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  • Writer's pictureOzi

It's Happening!

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

It's happening! I just sent the final mixes off for mastering, and then it will be time to release. And, to make it really surreal, I'm doing it from the corridor of a middle school while my oldest son competes in a chess tournament. While kids run around, and parents scroll through their Facebook feeds, I have my headphones on, adjusting output levels and creating final mix files.

Setting final levels for files to go to mastering
Mixing in Middle School

The journey to get here has been a long one. You could say it started some 30 (!!!) years ago when I first picked up a guitar to form a band with mates back home (Party in Progress was the name, and the guiding philosophy). But really, it started again when I discovered a free version of the Studio One recording software about 3 years ago.

I remember when the first Pro-Tools recording software came out when I was still working at Powerhouse Studios in Sydney, It was slow, clunky, and very expensive. Recording music meant either very low quality 4-track tape recorders, or in a studio on expensive ($300 a roll) 2 inch tape. Fast forward to today, and anyone with a computer can download studio quality software and effects, buy a 2nd hand USB interface, and start recording music in their basement. Which, I did!

Then, one day while at a school event with my kids, I was trying to make conversation with one of the other dads, and somehow we got onto music. I said that I used to play bass and work in recording studio's, Neil's eyes lit up and said he was a drummer, and his band was looking for a bass player. Now, back in the old days, getting in a band meant auditions, rejections, and references from other bands. But, to join a "dad-band" all you pretty much need is an instrument and a pulse, so I was in!

I picked up an old Ampeg bass amp from a pawn shop, and we started jamming around Neil's (the drummer) house. This was a time of inspiration and I started writing a lot of tunes. But we still didn't have a singer. And then Covid happened....

Lockdown was bad very everyone, and it is especially bad for band's, where your main activity is being locked in a small room jamming out music. Not at all socially distanced, We tried to keep it going, and Matt (the guitarist) and I tried to exchange song ideas over email, but it just didn't work out. So like many others, I was stuck in my basement working remotely by myself.

But, I was surrounded by guitars and microphones. I started writing songs, and mixing songs from the Internet, and really going head-first into the home recording path. While I was always primarily a bass player, I had picked up an Epiphone Les Paul for $100 on Craigslist before Covid, and now I started really learning guitar thanks to the many YouTube teachers out there. My songs started expanding from bass lines with a drum track to much more elaborate pieces, sometimes even including keyboards!

However, I still couldn't sing. Or rather, I had never really tried to sing. But a song is just music (or riff-salad, to use an internet slur) without vocals. Enter Auto-Tune!! I had always railed against tuning vocals, and I still don't like the sound of it. But as a teaching aid it is fantastic. The way I used vocal tuning (I use Waves Tune, is works on my gravel voice better and cost $29 on sale) is to record a "scratch-track: vocals, and then auto-tune the bejesus out of it. Even to the point of moving the melody to a completely different note. Then, I will sing along to that tuned vocal for a week or two. Once I think I have it, I will re-record the vocals and they will be pretty much on pitch. I won't deny that I then use vocal tuning on that final track, but it is usually very little touches, and transparent to the listener.

All of this is usually occurring between the hours of 9pm and 12pm, after the kids are asleep. So, it is a very long process... But totally worthwhile. Without a doubt, it is how I have kept sane during this time. And now, I have a batch of songs (about 20 now) that I'm going to slowly release out to the world. What happens next, who knows? But, I'm having fun making music, collaborating with Mailman Scotty (more about him later), and writing songs.



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