Category: Other

I I I! Me Me Me! Yada Yada Yada…

I strongly dislike people who only do things to benefit themselves. I also notice that after reading many people’s blogs (outwith the music industries), they’re posting vacuous content which goes nowhere, treated like an excuse for a good moan. After starting this blog, I read back at it and realise how much of a prat I look, probably ’cause I hate talking about myself and anything to do with showing off. Hopefully to all of you, I don’t seem that way and you understand the reason I’m doing this. This brief entry is going to take the spotlight off me for a change, and will be about promoting my uni companions.

These guys are great to work with and between them have produced some amazing stuff. Here’s a little bit about what they do:

Martin ‘Oz’ Oswald – Oz first told me about Mike Senior’s multitracks website which is great to use when you don’t have time to record. Check out OZ Audio’s work here

David O’Leary – He’s O’Learious (?!) about recording, and can see him being a future 5.1 mogul as he does a damn good job with it. The sky’s the limit with Dave – Very impressive and ambitious projects including the recording of a church organ! Check him out here

Neil Mackenzie – Excellent blogger. Highly-informative, in-depth tutorials on production techniques and produces some awesome acoustic music. ‘Ear ‘im here

Jonathan Park – Not known ‘J-Park’ for long, but found he drives from Aberdeen just for a two hour lecture! Commitment to the cause, can tell he’s serious about sound! You can find his sounds here

Stuart Condie – Didn’t know he could rap! Step aside, Solareye! Great sounding Rihanna cover also check out his comical take on Lady Gaga’s Pokerface here

Daniel ‘Squelch’ Welch – Well into his remixing as well as composing, Daniel likes entering competitions and is gaining a credible online profile in doing that. Admire him for it all here

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Career Path, HAH!

Got into a proper tiz the other day, wondering what the hell I’m actually going to do with myself after I leave uni. Lucky as I am, I’ve already got steady-ish work in a number of places, but when I have no loan to depend on and, eventually, a family to feed (don’t worry, I didn’t think that deep), I’ll have to think a little wiser about my decisions. As I’ve experienced already, live work can slowly eat away at your home and social life.

I’ll warn you this is a random post, but I vividly remember back in school when we were like 10 or something (Primary 6?), we were made to plan out our life goals and possible career paths. Since I was typically football-mad around that age, mine was focused on being a professional footballer (HAHAHA).

For a bit of fun, here’s roughly what I said

Age 11 – 18: Work hard within my town’s youth football club, training every week and playing matches and tournaments every Sunday. Actually gain an education as a backup plan.

Age 19 – 35: Be a professional footballer earning a six-figure salary (?!), enjoy a fulfilling career gaining a credible reputation on and off the field.

Age 35 – 55: Retire as a footballer, become a football manager and coach.

Age 55 – 65: Become a presenter/’pundit’/commentator/general Yoda of the game because I’ll have, by then, become a national figure and enjoyed a broad, successful career.

How naïve and innocent. And hilarious.

But come think of it, that was an important lesson learned – we must continually set goals (no matter how crazy they sound) and always look to the future.

Here’s what I’m getting at

Age 11 – 17: Get an education at secondary school, enough for university. Follow interests in music – excel in class subjects, learn instruments, do grade exams, play in school bands, found own bands, gig lots. Realise career as a musician isn’t as sustainable as first dreamt – Wait, who’s that guy behind that big confusing thing with all the buttons and lights? That is cool. Those mics look really nice. All this gear is making me a little horny. Holy shit! The sound of those subwoofers playing my favourite drum and bass record is awesome! Can I follow you around and learn what you do ’cause I want to do it too?! [You get the idea…]

Age 18 – 21: Go to uni, gain a degree in specific interests i.e. music industry. Get more experience within live sound engineering and event technicalities. Find work in small venue – realise the ins and outs of freelancing. Work work work. Study study study.

Age 22 – ??: Work as a professional live sound engineer. Tour the world and sail the seven seas enjoying a fruitful career, mixing for the stars, rock ‘n’ roll man. Keep interests in studio engineering as will need those skills throughout and in possibly later life.

That awkward age where people get married and start families c. Age 30: Depending on my situation by this point, and given my girlfriend hasn’t dumped me because I’m always working late/elsewhere, I may have to rework my plan more efficiently/on the fly.

Age ?? – 55: Keep recording project studio in the back burner (if they still exist in the late 2030s) begin to trade in studio engineering. More sociable hours and less physically grinding.

Rethink the whole live touring thing. Should probably have a family or whatever by this point. Revert back to venue work, maybe start my own sound company/work for one, carrying out more background/consultancy/teaching roles. Become a head tech within a concert venue. How many live guys can still lift amp racks past the age of 60?

Age 55 –  : Definitely wind down with any live work. Become an educator at an institution and play out the rest of working life with the reward of a guaranteed salary…

Obviously I got a little ahead of myself there, and maybe it’s a little personal, but you can see what I’m trying to do. It’s not impossible to achieve all of the above, and it’s always good to set high standards. It’s a matter of observing other people in this trade that I’m close to, and seeing how they fair.

In later years, I can see my responsibilities at home flying out the window if I’m not careful. Will need to balance my work out so that I can be flexible when need be. For example, if I have a kid, I’m able put touring on hold, and work with a local sound hire company. When they grow up, go back to touring/etc. until I become too old and then become a tutor or whatever. I dunno m8.

G

Best be prepared, eh?

Well,

After finally getting to grips with uni again (yeah, it took three weeks), it was soon realised it was time to up the ante. As last year’s sufferers clearly stated – “Fourth year is no joke. No joke.”. Since the year will no doubt become bleaker and bleaker, it is essential to prepare for it as much as possible. I don’t always sound this optimistic.

New gear

I hope to acquire a number of things soon which will contribute to my small flat studio setup. Currently, I run no recording platform, as Apple’s transition to Intel has left thousands of us stranded with no compatible software. Looking forward to the jump from Pro Tools 8 LE to version 10, as I’ll finally be able to take my sessions anywhere – recording live gigs, mixing on the train, archiving different engine noises from the street (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Along with summer’s big purchase – a new MacBook Pro, I want to upgrade my RAM so that Pro Tools doesn’t throw a strop at me for hitting the spacebar. 16GB ‘oughta do it.

Next has got to be new studio monitors. I’ve used this haggared old AIWA amplifier to power these ancient Taiwanese factory cabinets for too long now. There is a severe imbalance from LR and the power handling ratings aren’t compatible in the slightest. Ohmy God. Been looking at either Yamaha HS50Ms, KRK Rokit 6s or M-Audio BX5 D2s as a cheaper option. Any suggestions?

Work

Without work there is no money, and without money there is no new gear, and without new gear there will be a trembling ball of stress resembling the latter stages of Brian Wilson’s mix insanity, residing in the corner of the MIDI labs using that ‘precious’ final slot allocation to wait patiently as the beachball of death taunts you. So you guessed it, I like to take uni work home with me.

I’ll continue to work at The Wee Red Bar as resident sound engineer, as well as the odd shift in other venues such as The Third Door. It’s also great to lift heavy shit from time to time, too. I do this with Diamond Event Services where I’m hired as Support Crew, having worked on recent events for TED Global and at the SECC in Glasgow. The more comfortable I feel with uni work, the more I want to experience proper freelancing. Now and then I’m called up to sound a show, this is where the real buzz comes from and as much as I like venue work, my first tour is a not-too-distant objective.

Having performed with north-east band Ceilidh Stomp for the past two years, I have managed a steady income from wedding gigs, allowing myself some pocket money!

Hopefully by having the time to make some money, I can purchase the new toys I want. Overall, they will definitely contribute towards my productivity in the Production & Professional Practice module.

G

Welcomings

Hello there,

Welcome to my website and blog. This is going to be used as an opportunity to develop my online presence in accordance to Edinburgh Napier University’s module Production & Professional Practice. You will find written blogs, news, pretty photos and tutorials all based upon sound production values. I will aim to update this weekly, however as I’m new to blogging, it may not pick up for a while or never.

As for myself, I am assigning myself as a live sound engineer, producer and studio engineer. Through the next year, I will learn a great deal about my trade, and so I present to you my virtual learning curve. Through posting blog entries, I reckon it will tell me a lot about myself and how I connect my words with other people (you, yes you). It will also reinforce what I’ve learned by putting it into words – It’s all very well you can do it, but could you explain how it’s done?

Musically, I don’t have many static influences, as my taste changes all the time. Like many, I’m one of those people who simply cannot answer “What’s your favourite band/genre/microphone?”. If it sounds different, has a good dynamic, lets off a nice vibe (corny, I know) or generally alters my mood, then I’ll think it’s great.

I love things that sound daring or have been produced differently. There’s no right or wrong answer in this industry – everything is based on subjective judgement and it is my job to produce work that appeals to the listener, but delivered in a unique way.

G