Timmy Knowles

The home of the Australian recording artist, singer/songwriter and actor

The official website of Australian recording artist, singer/songwriter and actor, Timmy Knowles.

Find news, audio, and video along with tour dates and booking information.


AUS220 Week 2: Sound Recording Masterclass

This week started with an intensive within an intensive as we were joined by Nick, a working sound recordist, who took us through a day on set through the eyes of the sound department. We got hands-on experience with all of the film department sound recording equipment, with Nick taking us through the setup, use, and pack down of each piece. It was invaluable information, and equipment and know-how we have not yet been exposed to. Not only did Nick give us technical advice, he took the time to give us in-depth tips and tools to making it in the industry. 


For me personally, and I'm sure the others too, I was so eager to pick Nick's brain on this topic. It was great to finally see how it all happens on the set. First, we set up all the equipment. We had shotgun mics with boom poles, radio lapel mics, a film camera and of course the field recording units. We got to unpack it all, insert batteries and memory cards, check settings, sync everything up and get it all levelling. It was a lot of fun and we were all grateful for the information. Once we had everything set up, Nick took us through the intricacies of the field recorder, the unit that all microphone signals are sent to be recorded via XLR ports. We hooked up the boom mics directly and then learned how to sync up the transmitters and receivers for the radio mics. We went through all the possible settings and parameters on the recording unit, including the EQ, phase inverters, phantom power settings and level monitoring. Nick also gave us really helpful fact sheets on the equipment so we could further study in our own time. Then, we went through operating the booms. This involved a lot more than one might expect, so it was a real eye-opener. We then mock recorded a few takes as if we were really on set. We took turns at the different roles like camera operator, sound recorders, director and slate holder. It was a great way to fully immerse our selves and see the process truly. I think the one thing that really hit home for me was how much responsibility is on the shoulders of the sound person, pun not intended. The importance of concentration, preparation and professionalism were made really clear to me. The thought of making a mistake and missing a great performance or moment that can't be recreated is scary, but also speaks volumes to the respect that must be paid to the craft. 


After lunch, it was back into the studio to start on Foley. Arguably the most fun part of the process, we were really looking forward to this, but at the same time nervous about just how we were going to make the sounds accurately come to life. We split up and hit the halls of SAE to acquire anything and everything we could. The only requirement was that it made a sound. Our first effort was recreating the sound of old-timey typewriter keys. We tried an old phone, both the dials and the hangup receiver, which didn't quite hit the mark for us. We then tried several other random objects until Tristan suggested trying a pair of tongs we had found. Jack was in the booth, trying multiple hand positions, ring positions and velocities until we all agreed we had found 'the sound'. It was interesting to see how crucial out-of-the-box thinking is to recording Foley. Sure, there is the skill needed to perform, edit and mix the sound in time with the picture, but the real skill lies in being able to think laterally about objects and noises and to see a potential for similarities between completely separate things. Tristan gave us some great guidance with this, especially reminding us to think of the sounds in terms of qualities, not so much literally. Does it sound hard, heavy or fast? Is it sharp, thin or fluid? These questions start your mind on the right track to come up with the solutions needed. It was nice to see us a group being able to come up with some truly accurate sounds with the limited amount of objects we had. We made a good start during this session, but we have a long way to go.


During the session, Elysha, Sam and I left the others in the Tascam studio and set up the D-Command console to clean up the vocal takes we had from our previous meeting. We top and tailed all the clips, sorted out any clip gain issues, and perfectly lined up all the clips to fit the frames of the film. This was fiddly and intricate work, but important and good to know it is done. We also did some effects editing to create some high pitched phone gargle necessary for one of the scenes. It was great to get some more time on the D-Command. It's a brand new toy for us, so getting our head around it took some time, but Tristan was there to point us in the right direction. 

I think the phrase sound is bigger than music is never truer than it is in relation to film. It is amazing how little the general public knows about the work that goes into creating sounds for film, but you can guarantee everyone would notice the minute it was taken away. The aid of sound to the story is undeniable. The information relayed through sound is so important, sometimes even more than the images themselves. Think about what you can know from hearing different types of footsteps (heavy, slow, loud), or even wind and waves. We, as people, can make very accurate assumptions about the immediate future from what we hear, and any storyteller in any discipline would be a fool not to exploit it fully.

How do you feel about all of the different projects that you have to manage between now and the end of the trimester?

In a word, overwhelmed. But excited too. There's not a single project that I'm not looking forward to sinking my teeth into, and although it is a lot of work and will take a lot of my time and effort, I know that at the end I'll be a better practitioner for it. So sure, it's a big workload, and is definitely intensive, but I'm certainly not complaining. 

AUS220 Week 1: Post-production

To say I was over the moon to find out my group and I would be studying post-production for our first intensive would be a massive understatement. It would also so be seriously amiss if I didn't take a moment to say how lucky I am to have landed in a group with the students I have. Elysha, Joel, Sam, Christelle, Jack, and Pat are all artists I admire, respect and look up to. I am honoured to be sharing this part of the journey together. But back to the point in...

I've always been fascinated with the art of creating audio for film. As someone who is happily obsessed with sound and sound quality, I've always been amazed at just how much effort, attention and skill goes into creating the worlds in these moving pictures. Not only the undeniable importance of the score, without which almost all character and story arch would be completely lost on most audience members, but also the intricate details of footsteps, clothes rustling and pencil writing, etc. For me, even just the process of concentrating my attention on these elements is like meditation. I adore the precision. I adore the specificity. I adore it all. But for all my adoration, I, until very recently, was practically fully unaware of how any of it comes to be. As you can see in the blog posts below, I got my first taste of the process during the AUD210 Jingles assessment, which was where my true love for post-production started to blossom. Using Foley and sound effects sourced from various sites online and music that I composed and performed myself, I recreated the sound for a film trailer and two television advertising shorts. To see this work, click here. I really enjoyed creating this work, but it was simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of my interest. So, as I said, I was wrapped to find out I would be getting another shot at it straight off the bat this year. To top it off, not only did I land a great topic to study with an awesome group of artists, I then met the man who would be leading us through this intensive, and in a phrase, what a bloody legend!

Warning: Shameless (and slightly creepy) attempt at teacher flattery 

Warning: Shameless (and slightly creepy) attempt at teacher flattery 

Tristan quickly drew us all in with his passion and energy, and got us all on board with his clear love and respect for the work he does, and does well. Like other lectures at SAE, it makes a big difference to be taught by someone who has hands-on experience in the field, and as a working post-production artist, it's a box that he definitely ticks.

After a while of getting to know each other and talking about the craft, we quickly dived into selected our footage for the intensive. We were asked to choose a short clip or trailer from a film or television show and to recreate all audio for it. Unlike my previous assessment, this time we have to create all the sound from scratch, as opposed to sourcing pre-recorded materials online. This is a really great thing for us because it exposes us to the maximum amount of angles of the job. We get to experience first hand the process of creating sound for film, from the early spotting sessions to the dialogue replacement (or ADR) and Foley and effects creation to mixing and editing the final project. But first, we had to choose the visuals, and we picked an absolute winner. 


This clip is so perfect as far as I'm concerned for many reasons, first of which is that it is one of my childhood favourites. I used to love this show, and especially this character, so I was secretly hoping as we scrolled through the options that the group would land on this one. Aside from that though, it is also incredibly diverse in terms of what is needed sound wise. Being an animation, the bounds of reality can, and certainly have been stretched, meaning this clip contains a massive amount of random and varied actions. There is, amongst many other things, a flying man, a plane crash, a TNT explosion, a car accident, and of course, a toaster. It means that over the next few weeks we will most definitely have our work cut out for us, but what a great way to get the most out of the opportunity, and to make this intensive truly... intensive. 


Once we had a clip, it was time for a spotting session. We got to use the D-Command for this, which was great because none of us had ever used it before. We didn't get to wrap our heads around too much yet, but it was good to get a start. We all sat around studying our clip, noting down everything we heard. I recorded down all the dialogue, while the others looked after music and everything else. Once we had all of that marked down, we jumped straight into recording the dialogue. I've actually done quite a bit of work as a voice artist through my career as an actor, but it was great to see the process from the other side. Not to mention the fact that, although I jumped in to record the voice of Powdered Toastman, it was awesome and fun to see the other guys getting in the booth to do some characters too. We had a lot of laughs doing the voice-over work, and we managed to get some great results. What we didn't get done on day one, we all met up for an out of class recording session in the Tascam studio a couple of days later to finish off the vocals. This was so we could make sure that we hit the ground running in our next class with Tristan. 

I'm really looking forward to seeing what we create together, and I have no doubt it will be high-quality work that we are all very proud of. Watch this space!

What genres or styles of music are most unfamiliar to me, and what production techniques could be learned from investigating these styles?

Like post-production, I also got my first taste of electronic music last trimester with Nick Wilson's class. This is by far the genre I most unfamiliar with, and it is one that I am now really keen to get my head around. The production techniques I'm thinking will be the biggest help will be Ableton Live and synthesis. These are both things I am fairly unfamiliar with so far, but I have bought the DAW and am actively trying to learn as much as I can about the history and current statis of the world of sythesis, so heras hoping.

AUD210 Week 12: Final Report

This, sadly, is my final blog post for Trimester 3 and my first year at SAE. I will be reflecting on my final project, the creation of sound-design for two adverts and one movie trailer, and the processes I employed to create them. As mentioned in my previous blog about the planning of my jingles assessment, I chose to recreate the audio for the latest John Lewis Christmas advert, Moz The Monster, and the trailer to the 1998 film by Darren Aronofsky, Pi, with my group, Anthony Petrou and Pharisee Son. I had originally planned to also recreate the sound for a PG Tips advert, but due to some timing restrictions, and also an intention to explore EMP further, I decided instead to work with the advert for the latest iPhone from Apple. Anthony, Pharisee and myself using our initials, created a company called APT Media. Below is a link to our company website where you can find both my solo projects and the trailer we created together. That’s where we will start.


The process for creating this trailer was simple, effective, fast and thoroughly enjoyable. I went into this project fully aware that my enthusiasm for group work needed attention, so I was very intentionally prepared to be positive, collaborative and to try to relax and have some fun, and fun I had. My teammates and I set a date quite early on for us to meet at Anthony’s house in Niddrie. We were all intending to make an electronic score for this project, and Anthony’s array of analogue synthesisers, samplers and other analogue equipment was a natural choice. It was a great day. The three of us stood side by side for hours, discussing and then creating the perfect sound for our purpose. We took inspiration from the original audio for sure, but we also explored and played freely to find our own feel. I thoroughly enjoyed working with boys, as their knowledge and love of EDM was very educational, and they didn’t mind taking the time to make sure I understood each step. I learnt a lot that day, and am really proud of the track we created. Once the score was done, the finishing touch was for me, with my experience of acting and voice-over work, to recreate the spoken words that are borrowed from the film and placed on top of the music in the original. I recorded the voiceover, in my questionable American accent, in my flat and then processed it to match the timbre and quality of the original. This was a fun process, and my critical listening skills really showed up to help me out with this. Due to the original film being quite low quality, the audio was certainly not the clean, polished sound you might expect to hear. So, through heavy compression and precise EQ, I was able to match my voice to the voices in the original fairly accurately, and I think I did pretty well. Once all that was done, I matched the video and audio in Pro Tools, mixed and (semi) mastered the final stems, and we were done. I am very proud of this, mostly because we had a clear vision right from the beginning, and I feel as though we have produced exactly what we aimed for.




The sound design for my first advert was probably the biggest job I’ve done to date.  I spent a lot of time on this and am incredibly proud of the finished product. I began the process for this one with Foley and sound effects, leaving the music until last. I first made a list of all the sounds I wanted to include, and then set about finding the closest samples I could online. I sourced all of the sound effects from freesound.org and included a huge array of them. Some I had to process to get them right for my purpose, others were ready to go. Fortunately, most of the samples I used were covered by a Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning I could use them freely, without restrictions other than appropriately crediting the author. There is a handful that are under an Attribution Non-commercial License, meaning I can’t profit from or sell the work, and two that were Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike, meaning I would need to make my work available under the same conditions as the work I have exploited. Putting all of these sounds in the correct place, finding alternatives to sounds I couldn’t find (a good example of this would be using the sound of chairs and pots dragging on the floor to create the sound of toys dragging on the floor) was extremely tedious and time consuming, but I enjoyed it so much. I, like with the EMP work, have found a new aspect of audio that I am completely in love with. I found it a meditative experience.  Once I had the Foley and effects in place and cleaned up, I started thinking about the score. I wanted to use a known song, because these types of cinematic, large-production adverts usually use a reimagined hit song, as a way of capturing their audience’s attention. I used Forever Now by Cold Chisel, and created an orchestral cover, with a music box playing the vocal melody line. I used this sound because I wanted something childlike and sweet to complement the storyline. I chose Forever Now because I wanted something that had a minor chord progression leading into a major one, to suit the emotional arch of the advert’s protagonist. I was able to find a BPM that allowed this to fit perfectly with the visuals, so all chord changes and melody lines worked in conjunction with the shots. Some of this was luck, but it was certainly the feel I had set out to achieve. A problem I did face with this came at the time of mixing. I had trouble knowing where my levels should have been, between the music and Foley, but also the Foley in itself. It was hard to gauge how loud a door closing should be compared to a light switch etc. Also, the high-frequency content in my music was sometimes hard to navigate in terms of levels, and it showed me an area that I would like to improve on in the future. However, after hours and hours of work, I am pleased with the outcome and feel I have something I can be proud of.   




Finally, I recreated the audio for the new Apple iPhone X. This was fun! I was able to further explore some electronic music composition, and feel like I created something that really works well with visuals. Again, I gathered all of the Foley and sound effects from freesound.org, this time only using content covered by the Attribution License mentioned earlier. Although there was less to this advert, it was still intricate and time-consuming to get right. The vocals in this were once again recorded by me, and then processed to achieve a similar result to the original, which was the vocal line to a song called Best Friend Ft. NERVO by Sofi Tukker. I was really happy with what I was able to do, using pitch shifting, EQ and compression, and feel the end result is pretty close. Again, I was unhappy with the length of time I spent mixing, and found it quite difficult to be happy with the levels, but I got there in the end. This is another piece of work I incredibly proud of, especially when I consider how deliberate and considered all of my decisions were.


In terms of freelance work, I technically have done a lot of it this throughout the trimester. Sadly, I don’t have anything I can physically supply as work, but it has happened all the same. I have done countless hours of live sound engineering, both at my own gigs on a weekly basis, and for other artists at their shows. My knowledge of acoustics and EQ has come into play, and my skills in this area are really getting quite sharp. I have also been working in the studio with the artists Brentwood, who my group and I recorded in Trimester 2. We have been recording guitars and rewriting some of their songs at my home studio, and we will be laying down vocals and further production over the break. I was hoping to have this to submit for my freelance option, but unfortunately, the artists’ busy schedule has not made this possible. I have also just started managing a young singer/songwriter, and have been spending countless hours producing, and directing her in the lead up to her recording her first EP, something I will be heavily involved with. Once again, I’m saddened I have not been able to submit a physical project for consideration, as I have most definitely been doing freelance work outside of my studies, but I do not. There is one thing I could potentially include. I was hired to play a wedding a few weeks ago, and the bride asked me to learn, rework and record a favourite song of hers. I did this, and have included a small sample of this below. Most of the correspondence surrounding this was done via telephone, and as such, I cannot include anything physically showing our interactions. 

All in all, this trimester has been intense, busy, and really great. I have fallen in love with new parts of my craft, areas I have never even considered visiting in the past, and feel that my skills and ability are getting stronger and stronger by the day. Although I have a long way to go, I’m starting to be able to clearly see the areas I need to work on most and am therefore able to spend the necessary time to work on them. I look forward to next year and more studio work. This has been my favourite trimester by far, and I appreciate so much the guidance, lessons, and mentorship I have received from Nick Wilson and Michael Clarke throughout. I can’t wait to sink my teeth back in next year. 

Until then, it’s back to practice. 

AUD210 Week 11: Copyright

Today I will be discussing the real world ramifications of the work I have completed this trimester with my cover of The Black Keys’ Tighten Up for the Sound-A-Like project, my remix of Mackenzie Walker’s Focus, and the jingles I have reworked in regards to copyright. I will have more on the jingles project in my next blog post.



In Australia, the Copyright Act, a legal document that governs the protection of intellectual property (IP), makes special exceptions for use of copyrighted material used for educational purposes. I will be ignoring this for now, and looking at the legal ramifications of the work as if I had created them outside of SAE, and intended to sell, perform or play them in public. 

I’ll start with the Sound-A-Like project, where my group and I attempted to make an exact copy of the song Tighten Up by The Black Keys. Obviously, outside of an educational system, it would be highly unlikely, and fairly immoral, to produce an exact replica of someone else’s intellectual property. However, it is highly common for people to produce covers of copyrighted material. That is what this is, legally speaking. So, the question is, are we allowed to do this? The answer is yes, but with some conditions. Firstly, a common misconception is that permission is required in order to cover a previously recorded song. This is untrue, as anyone has the right to record or perform a cover, as long as credit, in its many forms, is paid to the owners of the copyright. That credit, in this case, would be owed to the owners of the intellectual property being used. This is generally, and certainly in the case of our project, the writers of the music and lyrics. These are two different types of IP that make up what is called the ‘bundle of rights’ relating to copyright in music. The music, or more specifically the melody in the music, fall under a composition license. It doesn’t include general structural points like chords and progressions. The lyrical content obviously falls under a lyrical license. For a long time, a third license has existed in the bundle, which are the rights to the sound recording itself. The owner of these rights is traditionally whoever paid for the recording costs of the track, usually the record label. In 2005, thanks to Australia entering a free–trade agreement with America, meaning our Copyright Act was amended to line up much more with the American copyright laws, a fourth license was added to the bundle, that of the performer on the sound recording. Because we recorded a cover, however, we have not breached any laws against the owners of the sound recording. So, in the real world, how would we pay credit to the owners of the music and lyrics of this IP, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney? Well, fortunately, Australia and New Zealand have agencies that handle the collection of royalties on behalf of composers, lyricists and music publishers here and abroad. For us to be able to sell our cover to the public, we would need to obtain an audio manufacture license from AMCOS.  The Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) grants licenses for artists to produce cover songs for use in a retail sale, sale at performances, submission of recordings to music publishers, record companies, artists, radio stations and booking agents, and for background music, at a performance, for instance. To calculate the fee for this license, we would need to consider our intended sale price, divide it by the number of songs on the album, in this case, one, and times it by 6.6%, which is the standard royalty rate. Then we would need to times that by the number of protected songs, again, one, and times that by the intended quantity of manufactured copies. Nowadays, due to the progression of digital material, non-physical downloads and streams are also considered to be mechanical under the law, and so, the same process would need to be followed for any online sales or streams. In terms of playing the song live, the Australasian Performing Right Association, or APRA, would need to be informed, as they are the agency that collects royalties for composers, lyricists and music publishers. This means that whenever our cover song is played or performed in public, APRA will collect royalties for the appropriate parties. There are many other things to consider in this case, like the fact that copyright owners are protected by what is called moral rights. These state that the owner has the right to be accredited, and that the copy or use of material does not defame or discredit them in any way. At the end of the day, if the copyright owners of Tighten Up were unhappy with our cover for some reason, they would be well within their rights to take legal action against us. 



Similarly to The Black Keys, Mackenzie Walker, who wrote and performed the song Focus that I remixed, is entitled to protection by the Copyright Act. In this case, the sound recording was used as well, which means the owners of those rights are entitled also. Permission needs to be granted from the owners of the sound recording, in this case the producers, and it is at their discretion to say how much or what they wish to be reimbursed for granting use. There is no set cost for use of sound recordings, and so, it is largely down to how much bargaining power each party has as to what the cost will be. Also, because the original material is being reworked and reimagined quite drastically, meaning it is not a straight-up cover, but a new work in its own right, permission needs to granted by the owner of the music and lyrics. In a lot of cases this will be a publishing company, perhaps even the record label again, but usually the writer. Even once permission has been granted, the first owner of a copyright is still protected by their moral rights, and depending on what sort agreements have officially been made, will retain creative control and ownership of the new work.



Obviously, there are some serious infringements in terms of the visual content in my jingle projects, but for now, I will just look at the laws surrounding audio. An organisation called Creative Commons is the one mainly concerned with the legal ramifications of the jingle work I have completed this trimester. Creative Commons was born in response to the ever expanding, or depleting, boundaries relating to IP use thanks to the Internet and digital formatting. CC has created copyright licenses, free to the public that allow content creators to determine which rights they reserve, and which rights they do not for the benefit of recipients or other creators. I have used a lot of CC protected material in my jingles, in the form of sound effects and Foley gathered from free audio sites like freesound.org. There are several different kinds of licences under the umbrella of Creative Commons, some ask that the original author be attributed in exchange for unlimited and unrestricted use, others are stricter, asking for that use is non-commercial, or that the work created using the protected material is then shared on under the same conditions. I used such a large array of samples that it would be pointless to list all the licenses I have entered into for my jingles, but I can say the majority were Attribution Licences, that state I can use the audio without any restrictions or conditions, other than contributing credit to the original creator. This credit applies to all Creative Commons licences. In the jingle I created for the John Lewis advert (more in the following blog), I composed an orchestral, instrumental version of the song Forever Now by Cold Chisel. In the real world, this would need to be handled in much the same way as the cover I have mentioned above, although, because it is being used for advertisement this time, the royalties may be much higher, and usually covered by the company commissioning the creation the work. 

I have found researching copyright incredibly interesting and important, and have only just brushed the tip of the iceberg. I have a lot more to learn and I will continue to study the many complex and intricate parts of this machine. The only problem is, it seems the laws and conditions change just as fast as I learn them, but that’s the industry we’re in I suppose. 

AUD 210 Week 10: Jingles Project Timeline

This is my timeline for the AUD210 jingles assessment. This is a very rough outline as it is difficult at this stage to be able to map out my time exactly due to the large amount of work due in before the end of the trimester, my sporadic work schedule, and the fact that this is partially a group assignment, which makes setting dates far in advance very difficult. 

My group and I have already spent time together discussing numerous options for the trailer portion of the assessment. We have done this both in class, and via email, phone, and our Trello page (link below). After much discussion, we have decided to redesign the sound for the trailer to Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 psychological thriller, Pi. 


We have so far organised to meet at Anthony’s house in Niddre at 1 pm on Monday, December 4th to start on composition and recording of the music for the trailer, along with, time permitting, sound effects and some dialogue. We have chosen to do this at Anthony’s because he has a large amount of synthesiser equipment; necessary to create the type of soundscape we are aiming for. Once we have a first session done, we will be in a better position to plan further ahead. Any work still to be completed after Monday will be discussed and divided between us for completion before the end of the week. We are confident we will be able to get the large majority of our trailer complete during our first session, with the right amount if planning, of course. I will likely use my acting and voiceover experience as my main contribution to the group work, along with my knowledge of music theory and performance. As the trailer has a running time of 1:36, I will be completing two advertisement jingles outside of the group to make up the four required minutes. The first advert I will be recreating sound for is the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad, entitled Moz The Monster.  


I plan to compose and record a score for this, consisting of guitar and piano by the end of this week, then I will source and record all the required Foley and sound effects by early next week, leaving time to mix the project before the end of the week. I intend to source as many pre-recorded sound effects as possible for the sake of timesaving and will record any that I can’t find myself at home or in the SAE studios, depending on availability. Because of the 2:11 length of this TVC, along with the trailer discussed above, leaves me short of the required four minutes, I will also be recreating the audio for this 2014 PG Tips ‘Digger’ advert, starring comedian Johnny Vegas.



The timeline for this will be the same as the plan above, sourcing Foley and sound effects this week, and composing and recording some music too. Next week, I intend to meet up with my cousin who is a professional voiceover artist and record him performing the necessary dialogue. Again, it is hard for me to say exact days I will be doing each element, as my job has extremely sporadic hours and I will have to be flexible as to precisely when I can complete things.





Still to be discussed is the design and creation of our company website. This will be implemented during our full day session on Monday. Any time that one of us isn’t in the driving seat, so to speak, we can be working on this in the background. 

Our Trello page can be found via the button below.

AUD210 Week 10: EMP Remix

Here it is, my first ever electronic music production, Focus (Folktronica Remix) by Mackenzie Walker (Remixed by Timmy Knowles).

This was a really enjoyable experience for me. Although I have studied music for most of my life, my knowledge of the many genres of electronic music was, and still is, quite limited. In fact, before this module I would have said I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to it at all, however, I now realise I actually liked it all along. I also really enjoyed learning and using Ableton Live for the first time. I found it really intuitive and user-friendly, and I was able to perform certain tasks, like key mapping and sampling, far easier than on other DAWs I have used in the past. 



As discussed in my remix planning blog (previous), I was hugely influenced by the works of Vera Blue, producers The Mac Brothers, and renowned electronic artist Fatboy Slim. I found Vera Blue a good comparison for Mackenzie’s songwriting and singing style, and quite simply because I enjoy a softer, more chilled type of EDM. I’m also a big fan of vocal sampling and using the human voice as an instrument, which is something that Andy Mac does extremely well with his productions. I considered Fatboy Slim to be the most famous artist I know for sampling, and as I wanted to feature it heavily in my remix, I was inspired by a lot of his work. 



For my remix, I designed my own drum-rack, sequencer, and arpeggiator sounds. I also used both subtractive and FM Synthesis. I kept the parts quite minimal to suit the sparse, atmospheric feel I was going for, and only really introduced them all in the drop sections, where I needed a denser soundscape. The plug-in I got the most use out of by far was Sampler. I took sections of Mackenzie’s vocals, mainly the second half of long phrases or very short vocal bursts, and used Sampler to play them rhythmically and melodically. I affected her voice using a range of audio effects including EQ, compression, delay, reverb, and phrasing. I then used some samples as low-end parts, and others as stabs and melodies. I panned them hard left and right to create a big, wide stereo spread, leaving room in the centre for the bass, kick, piano and vocals; the main parts. I created the bass using Analog because I liked the way the subtractive synthesis sounded once the cut-off frequency had been set down low. During mixing, I added the necessary processing to every part to give it its own space, and also to clean up any issues from the original recording. I then set-up two reverb sends, one for the instrumental tracks, and one dedicated to vocals, and two delay sends one as a general soft delay for everything, and another as a more distinct, Ping-Pong delay, dedicated to certain vocal lines. I set up key mapping to a midi keyboard to open and close the Ping-Pong delay send, to control the amount on a resonator plugin for the piano track, and an on-off control for the sequencer track. I lined up all the sections in order, with whatever tracks I wanted ready to play, then, using the techniques I learned during our class on dub-remixing, I pressed record and performed the song on the fly. This was the most natural way for me to record as an instrumentalist, because composing purely with the mouse felt unmusical to me, and I didn’t like the lack of room for human error. Once I had recorded my performance in the session window, I did some fine-tuning of the automation timing and levels. Once I was happy with it, I did some last minute mixing and placed a limiter on the master track to stop any clipping. Most of the audio tracks I imported ran through a saturation plugin too, as they lacked gain, and I just generally liked the colour it added to the parts. 



Both Bailey, who produced the track with his group in Trimester 1, and Mackenzie, who wrote and performed it, were happy to give me feedback. Bailey, who last heard it prior to the final mix, said he was happy with it, although he commented that the snare claps were a touch dry. This was a criticism I took on board and addressed. The original artist, Mackenzie, was extremely happy with the end product, and is now using it to market her work. This is a very satisfying feeling for me, as I was unsure of my ability with this genre, and I would like to work with Mackenzie more in the future. I also received positive reviews from classmates, and I myself am very proud and happy with how it has turned out. 

Mackenzie Walker's official Instagram profile

Mackenzie Walker's official Instagram profile


The only real issues I ran into during this process, was not being completely competent using Ableton Live. At times, there were certain things I wanted to do but wasn’t sure exactly how. This meant extra time was spent researching and trialling different approaches until I found a resolution. Not a big problem, as the extra research has made me a much more confident user, but I feel like I could’ve had a smoother experience with more knowledge of the workings of the DAW. All in all, I'm very happy with the process, the lessons, and the outcome. I have found a new musical interest and that's an exciting feeling.



AUD210 Week 8: Remix Planning

For my EDM assessment, I will be remixing a track called Focus. It is a piano-based, melodic, teen-pop song by a young Australian artist called Mackenzie Walker. SAE classmates of mine produced it for their AUD115.3 assessment last trimester. Bailey, from said group, was kind enough to give me the stems. I was interested in working with this song for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I remembered being very impressed by Mackenzie’s voice and songwriting style. For a young artist, she’s 16 years old, there is a level of maturity to her singing style, and the lyrics are honest and baring. Secondly, the production on the original track was quite minimal and acoustic, which are elements I think I will enjoy working with for my first remix.



For my remix, I will be aiming for a genre of electronic music called Folktronica. This is a catchall term for artists who use a combination of mechanical dance beats and elements of acoustic rock or folk. The sound I am hearing in my head could also fall into Ambient House or Chill-out genres. I am far from familiar with all of the various, seemingly neverending, genres under the Electronic music umbrella, but from what I can tell, Folktronica is what I am hoping to end up with. I am a life-long acoustic musician, and it makes sense to blend this in with my developing relationship with EDM. Also, it turns out that without even knowing, I have been a big fan of Folktronica for some time. One artist, or group thereof, who I am very fond of, and will most definitely be using as inspiration for my remix, is Vera Blue. 



Vera Blue is made up of Australian folk singer/songwriter Celia Pavey (The Voice Australia) and Australian producing super-siblings, The Mak Brothers, Andy and Thom. The three combined their powers during a writing camp a few years ago, and have had nothing but success ever since. The electronic production and songwriting skills of Andy and Thom Mak, mixed with the hauntingly beautiful voice and songwriting style of Pavey, were the exact ingredients needed to make the perfect, cross-genre magic. I love the fact that the songs stay true to the voice and guitar that birthed them while elevating the elements into another dimension with precision production. The end result in my opinion is everything one should want in modern music. Soft meets hard, past meets future, skin meets metal. This is what I will be going for with the fragile, shaky pianos and vocals from Focus. 


I haven’t had a huge amount of direction from Bailey, who gave me the stems, and I do not have contact with Mackenzie at all. I will endeavour to keep Bailey up to date and to correspond with him my plans and progression, but I feel as though he doesn’t have any particular expectations from me as far as being a client is concerned. This means I will be viewing this as a remix project that I have creative control over, with my end goal being that both Bailey and Mackenzie are proud, happy, and impressed with what I am able to deliver.