Tuesday, 8 May 2018

BACK GARDEN GOTHIC E.P.




So after life threw me several curve balls this year, I have decided that it's high time to release another e.p. It's been 4 years since "Heresy". It's not made me famous but as a piece of personal art, it's something I'm proud of, and the satisfaction in revisiting it gives me a buzz every time.

After several false starts, such as "Faith" and "Hades" - I realised I was trying way too hard to reinvent the wheel and songwriting became a chore which led to me producing all instrumentals.

I have had a lot of time to reflect recently. There have been big changes in my life. Between buying a house, family bereavement and growing a little bit older and (hopefully) wiser, I have realised life is a lot more fleeting than we realise. So if I'm gonna promise myself I'll do something, I should keep that promise to myself.

I have selected six songs which, I believe, are up to standard. Each song has been written over the years, a couple have been recorded before, from the mid noughties up until the present. The theme I noticed running through them, is suggested in the name. Neighbours spying on neighbours, children's imaginations running wild, urban legends etc. I can't promise what it will sound like as I don't know myself to be honest. My biggest influence at this current time are Glam Rock, ethnic Romany folk (see "Gypsy" without intending offence) and Yemenite folk music. This doesn't necessarily suggest what it will sound like but I would suggest listeners expect a surprise or 3!

The real work starts on Thursday, my next day off. But the work has already begun and I'm feeling excited about producing songs (of the lyrical persuasion) for the first time in a long time.

Thanks for reading. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

RIDE ON

"Ride On" as performed by Christy Moore, takes on a life of it's on when you hear it. It's iconic, hell - it's an anthem. And it is virtually untouchable and to think it could be is pure sacrilege. So the rest of us mere mortals can only tread around a perfect song with our imperfect versions. I recorded my own version over a year ago and being unhappy with it, consigned it to the "vaults" as it were. Said "vaults" being a dusty old hard-drive.

Recently having moved, a lot of old stuff has popped up out of everywhere and upon reviewing the files on my hard-drive, I rediscovered my recording. There was a certain charm to it, my view had softened through time. My broken down voice surprised me coming out of the speaker. It had been that long since I recorded my vocals, I'd forgotten the sound of my own voice. I've always veered between trying to sing and struggling with a singing voice a good few years of chain smoking can produce, but I kind of liked this version.

So yesterday, I sat down with the rough version and added a few strings and an oboe. That was what I'd been missing in the mix. Amazing the clarity of a year can produce when you've thrown something by the wayside. I love this song and I'd never do it a disservice. I only hope someone else will find a place in their ears or heart for my own humble version. This is "Ride On". Thanks for listening.

I employed my trusty Partsocaster "Selena", and a treble boosted Boss CE-5 into a Liverpool pedal (Vox Sim). The strings and woodwinds were samples from Eastwest Hollywood Strings, Woodwinds respectively.


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

2018 - Plots and plans.



A very happy new year to you all! I've been pretty busy musically. Personally too - and this will take precedent over the next couple of months as plans come to fruition so expect my musical output to be significantly less during this time.

I've signed up for an international trailer scoring competition, which I have completed over the Christmas but the final judging takes place in April, so I must keep the piece to myself before then. Anyone who is curious or willing to take part can find the details at HORRORHOTEL.NET.

I've reviewed the previous competition winners and it does seem pretty competitive and high quality. I'm also happy with my own efforts and quite confident in my ability, as one would need to be. It involves scoring a trailer (provided) which is shorn of the original music.

The trailer is of the film "The City Of The Dead" renamed "Horror Hotel" for American audiences. It features Christopher Lee in a Hammer-esque role typical of his career at the time c.1960.

It provides pure gold in terms of theme and timing and I think I may be on to a good thing with what I have created. Watch this space and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

THE BATMAN



Here we go again, you're saying! Yep, here we go again. This piece has been a long time in the making. Over two years in fact. I produced more imperfect ideas of it but being limited as regards to my instrumental pallet, I was never truly happy with it. 

I originally had a different idea, utilising my nephew's vocals to produce a piece more in line with an early Danny Elfman sound. But over time, his voice started to break and it was obviously no longer possible to use it. I worked on other things in the background but this was a distraction and a half. It was always that piece I couldn't finish. 

So I decided to revisit it and work on it until my ears and fingers bled. It is now practically unrecognisable to the original demo idea scraped together, which I uploaded almost a year ago, having exhausted all avenues to find a replacement for my nephew's voice, which I obviously didn't. You can watch it here.


Between the instruments and the massive learning curve a year gave me, I think the resulting pieces are an interesting study between themselves. Some ideas were kept and embellished upon, others were dumped entirely. Suffice to say, I'm very pleased with "The Batman" and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bechstein Debauchery & An Ode To Danny Elfman



I recently acquired a Bechstein D 280 concert grand piano. Well the sound samples of one anyway! My dream piano, and unfortunately, I don't possess the fortune or solid gold bank account to buy one.

Eastwest QL pianos have a collection of 4 pianos: Steinway, Bosendorfer , Yamaha and Bechstein. A very expensive collection but upon investigation I discovered that I could buy just one of the models, thus saving a fortune and the Bechstein tone won it out for me.

Having a tinkle on the (plastic) ivories today, I tested the dynamic of the touch sensitivity by playing the opening chords to Danny Elfman's "Beetlejuice" and it struck me that I'd never really paid tribute to the man who is by far one of my biggest influences. So I utilised the driving hammered piano style and added trombone, french horn, 3 part choir (men and women in stereo, boys in mono), some deep staccato brass ensemble and some cheeky organ. I finished with celesta, boys choir, some flautando strings and the oboe. I'm very pleased with it and named it "Oiche Shamhna" as it is that time of year!

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it. You can listen to it HERE.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Tesco's Got Talent Relections

Performed with 3 other colleagues at the now annual "Tesco's got Talent" heats. All for charity and a lot of fun, technical issues and biased judging aside. It got me to thinking how interesting it would be to recreate "HERESY" live.

For anyone new here, "HERESY" is a 6 song concept e.p. I created chronicling the torment of a priest trapped in a mysterious desert who is battling demons both mentally and in reality. A quick tap on "Heresy" in labels should take you there. I really enjoyed jamming with the guys, there was a certain chemistry in our ragtag group, though I was not happy with my own performance in parts. Afterwards, feeling hopeful, I enquired about the possibility of producing the songs in a live setting. The guys seemed open to it and I hope that this comes to fruition. It was truly a labour of love and having waited since 2014 to do this, I am cautiously optimistic about it happening.

Below is the video of our performance from the other night. It is the exclusive property of Ginte Cepaitis. He is the singer of the video playing the Tele, and hopefully he won't mind me sharing it!




Monday, 7 August 2017

Tools, Tools And More Tools!

I can't remember ever really explaining the tools behind the music I create but there are no real secrets behind what I do. But knowing how to play music is pretty much standard. You don't need to be a prodigy and the tools certainly help both at work and helping to inspire.

The DAW I use is Reaper. Incredible value with all the modern assets for the modern producer. I can't afford Pro Tools or the like but I have everything I need with Reaper. Pro Tools is a great tool but extortionately overpriced and Reaper has every thing I possibly need.

A great producer only sounds as good as his samples and that's why I have chosen my libraries VERY carefully. High quality samplers and plugins are usually not cheap:

EastWest Quantum Leap Silk (Caters to my love of Indian and Persian sounds)
EastWest Quantum Leap Gypsy (For that ethnic folk sound - think Violin, Accordians, Dulcimer)

These are my go-to samplers. I have a certain "sound" in my head and I always seem to find it in these.
For the big lush Hollywood sound, I employ:

EastWest Hollywood Strings Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Brass Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Orchestral Percussion Gold
Eastwest Hollywood Woodwinds Gold

The realism in these is at all times absolutely breathtaking and can be upgraded over time as a less costly option when purchasing the licences.

For the more interesting "blockbuster" sounds, I use U-he Zebra. A Synth with incredible capabilities and highly adaptable sounds. Hans Zimmer is a big fan and he uses it in virtually all his later scores such as The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk.

Kontakt Instruments I employ are

SoundIron Apocalypse Ensemble (For a huge drum sound)
SoundIron Mercury (A boys Choir)
SoundIron Olympus (Full Adult Choir)
India (Again a lot of fun ethnic sounds)
Soniccouture Glass Works (Weird and wonderful Glass Instruments)
Waves Factory Mercury (Piano)
Kirnu Cream (A fun arpeggiator)

A pretty modest collection but one that is growing slowly but surely!