Recording session for a new song “Quiet Sky”, tracking live bass guitar. As a video experiment, there’s an overlay of the bass guitar waveform from Logic Pro. I guess that’s pretty geeky.
Sometimes you never know who’ll meet and work with in the recording studio. The list of people that I’ve worked with over the years is quite large including musicians, music producers, composers, sound designers, arrangers, actors, voice over artists, comedians, and motivational speakers. But a gorilla?
I was introduced to Garon Michael who needed a music producer and a recording studio for his music and we immediately hit it off and began working. Garon likes to work at an intense animalistic pace with little time for breaks or chit chat. Our first two days of work were laser focused on recording the basic tracks, then on the third day we actually took a little break and talked a bit, getting a much deserved breather after all the non-stop work.
He mentioned that he was an actor, who specialized in gorilla suits for movies and television work, and I asked him if he’d ever seen the Cadbury gorilla commercial. He was surprised and said “You saw that? That never aired in America”. I replied “Are you kidding me?, That got passed around via email by lots of my musician friends. It’s incredible!”. This would have been in late 2007 or 2008 when Facebook and YouTube were in their infancies, before social media was a household word. He smiled and said “Well, that was me!“.
We talked about how fun it would be to get Garon in the studio with the full gorilla suit on, and do some recording, but it turned out to be a logistical and economical impossibility. Well, we had a quick laugh and then jumped back into work. We ended up recording a good amount of his music together over the years, and we’ve become close friends. I still want him to get in the gorilla costume and play some drums in my studio though.
Speaking of, here is the infamous and hilarious Cadbury Gorilla ad:
9 years ago in June of 2005, I was in the thick of building our recording studio, a career and life changing experience. Towards the end of construction, I got a call from the Green Natives who said “We hear you are building a recording studio, and we need to record some music!”. I figured 3 weeks would be plenty of time to finish things up, and get the studio ready. My contractor said “We’ll be done well before 3 weeks”.
Well, we were both wrong.
The night before the session came, and we weren’t completely done (there were still finishing touches and sound baffles to build), but we were at a stopping point. It was 7pm and I was frantically sweeping the floors of studio in a bit in a panic for tomorrows session. The rooms were basically done, but there was no recording gear or instruments inside yet. What to do!?
I called my friend Matt Forger (who helped with the design of the studio), and said “Hey Matt, my first session is tomorrow morning, I know it’s late notice, but is there any way that I could get you to come help me set up the studio?” Thank God and he was not booked that night and the two of us worked for hours getting things set up. We wired up the rooms, brought in the recording gear, mics, stands, drums, etc…We got to recording drum tones around 1am, and miraculously the mic cables and live room input box that I had hand wired all worked, as did the rest of the gear.
It was a modest setup with a PC driven Pro Tools 002 rig, Yamaha AW4416, AIP 3124+ Line 6 Pod, and other gear much of which has been replaced over the years. Except the API.
The next morning, I welcomed the boys with a big smile thinking “Okay, this is it, I hope this all works!”. Thankfully that session went well and the boys were happy.
The reason I mention this story today is that The Green Natives finished one of those songs and just posted it on FB. So here it is from the very first Bright Orange Studios session 9 years ago #TBT
A bit of a soundcheck before laying down some drums for the score of “Little Paradise”. Douglas Pipes was the composer, and he was looking for an open, dare I say ‘jazzy’ type drum sound for his music. There were no close mics used, just 2 room microphones and a mono overhead mic.
This is the kind of studio drumming that I enjoy a lot – oragnic, dynmaic, and real sounding tracks. You can hear some of the finished cues that were used in the film in this post.
My good friend Louise Palanker created a new video for the Our Place theme song that we produced together. Our Place is a social media app for teens and tweens where kids get together and discuss issues, learn about life, and make new friends.
All of the recording and mixing took place at my studio with a host of talented people including Bob Cowsill (of The Cowsills), Lily Fair, Stephen Bock, Emma Bock, Rebecca Goldberg and Tyler Connaghan. Featuring OPOL Cast Members Alex, Ryan, Olivia, Jake, Aaron, Xio, Kiemute and more. Louise can be seen on percussion, and there’s a brief shot of me on the drums.
So here is the Our Place Theme Extended Mix, re-worked in the studio with footage from the sessions and also from her video podcasts. It should make you smile.
Great article on 9 ways to save your voice. I’ve seen many of these techniques work for singers in the studio. Helpful indeed, but the ‘no smoking’ should be #1. Many vocalists stay away from dairy products too…
1. Add Moisture.
2. Don’t Talk.
3. Minimal Partying.
4. No Smoking.
5. Don’t Over-Warmup.
6. Don’t Rely on Throat Sprays.
7. Grab Your Immunity Potions.
8. No Eating Before Bed.
9. Control Your Positivity.
As part of my gear review of Shure’s Beta Drum Mics, I put together a video to demonstrate the differences that you can hear (and see). SM57s are typically the snare drum mic of choice in the recording studio, but the Betas make for a great alternative, and their sizes are super convenient and easier to use.
Since this review and video, I’ve been using some vintage Shure Unidyne IIIs on snare drum for recording, so I’ll have to do a video on those at some point.
I enjoy hearing what others have to say about drum recording techniques and gear that they use, so please comment below. Now for the video
The best way to check out recording gear is in your own studio where you know the environment, the live room, and you know intimately how your instruments sound. Especially with microphones, you can really hear what they sound like and what character they bring to a familiar space. For me, engineering and sound design is all about experimenting with sound, and learning what’s possible, so I’ll jump at the opportunity to geek out with gear. Lucky for me a had a whole set of new Sure Beta Microphones.
Recordinghacks.com is a tremendous resource for microphones, and they have a plethora of reviews, specs, and audio files to listen to. I’ve written a number of reviews for the site, including the one below.
I asked my engineer friend Stan Katayama (Rage Against The Machine, Judas Priest, Paul Gilbert) if he’d lend me a hand and his ears to help out. We tested the Betas out in various ways including the ridiculous room mic test where we did a shootout with a vintage 70s Neuman U87, Shure SM57, JZ BT-201, and a Telefunken/AKG D19 (aka the Ringo mic).
The Beta mics we recorded with were the Beta 91, Beta 98AMP, Beta 98A, and the Beta 181, It is an extensive review with lots of sound clips, video, and pictures.
Read the full Shure Beta microphone review at recordinghacks.com
Here’s a soundcloud playlist featuring music from the film “Little Paradise” composed by my friend Douglas Pipes. I recorded some studio drumming and percussion for the soundtrack, and it was good fun recording with him. I of course love film music.
Douglas wanted a groovy live acoustic drum sound for the cues, and we talked a lot about capturing room sounds, making things sound natural, and dare I say the word…. jazzy.
The majority of the work was with an open sounding acoustic drum set played with brushes and some cymbal swells with mallets, On some of the cues I added some sparse percussion (tambourines, shakers, caxixi, and hand drums) which added some extra energy and aural flavors to the music. Good times!
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From my first experimentations with using the Roland SPD-30 Octapad as a midi controller. I used to use an old Drum Kat, but it has been deteriorating over the years, and went crawling into a corner when I rigged this up.
If you are wondering about the triggered sounds, they are from my personal sound design library, and are not the stock Roland sounds. The Octapad is triggering a custom patch in Kontakt 5 which contain the samples. Geek fun!