Making a Record? Or Making a Demo?

Last night as I was driving home, I heard Bryan Adams interviewed on the CBC’s program q.  In the course of that interview, he went into some details about his three-step process for making a record:

  1. Write the song
  2. Record the demo
  3. Make the record

His 12 studio albums have been extremely successful, with 11 going at least Gold, and Reckless going 5x Platinum.  He’s also charted more than 10 #1 singles.  Clearly he has a talent for writing and performing, but he has also learned to follow a process that helps good become great and great become the best.

Bryan takes collaboration as a given.  Just as Design Thinking teaches that “the best idea wins”, so, too, does it apply to songwriting and producing.  When he was just getting started, he felt his initial drafts were “precious” and wanted to retain the purity of his authorship.  But, as he says in the interview, “Mutt Lange beat it out of me.”  And as Wikipedia reports, they co-wrote “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You“, a hugely successful single written for the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that currently holds the record for the longest consecutive Number 1 UK chart single with 16 consecutive weeks at the top of the charts (7 July-26 October 1991).  They clearly worked well together!

After the songs are written, demos are recorded.  The demo is the first really concrete representation of a song as it might be played and recorded for real.  Demos are not low-quality sketches, but an honest first draft of the real thing.  They are also a baseline for quality: when recording a record, Bryan’s goal is that each “real” song be better than the demo.  In cases where that doesn’t happen, the song is likely going to be left off the album.  The demo provides an objective way to tell if they are really knocking the ball out of the park or if they are just making another version of the demo.

When enough material has passed the demo test to fill out an album, and when that material all fits together coherently, then it becomes possible to make a record that will be successful.

Obviously Bryan Adams has had a very successful career as a musician.  In his telling of his own story he is humble and humorous, but it is also clear that he follows best practices rather than ignoring them.  And this has certainly served him well.

Trion Console Upgrade to 144 Channels!

One of the reasons I was so excited to install a Harrison Trion console in the Annex Control Room is that it used commodity processors to do all its musical math.  Which meant that as processors got faster, the console could, too.  That was realized this past weekend when we swapped out four Xengine processors (4U, 750W PSUs each) and replaced them with two Xengine2 processors (4U, 400W PSUs each).  We went from almost overloading our 2200VA APC UPC to not even lighting up the first of 5 load LEDs!  Moreover, the new engines support 4x more “Toys” (complex Harrison plug-ins) and 50% more channel capacity, taking us from 96 channels at 96K to 144 channels at 96K.  Awesome!

144 Channel Harrison Trion Console
144 Channel Harrison Trion Console

Ed Stephenson, Wayne Krantz, Kimiko Ishizaka, and more!

I cannot believe it’s been nearly 3 months since I last updated the blog.  That’s not a sign about how quiet things have been, but rather how busy they have been!

In January we started a flamenco project with Ed Stephenson and his Paco Band.  We did several days of pre-production, several days of tracking, one more day of tracking to do, and then we’ll be mixing the album for release later this year.  We shot a video of one of the songs that will also be released with the album.  Here’s a few images from that:

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Acoustic Duo win Songwriting Contest…and a day in the studio

Beat Your Boots is the name of a new acoustic guitar duo from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Stationed at Fort Bragg, Chris Roberts and Jacob Eubanks write and perform original tunes that are gaining traction on local radio stations such as 95.7 WKML and winning fans as they open shows in the area.

Last year we offered a day in the studio as a prize for the annual Huske Unplugged Singer/Songwriter Competition. I had a chance to see some of the winners from years past, and I was impressed! New artists need every advantage they can get these days, and we felt that when the audience and the judges pick the best of more than 50 new artists, the winner deserves to make a demo they can be proud of. This year, Chris and Jacob won, and so it was their turn to find a day they could take leave from the base and record some songs. Turns out it took them until nearly Christmas to take that leave.

Here are some photos from that session:
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Wayne Krantz coming to the Miraverse, Feb 15 2015

Wayne Krantz playing his James Tyler guitar
Wayne Krantz, Premier Guitar

Guitar virtuoso and teacher Wayne Krantz and his trio are coming to the Miraverse February 15, 2015, and we are so excited!  I first learned about Wayne from the AbstractLogix catalog.  My love of the music created by John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Herring, and others of that sort predicted I would like Wayne’s music.  Not because he imitates them–he most certainly doesn’t!  But because he is as boldly original as they are, bringing together an exciting mix of classic and alien, funky and beautiful, harmonic and angular.  I bought the self-titled album Krantz Carlock Lefebvre and it spent weeks in the player as I listened to it over and over and over again.

When Wayne released a book (An Improviser’s OS), I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of nearly infinite complexity.  And infinitely beautiful.  And that’s how I learned that in addition to being a creative composer and master player, he is also a teacher.

So it is fitting, then, for him to come to the Miraverse both to play, and to teach…and you can attend his lessons and/or performances by clicking here.

Still reading?  Then here’s some more motivation to come…

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A Successful Event

Last week we hosted a benefit recital for two fellows of the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute, Jaclyn Surso and Megan Cleaveland.  These two talented sopranos needed to raise money to offset costs to travel to Italy for the summer to study and perform under renowned soprano Renata Scotto, and we saw a perfect opportunity to help.

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La Luz del Mundo comes to Manifold Recording

Yesterday we very very happy to host singers from several congregations of La Luz del Mundo of North Carolina. These singers came from across the state to make the first professional recording of some of their a cappella hymns.  Here is the full choir in the studio:

Choir-Wide-sm

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