius depicts the band’s future with perfect candor. “It’s totally reactionary, but I almost want to make a folk album next. I want to learn how to play nylon string guitar properly, but, that’ll change.”
TEETH & TONGUE GIVE UP ON YOUR HEALTH STANDOUT TRACK: “DIANNE”
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TOUR TEST: MA PROFESSIONA
[Editor’s note – back in May we put out a call for product testers to win and demo the new Mackie Reach Professional PA System. After all the entries were collected, we chose Nashville-based singer/songwriter Katie Cole to demo the new PA and share her experiences on social media. Her final review appears below.] My first impression of the Mackie Reach PA System was “excitement.” And it was completely validated from opening the box until my first use. The PA system is a tall, sleek tower. As you may have noticed from photos, I am not a super-buff muscular gentleman, and this system was light enough for me to lift on my own. In the past I have owned JBL Eons, RCF and Mackie 12-inch speakers. All of those were powered and therefore fairly heavy to lift over my shoulders onto a stand, but the Mackie Reach was a comfortable weight that felt right for a small performance. Equivalent 32 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
weight to perhaps less than a single powered 10inch speaker. The functionality was hard to beat, too. It has an easy-to-adjust back insert for four XLRs or quarter inch cables, and more for Aux use or foot switches. No need for a separate mixing desk either - it’s ALL built in! The side panel was a favorable design feature. Push-button channel select, master volume fader and also the button to toggle between the small built-in (yes, builtin) monitors left and right on the speaker for user listening. And these monitors can be selected individually or together and when in use, they engage with the master volume. Once you’re plugged into the Reach and have your levels, the sound quality was excellent. Lots of low end, crystal clear mids and highs that you’d expect from the Mackie brand. Being used to using larger speakers, it was hard to come to terms with
MACKIE REACH AL PA SYSTEM exactly how this full-bodied sound was able to come out of such a slim tower. I liken this to when you see a small framed singer with a huge voice. Boggles the mind, but in a good way. The “wow” factor for me with this system was the Mackie Connect App. I immediately downloaded the App and it synced seamlessly when paired via BlueTooth with the Reach. The App features a virtual mixing desk to give the user the ability to tweak levels, mute channels, add effects and crank the master from anywhere within range of the system. For me, there is peace of mind knowing I can place my phone in front of me when performing and change my levels without even putting my guitar down. This is a truly smart feature. Overall, the system is best suited to scaledback performances with the four inputs offered, but it can be paired with a second tower, so it is possible to add more inputs and achieve a truer stereo sound for larger shows. It really does sound great and if you get the carrying case you’re honestly ready for any type of live performance. I love it so far and recommend it as the perfect choice for musicians for house concerts or cafe set ups. It’s plug-and-play with all the perks of a much larger system and much more. I look forward to the next time I use it. For more, visit http://katiecoleofficial.com and http://mackie.com/products/reach
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MEET YOUR T
his started as a hobby – I was simply making suitable replacements of my favorite vintage guitars that I could take on the road without worry. It morphed into a business in about 2008. I want guitarists to think of their Danocaster as a “friend,” a companion, “their go-to guitar” and a tremendous VALUE that has met or exceeded their expectations. BACKGROUND I have always loved older things. I still listen to mostly vinyl, I love vintage hi-fi, etc. and I’ve always been fascinated by vintage guitars. I was in a band traveling and was worried about taking my old guitars on the road – not fear of wear and tear as much as losing them altogether. So I started messing around and assembling some guitars from parts. They were good - but 34 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
it was clear that to really do this well, I would really need to go much deeper. I really started examining my vintage guitars and seeking out parts and pieces that were much closer to my own originals. Some I was able to find – and some I had to have manufactured for me. I was/am a tweaker and it just got refined over and over. And they continue to get better every year as we find little tweaks that are worth pursuing. Honestly, the LOOK of the “aged” guitars wasn’t what I was after so much at first. I was chasing the feel, resonance, and liveliness of my favorite vintage guitars. Eventually, I wanted the older look, too – but that was never the genesis. MOST POPULAR MODELS Probably my “Single Cut” model - which is based around a Telecaster style. That’s my first
love, the first electric I ever owned, and it’s also pretty popular right now. But I also do quite a bit of “Offset” models (based on the Jazzmaster/ Jaguar). I really do love them and many other builders modify the model’s “problem areas” to the point where it only LOOKS like the offset body shape – but the bridge, tremolo, and pickups (which contribute so much) are omitted. I embrace those quirks – and do what I can to work with them so the offsets play and sound fantastic – but keep that unique character. WHAT SETS DANOCASTER APART I’ve become friends with many of the other builders and it’s a great community. Something that really helps is that I own some really fabulous gear and am not referencing pictures when I build these – but the real deal. When I’m aging maple necks, I have a real worn original
With Dan Strain of Danocaster Custom Guitars
Telecaster sitting right next to me. When I plug in my Danocasters for a test run – its also being directly compared to an original that has survived countless “gear purges” over the years and has floated to the top as a “really great example.” So I’m very fortunate to have the original models for comparison. Also – I come at these as a PLAYER first. I played professionally for years and when I sit down with a finished guitar, I’m really digging in and putting it through the paces – through a great collection of cool old amps and pedals. It doesn’t just come off a bench where it was set-up “according to specs” and packed up for shipping. COOL FEATURES OF DANOCASTERS I would say the neck is one of the things that attracts so many people. The neck is your
connection to the instrument and so many old guitars have these fabulously worn necks that feel like your favorite pair of old jeans, just smooth and broken in. I worked for a very long time, trying different approaches, until we came up with our current hand-rubbed finish. It’s pretty time consuming – but worth the effort. The necks just feel like “home” – at least that’s the goal. LESSONS LEARNED Wow...so many lessons learned. First would be that “the same parts don’t always equal the same sum.” Two nearly identical bodies or necks – both with nearly exact specs – can SOUND vastly different. surprisingly so. For this reason, I generally ask people what TONES they are after – rather than what pickups they like, for instance – because we may need to take a different road getting there than I would for another nearly identical build. Each
build is a little different and it’s not uncommon to try several different pickups in a guitar - just looking for the perfect match!! Also – it IS a business. It’s very important to respect your clients and respond as quickly as possible with any concerns or questions they may have. I really enjoy the direct contact with my customers – which is one of the reasons I have chosen to not really have a dealer network. About 80% of my sales are direct and my sole dealer, LA Vintage Gear, does a nice job of showcasing them for guys that “need one now” – or just wanna check them out in Los Angeles. AVERAGE PRICE $2300 USD For more, visit online at www.Danocaster. com and on Instagram @Danocaster_guitars PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 35
On The Importanc in the Recording P
Me with Tony Schultz, now Eastern VP of AES, and mentor/friend David Moulton
ne of my mentors died today, and I am sad. Do you have a mentor? What is a mentor anyway?
mentor. The subject is so important, and so often overlooked in our industry, that I wanted to write more about it.
A mentor is kinda like a teacher, but different. It’s kinda like a friend, but different. It’s kinda like a champion, but different. A mentor is really some of all of that rolled up into one. And, of course, mentors are different to different people, and at different times in someone’s career.
One of the most wonderful things about music is that it is a means of communication. It transcends time and personal differences and lets us all just do our thing, but as part of a whole. Playing with a group, be it a rock band, a DJ crew, a school orchestra, or after-work choir is a magical experience that too few get.
Last month I wrote about getting and keeping an internship, and about how what you should really be looking for, rather than a studio in which to sit and be ignored, is an engineer or producer who is willing to be a
So, too, is the process of learning our craft, whether it’s learning to hear critically, understanding compression, or developing the ability to instantly bond with a great but emotional singer. While we learn from doing,
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we learn even better from being shown how to do and then doing. I remember many years ago sitting at a console with a producer who would go on to be another mentor to me, and him saying, “give me some 900 Hz on that bass” and my timid little tweak of the EQ followed by his, “C’mon really crank it, it won’t break anything.” In that quick moment he gave me a lifetime of license to really grab a knob and yank it (yes, I know how that sounded). But in all seriousness, it was only one little comment that set me on a path to being willing to take risks and experiment with the audio. Chris Stone, who just passed away prior
to my sitting down to write this, reached out to me when I had just opened my first semicommercial studio (which, incidentally, was already my fourth studio overall). He facilitated a number of studio connections that lead to growth of my business. But, most of all, he facilitated my growth as an entrepreneur, being willing to take risks in that realm too, make connections, get out of the studio, and ultimately establish my name. Without Chris’ mentoring, I would probably never have been able to run that or the subsequent several studios. Mentors aren’t always people who are older and more advanced in their careers. I have a friend who is an audio professor at a college in central Pennsylvania who was often a panelist with me at a number of music conferences. One day at breakfast he asked me if I had student interns in my studio. His jaw dropped when I said no, that I wasn’t sure I had enough going on to teach them. He assured me that I did, and that students would fall over themselves to work with me, given the work that I do, and the way that I view teaching. Further, he said that part of the intern crew’s job would be to find projects that they could work on, as well as participate in my stream of clients. Suddenly, I was thinking about interns, and indeed my whole workflow, in a new way. He challenged me to give it a whirl. I did, and it has been a wonderful experience for me, the studio, and for the students. I’m so glad I took him up on the idea!
not all of my examples happened to me when I was “just starting out”. Mentoring is important at all stages of your life. Second, if you are just starting out you have an opportunity that becomes really much harder to seize when you get further along. Rather than accepting guidance from wouldbe mentors here and there as they come, you can actively seek long-term relationships. Ask yourself, “What do I want from a mentor?” I suspect you’d say someone who will focus on showing you the ropes in your area of music. Beyond helping you develop skills, you’d like someone who will foster your creativity and also help you master the business side that always accompanies what we do. You’d want someone who will advocate for you, help you make connections, and ultimately thrill as you develop your own career. Think about what you have to offer a mentor. This will vary depending on the stage of your career. Early stage folks should be meticulous, reliable, honest, creative, humble, and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done right. The goal should be to make
nce of Mentorship g Profession the mentor, and her client, say “Wow.” As you progress, you will develop skills, style, and your own connections that the mentor can rely on. Grow your mentor’s business as she is doing for your career. It’s a win-win. Hopefully, as you grow and spread your wings, your mentor will be proud of you, and you will be grateful for their nurturing along the way. Then, go pay it forward. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Award winning mix engineer and producer Jordan Tishler runs Digital Bear Entertainment in Boston MA. Currently in the process of designing and building a new facility with renowned designer Fran Manzella, DBE will, once again, be the pre-eminent mix/ overdub room. The SSL console and racks upon racks of analogue outboard gear, tape machine, and gazillions of instruments helps Tishler meet the expectations of artists 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.
What I learned was that teachers, like performers, need training, but are born, not made. While some find their way to formal teaching, others teach in the context of their work. These are the ready-made mentors that you should seek out. The question, then, is how to find them. First, note that in my personal examples, these mentors were not part of any formal educational process. In fact, they occurred in the context of my professional life, and only really had an impact because I was receptive to their nudges of guidance. So be open to the input of your elders and your peers, regardless of your age or place in your career. Obviously
Me with producer Al Watkins and three interns, one who became an employee before starting her own live sound company, another who I helped land a job at SSL
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TOP 5 MUST-HA PEDALS UNDER
here are so many effects pedals and stompboxes out there that it’s nearly impossible to try them all. My company, Pedal Genie, has over 1,600 pedals from 120 different builders for you to test out at any time. In fact, Pedal Genie rents guitar and bass effect pedals with no due dates or late fees. Try as many as you like, keep them as long as you want. [editor’s note – Pedal Genie is kind of like Netflix for effects pedals; it’s super cool. With his expertise, it’s also why we asked Tony to help us with these picks!] Don’t be afraid to try anything, regardless of brand, looks or price. You never know what’s going to make your rig sing or surprise you with something you’ve never heard before. What we’ve done is taken a look at five must-have effects pedals that retail under $200, in five different (common) categories you might be looking at: drive, chorus, reverb, wah and even a cool filter pedal for synth-like tones. So take a look, and better yet, take a listen or test drive with Pedal Genie.
1. Radial Bones Texas Dual Overdrive Radial, more often known for their bulletproof DI and utility boxes, makes a few standout effect pedals as well. The Texas Overdrive has Level, Tone and Bite controls for each of two independent channels, giving you a wide range of sound options in a single Radial-rugged pedal. It’s a Tube Screamer with a lot more on tap that simply doesn’t get enough love. Top Reason to Buy: the sound, man: singing, ringing and well-defined. Pros: quiet, top-mounted jacks, silent switching. Cons: single drive knob, no remote channel toggle or independent switches. Price: $159.99
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HAVE EFFECTS ER $200 Tony Schreiber, co-founder of Pedal Genie
2. Moog MF Chorus The three position Mix toggle of the Moog MF Chorus gives you access to light and airy chorus, a thicker and syrupy version and in the last position, a rich vibrato. With delay times longer than most chorus pedals, and in true Moog fashion, you can get it into interesting slapback territory with ease. The extra controls let you coax wobbly and swelling sounds not usually associated with a chorus pedal. A nice touch. Top Reason to Buy: from subtle chorus to wild feedback, this is a tweakerâ€™s chorus pedal. Pros: useful expression input, stereo output (TRS), LED pulses with modulation. Cons: not the best choice for classic â€™80s chorus textures. Price: $189
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TOP 5 MUST-HAVE EFFECTS PEDALS UNDER $200 (CONT’D)
3. Boss RV-6 Reverb The RV-6 packs eight great sounding digital reverb effects into the classic Boss stompbox. The spring, plate, hall and room are all accurate and quiet. The modulate and dynamic (modulation) add creamy and dreamy effects to the mix, nearly worthy of their own pedal. But it’s the shimmer and +delay modes that push the RV-6 into boutique territory. In shimmer mode, pull back on the tone knob for a very pretty but not obnoxious octave effect. Couple the +delay effect with the 100% wet output and you’ve got ambient and shoegazing sounds on tap. Top Reason to Buy: best shimmer reverb for the price. Pros: stereo I/O, expression input, will do 100% wet. Cons: traditional Boss side-mounted jacks. Price: $149
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4. Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight While it’s billed as a fixed wah effect, which admittedly has a limited utility, it’s the extra features of the Cock Fight that push it into extremely useful territory. The Bottom knob lets you restore lost bass due to filtering. The wah toggle switch has a “talk” setting with formant characteristics. And then there’s the Fuzz switch, available pre- or post-filter. In talk mode with pre-heavy fuzz you can get near synth-like tones. Very cool. Top Reason to Buy: wah, fuzz and filter effects in one box that also works well on bass. Pros: expression input for near standard-wah functionality, bonus fuzz and “talking” wah effect. Cons: no auto-wah, side-mount jacks. Price: $112
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TOP 5 MUST-HAVE EFFECTS PEDALS UNDER $200 (CONT’D)
5. DigiTech Dirty Robot Yes, it’s a filter, but man is it expressive and controllable. Seven (!) knobs can change the sound dramatically: Mix, Mod, Start, Stop, Sens, Time and Drift. And yes, you may have heard Robot Voice before but there are so many other sounds available here. Small changes to one knob yield a myriad of possibilities from all the other knobs. This one is definitely for twisters. Top Reason to Buy: great synth and filter tones for guitar and bass. Pros: funky AF, stereo I/O. Cons: side-mounted jacks, hard-to-read pedal text. Price: $149.95
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hat “brown” sound that guitar players have been seeking since 1978 can been elusive. There have been amps, pedals, processors and plug-ins that have all claimed to get it. Mad Professor’s “1” pedal really brings that “brown” sound in a small package, and at a fairly affordable price. The idea is to plug this pedal into a clean amp, and let the pedal do all the work. The controls are simple, but slightly different than the usual stompbox: the Brown knob controls the Overdrive, but even at zero, it still has plenty of gain. Increasing it adds high-end frequencies that can cut, but don’t get harsh. The Presence knob acts like it would on an amp, adding brightness and tighter response. Part of that “Brown” sound is Reverb, and it’s not a standard spring type sound, more like a studio quality hi-fi version. The overdrive range isn’t super expansive, but it does nail that late-’70s/early-’80s hot rodded British amp sound of that era. Players who are fans of the candy-striped guitar sound will really enjoy it, especially when playing those kinds of riffs and licks. Dialing in tasteful amounts of reverb really helps nail that tone, and it’s something a lot of other companies have overlooked. Just toss in an
MAD PROFESSOR “1” Brown Sound Pedal MXR Phase 90 and you’re complete. Inside the pedal are two trim pots, one for adjusting the reverb’s decay time, the other for a tone that can brighten or darken the decay. Rhythms can be nice and chunky, but when backing off on the volume knob on the guitar, things can clean up easily while still retaining some bite. For leads, there’s plenty of sustain, and the “1” pedal has a nice sharp response. On the gain scale, it sits below a lot of distortion pedals, but high enough above tamer “overdrives” and blues-based pedals. It shouldn’t be overlooked by players who aren’t fans of the sound. It really captures a tight, and punchy British tinged drive that was favored at the time, with plenty of clarity. With humbuckers, it has plenty of push, and with single coils it still retains that character, softening up the feel, while still having plenty of power and articulation. The only downside is the distortion is what it is, no being able to drop it to get some soft clipping, but it eliminates a variable in the equation of the “brown” sound that’s so tough to nail down. For fans of that Los Angeles rock n roll sound, or any guitarist in a tribute band should have one
of these, it’ll make things easier. For the rest, it’s a great British overdrive sounding pedal with reverb that still leaves plenty of room to forge your own signature tone. Chris Devine
Nails that circa 1978 Sunset Strip era sound at a great price. CONS
Distortion range isn’t that wide (but that’s kind of the point). PRICE
$199 PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 43
JBL EON One PA System
he new JBL EON ONE isn’t just a portable PA system, it’s an actual compact lineararray speaker system that just happens to be easy to travel with. And it’s really easy to set up, which will make getting ready for the gig all that much easier. So who is this for? After testing out the EON ONE for a few weeks, it’s clear that this is an ideal solution for solo artists and probably duos or very small combos who demand superior sound quality for live performances. One of the nice touches is a built-in Bluetooth system that allows streaming directly from your phone or tablet; so if you are a singer/songwriter with backing tracks, you and your tracks can go straight through the EON ONE. For more hands-on tweakability, the 6-channel mixer offers a familiar, easy-to-use interface with standard inputs for mics, RCA ins and 1/4 instrument cables, as well as the necessary outs for monitors with volume controls for each. The mixer offers only basic treble and bass EQ for the mic/line ins, but does add some usable on-board reverb (which actually sounds fairly convincing, so color us impressed). Where the EON ONE really shines is the full range frequency response that it affords to acoustic instruments and vocals. Running a full-bodied acoustic guitar and mic’d lead vocalist revealed a wonderfully rich, crisp, clear sound that was plenty loud for the average coffee house, all the way up to more medium-sized halls. If you’re into the house concert scene or doing wedding gigs, this may be your new best friend. All in all, there’s really nothing to find fault with here. It’s a great sounding system, it’s incredibly intuitive to use, and competes on price with other similarly-marketing PA systems like the Mackie Reach. We recommend checking it out. Benjamin Ricci
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Sounds great, easy-to-use controls, portable line-arry. CONS
Great looks, excellent feel, fantastic electronics. CONS
Might get overlooked for not being a more popular brand name. PRICE
inding a great looking natural finished bass, that wasn’t super expensive, wasn’t easy all that long ago. Cort’s brought that boutique look, feel, and sound with a reasonable price tag. The mahogany body brings plenty of warmth, and the 34 scale bolt-on 5 piece-wenge and rosewood neck is well balanced. With a satin finish that still lets the texture of the wood come through, but is still sealed, it gives the overall aesthetic a nice classy appearance that fits in almost any musical situation. The small offset abalone dots on the fingerboard are a nice subtle touch as well. With tuning machines by Hipshot, and a super beefy black chrome bridge, there are no problems in tuning stability. Sometimes transitioning to a 5-string can be tough, but the string spacing and neck width feels great, and not like the low B was just added on. Running through two-ooctave scales are a breeze without changing position. Fretwork is great as well, with no sharp edges or any dull spots. The low B can really bring the thump, and still cut when popping or slapping. Even when playing chordal styles, there was plenty of clarity and balanced low end. The big deal, though, is the pickups and electronics, which are by Bartolini, and are part of their Mk1 set. With a 3-band EQ, punching up
CORT B5 Plus MH 5-string Bass
(or cutting) any frequency desired is literally at the player’s fingertips. Each knob has a detent at the middle for ease of finding middle ground. The EQ is quite expansive, and even at extreme settings, it doesn’t go into useless areas. Regardless of musical styles it’s super easy to dial in a great sound. Even with all the EQ set flat, there’s plenty of punch and warmth to build off of. A pickup blend knob and master volume round things out nicely. Sometimes though, especially in studio situations, active EQ can be too much, and there is a mini toggle that can bypass the Active EQ; unfortunately, when bypassed, the EQ does nothing, the only tonal control can be dialed in by the pickup blend or by the individual playing style. Thankfully even when bypassed, the sound doesn’t really drop off, and it does go into a really nice warm area that’s still expressive. The Cort B5 Plus MH has a nice modern appearance, great hardware, excellent electronics, and plays fantastically. With a street price of $499, it’s certainly a lot of bass for the money. 4 string players should have no problem transitioning, and for seasoned 5-string players looking for a natural looking, modern bass, it’s a great overall value. It may make a player think, “How come I don’t get as much in more expensive instruments?” Chris Devine
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Individually and collectively, great features, excellent monitoring options, near zero latency.
Individually, none. As a complete package, slightly expensive.
$899 (Studio 192) and $699 (DigiMax DP88)
PRESONUS Studio 192 USB Interface & DigiMax DP88 8-Channel Mic Pre
here are A LOT of options when it comes to USB audio interfaces. But as music grows so should the ability to build upon the hardware, not having to get various devices to interact in a method of linking that would make Doc Brown cringe. PreSonus has unleashed their Studio 192 USB audio interface, which on its own is great. But, paired with their DigiMax DP88 8-channel mic pre add-on, it offers up an expansion of tracks without any hassle. Think of the Studio 192 as the brains of the operation. It connects to the computer via USB 3.0, with mic/instrument combo inputs on the front, and 6 mic/line combo inputs on the back. For headphone or monitoring outputs, the outs on the front are for headphones, while the eight on the rear are lines outs. You also get two dedicated rear-panel main left/right outputs with level control, muting, and mono summing for control room monitoring. This gives the ability to really control the monitoring for individual musicians during a session, where the drummer doesn’t want to hear the guitars, or just the bass, while the guitarist doesn’t want to hear the bass at all, for example. A built in Talkback mic makes for easy communication during a session without any external gear! In all, it makes for a comfortable listening session for everyone involved. Inside the Studio 192 is a DSP processor that allows relief from the DAW, handling a share of the monitoring, as well as its processing, which in return, helps eliminating latency during tracking.
PreSonus also offers up their UC Surface software to really dig in and control the overall settings within the Studio 192, and can run on OSX, iOS for iPad, Windows, as well as Windows tablets. Running the “control” of the session through this is intuitive, and unlocks a lot of features in the 192. Effects routing, monitor configurations, as well as 46 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
saving templates or “scenes” for sessions are all controlled through this method. What really makes a great interface are the mic preamps. PreSonus has their XMAX Preamps that utilize a higher voltage class, a design that offers up more headroom, better clarity and overall sound quality. [editor’s note - these analog preamps are recallable, so you can save their values in scenes and remote control them from UC Surface and Studio One.] Combined with this hardware is their Fat Channel processing, which handles filtering, compression/limiting, parametric EQ, and noise gate on each input. All these settings and variations can be saved and recalled for future sessions. So pairing the Studio 192 and DigiMax DP88 brings you a total of 16 analog inputs and also expands to 18 analog outputs; think of the DigiMax DP88 as an intelligent extension of the Studio 192, with (8) of their XMAX preamps available, and connected with the UC makes for an amazingly expandable package. Note that the DP88 preamps, like the Studio 192 preamps, are recallable and
can be remote controlled from UC Surface and/or from Studio One. Depending on the sample rates and settings, up to (2) DP88’s can be connected for 24 inputs (at 44.1 and 48 kHz) and 26 outputs. An ADAT lightpipe makes everything seamless and easy to connect to one another. Note also that the first 8 DP88 channels also can have Fat Channel processing when connected to a Studio 192. The processing is in the S192, not the DP88, so this only works with a DP88 connected to a Studio 192. A copy of Studio One Artist is included with Studio 192, which is nice, and the whole package comes in at $899 - the DigiMax DP88 at $699, so buying both together might be out of range of a few budgets, at least to start, but it’s a proposition that will pay off in expanded mic pres and recording capabilities. Starting off with the Studio 192, and adding the DP88 and other items at a later date is a path that we envision a lot of home studio users taking. Thankfully, together it is a complete package that won’t require a lot of other external gear once you’re done setting it all u p. Chris Devine
I was born and raised in Long Island, NY. I didn’t really come from a musical background but always had an itch to play guitar along with records I liked. That’s mostly how I learned to play. MAKE & MODEL
2015 Yamaha Reface CP WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
It out-performs any Electric Piano soft-synth I’ve ever heard and retains a “fun factor” being that it’s got onboard effects with knobs and sliders to play with. The size of it really works for me since I record in a pretty small space and can’t afford to have a Wurlitzer, Rhodes, CP-80, and Clav all in one spot.
MY FAVORITE AXE
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
It’s a very faithful representation of all those well-known Electric Piano sounds I’ve heard on records my whole life. The onboard effects are particularly useful when you want to add some cool flourishes to a part but don’t feel like menu-diving through plug-ins. SPECIAL FEATURES
MY FAVORITE SYNTH
(The Hand That Wields It)
True stereo chorus/tremolo. MIDI in/out. The analog delay’s self-oscillating feature is one of the best digital representations I’ve heard. Very cool. CAN BE HEARD ON
“Post Party Depression” by The Hand That Wields It
Got a favorite instrument or piece of gear you’d like to share? Email us at email@example.com
Laura Grey Roberts
PERFORMER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 47
TELECASTER THINLINE BACKGROUND
Essentially a Telecaster with body cavities, the Thinline was designed in 1968 and introduced in 1969. In 1972, the most popular version began production, featuring Fender’s “Wide Range” humbucking pickups, bullet truss-rod and 3-bolt neck fixing. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
A tele with a bit more air! NOTABLE PLAYERS
James Burton (Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard), John 5, Jim Root and Deryck Whibley all have signature models, so start there. INTERESTING FEATURES
Originally designed as an attempt to reduce the weight of a solid body Tele, which due to dwindling ash wood supply in the ’60s, was getting heavier and heavier. This particular guitar was owned by Pete Klett, former lead guitarist for the band Candlebox, and is featured on several of their more famous tracks. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Meigel 48 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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. Find out more at miggsmusic.com, lalamansion.com, or his radio show, @miggsandswig (102.5FM Radio) or his guitar shop, sohoguitar.com.
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VâRi V2215 15” 2-WAY POWERED LOUDSPEAKER