Tag: My music

Album status update 05/06/2017

Still tracking guitars. Rhythm guitars. I’d say probably 1/3rd of my way through them.

Parts have been tricky while I struggled with getting the right tone but now I’ve figured out partly how to address some of the issues (amp settings, pickup choice, pedal use). Part of it has also been arrangement-related, which I sort of have to go back and re-learn/re-visit some techniques that I’ve somehow forgotten.

Some things to try and play with: Mostly note to self:

  • Stabbing 8ths
  • Harder picking
  • Arpeggiated sections – clean or with some dirt
  • Trying out different chord inversions between left and right parts
  • Playing chord inversion at a higher register
  • Adding rotary or modulating effect to these extra parts
  • Using different pick on different part
  • Using different guitar on different part
  • Acoustic guitar to add articulation
  • Varying strumming pattern between phrases or sections of phrases

Keys and synth parts are done. Piano parts will happen later, depending on when I’ll have access to one.

More to come.

Album status update 04/16/2017

Finally finished tracking bass. Some of these parts have really been quite challenging to play right (and sound right).
For those who have been following my updates, my approach of this record has been thoroughly composed and orchestrated, in a way. Most of the parts were written without ever playing the parts over on their respective instruments beforehand. One of the strategies I’ve been using on this record was realizing that one of my favorite bands, don’t rely on the heaviest-sounding guitar and bass, but their overall music is probably most heavy (in my mind) due to the way their songs are written and arranged – the harmonic choices, and instruments that don’t get in each other’s way. My approach is that if I can get things sounding heavy and *somewhat* presentable with virtual instruments, when they’re translated into real instruments, I would get a multiplier effect. I’d also be able to tweak the compositions, rhythmically and harmonically. I had never written out complete scores of my music before, but doing it this time, I get to visually identify places where I should have played a an F instead of a B, for example. I’d also get to tweak a melody to my liking and not think too much about how it would be played on the guitar and other instruments and be constrained tendencies of repeating myself due to physical memory tendencies.

I always feel a major limitation in my abilities to play my instruments. Neither bass or guitar were my first instruments and I don’t get to practice or play as much. Approaching the compositions this way, I get to decouple my limited abilities on these instruments and have a more direct line between what I’m hearing in my head and what I’d want in the song.

My approach this time resulted in written parts that wouldn’t have been natural to play. Having said that, I don’t intentionally try to make the parts difficult to execute, but the parts do require learning and are not as obvious as some of the straight-ahead “rock” songs that I have done in the past. This is because the harmonization is dense and if you look at the bass parts independently, there are times when the notes being played are not repeated by the other instruments. The lines by themselves do not make any sense why they would work in the song, or any song, but in context, everything would sound right (to my ears). It was really fun writing these parts and seeing when things come together.

In one of the songs, I was trying to experiment with different tunings on the bass to see if it would make things easier to play. After many attempts in finally recording the part, I realized that a 5-string (which I do not own) in standard tuning would have made things straightforward. Oh well…

But this makes the experience fun, until getting frustrated with the overall progress, because of the urge to release the project as soon as possible.

In a really odd way, I feel that I’m hiring myself as multiple studio musicians, learning and playing all the material. Once in a while, I would imagine the scenario having real studio musicians, if this wasn’t a self-funded independent record, and would realize that this record would have been really expensive to make if that were the case.

…But I do enjoy pretending to be a real bass player (and a guitar player) at the privacy of my studio!

Looking at the guitar parts now and I have some more learning and exploration to do.

New record update: March 2017

Howdy. Long overdue relevant post, I suppose. Just thought I’d post a quick update on the status of a new record that I’ve been working on since November.

I took some time off here and there in November and December where I started most of my writing. Currently, I have roughly 7-8 demos done (rough demos) but I’m still in my writing phase. I truly, truly feel that this is going to be my strongest record yet. For the most part, it’s going to be more experimental in terms of harmony (- something which I had always dreamt of doing growing up, if I ever decided to do a record). For many reasons and other distractions over the years, I haven’t been able explore into that realm, but I’ve learnt a few tricks lately and realized some of things I’ve neglected in the past. Those together helped me navigate through much of the writing process and explore in things that I’ve never tried doing before.

The tunes are thoroughly composed, with a bit less of the “just wing it” mentality, although I’m strategically leaving spaces for those sections when it’s time to track. I say “thoroughly composed”, because I had to write down and transcribe much of the harmony – something I very rarely had to do previously, as I mostly relied everything by ear.

After all the writing’s done, I’ll need to remind myself how to play the guitar again. It’s been a while…

It’ll be a dark record and will have a common theme to it, likely some sort of a concept record.

Not sure who the drummer will be this time. Couple of months ago I was constantly worried about it. I was also a bit bummed out when I found out that Ronan would be moving his studio outside of Los Angeles, even though mastering could be done remotely, I suppose. But all the focus had since been shifted into the writing and the worrying became not knowing when the writing will ever be done. I always get that whenever working on a record. However, I’ll continue to try not to rush it as I truly feel that there’s something special about this one. (Well, special to me).

Like everyone who does this, there could be several days in a roll where no new ideas strike, due to lack of sleep, work life and other real-life events, so it’s going to be a process before all the tunes will be done. Some of the music’s getting a bit complex… but it’s always the greatest feeling whenever I find a solution to what I’ve been searching for.

Brick by brick. Note by note…

Getting into the mechanics of playing again and tracking, finding a drummer, mixing, mastering…
Still quite some ways to go, but I hope all the effort that have been placed into the songs will show in the final results.

New record update: Nov 2016

Slowly getting back into “writing-shape”, so to speak.
Things can get tricky doing quality control, figuring out what’s working during the writing/arrangement phase, since listening to things too many times can often rob one’s creativity.
…and creativity’s important when you’re experimenting.

Like any other record, this one’s going to be a process.
But I can say this for now: The current plan is to make a concept record, and it’s going to be dark.
(Last record had a common theme and concept, but it wasn’t much of a concept record compared to the one before that.)

It’s also going to be dense harmonically.

Ronan’s use of the Flux Bender EQ on my Record “Business Brunch Specials: Uranium Omelet (with GMO-Free Brown Sauce)”

Master engineer Ronan Chris Murphy from Veneto West Mastering​ gave me a mention during this episode of Ronan’s Recording Show​, where he briefly talked about how he used the Flux Bender EQ when mastering my record. It was a very brief mention, but **HUGE** fan-boy moment for me!!!!! Not only because I’m a crazy fan of his show, but because he’s also my mentor and teacher – not to mention that he’s also worked with King Crimson/ProjeKCTs, Mike Keneally, G3 (Satriani, Vai, Fripp), Bozzio-Levin-Stevens…. (Yeah, I know). Start at around 21:00 for the mention, but audio geeks like myself would want to check out the full episode because the EQ unit sounded gorgeous and spectacular, and really did add quite a bit of that awesome analog mojo to the tracks when I experienced it in person.

 

Teaser of new album – “Business Brunch Specials: Uranium Omelet (with GMO-Free Brown Sauce)”

He’s a teaser of my upcoming album, “Business Brunch Specials: Uranium Omelet (with GMO-Free Brown Sauce)”. I shot the main video using my phone back in February with the intent of having at least some sort of visual footage of me making this album. When I finally revisited this today to add in the texts, I couldn’t help myself from laughing because it’s SO BIZARRE.

Hope you like the gloves! 😀

Third Album Update

Tobias Ralph (Adrian Belew Power Trio), Live at The Casbah in San Diego, 2014

I have been working hard since Halloween 2014 on what will soon be my 3rd solo album. I have Tobias Ralph (from Crimson Projekct/ Adrian Belew Power Trio) playing drums for me on this record – just can’t wait to get this out the door and share with all of you (i.e., all 5 of you in the entire world 😉 ). My mixes are now done, and mastering date is set for next week in at Veneto West in Los Angeles. Ronan will be mastering the record for me again this time around.

This will again be an instrumental record, consisting of 9 tunes in total.