Mixing Mayhem With Madness

So, February has got off to a FLIER of a start! We’ve finally dealt with all the post-Hogmanay blues and began to face to penny-pinching reality of a post-Christmas life.
Cate has been busier than ever at her work, as her colleagues begin to enter retirements or move on to other jobs within the NHS.
Anna has settled back into school. Although she had great fun being on holiday, she also was itching to get back to school almost as soon as Christmas was over and done!
Sam has grown a lot and can suddenly count prolifically beyond 10 and up to 20 in sequence. He remembers songs in great detail and can sing them pretty accurately. He’s coming on very well. We started potty training him, and within a couple of weeks has almost mastered it and has few accidents.

I have been busy in the studio mixing a variety of client songs in a pretty broad range of styles, some of which I am less familiar with than others. I have pleasingly happy clients and receiving really good feedback and reviews from my clients’ consumers. I am also launching a recruitment drive for instrumental and music production students to fill vacancies that I have for students.

Exciting times. Mad times. Much mayhem. Happy times!

Happy New Era!

Well…..here we are in the nice, new and shiny 2015. This is the year of flying cars, hoverboards and being served beverages by Ayotallah Khomeni, President Reagan and the Late Michael Jackson in retro bars. While those don’t particularly excite me, the thoughts of power laces and self-drying clothes are far more appealing.

If you have absolutely no idea what I am on about, you will need to go and watch the Zemekis Brother’s 1985 classic movie trilogy Back to the Future. It’s a film favourite here in Lipsham Manor.

We hope and trust for you this years ushers in a brave new dawn. Not a new bunch of New Year’s resolutions (or even recycled ones!), but rather, a genuinely new era.

For us, that means – launching a revamped business, preparing our son Sam for going to Nursery school in a few of months time and a gradual trade off in workload and domesticity between me and my wife Cate.

What things will be shaping your new era? We will be leaving the past firmly in the past and refusing to live in a place I call “What if (twinned with If Only and We should’ve)” We are committed to our goals and plans, living in the present with a healthy eye on the future. We only look back to the past to reflect.

So, here’s to a forward-moving New Era – no regrets, and hanging tough when things may not go as well as we’d like, allowing all life-events to teach us and keep us humble.

The End Is Near……

I know: possibly marginally over-dramatic title. As we rapidly approach the end of 2014, I have been thinking quite a lot about ending things. Please, dear reader, do not be alarmed, I do not mean “ending things“, as in, permanently. I have a problem with ending things generally. I am pretty rubbish at it! I start a great song, I have a cool and amusing narrative for the song, it’s going really well…..I have tracked all the parts, I am mixing it, and……I just don’t know how to end the bloody thing! Fade out? Arranged ending? A coda? So I usually stop, put the song to one side and start working on the next one. Only, I end up repeating the same process over again!

I am the same with writing articles, letters – yours sincerely/yours faithfully – blog posts (!) and stories. I start off really well, I am inspired, I am fist-pumping at the end of a session, but then the inevitable ending issue comes along. I am encouraged that I appear to not be alone. The composer of the theme tune to the TV game show Countdown had the same problem, as did Beethoven – he left several works unfinished, which were completed by his students, using thematic sketches the great composer left behind.

2014 for me has been a topsy-turvy kind of year. I have had good things go well, and some things go badly wrong. However, one of those things that went badly wrong has turned out to be pretty good so far. I am determined to learn lessons taught to me by this year, to end the year well, and start 2015 with a fresh vision, focus and determination, to set off well on things like my studio business, and end projects well, leaving me with happy clients who will recommend me for further work.

So, 2014 sees the end of Mr I-can’t-end-things and the renaissance of the long-forgotten Mr Determined-to-succeed, ready for 2015.

This blog post is likely to be the last one of the year. I may or may not get a quick couple out around Christmas and Hogmany. If I don’t manage it, I’d like to wish every reader a very happy Christmas and a wonderful start to 2015.

Until next time……………See youse!

Studio Makeover COMPLETE!

For those of you who don’t know, I run a project recording, mixing and mastering studio business from home. I have been running it since 2011, and just this year, we moved the studio into the back bedroom. Once in, we experimented with a couple of layouts, but nothing really worked particularly well, until we decided to start again from scratch and invest my recent birthday money into making it look and sound a huge amount more professional – which it now does!

The new layout and the big changes put in have made a massive difference! And it means that while I am working, the rest of my family can carry on with normal life without risking disturbing me or effecting the recordings, and it also means that I can properly treat the room acoustically. I mean, who wants acoustic foam up on the walls in the lounge?!

So……in today’s post, I am giving you the chance to have a guided tour of the studio, so you can see what I do and where I do it. Here it is, then! My studio Tour!

Reelin’ In The Years….

The Steely Dan song that provides the title for today’s post is one of my favourites, not least because of the exceptional lead guitar work of Elliot Randel. But, that’s not why I used it in the title of this post. Having had two weeks off my feet due to my cellulitis, I had plenty of time to think and reflect. So, I want to share some of those thoughts and reflections with you, my dear reader.

Five years ago today, I and my wife Cate were preparing ourselves for becoming a family of three, and becoming parents. We were into our final week as just a couple. My life, which had already changed beyond my wildest dreams, when I met and married Cate, was about to change again. Radically. Questions were flying through my head at a zillion miles an hour: “Can I really be a good Dad?”; “Can I handle all the requirements of a new born baby?”; “Can I give her all she needs for life and happiness?” It all seemed so daunting.

Then, on November 19th 2009, my daughter Anna was born. When she came out into the world, suddenly all those questions and doubts melted away with a huge, “YES!” the moment I saw her. Over the course of these five (almost) years, I have learned so much more of the depth of those questions, and have occasionally returned to them. It has been an extraordinary experience watching her grow up and develop. And now, suddenly, my baby girl is a school girl!

She has settled into her formal education fantastically well, and is learning loads every week. It’s just so delightful to see her skipping joyfully to school and then skipping home with the same joy, and then burying her head in her homework when she gets home. She loves to learn, and she is having lots of fun doing it. I hope and pray that this delight remains with her her whole life through.

As we approach her birthday, I regularly find myself amazed that the little baby I held in my arms five years ago has become this amazing little girl…….who already has complete mastery of sarcasm and has a bullet-fast wit.

I wonder what the next five years hold for her – and for Cate, her brother Sam and myself?? Who knows? – God does! I am very thankful the journey of parenting He has brought me on so far, and totally excited as the journey with Him, and Him with us, continues.

Happy birthday (for Wednesday), Anna! Here’s to many more Father-daughter adventures!

Weighting and Waiting

One of my favourite emotions – among many – is anticipation. Waiting for something to arrive, or something to happen, that you know is going to be GOOD. I get all excited. It becomes mostly all I talk about – which irritates my poor beloved wife NO end – until the event happens, or the thing arrives. I count down the days. I am probably very annoying.

I have another one. It’s not really a favourite exactly, but it usually follows anticipation that is not fulfilled: FRUSTRATION.

I am eagerly anticipating the completion of the studio makeover project. It has been all I talk about! However, there have been some rather annoying and frustrating hold-ups to the project, caused by new gear not being correctly delivered or not even arriving at all!

When I get frustrated, like anticipation, it becomes all I talk about and it spills over in a variety of ways, including this blog. So, if that is not your bag, can I suggest eagerly anticipating my next post in a week or so’s time?

So, my big frustration has been with anticipated deliveries not arriving on time, or even arriving at all. After LOTS of phone calls and emails – oh, and a wee rant to Royal Mail on Twitter – I have no gear, one re-send and one refund. Annoying!

So here is the low down on frustrations:

  • First frustration: I have had to order my new DAW (Digital Audio Workstation AKA music production software) via another vendor. This is the biggest frustration, because this is the one piece of gear that has NEVER actually arrived. Royal Mail LOST IT! It is the most expensive, and – for the audio geeks – after 20 years or so of using Steinberg’s Cubase, in its various incarnations, I have decided to switch to PreSonus’ Studio One. I have a full refund on this, so I will be buying it elsewhere.
  • Second frustration: I have taken delivery of new acoustic treatment (to tame the acoustics in the studio), which arrived PERFECTLY on time (NOT via Royal Mail), but I do not have the stuff ordered by which I will be mounting the foam panels and bass traps on the walls. That got returned to sender by Royal Mail! So, that part of the project is on hold.
  • Third frustration: Royal Mail v Yodel. Score line there? 1-0 to Yodel, with two RM sending offs.

So, there you have it. I am frustrated and anticipating the arrival of the mounting stuff next week and then, hopefully, Studio One by the end of that week. In between that, I have a computer to overhaul with my good friend Jonathan Simpson.

Rant over. It was cathartic. Next time, you will hear joy-filled news of the project moving forward, and I’ll post some pics.

So…..what was the “weighting” bit of the title all about? I’m attempting to lose weight.

Inspiring Discoveries

I LOVE discovering musicians and songwriters I have never heard of before. It inspires me to be creative and write new songs when I have those periods, as a songwriter myself, of struggle to get the creative juices flowing. In recent years, this methodology has been my go-to option when I struggle – go and listen to some great songs written and performed by great musicians and songwriters, which are well recorded, mixed and mastered. I almost never end up envious and saying, “why are my songs and recordings not as good as that?!” Rather, I end up inspired to go and write the best songs I can and capture the very best recordings I can.

Today, thanks to my friend Joe Gilder and his fabulous Home Studio Corner Podcast, I happened upon an artist whose music thoroughly inspired me. What was even more inspiring was that his fantastic new album “Death In Reverse” was 90% recorded and mixed in a home studio like mine! The artist is called Jeremy Casella. I very happily commend his music to you. You can go and check him out HERE.

I hope you enjoy his music as much as I have, and I hope it inspires YOUR creative juices as much as it has mine.

Until next time……See you!