Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones Review

The HD 201 model of headphone was made to connect with just about any type of device, and they prevailed over the headphone market as the best budget headphones for a good decade as headphones you could get your hands on when in a budgetary decline.  Look at your average kid sitting on a subway zoning out to music and they may have been wearing a pair of 201’s.

However, along came the HD 202’s, made by Sennheiser for more pro-audio users, like DJs, and a more professional use overall.  If you want to mix your band’s new album, then you might want to use these.  These headphones have been on sale since 2009, and they are still relatively cheap, making them the staple of music lovers who do not want to spend more than 50$ on a pair of headphones, but still want to have nice material that feels comfy and doesn’t crush your skull.

Feature Pick

Sennheiser Hd 202 Ii Professional Headphones (Black)

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CARACTERISTICS

  • Headphone type: Closed
  • Loud speaker: Dynamic
  • Cord length: 3 m
  • Weight: 130 g

PRESENTATION

Sennheiser is known to offer great headphones and the HD 202 II was made for the tightest budgets. It is suitable for DJs, binaural beats enthusiasts and music lovers in general.

As many entry-level headphones, the Sennheiser HD 202 II is largely made of plastic (shell of the ear cups and bow). However, it has a beautiful finish for its low price.These headphones have a nice professional look, they don’t look cheap even if they are.

Their constitution and quality of manufacture find their limits during transport: the HD 202 can not be folded and the junction located on the temples is fragile. The only possible manoeuvre can be done at the right atrium, which can be directed forward or backward to release the ears. This operation is complicated to perform with one hand (especially if you are a Dj). These headphones must be placed correctly on the ears with both hands.

COMFORTABILITY

When it comes to comfort, you will take up to ten minutes to get used to these headphones when you wear them for the first time.  Indeed, the helmet strongly tightens the ears and the top of the skull, and the effect is worse on large heads. As a positive counterpart, the HD 202 II won’t fall off during a set if you are a DJ or during a workout, a yoga session, etc.

It also has the merit of truly and properly isolating you from any external noises. The leatherette pads on the rollbar and the ear cups are thick but quite compact and not very flexible. However, this thickness can heat your ears. It is therefore difficult to recommend the Sennheiser HD 202-II for sets that last for a really long time and in volcanic temperatures. On the other hand, it is possible to detach these pads and wash them after long sets.

The non-detachable cable measures 3 m and a leatherette carrying case comes with the headphones.

AUDIO

The sound reproduction offered by the HD 202 II is awesome for its price. It has a frequency range of 18 to 18,000Hz and neutral tonal balance. The lack of treble gives a nice clean sound. The voices sound perfect, but we don’t really hear the instruments in the background. These headphones have a 115 dB sound pressure level.

Here is a quick list of he most important pros and cons of the Sennheiser HD 202-II:

Pros

  • Sound is clean and powerful.
  • Little distortion.
  • Cheap but still high quality.
  • Good isolation from external noise.
  • Good quality/price ratio.

Cons

  • The rotary headset system is not practical.
  • The headphones are not foldable for transport.
  • They heat the ears.

To conclude, the Sennheiser HD 202-II  are decent entry-level DJ headphones. They offer a coherent sound. The Sennheiser HD 202 will suit you perfectly if you want something cheap but still professional, and if you work in a noisy environment.  

Can You Make A Living Making Music For Audiojungle? – Diva Production Music Interview

When it comes to creating and selling royalty-free music online, I must admit that, until recently, I was only vaguely aware of the concept.  But, as a musician and someone who is always trying to explore new potential money-making ideas, there comes a time where such ideas enter your awareness and you ponder them.  Sometimes even act on them.  

Such was the case when I came across Diva Production Music, a Youtube channel that talks in depth about this very topic of making a sustainable business out of producing sought-after royalty-free music for the corporate world. 

Back to him in a moment, as he is the subject of today’s article and interview.  First a bit of context, if I may.

So, everyone who is of working age knows something of the “corporate world”, like it or not.  As a musician, for a long time, just those two words together equated to “sellout”, and made me cringe slightly.  Same with my friends, too – we all hated the idea of the corporate world, and wanted to avoid it at all costs.  To be honest, for me personally, that has equated to making music independently and seeing no income for my efforts for the past 20 years.  I also taught music, because, as they say, those can’t do, teach.  A reductive definition to be sure, but somewhat true, I’ll admit.

But here we are in 2018, and, lets face it – everyone needs to make a living.  Also, the music business has changed tremendously in the past 20 years.  If you don’t know that, you must have been living under a rock.  

Then

Starting with the onset of the internet in about ’95, and then on P2P and file-sharing platforms like Napster and Limewire at the turn of the century, the control was forcibly taken away from those who run the music business, and “given back” to the people.  File “sharing” AKA theft (Lars was right all along) was in vogue and has been ever since. 

The big music labels had to watch as everyone started simply taking everything that they had previously put a pricetag on, for free.  This of course went for movies, games, and everything else that could be turned into a file, and the entertainment industry tried their best to stop it.  And continually failed.  

Now

Fast forward almost two decades.  Independent musicians are now simultaneously more empowered to enter the world of entrepreneurship on their own terms, while at the same time far less attached to the idea of becoming a famous rock star one day.  This, I think, is not only because the “rock star” model was always somewhat of a lie, but also because there are many more options for starting actual legitimate online businesses open to individuals now that the age of the internet is beginning to mature slightly.  

This is essentially where people like Daniel Carrizalez (AKA Diva Production Music) comes in to the story.  Daniel is a musician, and has spent years honing his craft, composing songs and using all the gear he has at his disposal.  There came a point where he had to make a choice between using his skills as a musician to earn a living online, or earning his living in some other way (ie. a “real” job in an office or factory, perhaps).  The “rock star” notion was not something he was interested in, since it really is just a dream that comes true only once in a blue moon.  It is not a viable career choice to a man with a wife, an 8-yr old daughter and a new baby.  So he began taking his music making abilities more “seriously”, if you will, in that he wanted to make music, but also he needed to earn a living.  Emphasis on the word need.  Becoming aware of the new wave of internet marketing types, and jobs related to that field, Daniel began to explore his options.  

One site that stood out to him in his search for potential job opportunities was Audiojungle

Audiojungle is a sub section of the Envato Market, which is a much broader business that offers a multitude of services, one such being offering website themes and options to business owners.  The overarching concept of Envato, to my understanding, is to be able to hook up an online business person with whatever they need to help improve their own services.  

Audiojungle, specifically, is a service that offers music to anyone who needs music for a commercial, or product of any kind, but lacks the musical element.  On Audiojungle, the music is pre-made by professionals (such as Diva Production Music ), and sold to those who are willing to pay for the license so that they can make use of it.  Without the license, if a person were to use this music, it would be considered stealing.  With the purchase of a license (and there are various types), the buyer can now use the music they’ve purchased to use in their own project.

After watching some of Daniel’s content, I became more and more interested in the idea of using Audiojungle to make money with my music, and so I contacted him.  Luckily, he was willing to answer some of my burning questions on this matter.  So, here is our interview.  Enjoy!

Q: How long have you been making music?

A: I’ve been making music since I was a teenager, but composing and producing stock music only the last 4 years.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

A: I enjoy all sorts of music, especially rock, alternative rock.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy making?

A: I enjoying making a lot of acoustic guitar music and experiment with different elements. At the moment, I try to focus on making corporate music, the one that is required and is most popular for media projects.

Q: When did you become aware of Audiojungle?

A: In 2014, I did an extensive search on making and selling music online, and Audiojungle was one of the top marketplaces for that.

Q: Was it difficult to get started on Audiojungle?  What’s the basic process for doing that?

A: Yes, it was difficult. I had no idea what stock music was and even though I knew all about music composition and production, I’d never done commercial music before.

The basic process involves setting up and author’s account and uploading your track. The music that you are uploading should reflect your strengths and ability to create more, quickly and effortlessly.

Q: What type of music do you specialize in making for Audiojungle?

A: I specialize in inspirational and feel-good music, particularly in the genres of rock, pop, folk and/or corporate.

Q: What type of gear setup do you have to make the tracks you make?

A: I am running ProTools on a Macbook pro laptop, use different WAVES plugins for the production of the music, an Eleven Rack as an interface, a SansAmp as a base preamp and a microphone preamp to record acoustic guitars. I also have a midi keyboard and a selection of different guitars, both electric and acoustic.

Q: How big is Audiojungle, community wise?

A: The community of Audiojungle is quite big and growing very fast.

Q: Is it competitive at all?

A: Yes, it is but the key here is not to compete but to create the best product for each and every project.  I am a creator, NOT a competitor.

Q: Do you ever hear form Audiojungle for any reason or Envato for that matter?(ie. do you talk to a rep or is it hands off mostly)

A: There are no reps involved but if you need to contact support, there is a system available. But each author is on their own, and it is up to you to decide on your presentation and marketing of your music.

Q: How much of your work for Audiojungle is inspiration, how much is work work?

A: Inspiration comes after I start working on a new project. I believe that work is a good thing and inspiration comes from working on your craft. Inspiration, like motivation, will always let you down. One that creates cannot wait for inspiration to arrive; you find it only through working!

Q: What are their basic standards for whether a track is suitable for their platform?

A: Over the years, the bar has been raised higher and higher, both in composition and production. That means that the tracks uploaded and accepted back in 2010 most likely, will not be accepted now. The review process is very thorough nowadays and an author must continue to improve and polish their skills. The final result should be broadcast quality, like the music you hear on a TV commercial or YouTube ad.

Q: Who reviews the tracks submitted and how long does that process take?

A: There is a group of reviewers in Audiojungle and the review time varies depending on the number of submissions. It can be anything from 7 days to 15 days for a song to be approved and up or sale.

Q: Who uses Audiojungle from the customer side, as far as your experience tells you?

A: Costumers are video-makers, film-makers, advertising companies and of course, YouTubers!

Q: What’s the price range of songs on Audiojungle?

A: A song can be sold based on the length of the music, starting from $12-15 to $19 for a standard license. The price will directly depend on the license purchased, for example, ie. broadcast license or film license.

Q: Does anyone try to pirate Audiojungle tracks that you know of?

A: Yes. I have personally heard and informed Audiojungle on tracks being used with the watermark.

Q: What kind of musicians do you think would be good authors on Audiojungle?

A: A good author on Audiojungle is any musician with the right mindset to be at the service of others, in this case, the other media makers and content creators.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: In order to become a successful stock music composer, we must be aware of the market’s needs, without comparing ourselves to other composers.


And…that about wraps things up here today!  To learn more about Daniel and Diva Production Music, visit his Youtube channel here, and don’t forget to subscribe!

WesAudio DIONE Analog Bus Compressor Review

As my mixing has progressed over the years I have found my mixes started to translate a lot better with some master bus or parallel compression, or both.

Not to say my mixes were bad before, but I realised after a while that the mix is often as important as all the sweating you can do to your rough mix. I was an avid user of SSL style compressors and I loved the smack of the sound of them, but this was always a software version.

To be honest, for a long time, I made the mistake of putting a L1/L2 compressor on the master bus and left it at that. To get a really nice, punchy upfront and radio-friendly sound, you can’t do better than a SSL style or Neve compressor on the master to stick it all together. 

I’d been looking for a SSL style bus compressor for a while, and had been looking into a number of outboard compressors to put on my mix bus, but had been generally turned off by the price being about the $1500-2000 mark and the fact I would have to print my mixes back in. I have always been a big supporter of the waves plugins and had purchased the SSL bundle for the same purpose about 3 years ago.

Before using the Waves SSL bundle, I used the original Avid Impact plugin but this was discontinued when Pro Tools went to 64 bit. I generally like to put a VCA style compressor on my mix bus for glue type duties, it tends to stick everything together nicely, I had for quite sometime used a McDSP AC1 analogue channel for some analogue warmth (essentially doing some harmonic distortion) alongside this but nothing really compares to going outside the box.

I also realised that the tape style emulators do have a nice sound but tend to smear the mix a bit and make it a bit well, tape sounding.

So, after many years of using this system and being quite happy, I couldn’t resist looking into the hardware options and seeing what was about.

The Solid State Logic brand stuff is not cheap and I have heard from several sources they vary in quality depending on the model and the vintage. They have a propriety X-logic series, the original series, a one rack unit version, and of course the new and ever popular API 500 series style.

There are several single rack unit devices around but I have wanted to get into 500 series for ages, it’s a really nice way to get a broad range of really nice studio channel devices at a reasonable price.

I knew I would get into 500 series at some point, and for me it makes a lot of high end quality in a really accessible format. The list of wants grows and grows but I’ve got my eyes on the clariphonics, the Maag and a few others.

There is so much new equipment in this format, it’s very easy to get lost drooling for EQ’s Compressors and Pre-amps. I like the idea of a small format device that doesn’t cost the earth and serves a purpose in a studio that is always downsizing rather than growing.

The explosion of this format is similar to what has happened with Eurorack modular synth stuff, it gives you great flexibility and enables studios to differentiate and create their specific sound.

In the SSL style compressor (500 series) marketplace alone there are several options with things like the SMART C1, The Dramastic Obsidian, the BC1 and more recently the DIONE. 

I was surveying the reviews and prices of these devices for several months and really liked the up and coming companies putting resources in to cheaper alternatives. The c1 is probably the top of the tier and competitive to SSL itself, but the others are pretty similar in price. There is an excellent comparison of the different units around on an episode of Produce Like a Pro here:

The unit I decided to get was the Wes Audio Dione. It was not for the fact that it was cheapest, not because it sounded way better than the others.  No, actually these style of compressors actually sound quite similar and really only differ slightly in features like side chain input, mix knob, THD and a few other things.

I bought this one because of the story behind it and the people who made it by hand. Wes Audio are a small company out of Szczecin, Poland, they have about 4 people working on these and other outboard analog modules, all built by hand.

Perhaps one of the best features is the fact that you can control this device via USB as a plug-in.  In other words, it’s the best of both worlds. You see if you do decide to go outboard one of the pet hates is the need to store settings or write them down somewhere, so if you do need to make changes to a mix you can re-create it easily.

The best feature with the DIONE is the plug-in runs as a dummy controller and re-set your device when you open up the session, voila’ total recall!  The device is punchy as hell and in A/B tests with software versions it left them for dead.

I do have to print my mixes in real time now but for the sake of a few minutes and the sonic quality it imparts its all worth it.

Now if I could just get some money together for a master bus EQ…

Interview with JK Phil Osé of Fauxtown on the Music Biz and More!

Hey, YC here.  Today I sat down with JK Phil Osé, one of Fauxtown Record’s many talented musical artists, to talk about a number of things, starting with what got him into music in the first place, then moving into DIY recording of albums, and then moving on to a discussion the nature of the music business as it stands here in 2018. 

Because I know Phil personally, from our dual membership in both Try Hardz and Childebeast (not to mention McBain’s World), we accidentally break down the 4th wall so to speak (at first I play the part of the ignorant journalist – so much for that guise), and go into the inner workings of our own mysterious and colourful record label – Fauxtown Records, and how we can ever improve it beyond some of the fascism that exists out there today in order to reach the “free market” and continue to please our fans moving forward.  We also discuss musical accessibility, losing and regaining hope, and finding our niche.

You know folks, running an indie record label isn’t easy work, and it takes the cooperation of everyone involved in such a relatively small venture (compared to the big labels that are still operating out there) to do their part and keep the dream alive.  But what is that dream, at this point?  Is it making a living off your music, bringing fame and glory to our artists, or just sharing music with whoever will listen and appreciate it?  In any case, enjoy this interview with J.K. Phil Osé as we cover a variety of topics.

YC: Hey Phil, how’s your day going thus far?

JK: Hello Dave I’m pretty good.

YC: you’ve been busy making music for a while now.  when did it all start?

JK: It started when I was 17

YC: Take us back will ya?  What happened?

JK: Well…in regard to my shit?

YC: in regard to getting into music.. what sparked your interest and what kind of music were you interested in?

JK: Oh..yea it was a need to find some expression. I borrowed my sisters keyboard for a few months and started writing boring SOft experimental.  I was interested in punk as a youth, then hip hop and began to get into abstract music per-say into my twenties.

YC: So initially it was just a means of expression. What was going on at the time in your life that you needed to express via music?

JK: I’d say some familial troubles and personal addictions. And the complications that come from the traumas. Of both.

YC: So you say keys was your first instrument you kinda picked up?

JK: When I was 6 I learnt the C major scale, and some songs to go with it, then 8-9 years later I began experimenting with keyboards. In the interim was playing minimal bass guitar until I was 18. A little piano, a little bass, then at 18 a lot of guitar, bass and minimal piano/key boards.

YC: Did you have recording in mind, or performing, or both, or neither?

JK: I began recording right away. I never had a specific genre in mind and still don’t I play to the feeling of my hands. I simply express melodies, lyrics, and rhythms.

<interjection> – some music

YC: what’s your fav instrument at the moment to play?

JK: I enjoy the Classical guitar the most.

YC: nice…with regards to recording, what do you see the point of that being for you? obviously it is a form of expression, but beyond that, why do you do it?

JK: I see recording as a way of documenting my ideas to listen back refine, and share them with myself and anyone interested in listening.

YC: that sounds reasonable enough 🙂 how interested in the technical aspects of recording at you?  i mean, you do your recordings yourself quite often, so i’d assume at least somewhat interested… 😀

JK: I care but I don’t have the financial ease of spending tens of thousands of dollars on full LP’s… so as I get older the less I’ve cared about sound quality and begun to accept what I can produce. Which isn’t anything over the top.

YC: ya, gear is a costly thing that’s for certain…that said, what are you recording with now?

JK: I’m recording with a Rode microphone, an apogee one, and occasionally a friend who is quite talented at sounds engineering.

YC: oh ya who’s that?  is it Brennan Galley?  The Fiercemule himself??

JK: Yes Brennan Galley.

YC: now that guy has some serious gear for recording and knows how to wield it

JK: Yes, but I don’t rely on him.  I record on my own in much lower fidelity to continue getting ideas out there.

YC: a true indie artist to the end

JK: Maybe too independent.

YC: ya but you’re right you can’t rely too much on any one person

JK: You can only rely on yourself.

YC: Indeed brethren

JK: Everyone else is a helping hand whom you are also to them.

YC: it’s the nature of teamwork i guess…people helping each other makes the world go round…plus, recording and playing everything yourself all the time isn’t always fun in the long run.. it’s good to get out there, at least in front of a crowd or something…as opposed to just you on your couch or whatever

JK: I find my couch the most comfortable place to play.

YC: no denying that…certain furniture will facilitate a certain creative mood at times

JK: I’ve thought of Bringing my couch to shows.  Just so I can play in comfort.

YC: a novel idea if ever there was one…as an indie artist, what do you think of the whole marketing of yourself to reach fans?  do you believe in luck, or hard work?

JK: I believe in hard work. I believe the marketing aspect of it can be deceptive but necessary to reach enough people. I think people generally don’t want to accept new and progressive ideas because it means promoting it within their social circles which can be dangerous. I believe music needs to be attached to a culture for it to blossom. Maybe a marketing tactic would be to create a culture somewhere somehow.  But Yea that’s the hardest of work.

YC: would you be happy if your music was listened to by some new people who you don’t know, but you didn’t really get paid for it? or is the goal to make a wage off it selling the music?

JK: Good question. I’d say I wouldn’t care if no one else was making money of my ideas. If no one was then it would be cool but it’s inevitable if enough people would hear the music an artist would make money in some way. Off* Is it about money…money is an important aspect of life. I don’t want to compromise the artistry to attain money but I would prefer if people supported the ideas in a financial way. Then I could be more productive musically and artistically.

YC: are you aware of the idea of the “big rock n roll swindle”?

JK: No sir.

YC: its the idea from like the 70’s / 80’s /90’s where some big record label would pay a band a million bucks, and then that band would just like spend it all and run away or something. 

JK: No I didn’t hear about that.

YC: it’s sort of dates back to when major labels would hear about these hyped up bands and try to wine and dine them, and get them to sign their lives away in some crazy million dollar contract…which the bands, not being business people, would sign, with the fantasy of just spending all of “the man” ‘s money…it’s a fairly outdated model now, considering how it is nowadays…typically now it’s like.. you do it all yourself, and figure out every aspect of your business, and if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault…no one’s going to “invest” in you to sell records per se

JK: Yea I don’t think labels and bands believe to thoroughly in the CD anymore. It’s all about being on Spotify and good play and taking percentages. But YouTube is a great way to make money directly. Google Play*

YC: i think so long as you understand how the whole structure works, then that’s fine and good…but say with Youtube, there’s a lot of invisible rules and hidden politics going on that holds some people back and they may not understand why.

JK: Yea I’m not sure how it works on the fascist political side but fuck those who live in that way.  I wouldn’t hold back a shitty country music singer who sang terrible lyrics and generic chords just because I didn’t like their music.

YC: It’s about individual expression…well that and finding your fanbase…but the problem is that certain platforms aren’t going to help you find that fanbase.. they really have no obligation to though…

JK: The fan base must be created. How can you find something that doesn’t exist until you show them your stuff.

YC: the fan base i think does exist to an extent

JK: It will exist when they see you.

YC: like with your generic country artist, there are generic country fans..and they need to connect and then all is well

JK: True to the extent that you play within a genre.  If you are doing something all encompassing then I think that fanbase needs to be created.

YC: i believe that it’s like the law of attraction…certain people, if they heard you, would like you

but ya they have to hear you…and until they hear you, they are unaware of you basically

JK: Solid Perspective.

<interjection> – some music

YC: so that’s where the corporations come in.. they are the gatekeepers to whether anyone will become aware of you…unless you become your own gatekeeper…but then it’s all on you…people complain when youtube changes things up.. but there’s no one saying you need to be on youtube anyway…same with any of them

JK: Yea I don’t know how to promote my music unless it’s through some interconnected network.

YC: the alternative is just to try to get gigs and talk to real people one on one….but i’ve never really gotten much out of that method myself

JK: Yea that method requires a managerial aspect which I haven’t proven to possess although I am looking to become…The thing about the manager tho was that the manager was an unbiased source of approval to labels.  So it depends who you as an independent artist are trying to talk to. If you are an independent artist on an independent label then you have to talk to the corporation yourself.

YC: usually artists and corporate types don’t really have very good chemistry…hence the manager is the middle man for that

JK: But in my case I am a FauxTown Music Label  Administrator, and part owner.  So I or whoever is running our label because they are few have to get off there arses and start using their brains. So I’m staring to make music videos.

YC: yeah.. i’ve heard a stat that it’s 20% material, 80% marketing in basically any business…which is kinda scary…because as far as material goes, Fauxtown has plenty of that…but i guess too, it’s about knowing what the specific goal is…because we are a label.. so talking to other labels is like.. we don’t really need to…a lot of artists are shopping themselves around FOR a label.. we run the label…but as far as how much clout we have, that is rather a mystery

JK: I think the material isn’t as accessible as it can be.  It can be readily accessible to people through different channels. Channels that need to be in place to be visible to people. Like the live show it’s a channel.

YC: ya it’s about knowing those channels and being good at them…because like i’ve said before, i think it’s kinda pointless to put someone in charge of a channel that they aren’t really into

JK: Yes well that’s the goal. Learn how to channel beyond composition.

YC:and that’s the trick for us too…is that most artists we know are really only good at specific things and beyond that they…don’t show interest in those other things

JK: That’s the hard work that needs to be put in.

YC: yes but at the same time, give someone a job they like and they’ll do it all the time…give someone a job they hate and they won’t do it ever…you can tell them that it’s needed all you like…they won’t really do it

JK: Yes and if they don’t like doing anything but music then that’s all they can do.

YC: right and that’s also great…but if say we step into a more managerial role, then it’s good for us to know that…because you’re not going to get that person who only likes being at home making music to tour..or go to events…or meet anyone

JK: It is but the hard work which makes a label tick.. the finding of timely opportunities by working to find them and pounce needs to be done.

YC: well not to tout the virtues of the free market but that’s why i love the free market…and why also the free market is scary…because it’s all there for you.. just go do it…get what you want

JK: Yes I think I have an idea that’s under developed but possible.

YC: personally i don’t see any difference between us and anyone else in terms of how much we care about music…whether they are famous or not…we can do what they do if we know what we’re doing…and also identifying goals and such…accounting is part of the problem…because musicians suck at it

JK: Like you said…and so is cooperation in some ways because ideally cooperation is easy between the people in our group, but in practice it’s a little more difficult.  The material is there but the complimentary material needs to be there too (music videos etc) live shows online. Then when the channel is produced it will flow like electricity.

YC: we have one thing that’s kind of going against us…which is that everyone we know has been working on stuff for so long now…that what you’re saying isn’t resonating.. people treat it like they’ve failed already and it’s over so saying “hey, NOW let’s do this” is hard for people

JK: Then if they’ve given up it’s up to us.  And we will revive their hopes when we make this happen.

YC: ya people gotta see it to believe it…no one has completely given up.. except those who have

JK: Yes we believe in them even tho they’ve moved on.

YC: well i do agree with you though.. if we can just get all the cylinders firing, we’ll be in good shape…but what i’ve learned is that we need people operating on different fronts.. like say Twitter

JK: They all say they can’t substitute work for playing shows unless the shows pay. So money does really matter.

YC: i used to dislike Twitter, but now i like it but also i have no time to Tweet all day on our behalf…that said, the Fauxtown twitter is back and it’s in better shape than it was.

JK: Which is good news.

<interjection> – some music

YC: it’s stuff like this that needs attention but you and me can’t do everything bro…we can do a lot, but not everything

JK: I’ll need the Twitter account info.

YC: i’ll give it to ya and you can see what’s going on over there…i actually had my VA curate it for a bit and she helped get it looking less lame

JK: We have to do everything we can. And that is asking for everyone’s help which means we will be doing basically everything on the business end.

YC: i think it also gets a bit confusing with money and such…people want to promote their albums their way…and so now with that plugin i’ve got it can link to whatever download you want which is nice…it takes time to find the right software sometimes because there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t do what you want it to do…but you had a good call on the website by mentioning the mobile thing…it’s way better now i think…so basically more presentable and i don’t feel so bad about showing it to people

JK: That’s good.

YC: so this interview has turned into us talking about our mission.. how did it happen?

JK: Lol you can cut it off when it was a q and a

YC: nah, i kinda like the impromptu nature of it to be honest…unless you don’t like that

JK: I don’t mind. It broke the third wall tho Which was you asking me questions as an interested journalist. Which became we are working for the same people which is us. Lol

YC: lol.. people love that stuff dont’ they…the point is, this is just another channel for us…like the podcast and everything else….i look at it like we put some time into it here and there, and eventually our little interviews can become something…but at first, it’s just us trying and failing and trying again

JK: We can also take the convo sheet and act out the interview.

YC: lol that’s like breaking the 4th wall

JK: Lol I think that’s how most interview go.

YC: how many walls do we need to break?

JK: They pre plan it and then go on camera.

YC: yeah that’s true.. there’s a lot of that now

JK: Their answers are always too perfect to be thought of that fast.

YC: well so long as i can post it like this as well, i don’t care…i’m just into the text form interview right now

JK: Yea.  The channels have to be planned. I’m going to work on how to do this.

YC: nice man keep me posted…i guess we can call it here…

JK: Okay take care.

YC: alrighty seeya !

Talking Beats and Business with Daniel Hartnett of The Corporatethief Beats

Hey guys, YC here. Today was a good day.  I got up, fed my cat, had some coffee and sloppy joe’s for breakfast, and then conducted an interview with beat-maker and online marketer Daniel Hartnett, the man behind The Corporatethief Beats. 

I came across Daniel while doing research on how to better use Twitter to promote my music, as he has some stuff about that over on his Youtube channel.  In this interview, I grill Daniel about his background in music, why he enjoys producing sick beats for a living, and how he ties it all together with online marketing.  It was educational to say the least.  Enjoy our chat!

YC: Hey Daniel, where’d you come up with the name of your business, The Corporatethief Beats? Sounds a bit anti-establishment…

DH: I wouldn’t say it’s the best name or most brandable name if I am honest. At the time it was just some weird name I called my Youtube channel hahaha.

I don’t it’s a good idea to put the word “thief” in your title when your business is in music online sales. But I had built up my channel up with the alias I just continued on.  The one good thing about it is that it’s unique. I see tons of beatmakers with the same name. This can be a nightmare for branding and the consumer experience. I have views and opinions about the political world, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now. I did adapt to the theme of the Corporate American culture with my branding for The Corporatethief Beats. You can see it in my logo and the titles of my tracks. In 2015 I did title an instrumental mixtape after the Wall Street movie where Gordon Gekko says “Greed I$ Good”. So I do like to play with themes and social media gimmicks.

YC: What’s your job title, would you say?

DH:
 I am qualified in music production and sound engineering from The Academy of Sound Dublin. Since 2008 music production has pulled me into online marketing too. I have had to become a jack of all trades to make this online machine work right. During my music production studies, I also studied Digital Marketing at Dublin Business SchoolI dabble in a lot of things online not just music. I podcast, vlog and have some other niche sites that are unrelated to music too. But for my music production side of my business, I use titles like Beat Maker, Sound Engineer, Digital Marketer.

YC: When did you start making beats?

DH:
 I have been playing music in bands since I was 13 years old. Also, my parents really pushed me with playing instruments. Which I am super grateful for now. I played the guitar and wrote a lot of simple acoustic songs in college. I wasn’t really into hip-hop then. I listened to a lot of grunge music like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana etc. One of my friends noticed that I was trying my best to record my songs with Audacity. He gave me a loan of his laptop which had FL Studio on it. Then he gave me the gist of how to make hip hop beats using this software.

I was hooked and I really started to get into hip-hop music. He told me to take an introductory music production course, so I signed up to Galway Technical Institute. This was my first taste of music production and working in a studio. It was here where I obtained skills for using Apple’s Logic Digital Audio Workstation. Not that there was anything wrong with Fl Studio, I just prefer LogicIn 2010 / 2011 I set up my own website www.thecorporatethiefbeats.com. It was around this time I moved to Dublin and attended the Academy of Sound which I studied there for 4 years. Academy of Sound gave me the necessary skills in ProToolsAlong with the process of how to work with bands in the studio.  During that time in Dublin, I worked as a runner and as a sound tech for the theatre company called Tobar Na Run.

YC: What gear did you have when you started your career and why did you have said gear, ie. birthday present when you were 12?

DH: I don’t have a complicated set up. I like everything simple. Too much stuff just confuses me and hinders my workflow.

    • Audio Interface : Apogee Duet {Simple High Quality Sound and Portable}
      iMac: Bought it in 2008 never had any problems.
    • KRK RP8 G3 active studio monitors: Good quality monitors never had any problems.
    • M-Audio Keystation Midi Keyboard. I don’t need an expensive midi synth as most my sounds are controlled by VSTI’s.
    • Native Instruments Machine. Amazing tool, you can literally create beats without an interface. The sound libraries with this tool are worth the money alone. There is a bit of a learning curve with this piece of kit. I haven’t used this tool to it’s full potential yet.
    • Logic Pro X: This is my main production tool. I use a lot of the stock synths and just tweek them to what I want.
    • Sylenth1 VSTI  I have the sylenth1 synth which is my main go too synth. I am just used to it. Along with the fact that I built up a library of sounds and templates over the years.
    • Native Instruments Komplete 9. This is all I need I use. There a lot of the synths with this tool. I rely heavily on patches and bend them to my sound or layer them with other sounds.  
    • Microphones Shure Beta 57a / Shure Beta 58a : Must haves for any musician or sound engineer.

I understand how they work like the ESX or the ES2 from years of making beats. Most of the time I just saved my own templates.

YC: I assume you’re into hip hop, from all indications.  Who are your all time fav hip hop artists?  

DH: It’s hard to answer this question. Even though I love the raps and lyrics from the classic rappers like Biggie 2Pac and Jay Z. Their raps just don’t resonate with me enough to build a thorough connection to. With rap artists like Nas, Kanye West, Drake, Kid CuDi, Lupe Fiasco, Travis Scott, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, I can feel a better connection to the material because of they are more or less the same age as my generation. I have different artists for different days. Some hip-hop artists I like, but don’t understand the lyrical content I just like the way that they rap like T.I. Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Jeezy, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz Cameron, Wiz Khalifa, Chamillionaire.

YC: Any new favs you’d recommend, like say some underground lesser known shit?

DH: Not really sure if these are considered underground. Artists like Hopsin, Kid Ink, Action Bronson, Atmosphere, Charles Hamilton.  

YC: What’s your favourite kind of beat?

DH: This is just too hard to answer hahah 🙂 I like complexity hidden in simplicity. Hahaha. I am a big fan of the music producer Danjahandz. He is Timbaland’s right-hand man. Listening to his beats, parts of them sound so simple. But it’s the way Danja places all these parts together. Along with his knack for using vocals as an effect within the song, to act as countermelody against the singers vocal is just sheer GENIUS!…A good example of Danja’s best work is seen on Gimme More by Britney Spears.

Also…Hello Good Morning by Diddy

And Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake.

For hip-hop music producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze,  Boi 1da, Travis Scott, Noah Shabbib, T-Minus, Kane Beats, Franks Duke, Dr Dre, anything they touch turns to pure gold.  I like dark seedy beats with some light of melody. I’m not really a boom bap kind an of a beat maker. Some modern beats that I like include The Language by Drake (produced by Boi 1da).

Also…Bad Ass by Kid Ink (produced by Devin Cruise)…

Ni**as In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West (produced by Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean)

Rich as F*ck by Lil Wayne / 2 Chainz (Produced by T-Minus)

Lord Knows by Drake / Rick Ross (Produced by Just Blaze)

YC: Do you like to recreate beats much?

DH: I don’t really do remixes or samples beats anymore, as they are really hard to promote online. Most online sites will just remove them once you upload them. I made a remix of a Lady Gaga’s song “Love Game” a while back and nearly lost my Youtube Channel in the process. Along with a sample hip-hop beat I created using Supertramp’s “Logical Song” caused the same issue which made it even worse. I do some request work from time to time and I will use samples for the artist. But I don’t actively promote sample-based beats anymore. I do take inspiration from the controversial ”Type Beat” method that you might see on Youtube. This is only a gimmick to get in front of the right buyers on Youtube. Most of the time my beats are an amalgamation of various type beats that I gained inspiration from at that given moment.  

YC: How long does it take to make one of your beats?

DH: That’s hard to say if I have a good workflow maybe a couple of hours and come back a day later and do the mix. I don’t usually mix and create on the same day.

YC: How much does it cost for a beat?

DH: Lease rights varies between $20 – $97 depending on the type of lease license. Exclusive Rights varies based on the popularity of the lease. Exclusive rights range from $350 – $2000

YC: 
Who buys your rap beats, typically?

DH:
 Great question. It’s surprisingly a lot of the time its companies using the music for background jingles on videos, radio shows, podcast and Youtubers. I have also got a couple of loyal beat buyers that purchase on a regular basis with custom work.

YC: Any cool songs online featuring one off your beats we can check out?

DH: Here’s some…

Kid Berg – White Boy Dope

Ty Brasel – Hope Dealer

YC: Do you ever sample live drums?

DH: Only at college we experimented a lot creating weird sounds.

YC:
 Are you a hi fi or low fi kinda guy?  ie. do you like smooth slick sounding shit or dirty grimy glitchy sounding shit?

DH:
 A bit of both. Really.

YC:
 At what point does beat making and internet marketing intersect for you?

DH: I set out a marketing plan for creating content for the release of the music and try to use my content to promote the music. Rather than using the music itself as a marketing tool. Examples include beat snippets on Instagram or beat making videos are good tools to promote the music without having to give it away for free.

YC: When did you start becoming an internet marketer?

DH: Around 2010 / 2011 is when I started my site. I knew that I had skills that could be used for other parts of the internet. I learned from music marketing expert not rely just on music sales. That I should use my skills to provide other services too. This is great advice that I still apply my goals too.

YC: Who inspired you to do that?

DH: My brother and I are obsessed with internet marketing. It’s given us freedom. But I think I just continued to try new things. Some of the old stuff tends to stop working so you need to adapt. Pat Flynn’s website Smart Passive Income was the first site that I stuck with when it comes to learning about online marketing.

YC: How much do you hate normal 9-5 shit?

DH:
 I will be the first to put my hand up and say that I am tied to my computer. But I make time for friends and family. I am not a crazy clubbing person, I am happiest when I have something positive to create. My other sites also take up some my time but I like having a diverse amount of things to do. Even though I like making beats I would go crazy if it was the only thing I did.

YC: What other instruments do you know how to play?

DH: Guitar, Piano {Not so great}

YC:
 What’s your sickest track, according to yourself?

DH:
 Good question. I really like my pop / rnb tracks kind of show my music production range.

YC: Did you study music, and if so, where?

DH:
 Galway Technical Institute is where I started with my music production. I went to the Academy of Sound after that and spent 4 years. It was here where I qualified with a higher Diploma in music production and sound engineering. Guitar and Piano are just by ear. I did receive some formal training when I was younger during primary school.

YC:
 What were the best skills you got out of Academy of Sound Dublin?

DH: I got to test very expensive gear. Tools like destressors, compressors, manley massive passive, DBX compressor, neve compressors. I also worked with the SSL Nucleus. I also love the sound of working with tape. I really heard the difference with reel to reel. I can hear how rounder and thicker my beats sound after going from the SSL to the tape machine back in the box.

YC: Did you have any other dream jobs?  ie. claims adjuster, preacher, airline pilot.

DH:
 Musician in a band. Hahah

YC:
 What sites of yours should people be checking out?

DH:

Getchorus.com – How To Write Hip Hop Lyrics and Learn How To Rap Website.

The Corporatethief Beats – Buy Hip Hop Beats.

My Blog Here – Learn Music Marketing

Free Email Marketing For Musicians Course

YC: So you seem to have a handle on the Twitter platform, as you offer a course on this, right?

DH:
 Yes. I just find Twitter is an easy starting platform for young musicians. Facebook does have an amazing advertising platform. But I feel that with Twitter it’s much easier to strike a conversation with strangers compared to Facebook which seems a little too personal for some people. With the Twitter course, I found that Twitter does come with a lot of grunt work which can become tedious over time. Over a couple of years, I found a couple of hacks that can really help the average musician. This will help them automate some simple process that doesn’t need to be repeated daily. They can get the course here.

How To Promote Your Music On Twitter

YC: What are you trying to basically get through to people with your course?

DH: Just to be clear. This is not a get rich quick digital marketing course. This not a how to make money on Twitter course either.Twitter comes with a whole lot of grunt work, which can become tedious over time. I found tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. But even these tools became a chore of their own. I needed to find a way of promoting my evergreen content and adding new content more efficiently without having to be on Twitter or Hootsuite 24/7.

YC: Do you think that the majority of musicians are realistic business people?

DH:
 I firmly believe that musicians have many skills to offer people. But they don’t see the value they have right in front of them. They focus on immaterial things like views, likes, and follower counts. If they could just see how valuable some of the skills they have most musicians would be much better off.

YC:
 Do you think that Twitter is the best platform for promoting music and why?

DH: It’s not perfect. Facebook is just a pay to play game. It’s as simple as that. I can strike up conversations with strangers all day on Twitter and nobody thinks it’s weird or creepy. If I do the same thing on Facebook it comes across as kind of sad for some reason. I think people have a personal touch with their Facebook pages. With Twitter, this can be an easy starting point with little resources other than time.   

Korg Triton Studio 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard Review

This is going to be a fairly unorthodox review of the Korg Triton Studio keyboard synth workstation (88-key version), because I will admit to you off the top that I am basically a newb.  As such, I can’t say that I know everything about this formidable beast of a workstation / sampler / keyboard, but I do have some experience with using it, as it happens.  In fact, I recently made a full length album with the help of the Korg Triton, as well as several DAW’s like Reason and Ableton Live, with the help of my buddy Curtis Maranda from Tiger Suit (pictured right).  The album we made is called All The Rad Snakes and I will link to it at the bottom of this review, if you’re interested.  For the record, I am Young Coconut, musician and recording artist for Fauxtown Records.

So, rather than pretend to be a tech geek, which I’m not, I will try to keep this review on the level to what I actually know about the Korg Triton Studio.  So let’s get started.

Korg TRITON Studio 88-Key Workstation Keyboard review

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One thing I can tell you about the Korg Triton off the top is that it is heavy and long.  And it takes up a lot of space.  I’m going to guess that it’s about 4 feet long, and frickin’ heavy.  Drop it on your foot and see.  Triton is a fitting name for this thing, because it is sort of all powerful in terms of what it can do.  In fact, I don’t even know all of what it can do – this machine is probably smarter than I am.  My familiarity with it comes from recording my album, and how I used it in particular.  I do know that this is more of a “retro” synth at this point, coming out in the ’90’s sometime, and possessing the ability to sound exactly like Fresh Prince of Bel Air if that’s what you’re after.  Many people use the Triton for beat making in a more serious and contemporary manner, such as this dude, King David of YouTube (BeatClass).

See, now this guy knows what he’s doing.  I couldn’t do that kind of thing by myself.  I still have miles to go when it comes to understanding all the ins and outs of this machine.  Be that as it may, let’s continue!

The Keyboard

Now, the Triton is foremost I would say a keyboard, and authentic one at that.  The one I used has the full 88-keys like a legit piano, and the keys are weighted like any good keyboard should be if you’re going to use it properly.  I’m not even a “real” piano player, but when I’m composing musical parts on a keyboard, I would say that the Triton has got to be one of the best I’ve ever used.  The keys are fully weighted as mentioned and when you bang something out on it, the sensitivity is there which you will need for certain dynamics in your song or playing.

Coupling the Triton with the Reason DAW in this case, I came up with many parts which we were able to make sound great just simply through performance on the Triton, and then in Reason we could make them sound even better by shifting a few notes around and changing the entire instrument sound as we are talking about MIDI notes here.  Here we are working on a new track and doing just that.  Playing stuff on the Triton and then fiddling around with the notes in Reason.  

For the album I did using the Triton, we did a lot of the changing of the sounds in Reason because it has some pretty good VST’s, but Triton also has countless synth samples that can be accessed, and you can refer to those in the guide which comes with it that shows your options for sounds, and there are a vast number.  I actually feel bad I didn’t use more sounds straight from the Triton, as you are definitely spoiled for choice in that department.  If you happen to get the manual along with this thing, it’s basically a monster tome of like 100-200 pages.  It’s not even called a manual, it’s called the “parameters guide” or something.  These guys at Korg back in the 90’s seriously expect you to be living the Triton life by handing you this guide.  You can put down the Bible or War and Peace because you will be too busy reading the guide to the frickin’ Triton and basing your life around that from now on.

Aesthetics and Body

Another thing I can talk about re: the Korg Triton is just the way it’s set up, and the overall look of it.  It looks great, IMO.  I love the silver grey body, and all of the switches and buttons are a uniform colour.  

This is sort of the opposite of a lot of synths and samplers today which light up and kind of look like the county fair.  The Triton is basically black white and grey, and I think it benefits from this utilitarian look.  You just get down to business right away – no distractions.  Even the computer screen it has sort of looks like a Gameboy – grey on grey.

Here’s a little joke video we made giving you a little tour of the Triton.  Sorry about the colour of the video – I accidentally turned the contrast all the way up and hit upload.  I kinda like it, I guess.

If I was shopping for a keyboard and I was a real piano player, I’d do well to have this thing because it can be a keyboard or it can be anything you want it to be.  It is durable as you can ask for in a synth keyboard, and I’ve had a couple others in my time, such as a very hefty Yamaha which was somewhat similar to this, with less functions.  Now, take a look at the back of this thing for a second…

This is where my non-tech background comes into play.  I know it has lots of places to run things in and out, but this isn’t really my area of expertise to be honest.

That said, it’s not too hard to understand.  You’ve got your in’s, your out’s, and they do what they do.  It’s all labelled quite clearly.  We had the Triton routed to some very large speakers – a Yamaha S215IV, as well as a Yamaha MSR800w.  This was for playback.  We also had it routed into the computer where we were using Reason and Ableton Live to put our tracks together.  We definitely weren’t using the full functionality of the Korg Triton.  For instance, we didn’t once use the SCSI port.  On the top side, we often used the toggle dial or the note-bender or whatever it’s called.  The thing on the left – definitely a cool thing.  What we didn’t do is play around with the ability to store samples and actually use this beast as the true workstation that it is.  You don’t *need* to route the Triton into your computer, but most DAW’s people use now are on laptops, so you’re probably going to have to.  That said, the Triton can be self contained.  If you use discs, it allows you to pop those in and save and load things that way, which we never did.  

Conclusion

Sure, I know there’s a ton more that can be said about the Korg Triton Studio.  But at this point I’m too ignorant to be the one to say much more.  I would say if you have access to this studio workstation, do use it.  I can’t see how you’d regret it.  If you get the chance to buy one, I’d recommend that also if you have a music production studio with all the trimmings.  This thing calls itself a “studio” and it is not kidding. 

If you have any comments about your experiences with the Korg Triton, please let us know in the comments below.  We love to hear from people!  Also, here’s my album that I made with the help of the Triton.  I can answer more specific questions if anyone has any.  Thanks for reading!

Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor Review

Studio monitors, otherwise known as audio monitor speakers, are a vital part of the studio set up. Audio monitor speakers give a clearer sound than regular home speakers. They allow people in the studio to hear more details of the track they are creating.

A studio monitor lets you hear your music at a great level of accuracy and clarity, which is highly important at any stage of creation, or even simply for true listening enjoyment. This type of high end speaker will let you catch any flaws, mistakes, or unwanted sounds between stages and before your song’s completion. This ensures that your song will sound great on any system!

There are some great options for studio monitors on the market. One that many people rave about is the Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor. It is highly reviewed by others who have used it. This product sells for about $1,300, which is pretty affordable for the quality and longevity of the product.  What do we think of it?  Find out below!

Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor Review

The Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor is one of the best monitors within its price range. This studio monitor provides true, uncolored sound. This allows you to hear the truth, so that you can perfect your music.

Feature Pick

Focal Solo6 Be 65″ Powered Studio Monitor

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This studio monitor is a great investment for any studio. It has a high frequency response, allowing the details of a song to shine through. For a similar reason, you can also work on your track at a low volume, while still being able to hear the track clearly.

This monitor is so up there in quality that it has even been used to master Alicia Key’s “As I Am”. The Focal Solo6 saves a lot of mixing time and is great for anyone who is serious about their music and would like to excel in terms of musical quality.

This product is created to last a long time. It is sturdy and durable, making it cost effective in the long run.  If you are an audiophile who loves to listen to music the way it was meant to be listened to, you should surely be doing yourself a favour by acquiring a pair of these speakers.

Features

  • Protection grille
  • Power cord
  • 2 year warranty
  • Low Frequency Driver: 6.5”
  • “W” composite sandwich midwoofer
  • High frequency driver: 1”
  • Beryllium inverted dome tweeter
  • Frequency response: 40Hz – 40kHz
  • Sensitivity: Adjustable
  • +4dBu or -10dBV

Who can benefit?

Anyone with an at-home or professional studio will benefit from purchasing a studio monitor like the Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor. The Solo6 provides the highest quality of uncolored sound, allowing you to hear details in music you never even knew existed.

Technology

The Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor has an upper frequency response that goes up to 40kHz. This is an amazing feat because this means that the Solo6 actually goes beyond human hearing, ensuring maximum clarity on your playback.

The Focal Solo6 utilizes a Beryllium inverted-dome tweeter, which allows the studio monitor to perform at its maximum capacity of quality. The inverted dome makes the sound precise and efficient.

Design

The Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor is a 2-way studio monitor, making it more compact than its 3-way counterparts.

Its dimensions are 9.4 x 11.4 x 13 inches. It weighs about 30 pounds, making it relatively easy to carry and install.

The Focal Solo6 has a rather sleek look, which keeps the studio looking fresh and cool. The front is black and the sides are made of polished cherry wood.

Insider Thoughts

The Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor is a studio monitor that was built to create the finest-tuned music post-production. It is there to help you catch every last flaw and imperfection during production and mixing.

Buying Advice

The Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor is an efficient studio speaker that will deliver that most clear playback available. Buying a studio monitor of high quality for your studio is imperative, and this particular one, due to its specs, makes a great option.

The best place to make this purchase is Amazon. Amazon provides convenient and quick shipping, gift wrapping, easy returns, durable packaging, and a 2 year warranty.

My Verdict

I would highly recommend buying the Focal Solo6 Powered Studio Monitor. It is a high quality studio monitor at a great price.

Advanced Songwriting Tips and Techniques for Serious Rockers

young coconut small

Today we (YTMS) interview accomplished singer and songwriter, Fauxtown Records’ very own “indie rocker” Young Coconut (inset right), to ask him to provide some songwriting tips and techniques for songwriters and rock dawgs who may already know a few things about how to write a song, but want to know even more.  Today we dive deep by examining some of his musical catalogue and personally asking him where he got his inspiration from, how he wrote the music, how high he might have been, and squeeze him for any other advice he might have.  The guy always has lots to say, so let’s get to it!


YTMS: Hi there Young Coconut.

YC: Call me YC.

YTMS: Ok, YC.  We know you’ve written a lot of songs over the years.  Can you confirm this for the people at home?

YC: Yes, it’s true. I’ve written and recorded a lot of songs. 

YTMS: What style would you say they are? 

YC: Rock, I guess.

YTMS: Ok, let’s share one to give people an idea of what you do.  This one’s called “Hangin’ With The Clones”. 

YC: Yep, that’s Hangin’ With The Clones.  What do you want to know about it?

YTMS: Ok, well let’s start with how you wrote it.  What do you remember about writing it?

YC: I wrote it maybe two and a half years ago on the same acoustic guitar I write a lot of songs on.  It was just a little chord progression I was fiddling with.  Four chords to begin with, kind of a sad sequence.  I was feeling forlorn, I believe it was summertime.

YTMS: So you were just sitting around sadly strumming these chords and then at what point did you feel like it was an actual song, rather than just a riff or progression?

YC: At the time, I was listening to Cyndi Lauper’s first album, which has Time After Time on it, which is one of my favourite songs.  I was kind of thinking about writing a song that’s similarly sad, but epic.  That’s when these chords came about.  I just wanted to write something as good as that song, which of course is very hard cause that song is a timeless classic. 

YTMS: Well, at least you tried!  Once you had the progression, then what was next?  Did you immediately hear it as a rock song of some kind?  A ballad perhaps?

YC: No, not really.  I just had the chord progression and then I started to think about a vocal melody, which came to me as a very sort of high, sad melody.  I was trying to think of a topic for what the song might be about.  Then I started thinking about how people sort of absorb personality traits from other people, like the way they speak and act, and certain mannerisms.  That lead me to thinking about how I know certain people that seem to hang out with people that really aren’t cool, and they themselves just become like those people, and the whole situation is kinda sad, because they just kind of become a clone.  That’s why it’s called Hangin’ With The Clones, because if you hang out with too many boring, stupid people, you become like that too.

YTMS: Hm, that’s not an explanation I would have expected for this song.  So the song is about that, then?

YC: Yeah, that’s when the lyrics started to appear in my head, and I started to add them to the song.  Sometimes the lyrics pop up and I just start trying to apply them to the melody I have in mind.  If the lyrics are super interesting to me, I’ll change the melody a bit to fit them, but sometimes the melody I like so much I won’t let certain lyrics be used because it changes the melody too much, and I consider a song’s melody to basically be its most important feature, besides the overall rhythm. 

YTMS: How important do you think the topic of a song is?  This one, for instance, has a weird subject matter that maybe no one would even guess.  Do you think songs should be universal in some way so that everyone can enjoy them?

YC: Personally, I don’t really care if people get what the song is about.  Sometimes even I don’t know, or maybe I do but I’m not going to spell it out for people.  That might make the song less “universal”, but I find that there’s enough fairly predictable songs out there.  When I hear a song that comes at you from a different direction than most, I’m usually interested to hear that song.  Didn’t Sting once say something about predictable music being annoying to some people or something?

YTMS: I don’t know.  Anyway, ok, so you wrote that verse part, but eventually then you wrote the chorus and the bridge.  The song isn’t that short, and it has a lot of parts.  Is that something you like to have is a lot of components.

YC: I think this song does have a lot of subtle shifts, but it’s also a fairly repetitive song in some ways, which is fine by me.  Usually once I’ve got one part of the song, my thought is just to write something cool to go with it, and then bingo! – I’ve got a chorus, and I particularly like writing the bridge of a song.  It’s like having a bonus part to work with.  I really like some of the bridges I’ve come up with the best, often more than the verse or chorus. 

YTMS: You sound like you just crank out parts to songs easily.  What about people who have writers block?  Do you ever get stumped for adding another part to a song? 

YC: You know how they say if you can’t write something in 5 minutes, it isn’t good?  That’s kind of true.  Often I just whip it out and the song is written quite quickly when I’m in the right mood.  Other times I’ve sat on a riff for 10 years, not knowing where it should go.  I think it’s about my mood.  Sometimes I’m in a good mood for creating music, and it’s easy.  Other times, not so much.  But it doesn’t matter, because generally, I find myself in the mood to at least create something.  I’m good, I think, at coming up with little bits of songs, and what happens with me is that as long as I’m holding my guitar, I can usually figure out something that I at least partially like.

YTMS: Structurally, with Hangin’ With The Clones, what do you consider the bridge of the song to be here?

YC: This song is kind of weird.  I guess the “you’re busy all the time…” part, but I almost consider the “ah ah” part near the end to be kind of like a bridge.  To me it’s whatever is not the verse or the chorus, and so that could be one of two things here.  Sometimes I use the same chords and the challenge is to try to write a different melody to go with it.  So this song is a bit mish-mashed.  I like how it turned out though, it’s one of my favs of my own stuff.

YTMS: Do you like a lot of your own stuff?  Some people wouldn’t say they listen to or like their own music at all.

YC: Yeah, no, I do like my stuff.  I guess I think of songwriting to be mostly for me.  I like creating my own little worlds of things, whether it’s art or music.  So with songs like this one, for instance, as long as I have my mind on it, I can usually keep working on it until I don’t hate it.  And once I don’t hate it, I like it, and once I like it, I will pretty much always like it to some extent.  You gotta love yourself first, man.

YTMS: Nice hippy axiom.  Ok, let’s hear another song.  This time it’s called “Opening Line”.

YTMS: This is kind of a grunge song, or…?

YC: Yeah, I guess.  You know, I didn’t even write this song.  My buddy Phil Delisle did.

YTMS: I was told you wrote it!

YC: Nah, Phil wrote it.  It’s getting old, this song.  20+ years.  He wrote it when he was 20, now he’s 41.  I always liked it, and was always wanting to record it myself.

YTMS: I guess you did!

YC: Yeah, it only took like 18 years to do it.  This song was already recorded a long time ago by one of the first bands I was in, Mon Chere.  The song was much different then, in a way.  The rhythm wasn’t the same, but similar.  I think it was slower and had maybe more screaming.  It was the first song I heard one of my friends write where I was just like “Wow, you wrote that?  That’s a cool song!” 

YTMS: What did you like about it? How did you hear it?

YC: We used to visit Phil in the summer at his parent’s place, which was pretty cool and had a lot of space to hang out.  It was a huge house.  I think they still own it.  Anyway, one time me and some friends dropped by and Phil had been recording songs on his four track and he played us that one.  I was immediately like “That’s so cool!  How’d you do that?”  He was just learning the art of low fi recording, and I had never gotten as far as he did, so I did eventually get a four track too and that had a big impact on my songwriting, once I started using it.

YTMS: What did you like about the song? Don’t avoid the question, sir!

YC: The way he sings it is quite different from how I sing it cause we don’t really sound the same at all, but I just liked the idea of the song.  There’s a sense of humour, and it’s just kind of a wacky song to me, but it has some truth to it.  Where you want to introduce yourself to a girl, but you can’t think of what to say to sort of have that excuse to talk to her.  I really just related to the sentiment.  I used to play drums on the song, so my job at the time was just to pound out this beat to work up the song into a screaming fit and a bit of a solo later in the song.  The point of the song was to get him to start yelling.  It was fun.

YTMS:  You do some yelling here in this song yourself.

YC: Yeah, I do sometimes yell and shred my vocal chords.  It’s hard to get a good shriek going.  But I got a few on this song for at the end.

YTMS: What else can you tell us about this song?

YC: When I recorded it, my buddy Kyle was like “This song is boring…” He was producing and had no interest in the song.  He did like it better by the end, because the thing is, people who don’t have any emotional investment in something rarely see the potential it has in the beginning.  By the end, he had to admit it was kinda cool.

YTMS: This is one of those basic rock songs with the four-note bass type of thing. 

YC: Yeah, totally.  It’s a very basic kinda grunge song.  But that’s kinda why I like it.  I think if the lyrics were different, I’d hate it.  But the lyrics make it less of a 3 Days Grace type of shit song. 

YTMS: Not a fan, I take it. 

YC: Nah, not really.  I can’t handle those types of songs.  They just strike me as being written by some angsty teen ager, but it’s actually an angsty 35 year old with no sense of humour.  Whatever, anyway…

YTMS:  Ok, got time for one more song?

YC: Sure, why not?

YTMS: This one is more electronic, and it’s called “Good Streets”.

YC: Yeah, that’s Good Streets.

YTMS: What does “Good Streets” mean? 

YC: I can’t tell ya.  I haven’t thought about it much.  I think I just like it phonetically.  This song kinda has a really stupid history.

YTMS: What does that entail?

YC: I wrote it with a really super cheap keyboard that had jungle sounds on it and I basically tried to write the most simple keyboard riff ever, and this is what I came up with.  It was recorded on a tape recorded at like 2am a long time ago and I’m not even sure what I was thinking.  I was just in my apartment screwing around.

YTMS: So the inspiration here was what?

YC: There really was none.  I was just purely messing around with a really cheap keyboard and making up this song that I didn’t even like.

YTMS: Why were you doing it then if you weren’t in the mood, as you were saying?

YC: I don’t know.  I actually don’t know.  I was just sitting on our carpet and had a bunch of junk around me and probably should have been sleeping, but this keyboard was fairly quiet so I seem to remember adding a lot of layers to the track, which sounded bad, just to see if I could make it sound audible.

YTMS: Do you still have that recording?

YC: Um, let me check.  Yep, apparently.  Here it is.

YTMS: Wow, that audio isn’t the greatest.

YC: No, it’s not.  I agree.  We also did a rock version of the song.

YTMS: Do you have the audio for that?

YC: I do. Here it is.

YC: This was with the Approachables.

YTMS: Was this before the electronic version?

YC: Yeah, way before.  The electronic version I did last year.  The rock version is from 2007, and the original is 2001. 

YTMS: Why do you keep re-doing it?

YC: Not sure.  I think of songs like movies that I like.  I like to revisit them once in a while.

YTMS: Even though people basically aren’t aware of any of the versions?

YC: What are you saying?

YTMS: Correct me if I’m wrong, but none of these versions of this song are that famous.

YC:  This interview is over… <slams mic on floor and leaves>.

Using Kontakt by Native Instruments – Overview and Chat with Producer Daniel Kern

kontakt 5 player review

Hey guys, Young Coconut here, musician and Fauxtown Records artist.  Lately, as I’ve been getting more into making electronic music of my own, I’ve been hearing a lot about this program called Kontakt, and specifically the fifth version Kontakt 5, by Native Instruments. 

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My buddy Daniel Kern uses it frequently with his own compositions, and so I decided to ask him a few (a lot of) newbie questions about this extensive music software suite, and he basically gave me his review of it plus a whole lot more. 

daniel kern

This chat is a companion piece to his actual review of Kontakt by Native Instruments he did recently for this website.  Check out our chat and hopefully if you’ve been wondering about it, this should tell you what someone who uses it regularly thinks of it.


YC: Hey Daniel, how are you today?

DK: Hey YC. I’m fine, how are you?

YC: Ah, you know, pretty good.  Since you are an audio buff who uses a lot of digital software to create your music, I wanted to ask you a few things about the program called Kontakt.  You know, the Native Instruments sample player?

DK: Of course. I hope I’m able to answer your questions adequately.  Hit me!

YC: Ok, which version of Kontakt do you have currently running on your computer?

DK: I have Kontakt 5.  Here’s what it looks like.

YC: Aha, so for those who don’t know what Kontakt is, can you tell me and the people what it does, and why one might want to use it?

DK: Kontakt does a lot. I guess most people are using it as a VST plugin inside their DAW (Cubase, Nuendo, etc. ) – but it also works as a standalone!  I guess not many are using it to develop their own Kontakt-Libraries (“VSTs”). The thing is that Kontakt is working as a “host” for a huge variety of Kontakt Libraries /.nki files.  Theres everything from drums and percussion to instruments like pianos and guitars, world instruments, synthesizers, and of course also orchestral sounds.  Either from Native Instruments (the makers of Kontakt) themself or from various other creators.

YC: I wasn’t aware that it worked as a standalone DAW.

DK: No, not as a standalone DAW, just as a standalone plugin.  I mean you can record stuff with it, but I guess the standalone application is rather for live-purposes.

YC: Right, so how do you tend to use it mostly?

DK: I use it mostly as a “host”-VST in Cubase playing different libraries. I mean mostly I combine them with other VST plugins like VSL.  Especially when doing orchestral stuff.

YC: Can you share with us all an example of a composition you’ve made with Kontakt?

DK:  Puhh.. I dont know if I have any that are made completely with Kontakt, without using any other plugins.

YC: Well it can just include Kontakt stuff. Not purely Kontakt.

DK: Alright let me search.. 🙂

YC: Ya just to talk about something concrete.

DK: Well, I’m sure I have a lot of sounds in this track from various Kontakt plugins.

DK: But I edited a lot there 🙂 Let me see if I also can find one thats not too electronic..

YC: Sure.

DK: Let’s try this one. 

DK: In my sample-reel are many different musical styles but in the first part (the more “classical” one) a few strings from the background are from Kontakt for example in the electronic part that follows I also used Kontakt for a few things but we could at some point make a “Only Kontakt” Track 😉

YC: Yeah, I see.. so for the second link you shared, “Sample One”, besides Kontakt, what else is in there?

DK: uh .. there are a bunch ^^  For instance, the piano is “The Grand” from Steinberg.

YC: Ok, yeah…

DK: The violin and cello are from VSL.  Those are definitely some of the greatest orchestral plugins on the market.

YC: What’s from Kontakt in that track?  It’s obviously kinda tough to know what is coming from where.

DK: The background strings are from Kontakt.  And, well, most of the things you remember.. ^^

YC: You’d have to be sort of a plugin master to know what sample library provides what sound to a track like this I think…

DK: No I wouldn’t say so.. I think you just need to know your plugins haha.

YC: How many instruments would you say make up this track?

DK: From beginning to finish or just the classical part?

YC: The whole thing.

DK: Puh…that’s a lot haha.  Let me give it a listen.. Its been a while since I did that track.

YC: Ok sure.

DK: I’d say between 70-100, maybe more..because I layered a lot of sounds, every part of the drums is another plugin.

YC: Wow, yeah, so like 70 tracks essentially? …or some crazy amount of tracks.

DK: I’d say if 70 instruments, about 90 tracks .. some of them have a few copies, not counting stuff like tempo track, velocity tracks, etc.

YC: aha. yeah.. you must have a decent computer set up to run all that.

DK: Well it could be better. I’m actually looking to build up a new setup.

YC: You’ll get there. How do you think Kontakt has come up with such rich sounds for their sample libraries?

DK: I think that besides the huge sound library that you can get by buying KOMPLETE 11 – made by / or at least in cooperation with Native Instruments (the creators of Kontakt).  The crazy thing about Kontakt is that it allows also “outsiders” to create Sound Libraries and in agreeance with NI they are also allowed to sell them. So that changes the game, they dont have to build up their own VST Interface, and programming the sampler from scratch – they can use Kontakt for that. I’m sure this is the biggest reason why they have such a huge variety of sounds.

YC: How do you go about making your own Kontakt sample libraries? Is it easy, or does it take a long time?  How do you go about it?

DK: I actually dont have too much experience with creating complex libraries in Kontakt, but most of my own libraries are completely sample-based. I record different sounds first via Cubase (Drums, Percussion, SFX,.. different velocities – different sounds) and then I slice them up and put them on the different keys / velocities. I would say it depends on what you are gping to make if its easy .. if you want to build a complex synthesizer, there will be some programming to do, if you want to record whale-sounds in the antarctica – you will need money and equipment to succeed.

YC: What was your experience with installing Kontakt? I’ve heard it can be tricky.

DK: Installing Kontakt was actually pretty easy as far as I remember.. installing via setup and then put the .dll file into the VST folder you chose for your DAW. 

YC: Did you download Kontakt or buy it?  You think it’s worth it?

DK: I bought it, and I’d say its definitely worth the money !

YC: Do you usually update Kontakt when you can?

DK: I update it there and then, but not as often as I should maybe 🙂

YC: Any systems it doesn’t run on that you know of? What are you running Kontakt 5 on?

DK: I don’t know if they work well on Apple, but they worked fine for me with Cubase and also for a friend of mine with studio one.  I also guess they should work in Ableton.

YC: If you were to tell someone the most basic way to use it, what would that be. For a beginner. I’m not talking about a lesson, but for a new guy, would would you recommend they do once the software is running.

DK: I would recommend people who just bought and successfuly installed Kontakt, that they browse through the plugins as much as they can try to remember what they have, play around with the sounds, familiarize yourself with your libraries so later on when you need a specific instrument in a composition – you know where to find it. And you can get a lot of inspiration out of playing with those sounds 🙂

YC: What’s your favourite instrument to use in Kontakt and why?

DK: My favourite Instrument depends on what I need to do. For Chiptunes I like to use Bitkits, for Background Strings I sometimes use NI Action Strings, I also like some Big Fish Audio Libraries for cinematic stuff, there are a bunch of cool instruments for electronic sounds, some cool things for hiphop stuff .. I cant really say that I have a favourite 🙂

YC: How many instruments are in the library overall? I guess i could just look that one up, but what the hey.

DK: Well the number of instruments depends on if you have the free Kontakt Sample Player, the Kontakt Komplete or the Kontakt Komplete Ultimate Bundle. And also on how many Libraries you buy from other creators!  So it depends!

YC: Yeah man, well I may just have to get my hands on Kontakt myself.  It sounds pretty great!

DK: Definitely check it out if you can.

YC: I will!  Thanks for the chat, dude.

DK: No problem, later!

How To Record A Rock Album At Home – In Convo with Fauxtown Recording Artist YC

It is becoming increasingly easy to record your own professional sounding music at home, whether it’s rock, jazz, folk, metal, country, and so forth.  This home recording boom comes not a minute too soon, because the music industry as it once was is pretty much gone the way of the dodo bird. 

In decades past, pretty much every famous rock band was trying like heck to get signed to a major label, looking for that million dollar rock and roll payout that would come with that signing. 

New bands were actively running around trying to get signed like it was the end of the world if they couldn’t get a contract, and have a “sugar daddy” record label to support them. 

Nowadays, tons of famous artists have their own record labels, and many of these artists record their music from the comfort of their own home, doing it themselves, from start to finish, with just a basic recording setup.

In the past 20 years, more and more artists are saying “forget it” to signing to a major label, and just doing it all themselves, from recording to promotion.  It’s as if…the major labels aren’t necessary anymore.  Wow, imagine that!  But…big BUT…does this home-recorded music that everyone’s doing actually sound any good?  Will serious music industry people take it seriously?  Can you book a show at Madison Square Garden with such a recording?  Is it “professional” sounding enough to get you gigs, or even signed, if that’s your goal? 

We recently bumped into Young Coconut of Fauxtown Records, who just released an album called Rowdy Jumbal, which is a somewhat psychedelic ten-track home recorded rock album that he wrote and produced himself, with the help of his buddy Kyle Gruber. 

We decided to grill him on his new album, since it is a both a rock record and a home recording, about the whole process.  Here is our conversation – enjoy!


YTMS: Hey Young, how’s it going?

YC: Good, good.  Call me YC. Just wrapped up my latest album, called Rowdy Jumbal. It’s online now. 

YTMS: Yes, I see it’s a 10 track affair.  How long did it take you to make this LP? 

YC: About 6 months, from the start of sessions to the end. 

YTMS: How often were you working on it?

YC: I’d say for an afternoon every weekend.  Maybe 4-6 hours a week.  Not that much, really.  I recorded it all at my buddy Kyle’s studio, one week at a time.

YTMS: Let’s hear a track, shall we?

YC: Sure.

YTMS: Any preference? 

YC: Nah, you pick.

YTMS: Ok, let’s go with the first track called Cancer Crew.

YTMS: Not bad.  Kinda space-y.  Was this recorded live off the floor, as they say?  Did you get a band together and do takes of the song until you nailed it?

YC: No, no.  We laid the tracks down one at a time.  Just pieced it together bit by bit. Can’t you tell?

YTMS: It’s hard to tell, but I guess now that you mention it, maybe it does sound that way.  Pretty organic sounding though.  Why didn’t you record it with a band?  Did you not have a band at that time?

YC: I generally always do it this way.  One track at a time is just easier for me.  But no, my band had just split up. 

YTMS: So did you play everything yourself then?

YC: No, my buddy Kyle laid down a bunch of the stuff too.  Drums, guitar, bass, some vocals.  He was all over it.  I also did about equal amounts of the same instruments.  The thing is, I wrote these songs, and also I sang on them, because it’s my album.

YTMS: Why didn’t you just do everything yourself?

YC: Well, Kyle gets bored just hitting record and he’s a good musician so I really didn’t mind him getting involved to the extent that he did.  We kind of shared production duties, and his style is different from mine, so that’s cool too.  Spices things up a bit.  That said, most of the ideas were mine.  All the songs had been written well before the recording sessions, mostly.  I knew what I was doing for the most part coming into that session.

YTMS: How about this one, called Man of Interest.  What did Kyle play here?

YC: He actually played the main guitar riff, but I taught it to him.  He’s more into metal than I am, and so he made it sound more metal than it did in the past.  I like how it turned out.  This is probably my favourite track of the bunch.  I wrote it back in the day with my buddy J.K. Phil Osé.

YTMS: Cool.  So, moving right along, the topic of this article we’re doing here, if you didn’t know, is “how to record a rock album at home”.

YC: Oh, I see.  Ok, well there you go.  That’s pretty much what we’re talking about here.  

YTMS: Keeping that in mind, would you say that recording a rock album “at home” would be any different than recording, say, a metal album, at home?  Or a jazz album?  Folk? 

YC: Hm, I don’t really think so.  If you’ve got the gear, and people to play the parts, and obviously the space to do it, then you can do it at home, no problem.  By space, I mainly mean just having enough space to record, but I personally don’t take up too much room, as I’m just one person, and so there were only ever two of us there doing stuff at any one time.

YTMS: What about the sound of the room.  In a studio it has certain acoustics, but at home?  What kind of room were you guys using?

YC: We were just in his basement, which is basically like a rec room / den type of setup.  There’s a big billiard table, and often we’d just lay stuff on there like mics and stuff, as well as patch cords.  The one side of the room was all of Kyle’s stuff.  His desk, his gear, his computer, guitars, drum kit, etc.  As far as acoustics go, there was a big entryway leading into the recording part of the room, so the sound kind of carried out of that room and upstairs basically.

YTMS: Did you think that room had good acoustics?  Like, did you guys do anything to that room to prepare it for recording?  Sound-proofing, for instance…

YC: Nah, we just set up mics, got levels, and went for it.  The walls are just made of.. you know, wall stuff.  Drywall?  I don’t build houses, but anyway, obviously every room has its own sound, but this is really the only space we had to do this, and I wouldn’t say it was a bad place to record an album.  The room was fairly large, like 15′ x 45′ or something.  I think once you start mic’ing stuff like say drums, you focus more on positioning the mics so that the recording sounds good, and you forget about the room a bit, even though it’s part of the sound of the recording.  I’ve recorded lots of places – different friends’ houses, basements, jamhalls, and even more pro studios.  The point is if I want to record something like a song, I’m going to do it.  I just need somewhere to do it.  I’m not going to be overly picky about where.

YTMS: Fair enough.  But I’m sure people might be wondering if it’s worth it for them to go to a more professional recording studio vs. just doing it at home themselves.  What do you think?  Can you hear the difference?

YC: Well, if you go to a fancy studio, they’re probably going to have better gear than me.  Actually, they definitely will have better gear than me, and probably booths, and sound proofing, proper mics and stuff.  And yeah, you probably will get a better sounding recording at the end, whether it’s a song or a whole album.  I can’t say that me recording something is going to sound better than a pro studio, but I do see advantages to doing it myself.

YTMS: Such as?

YC: How about saving thousands of dollars?  There’s that, plus there’s also things like if it’s my house and my instruments I can set things up when I want and take all the time in the world to do it.  Unless some room mate or neighbour or girlfriend or wife or landlord or guy across the street complains, and then I have to go by their rules, or else I’ll have to put up with their complaining and they might even call the dreaded bylaw enforcement or whatever. 

YTMS: Let’s check out another track, if you don’t mind.  This one’s called Seven Tornadoes.  What’s this song about?

YC: Well, if I remember correctly, my ex girlfriend had a dream one time about being at a house somewhere and being in a basement and looking out a window and seeing seven tornadoes all coming towards the house from different directions.  She told me about it and I thought it would make for a cool song idea, so I made up a song to go with it.  

YTMS: Hm, interesting.  So this song is about natural disasters?

YC: Yeah, kinda.  It’s about having your life going the way you want and then suddenly – BAM – you get hit by a tornado and everything is gone.  Sort of like devastation, but more like emotional devastation, not literal tornadoes in this case.  The song also talks about being able to create havoc yourself.  So not only does stuff happen to you, but you cause stuff to happen to others.  It works both ways.

YTMS: Gotcha.  Ok, this might be a personal question, but did you record this album the way you did because you didn’t have the money to do it at a studio in town somewhere?

YC: Obviously if I had a pile of money, or even an ample budget to record songs professionally, I might like to visit a studio.  I like working with other people, in new environments, trying different things.  Different guitars, drum sets, vocal mics.  I even like taking input from producers sometimes.  That doesn’t bother me, unless that person is a jerk, but all of that requires money, yes indeed.  And for that album, I paid Kyle a bit, but we basically just did the whole thing because I wanted to.  I had a bunch of songs, and I didn’t want to save up money I didn’t have or wait around.  So we just got down to business.

YTMS: Ok, so in terms of special gear for this project, is there anything that someone reading this who wants to do something similar should know about?  Would you say it was a “basic” recording set up?

YC: I’d say pretty basic, yeah.  We had a couple electric guitars, a bass, his drum kit, his laptop with some software, that being Cubase.  We had a nice big synth, we had a corner where the vocal mic was set up.  In terms of gear, I’m not all that picky about it.  What I try to do is to make it sound the best it can.  I think that’s almost part of the fun, unless, of course, something is majorly screwed up and you can’t even play it.  Like, he didn’t have my favourite type of bass, but we still used it. 

YTMS: What was it? 

YC: I forget, some kinda clangy bass.  Like a starter bass, but then we’d EQ it the best we could to give it more oomph.  The synth we had trouble getting it up and running I remember in the beginning.  We were just newbs and he just got it, so it was like, not cooperating even though it was brand new.  But that was kind of our fault.

YTMS: How about we share one more track.  This one’s called Opening Line.

YTMS: Kind of a grunge track or something.

YC: Yeah, well I didn’t write this song.  My buddy Phil did.

YTMS: That J.K. Phil Osé guy?  

YC: Nah, my buddy Phil Delisle, from my other band, The Approachables.

YTMS: So Opening Line is a cover?

YC: Yeah, Phil wrote it a while back.  I always liked it.  Actually, you know what?  This was the first song that someone ever played me that they wrote themselves where they played it and I was like “Wow, you wrote that?  And recorded it?”  I was just so impressed, even though it was just on a 4-track or whatever.  I just dug the song.  It took me like 18 years to actually get around to recording it.  I always wanted to.

YTMS: What does he think of this version?

YC: I don’t know…

YTMS: Hm, well then…Let’s go back to the original topic here for a second.  We’re talking about making rock records at home.  Is yours a rock record, would you say?  The style is a bit out there for rock, maybe.  Some of it is more rock than other songs.  I find it hard to classify, really.

YC: Rock is such a broad term, but I think anything that has guitar, bass, drums, and vocals is pretty much going to sound pretty “rock”, unless you’re doing something really weird.  I don’t think my stuff is that weird.  It’s definitely not like Nickelback or The Rolling Stones or anything.  Mutt Lange was not behind this album, as you know.  I relate my music here more to like ’60’s weird garage rock and more recent underground types of bands like Guided by Voices and Sebadoh.  Just different stuff, but not so different that you have no idea what it is.  It’s pretty much rock. 

YTMS: Alrighty, we’ll go with that then.  You basically ran down your “rig”, in terms of the equipment you used, but you weren’t too specific about anything.  You mentioned Cubase…

YC: Yeah, see, I don’t think it really matters specifically what you’re using.  If you have some beat up old electric guitar, and an amp, and a microphone, just use what you got.  You do need a computer with a DAW, or like some recording software, but you can get that free online these days too.  I think Ableton is free, or there’s some multi-track thing you can get that’s free that will record live mics.  You need a pre-amp, to run the mics through, and all the appropriate cords.  Whatever instruments you’re using, you’ll need to have them handy.  If you’re recording live off the floor with your band, you need your band there and they should be practiced on the songs you’re doing.  If you can’t pull off the part you’re trying to record, that’ll drag things out quite a bit.   That happens to me a lot.  I’m not quite prepared, and I have to get good when I’m recording the part, and that can be annoying.  I should just learn my parts I guess.  My bad.

YTMS: You don’t have any advice on which software to use, or anything like that?

YC: No, I say if you’re comfortable using Garageband, use it.  It does the job.  If you like ProTools, use that.  I think what’s important here is that if you have some music you want to record, don’t wait til you have money, just record it.  If you’re feelin’ it, so to speak, just do it!

YTMS: But some would say that it’s better to get a really professional sounding track so that you can use it to get gigs, or maybe even get signed.  Don’t you care about that?

YC: Haha, not really.  But that’s me.  I just don’t care about any of that.  I record things because I want to, not because I’m trying to impress someone.  I’m just trying to get my ideas out, and sort of please myself I guess.  I don’t care that much about what others think.

YTMS: Well then why release it at all if you don’t care.  You obviously care to an extent.

YC: I mean, it would be nice if people liked my music but my ego isn’t so big that I just need people’s validation all the time.  I’m not making this music so you can tell me it’s good.  I like it, and I feel like it’s good, and that’s good enough basically.  I also know this music is not for everyone, and I’m probably not going to be famous from it.  I don’t really care.  I just like recording songs, and putting them in playlists, and showing them to people sometimes if they do care.  It’s like art – you just kind of feel compelled to do it and get a kick out of it. 

YTMS: Ok, well do you think your recordings are good enough to show to someone in the music business who might want to sign you?  Like, what if we played them this song of yours, called One Third.  By the way, I’m going to add it to the article, just because why not?  But what if someone important heard it?

YC: You know, if that person is any good at their job, they can hear a good song a mile away.  I think this one sounds alright, by the way.  I think they all sound pretty decent.  Anyway, lots of bands record crappy versions of their songs and other people hear them and recognize that the song is good or that they’re talented, so I’m not too worried.  That said, yeah, I actually do think this album sounds pretty decent.  It could always sound better though.  Better equipment, better room, better this and that.  But whatever, it’s fine the way it is, I think.

YTMS: How much do you think this recording cost you, at the end of the day?

YC: Uhh.. hmm.. maybe $800?  I just wanted to pay Kyle something for helping me, but he wasn’t even that worried about it.  I just paid him a certain amount every time I dropped by.  Money wasn’t a big thing…

YTMS: Let’s talk about lyrics for a second.  Did you have any trouble coming up with lyrics for these songs?

YC: No, not really.  I never have trouble writing lyrics.  That said, I don’t know how good my lyrics are.  I just want something to sing, and I usually just come up with something on the spot, or quickly.

YTMS: For some people, writing the actual song is the hardest part.  Getting good songs for their albums.  Thinking about what will be the single.  That kind of thing.  What do you think about this?

YC: Like I said, most of these songs were written when I got to the studio to record them, or they were at least roughed out so I knew what I would do.  Things always change along the way.  Lyrics might change.  A drumbeat might change, or a guitar part might be added.  But I think that’s to be expected, as the recording process can be long, and you have time to dream up new stuff sometimes.  I’m not that strict, but I do have an idea where I am going with a song.  Like, I might really like a melody, and I will fight to keep it in there.  I don’t usually let something be the final take if I think it sounds bad.  Re-recording of stuff happens often.  Vocals, for instance.  Anything really…

YTMS: Did you use any apps on this recording?  Any new technology at all? 

YC: No, not at all.  I don’t use my phone to record.  My phone sucks.  But I did use it to instagram some bits here and there, for fun.  Like, if Kyle had bought some new effects pedals I would have put them to use because I like using special effects on songs.  It’s fun.

YTMS: Did you guys get along the whole time?

YC: Yeah, basically.  We kind of would just hang out sometimes, and get distracted.  But we got stuff done.  I don’t like to just be such a dictator that we can’t just shoot the sh*t, ya know?  As long as I felt like we were making progress, I was cool with that.  I will say though that for Man of Interest, Kyle said the song sucked when we started working on it, but I always had that song in my back pocket and loved it, but he was not impressed.

YTMS: He hated it?

YC: Yeah, he said it sucked.  By the end, it was his favourite song on there.  Go figure.

YTMS: You didn’t have any problems using your DAW during the process, ie. Cubase?

YC: Actually.. now that you mention it, Cubase was giving us problems, but I think it was more to do with the fact that his computer had some viruses or something.  Things sometimes just would not work.  We’d be sitting around, rebooting and stuff.  So kids, make sure you don’t use your computer filled with viruses to record your music.  At one point, we lost a bunch of stuff due to some malfunction, and we were freaking out.  Some songs just disappeared.  We eventually found them, but with Cubase, if you lose any folder or move something, you “lose” the whole song until your computer can find it again.  Scary stuff like that was happening.  That’s why I just wanted to get it done.

YTMS: A professional producer wouldn’t just lose your tracks, right?

YC: They better not!  I’ve had lots of mishaps in the recording studio, even working with more experienced people, like my buddy Jet Black.  His rig was immense and like old school analog, so that thing had even more problems, mainly cause it was old, and it had to load up onto this DAW that was a bit glitchy, and everything took a million years.  I’d rather just use new stuff, even though Jet’s stuff was analog, and tended to sound way better.  He had a total pro studio, that guy.  And the stuff he listened too, like Steely Dan and Jackson Browne, and other hi fi recordings with really great speakers.  There’s something to be said for getting a really good recording of your own song.  It’s thrilling.  You definitely lose something just slapping tracks together.

YTMS: Are you changing your story here a bit?  You’re saying go for the bigger budget studio experience?

YC: If you can afford it, why not try it?  I just couldn’t afford it, but I’m also good at getting the sound I want out of let’s say not the best instruments or other constraints.  You just have to have a vision for what you want, and you’ll get something like it in the end, if you try hard enough.

YTMS: The bottom line, I guess what you’re saying is, you can record a rock album at home, and it’s not a big deal.

YC: I mean you have to have certain skills.  Writing songs, knowing how to record them, and being able to play instruments.  It’s not that impossible though.  It can easily be done.  Some of my favourite recordings don’t sound that amazing in terms of production values.  I like something with a bit of character.

YTMS: Alright, thanks YC for your time, and we’ll post a link to your page at the bottom here.

YC: You bet!

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