Recap

Fujiya & Miyagi

Tonight I ventured out to see Krautrock-pop-indie band Fujiya & Miyagi at the Independent. Despite their Japanese band name and German musical stylings, they are neither 1) Japanese or 2) German or 3) a duo. It was a great show nonetheless, I seem to have been hitting a really nice streak of good live shows lately. F&M say their influences are Krautrock and early 90’s IDM, which is of course right up my alley, although I hear more Can and Neu than I do Aphex Twin and Autechre. Anyway, if you are looking for a really fun, catchy, goofy, groovy album check out their previous album Transparent Things. It’s the sort of music you put on in the background at a party and everyone asks you what it is… I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think you’d really like it! Live they were a lot of fun and are definitely worth seeing, they will be in LA at the Troubadour on Thursday if you are so inclined. Why am I pushing them on you so hard? I’m not sure exactly, except that sometimes certain random things just make me very happy, and Fujiya & Miyagi is currently one of those.

On an unrelated note, Apple made it easier to link to iTunes Store music, which is nice if you are a musician and want a non-ugly link to put in your signature file or whatever. To see all the albums by a given artist, you just link to http://itunes.com/artistname, for instance, there’s this really cool band called submodern you can check out at http://itunes.com/submodern. To see a specific album you just link to http://itunes.com/artistname/albumname, again for instance, you can go directly to our first album by clicking http://itunes.com/submodern/objectorientedmoodmanagement . If there are spaces in either of the names, just leave them out. Note that Apple now has all our music up there in iTunes Plus format, with better quality encoding and no DRM for the same price, very cool. Also note however, that I was unable to figure out how to make an easy link to Fujiya & Miyagi (I suspect the ampersand is the culprit), thus the reason this paragraph was unrelated to the last one. Finally, note that I’ve noted way too many things here, I’ll have to make a note not to do that as much in the future.

Slowburn is almost done. I have a lot of distractions going on in my life at the moment, and some big changes coming up soon. Nevertheless, the second-to-last-mix has been created and is being listened to repeatedly. I’ll be going through each song one last time to make final tweaks to volume, eq, pan, and effects level parameters and then it will be done. And I’m still pretty happy with it, so that’s good. Almost there, still…

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Almost done…

…but not quite.

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Radiohead remix


I’ve been having a hard time getting myself into the studio to finish up slowburn, so I did a quick remix of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”, my current favorite song from their latest album “In Rainbows”. Give it a listen, and vote for it by clicking on the “+” if you like it. If you want to remix it yourself it’s only 99 cents for the six unmixed tracks in the iTunes store.

Saturday night, Bryan Campbell came over and took some pictures of random gear in the studio to use as a basis for the album artwork. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he does with it, I’ll put up some pictures when he’s had a chance to work on them.

Having successfully gotten myself back in the studio to work on that remix, I’m going to try to finish up the album this week. I have a list of very specific things to work on, and I’m hoping it will go quickly once I get into a groove. Here’s hoping I’ll have the final mix for you soon.

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Submodern: The Next Generation

Maddox

Congratulations to Vida and Dallas, on the newest addition to the Kashuba family, Maddox!

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Sick again

I caught yet another head cold this week, and have been too congested to work on anything. I’ve been listening to the latest mix off and on, and have a good idea what I need to do to finish it up, I just need to be able to do it with a clear head. Hopefully I’ll be able to start up again very soon. I’m not sure what’s up with my sinuses, but it’s been a particularly bad year.

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More Videogames

I’ve been listening to the latest and greatest full album mix while playing some videogames. I’ve heard these songs way too many times, so I need something to distract me enough to listen to the music and get the big picture, rather than obsessing about the individual bits and pieces. Of course, I also just like playing videogames.

The more frantic game I have been playing is “Super Stardust HD”, which is a souped-up version of Asteroids that constantly throws a bunch of stuff at you and keeps you in a perpetual state of panic as you try to blow everything up without running into anything. This game definitely takes my mind off the minutiae of the mix, as well as inspireing me to curse loudly and creatively at the TV. The music actually goes along with it surprisingly well even though it’s comparatively very mellow. It’s kind of like playing Grand Theft Auto with the ambient station on, I guess.

The other game is “Endless Ocean” which is a super chilled out diving game. You swim around petting fish, dolphins, penguins, whales and various other creatures. The game is mostly about exploring the ocean, with a few optional goals you don’t really have to do, and absolutely zero violence or killing. The music goes great with this game too, and the audio output of the Wii goes through the TV rather than the stereo, so I get to listen to the music on yet another set of speakers/headphones.

I did find out that “Endless Ocean” does not like mp3s encoded at 256kbps. When I tried to use that file it sounded like I was underwater with weird bubbly distortions to the sound. At first I thought that was actually an intentional feature, since it is a diving game, but it wasn’t. Encoding the mix at mere “good” quality 128kbps fixed everything.

This past week I worked on five of the songs, and I’m very happy with the latest mix. I fixed up “hummin” to the point where I don’t think I’ll need to add beats, fixed a few sounds in “puppy” that were bugging me when I listened on headphones, and chopped out some extraneous parts on “lemon”, “rollover” and “lurp” to tighten them up and simplify them. Everything is sounding really good, and I’m hoping to finish everything up this week by focusing on adding some fun and cool little bits. The one remaining problem is the last track, which I’m still not 100% happy with, but I’m making progress there too. Again, almost there!

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More Beck, Less Slowburn

Saw Beck again, this time at the Independent on Sunday night. This was a much smaller show than at the Outside Lands Festival and it was fantastic. The highlight was when everyone in the band put down their instruments and grabbed handheld grooveboxes for “Hell Yes”, as shown in the picture, with Beck using a DJ fake-vinyl scratching program on an iPhone while he rapped through a headset mic. Dan the Automator of Gorillaz and Dr. Octagon production fame opened with a DJ set. Fun night!

Edit: SF Chronicle article about the show.

I basically didn’t work on slowburn at all this week, other than listening to it every day and writing down the remaining things I want to work on. I am contemplating adding beats to the first and last songs, as they currently are the two parts that aren’t working for me. Part of me says I should spend more time getting them to work as they are, but a louder part is telling me to finish this project up by whatever means necessary, and a simple unavoidable truth of electronic music is that adding a beat makes almost anything sound better. One option if I did add beats to them would be to also release a free beatless version of the entire album, which could be cool…

Instead of doing real work, I played around with the Tenori-On and started plotting out a post-slowburn strategy for releasing some more new music. I started by organizing all the little music fragments I’d written since I got the Tenori-On four months ago, and found to my pleasant surprise that I had about one hundred and thirty different little musical bits saved on there. That’s a lot of song ideas! The device is a bit over-priced, and has a number of technical shortcomings, but it is clearly a great match for me as far as inspiring me to write new music. Anyway, I sorted through them all, picked out the best bits, and chose around thirty to work on further and hopefully develop into two to three minute little songs.

My tentative plan is to release digitally through iTunes a series of EPs with 4-5 of these little Tenori-On songs each, as a little side project while we figure out where submodern will go next. Dallas and I have talked about focusing on our Cryptic Funk record label, and trying to move in to the digital age by doing smaller and more frequent releases instead of waiting to have enough songs to fill up a CD. This project would help us dip our toes into that and figure out the technical process of releasing things purely digitally. Our eventual goal is to help other people release their music through the label and in doing so promote the sort of melodic electronic music we like. For now though, being able to release my own songs more quickly and easily would be cool.

Anyway… the bottom line is I spent the week screwing around with the Tenori-On instead of finishing up the album!

So, enough fun stuff, time to buckle down and finish this project. First priority is finding some way to be happy with the first and last songs. Second priority is to work more on some of the builds, and add a little effects weirdness to sections of the percussion, as well as finalize the drum bus processing. Last priority is to add any little touches necessary to make things a little more interesting and cover up any remaining things that are bugging me. Here we go, hopefully…

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Headed out to Glacier National Park

I’m headed out of town to Glacier National Park in Montana for a week of hiking, relaxing and unplugging from the internet. I’m bringing my Tenori-On to hopefully write some new music, or at least have some fun playing around with it.

Here’s the preview mix of slowburn. This is the whole album and it is really almost done now! Once I get back, I just need to tweak a few little last bits and then figure out what we are going to do as far as releasing it. I also need to convert a couple of the songs into a format that people can use to remix them, and maybe make a youtube video for one of them. Anyway, if you get a chance to listen to it, let me know what you think. At this point I’ve lost most of my perspective on whether or not it’s actually any good… which is a sure sign that it is in fact nearly finished.

See you in a week!

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Getting things hooked back up…

We’re back from Denver, and I’m getting everything set back up so I can get back to doing the final mixes. After the last post, I ended up working on the live set instead of the slowburn mixes, partially because of a quirk in the way things were setup that made it harder to do both, partially because I am not that great at multi-tasking creative things and like to focus on one thing at a time, and partially because I was getting sick of the slowburn songs and needed another break from them.

The good news is we have an updated live set based on the slowburn songs that is ready to go should we need it. For now though, I am resuming my hiatus from live performances and am going to focus on finishing up the slowburn songs so we can move on to the next thing. I’m also still playing with the Tenori, and cranking out a couple song sketches a day, so maybe I’ll put up a couple more of them too.

For the slowburn mixes, I’m planning to start with “flicker”, after everything is hooked back up. More on that soon!

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Backed up, set up, and ready to go

The final rough mix is done and all the files have been backed up. Currently the project contains about 75 gigs of audio data, which is, let’s face it, somewhat excessive. But at least it’s all recorded and sitting there and waiting for the final bits of sonic shaping that will turn it into a 650mb or so CD.

I’ve been taking a break from listening to it over the long weekend, as I’ve finally started getting to that point where I’ve heard it so many times that I just don’t enjoy hearing it any more. So instead, I’ve been working on re-configuring the studio so that we can spend some time tweaking our live set for the Transistor Festival in June. This week we’ll start doing some of that work on the live set, and also begin working on the final slowburn mixes, one by one. I’m planning to start with the easiest songs and working our way through to the ones that still need some help. This is the final step for these songs, so I’ll write a little about each song as I work on it.

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