Me on the Oberheim Four Voice
Zac Brown on electric guitar
Alex Cornell lending some acoustic takes
Zac Brown in the studio
I’ve sort of had my head down for the past couple months really digging into the recording of my next album so I thought I’d post up some shots from various sessions. Recently, guitarist Zac Brown (of Dusty Brown and DoomBird) has been coming in and contributing parts to some songs. It’s one of the first times I’ve collaborated with another musician and it’s been a great experience. It’s also been fun to wrap my head around recording guitar amps, something I had limited experience with before as most of my songs are written and recorded on my acoustic guitar with the keyboard and drum parts added later. It’s always exciting to find a new sonic texture to work with and it’s definitely an inspiring process to see your vision for a song expanded on by someone else.
If you’ve been following along with the album’s progress, you might have noticed the somewhat protracted nature of the whole thing. It’s been a test to say the least trying to keep on track with music while staying on top of the ISO50 side of things. There was definitely a long period where all I wanted to do was write new songs but not finish them, which is the hardest part for me. The good news is that because of this I now have a few albums of solid material, but the bad news is that it delayed the process of this one getting out. But that’s all behind me now and the past couple months have been the most productive of my musical life. The only problem is that I now have this self-imposed feeling that I’m behind and when I’m feeling that way I can sometimes forget to relax and enjoy the process of creating. It’s funny how much design and music differ in this way for me. While I see the processes of creating both as very similar, I don’t feel I can really sit down and just get music done in the same way as my visual work. It’s easy to say I’m going to devote three nights to a poster and be pretty confident it will get done and I’ll be happy with it. With music it’s always a much longer and drawn out process with more intangible milestones along the way.
The beauty of this entire process and the time devoted to it is that I’ve been allowed the luxury of perspective, something that’s very hard for me when I have to be neck-deep in a project from beginning to end with no breaks. The time has allowed me to continually reevaluate what the work is supposed to be and how best to do the material justice. Most of my songs start out as very small sketches, usually a guitar part and a keyboard part recorded quickly. I then set it aside and move on to something else. When I finally come back to an idea to develop it into a full composition my biggest fear is that I will somehow lose the meaning or the soul of it in the process. The problem is that as I’m adding new parts I start to go on tangents and the song can become something completely different. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but in other cases it takes time to be able to look back and realize that the original idea has been muddled in some way by the initial excitement of discovery. Problems like this tend to disappear when I allow myself to revisit work over time.
Overall, I feel close to wrapping up the production/arrangement phase but then comes mixing and mastering which can be time consuming. My goal is to have things sewn up by, at the very latest, end of summer. But putting time-lines on things doesn’t exactly serve the artistic process, at least not mine anyways, so I’m trying my best to pretend that goal doesn’t exist.
I’ll try to post some more pics / videos as things progress. And on a related note, Yourstru.ly has been filming a piece on the making of the album so there should be some interesting stuff by the time that’s done.
We’ve had the “Random Nostalgia” category on this blog for a while, but I think this is the first time a post has truly fit the bill. I was searching around my hard drive last night and stumbled upon this gem from my past, the photo you see above (sorry for the poor quality, I can’t find the original photo I scanned this from). I’m not quite sure, but this is probably from sometime around mid-1999 in Sacramento. This was the firs time I assembled what I would consider a proper studio, although it was just my bedroom (you can see the futon folded up in the right corner). I think before this I had a Roland MC-303 and SP-202 set up on a dresser in the corner so this was a big step up from that. This was also when I started using a computer to record; I had previously recorded everything into an ASR-X Pro sampler which could handle about 6 minutes of audio. I would then record the outputs of that to Minidiscs (still have a huge box of those I need to sift through).
This was before I really started designing but if you look closely you can catch one of my very early visual influences on the left wall. I rescued that tapestry thing from a dumpster; it depicts a waterfall made of rainbows. Pretty bad I know, but looking back I realize that color scheme and subject matter informed a lot of my earlier work. Not sure what happened to it, must have lost it in a subsequent move. The same goes for the other stuff, the only things I still have around are the computer keyboard, the grey box in the stereo cabinet and the wooden table in the foreground. I gave the keyboard stand to Dusty Brown and I saw it at the show in Sacramento this weekend, nice to know it’s still alive and well with the same Renthal sticker on it. As for the other stuff, it was either sold on eBay or junked (the milk crates that are holding up the desk, for example). Here’s a kit list of what I can make out from the picture:
– ASRX-Pro Sampler / Sound Module. Used this to make Science of Patterns a few years later.
– Roland JP-8000 Synthesizer.
– E-MU Orbit Sound Module (don’t ask why I owned this)
– Yamaha Stereo EQ
– Gemini 4-channel DJ mixer
– Sony MD recorder
Crazy story about the JP-8000, I put it on eBay about a year after this shot was taken. The winner of the auction was from the area so he came out to pick it up. It turned out to be Shaun Lopez, we ended up becoming friends and he still does mixing work on my tracks today (Daydream, Adrift, Disconnect to name a few).
Just a reminder that tomorrow (Sat, Jan.30, 2010) I’ll be playing at the Sacramento Electronica Festival along with Dusty Brown and many others. I should go on around 12:30am and Dusty will be up right after. We’ll be playing some songs together and I’ll have all the visuals set up so it should be a fun night. Hope to see you out.
I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be playing at this year’s Sacramento Electronica Music Festival. I’m shouldn’t really be playing shows right now as the album’s due date is rapidly approaching, but I can never pass up an opportunity to play a show in my home town. There are lots of great names on the bill including Dusty Brown, who I’ll be playing some songs with. All in all it’s shaping up to be quite an experience: three days of great music for $10, I’m pretty sure you can’t beat that. And if you’re from the bay area, try to make the drive, it’s only 90 minutes and as you’ll see there’s something about live shows in Sacramento you don’t often get out here.
And for those who know their Sacramento electronic music history, you might notice that this is a partial Command Collective reunion of sorts. With the exception of Chachi Jones, all the original members will be playing during the festival: Dusty Brown, Tha Fruitbat, Lifeliner (aka Park Avenue), and myself.
Tycho: Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2010 – 11:30 PM
Festival: January 28, 2010 9:00 PM – Jan. 31, 2010 2:00 AM
1517 21st Street
More Info | Buy Tickets
Dusty Brown Live
If you’re anywhere near Sacramento right now, cancel any plans you might have. The final Club Pow is going down at The Press club. Club Pow is a Sacramento music scene institution, they’ve been cranking out amazing shows night after night for years now. I’ll be making the drive out from San Fran, so all of you in Roseville, Folsom, Elk Grove, and Woodland have no excuses! See you there.
The New Humans
11/30/2009 9:00 PM
2030 P STREET
Dusty Brown – One Take Miracles
Original Photo by Raoul Ortega
Tycho Live w/ Dusty Brown - Photo by +Russ
Big thanks to everyone who made it out Thursday for the Ghostly show in Seattle, we had a great time playing for you. Hope to see you all again soon.
By the way, did anyone catch that Mad Professor / Banga show at Nemos afterwards? Amazing, I couldn’t breathe from all that bass.
Photo by +Russ who also has some more shots of Decibel Fest up.
Dusty Brown and I will be playing live sets at the LAUNCH Design & Music Festival in Sacramento this Saturday (July 25th, 2009) at approx. 8:30pm. See you there!