I made it in to Toronto tonight, pretty easy day of travel. Unfortunately there’s a little bit of rain but I hear it will let up by tomorrow evening. I went over to Function 13 Gallery tonight to get started setting things up, I’ll be hanging all the artwork for the ISO50 show tomorrow.
The gallery show will feature a lot of new work along with some old stuff. I ended up going back and reworking everything, pulling out the text and just leaving the artwork. It was a pretty fun process stripping things down to their core elements, it’s always a nice test to see which images stand on their own without the accompanying type. A couple posters — such as 1971 and Madrone — couldn’t do without the type so I just tried stripping out some other extraneous elements. Going back through some of the older files was pretty surprising, it was interesting to see how much my technique has changed over the years. Some were just a mess, it felt like restoring an old house removing all the heavy handed distressing and randomly placed elements. It was great to see the results, I feel like the core concepts of a lot of the pieces can breathe a lot better now.
I’ve also got some new stuff in store for the live Tycho set; a few new songs, some remixes, and reworked live visuals. It’s been pretty stressful over the past week getting ready for this but it all came together over the past few days so now I’m just excited to get it all out there. Hope to see you out tonight. Click the links below for more info.
Also, if you enjoy all the music posted on this blog (which is pretty much all Jakub), then you will enjoy Jakub’s DJ set tonight. He’ll be playing as his DJ alter-ego Aarnio tonight at the show.
I’m doing a solo exhibition at Function 13 Gallery in Toronto next Friday where I’ll be showing some new work and large format stuff. I’m still working on the main poster for the event so I’ll be posting that on Monday probably. For now, here’s all the details:
The new Tycho Coastal Brake 12″ single is now available for pre-order at the shop. This 180 gram vinyl pressing is limited to 1000 copies, the first 50 of which are signed and numbered. Each order includes the MP3/WAV version which will be immediately downloadable on the release date, December 8th, 2009. Here are some audio sample clips:
This poster is sort of an alternate take on the gallery show poster (which will be released tomorrow), they are both based on the same subject but have very different aesthetics. This is the first time I’ve worked directly with a live model for a project — I shot her against a light bouncer with a flood light coming from the back to get the silhouette. Although rather time consuming, it was a pretty fun process and I learned a lot. You may notice that this piece in similar to the Coastal Brake cover in it’s use of negative space. I’ve employed this concept in various ways throughout my career (the Past is Prologue cover [2004-2005], for example) but have only recently found the time to truly explore it to the extent that I have with these recent pieces as compositions in this style are the most time intensive of all my work. When creating these, I treat the process more like painting than graphic design and so things can become much more complex. This particular piece is not quite as complex as some of the others, it’s a composite of about 20 image layers overlayed using various blending modes and masked by the silhouette image, the negative space was then filled with photographed paper which was colored using color balance. It will be on display at the Function 13 ISO50 Gallery show on the 20th.
Tycho Show Details
ISO50 Toronto Art Show After Party
TYCHO (Live Audio / Visual Performance)
With Guest DJ’s
Aarnio (Ghostly/Moodgadget, New York)
Noah Pred (Thoughtless Music, Toronto)
550 Queen Street West Toronto
ON MSV 285
$10 Advance / $15 Door
I just arrived in beautiful Newark for a brief layover before the second leg of my trip. I’ll be flying into Oslo and then on to Tromsø for the Insomnia Fesitval. I’m doing an ISO50 workshop on Friday at Verdensteatret Cinematek. The workshop is free (thanks to Insomnia, Tank.no, and Grafill) — you can register here.
I’ll be covering a lot of ground during this one, walking through the process of creating the new Tycho album cover and talking about graphic design in general. Space is limited so be sure to register.
I’ll also be playing a Tycho live set at Insomnia on Satuday night. Hope to see you all out there. I just finished one of the worst salads ever at the Sam Adams Brew Club at Newark and they’re calling for first boarding so I’m off to Oslo. See you in Norway.
The new Tycho single, Coastal Brake, is finally all set for release. Above you can see the 12″ vinyl cover art including the reverse and stickers. There is also a limited edition poster with alternate artwork folded into each vinyl sleeve — I’ll post more on that and the process of creating the artwork as we get closer to the release date.
I got the finished vinyl in the other day and they look great — I’ll post up some pics next week. The official release date for the vinyl and digital is December 8th but we will be taking pre-orders starting November 2nd at The ISO50 Shop. I’ll be posting more details as the become available. | Comment on this post
Update: apparently you can hear one of the remixes from the 12″ via the Ghostly Discovery App. If you dial in these mood settings, the resulting playlist should include the Lusine remix of Coastal Brake (you may have to click next a few times). Enjoy.
I’ll be playing a live set as Tycho and doing a workshop as ISO50 next week in Tromsø, Norway as part of Insomnia Festival 2009. I’ve never been to Norway so I’m really excited to check it out. I’m assuming I’ll be needing to dress warm? Norwegians: What should I bring? What should I see while I’m there? Any tips would be appreciated in the comments. Röyksopp and Lindstrøm will also be playing at Insomnia so really looking forward to seeing them live.
ISO50 Workshop – Friday, October 23rd | info
Tycho live set – Saturday, October 24th | info
A full PDF event program for Insomnia 2009 can be downloaded here
Insomnia Festival Website – Link
I usually hesitate to do music production related posts as the focus of this blog is more centered in the visual world (On a side note, I always wonder how many of you produce music as well as design? | Comment). But I’ve really been shifting gears lately into album mode, getting the studio all dialed in so the final stretch is as trouble free as possible. To tell the truth, this past year has been one giant computer headache. Photoshop has been running like a champ on Windows 7 64-bit, but Sonar — the audio software platform I use to record / produce with — has been nothing but trouble. Over the years, I’ve slowly moved to where I do all of my sound generation and most of my processing outside the computer with analog gear but I still use the computer to record and arrange. Sonar is still the central element to the most complex stage of the production process. If it’s not behaving, the whole chain breaks down very quickly. To be fair though, it’s actually the supporting cast of digital hardware that’s been causing all the problems, not Sonar itself. My analog-to-digital digital conversion system was built around a MOTU 828MKII audio interface and a MOTU MIDI timepiece. They worked great in Windows XP but just weren’t making the cut in Windows 7 and Vista. MOTU’s driver support for Windows is pretty bad, they’re more of a Mac-centric company. So I finally ditched them and went with German manufacturer RME’s Fireface 800 as the core of the system. RME were originally a Windows only hardware maker and are very dedicated to stable performance across both platforms. They also make some of the best analog to digital converters in the business so it was nice to get that upgrade included in the deal. I also finally took the time to really tweak the computer and chase down all the little bugs and conflicts so everything is running smoother than ever now. Unfortunately I had to leave the ridiculously fast Windows 7 and go back to Vista Pro x64, but it’s only a minor step down in performance so it’s well worth the added stability. I am betting I’ll be able to move back up to Win7 within the next 6 months. And before anyone says “you should switch to Mac” I must add that most of my go-to plugins and music software are PC-only, I couldn’t really switch to Mac if I wanted to. And believe me, over this past year I have wanted to on several occasions. But I think all that is behind me, the new rig is rock solid and I’ve cloned the drive with Acronis True Image so it will always be fast and clean (I can just flash the drive back to the initial state any time things start to bog down).
So now with everything working properly, all at once, for what seems like the first time in ages, it’s time to get down to the business of producing this album. I have all the material in place, it’s just a matter of arrangement and production at this point. I do enjoy this phase, when I’m in the middle of it, but truthfully I don’t always look forward to it. I just remember all the late nights up at 7am driving back and forth from LA and Sacramento getting stuff mixed and mastered, then mixed and mastered again, and again…. and so on. Sometimes it seems like it never ends. The last song I finished — the forthcoming Coastal Brake 12″ — was one of those very trying experiences. It was just such a dense and complex mix, I hit the wall a few times and really had to reconsider things. Luckily I was able to keep my head and after about two months of pushing and pulling I finally got a version I was happy with.
So here I am coming off that experience with a whole album’s worth of tracks all lined up for the same treatment. I figured it was time to evaluate my work flow and determine what I could do to optimize things and make the process more fun than work. I started by rewiring and reconfiguring the entire studio, from top to bottom, three times. With each pass I took a week to work with things and noted all the little issues and roadblocks that I encountered with the setup. I then incorporated those into the next redesign. I spent years trying to just get things setup quickly so I could get to work, not realizing that if I really took the time to get it all set up and configured properly the first time, in the end I would save a ton of time and energy.
So now I’m sitting in the newly optimized studio and it really feels good. My head is clear and I feel like I have instant access to all the tools I need to get work done. I’ve already written a chunk of new material in the past few days and am starting the process of working back through the existing songs and getting them into their finished forms. One very cool perk of this whole experience was rediscovering something that I had all but forgotten about from my earlier days as a musician. When I first started out in music, my first real piece of gear was an Ensoniq ASR-X, a combination drum machine / synth which used drum pads instead of keys. I sold it years ago and always regretted it (Actually, I sold one, got a new one, then sold that, then got another, then finally sold that again…but that’s a very long story). Anyways, I’ve always missed the physical drum pads and ever since I moved to San Francisco I can’t play my real drum kit very late at night anymore. Over the weekend I was at Guitar Center picking up some cables and noticed Akai’s new little drum trigger pad, the MPD18 (pictured at the top). Only $99 for 18 genuine MPC pads, that’s an insane deal. My ASR-X was always like the poor man’s MPC so I always lusted after them whenever I saw one at a show or something. I was a bit skeptical about whether the $99 MPD18 could live up to the venerable MPC, but once I got it home I was amazed at how sensitive and tactile the pads are. Needless to say, I’ve been loading my drum machine up and triggering it with the MPD for the past two days straight. It’s not even work anymore, I forgot how fun these things are, and I honestly think the results are more fluid and realistic than programming drum patterns by mouse.
I will be posting some pics of the new studio just as soon as I borrow my brother’s wide angle lens. For now, here is some gratuitous gear smut, the original MPC60 (Akai + Roger Linn) in all it’s glory: