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    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Famous Artist Manager (but not Mr Manager) [FAMBNMM]: Listen to this production. We don't like it. The original producer says it's completed but we feel like it's not. Now he won't answer my calls. Can you help us finish it?

    Me: How can I help?

    FAMBNMM: Can you add live instruments?

    Me: I don't think the problem here is whether the instruments are real or not. It's the arrangement itself. It just sounds old. You add real instruments, you'd just have a nice sounding old arrangement.

    FAMBNMM: Huh?

    That's the problem right there.

    "It's better to sound new than to sound good" - David Pensado. Mix engineer for a lot of famous pop hits.

    Many people in the business of making music does not know the difference between sounding GOOD and sounding NEW.

    We get caught up when something sounds good and truth be told, there are a lot of music that sounds good out there. But what "good" really means is that if it is playing on radio in the background, the listener will less likely to change stations for something else. They hear it but they may not listen.

    If it's "new" (and "good"), they'd turn the volume up.

    It's not just the music. It's also the lyrics and the mix.

    That's why you hear the difference between a local mix and a current US mix. It's not that the Americans are better than us. It's simply because they are going for a different sound.

    Then there's the audio version of the placebo effect. This is when they are convinced that only real instruments sound good. It doesn't matter who the musician is or how it was recorded. As long as it was a real violin therefore it must be good.

    No one comments on the arrangement or the mix or the sounds. But hell, put in a violin and you're gold!

    Sucker!

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    I am almost done with my life maintenance which involves running scandsk and defrag on my living and work space.

    (That, by the way, was my attempt at old-school geek humour.

    Scandsk is a Microsoft DOS and Windows command that will check the disk for errors, clear out old system files that may have been left behind whenever Windows crashes. Basically, it will clear out crap and lighten the baggage. Defrag will reorganise how your data is stored on the disk so that it will reduce access time and make things more efficient.)

    ANYWAY....

    I've sorted out the four things I'd set out to do.

    1. I've cleared out my work space at the studio and I'm left with just what I need.
    2. I've sorted out the room in my apartment which was previously my home studio and home office. It's now a guest room.
    3. I've cleared out the storage room which was essentially a really huge garbage dump for me to put my crap which I didn't want to throw out because I figured I'd need it some day.
    4. I've re-organised my personal processes for handling the stuff I get day-to-day.

    Do I know how to party or what?

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    In the spirit of simplifying my music, I've decided to simplify my life too. (Actually, I think it has been the other way round.)

    I've been taking inventory of my life this past year. I got bored one day and started questioning my purpose in life....blah blah blah. For a moment there, I thought I was going through a mid-life crisis. But if a mid-life crisis is suddenly getting an idea of what life is about, then I am going through a mid-life crisis.

    Instead of getting a Porsche and dating supermodels, I figured I'd make myself useful and become a responsible earthling. In other words, I decided to become the most boring person in the world. (Which isn't really a stretch for me!)

    Since early in the year, I've started throwing and clearing stuff out of my apartment. Cleared out some personal baggage. Simplified just about everything in including my wardrobe, my workflow, even the software I use. And I "upgraded" from my DUAL 19" LCD's to a SINGLE LCD now. I even got a Mac. And also got rid of some fat from my personal system as well.

    Then something interesting happens...

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    It usually takes three minutes right after my production has been finalised (at mastering) for me to not want to listen to the song again. Not because I do not like the singer or the song, but usually because I start hearing imperfections in the production or mix and I can't do anything about it. I tweak and fix my productions until the very last minute when I am told by the record label that they cannot wait anymore.

    I figured that it's normal since I improve with each project, my previous works will only sound bad because I think I can do better.

    Anyway, I've been, surprisingly enjoying Faizal Tahir's album months after it was released. Shocking for me. But both Faizal and I realise that we are still in our "syok sendiri" phase. Then two days ago, I found two early mixes of "Cuba" and "Sampai Syurga" which I've posted on imeem and is on the music player above.

    These tracks were quick mixes done right after recording back in September 1997. It's the demo music done on keyboards and drum machines. The vocals are still very raw; unedited not tuned or "perfected" like I'd normally spend hours doing.

    Then the realisation. I overproduced the album tracks. And now I can't, and am almost embarrassed to listen to the album. I am not saying that these early mixes should have been on the album. Just imagine the production and arrangement bumped up 30% instead of 300%.

    Don't get me wrong. I still love the album. It's still the best combination of song/singer/producer for me. And I love the guy! I was wondering when I'd get to the point when I can't listen to it anymore.

    (Thanks, but I am not fishing for compliments or validation that the album is this great. :-)

    Anyway, the moral of the story here is I should stop with the tweaks and leave things alone.

    Here's the irony. I told Faizal after the AIM win that the next album will sound so good that it will make the first one sound bad.

    I guess it didn't need the next album for that.

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    There is a job opening for a Personal Assistant at the studio. 2-3 years experience prefer but new also can.