AUS220 Week 9: Music Demo Intensive
This week we started our Music Demo Intensive. We are being tutored by the amazing David Wilko, who gave us a jam packed info session today and got us up and running with our song. My head is still spinning from the amount of information we were exposed to, but it was so great to finally be getting our hands on the Neve console; something we have been really wanting to get onto for a while now. It was great to get started and I really enjoyed Wilko's teaching style, the rundown we received and the whole project is all really great and exciting. We're stoked to be doing this assignment and I think, once again, we well deliver a great product. In true Group 6 style, we have shot for the stars and are attempting to achieve something that goes above and beyond the expectations of the rubric, but I reckon we may have this one in the bag.
We arrived today with our song choice, a list of references a mile long, and plenty of ideas for production. The brief is for us to answer the following: How can we take a demo of a song and turn it into a complete product? Imagining we are a pro team who have received a rough song from an artist saying; “I'm a songwriter new to the industry and I need a production team to be able to produce and develop my song from this rough raw demo into a finished product releasable product". We decided on the song Distant Friend, half because no one else from our year had tried it yet, and also because the pop, cheese-y type lyrics were well suited to our plan for production, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Max Martin boyband era of the 1990's. So, amongst the piles of references we had, this was the one we finally looked to.
This is no doubt an unusual choice in terms of an SAE assessment, and that's kind of why we wanted to do it. We noticed lots of other students were aiming to make 'cool' music that they themselves would listen to, whereas we wanted to do something fun, that would feel like a real-world, money making job. Students are ignorant and doomed to poverty when they deny the fact that eventually they will have to make things that don't appeal to them personally. We thought this would be fun, silly, difficult, and give us a great chance to sharpen our production skills. We also looked at other Max Martin artists like Brittany Spears and N'Sync, and also some late 80's magic like Phil Colin's No Jacket Required and Foreigner. We eventually decided on something more of a ballad to suit our track, with layered vocal harmonies, piano, acoustic and electric guitar, and a mix of drums and midi beats. It's only the first day of this intensive and we already have our arrangement done and a start on recording the piano. We also have booked some more hours in the Neve on our own time to further practise the desk and to get some more recording done before our next proper session. It's looking like it's going to be a great experience, and I can't wait to get back to it. But having said all that, today wasn't just about laying the foundations for the track, today was also about meeting our newest group member: The Neve Genesys.
I personally have been waiting since day one to get my hands on this bad boy. I've heard so much about Neve and their consoles since studying audio and I really hated that I hadn't got my chance to play on one yet. Wilko did a great job of giving us the rundown on the desk today, but it was bloody overwhelming. It's such a complicated desk compared to what we've worked on in the past. There's so many layers, like on a digital console, but without the kind of user friendly work flow. So many buttons, settings, variations, and signal flow directions to follow and it certainly doesn't help that most of the important buttons have had their labels worn off with age. I did my best to take notes and keep up, but it's clearly going to take a lot more practice to master this machine. It was a lot to take in. We started by looking over the console and it's many buttons and paths, then we hired a whole bunch of microphones and worked on signal flow and getting levels to meter. It was great because we hadn't used most of the microphones we hired out, and Wilko spent time asking us questions and telling us about them and their characteristics and possible uses. Its the first time we've done a lot of that since Trimester 1 and 2, so it was great to dust the cobwebs off and test our memories. Once we had signal coming in, we went through getting it into Pro Tools, back to the monitors, and all of the onboard processing. We even had time to send the signal to some of the outboard processing gear, the LA2A and the 1176, which was awesome because I haven't gotten to work with them too much yet. It was nice to have a recap and Wilko gave us some cool insight into how they worked and when to use them. After lunch, we got on to arranging our song and starting to lay down the piano. It's early days but I'm super excited about what we have planned. By now, I know our team and I have no doubt we will squeeze the most out of this opportunity. Look out for the cheesiest, funnest, most 90's version of this song you'll ever hear.