... so the 2014 Junos were held last night... the pre-broadcast gala where majority of the award winners were announced and hardware handed out. I found myself checking Twitter for the updates... seeing a few friends pick up awards really helped lift my spirits... even after an amazing day tracking group vocals... it ain't easy being a Leafs fan.
A few shout outs to some artists that hit a bit closer to home...
First off... huge congrats to Serena Ryder on winning Artist Of The Year and basically an insane year overall!
Serena and I went to high school together, and although we never really hung out or talked or anything, we've always said hello to each other around Toronto... high school runs deep... and I think there's a higher level of 'props' to people you know who've continued to grind it out with music as a career.
Again, she's had an insane year... and once Stompa came out... I figured it was officially go time for Serena and her camp. Glad she's been out touring like crazy as well... I've said it 400X, touring is where it's at... it's where you're going to solidify your core fans... and that's how careers are built and maintained.
Also, all the best to her tri-co-hosting the televised show tonight as well... even though I think it's kinda weird to have nominees hosting award shows... but I'll save that rant for later.
Congrats to Strumbellas on their win for Roots And Traditional Album Of The Year (Group)! I've known a few of the guys in this group since back in the high school days as well. I'm pretty sure they've all been in several bands together over the years, probably in several member combinations... but like most good bands out there, eventually there's a combination/chemistry that works and all of a sudden, things start to move forward. Of course that's the simplified version... but regardless, awesome to see!
Also... I'm really happy to seem them take home the award because they were nominated last year as well. I think there's a lot to be said in "not winning" your first time around.... and I can guarantee you at least one person at that table... after hearing someone elses name get called... became more motivated than ever. Congrats on getting the job done this time around! Been there. :-)
... and congrats to Eric Ratz for winning Recording Engineer Of The Year.
This one hits a bit closer to home for several reasons... although I doubt my name would ring a bell, we've crossed paths several times over the years. Like most people on this side of the glass, you eventually start blurring the lines between recordist and producer. He's been one of the careers I've kept an eye on the since I started 10 years ago, and I had my fingers crossed would take home the prize... plus he won it not only on a rock record... but on the Monster Truck record... which sounds rucking fidiculous. Good job Eric!
Congrats to Charlie Hope (Children's Album) and Courage My Love (Breakthrough Artist) on their nominations.
Third trip for Charlie, first for CML. It's always fun to go, but especially for the CML camp... it's great to see their progression over the years.
I typically have a bone to pick with acts that are "developed" but CML was one of the few groups I've heard of actually being discovered and developed... instead of discovered and then told everything they're doing is wrong and needs to be perfected over the next 5+ years until everyone has lost interested. Kudos to Nicole Hughes and Chris Perry for doing their part! All the best down the road... keep that momentum going!
Boourns to Ben Rayner. I saw this in the Toronto Star this morning...
"As for the rest of Saturday night’s Juno gala, it went pretty much where it always goes. Forever. Or for 3½ hours anyway. For the first time this year, casual observers could stream the pre-broadcast Juno gala online at home, but lord knows why you’d actually do that. Most of the people who actually attend the thing start tuning it out half an hour in because, frankly, by then it’s already clear there are several more crushingly dull and long-winded hours to come and everyone starts sucking down as much free booze as they can find until the bar shuts down."
Dude... of course you'd find it boring... it's not for people like you... it's not about entertaining, it's a dinner and presentations! It's a dinner party for those who actually belong in the room. And who would actually want to watch that? Anybody who has friends or family nominated... nothing tops seeing the happiness of people you care about in real time. I'm glad they streamed it... that's the future anyway... it's there if you want it.
Anyway, if you're there to be entertained, yes, you're going to be bored. It's probably similar to going to a party with your significant other, where most in attendance all went to high school or college together... it's going to be filled with inside jokes and you're going to hate it because you can't join in on their level.
You have no understanding how hard people are working to make a living in this industry and how emotionally charged up they are to be there... despite what they're showing on the outside. People aren't wandering around because they're bored or drunk (well... lol)... they're wandering around because it's a dinner, people have loosened up, and because you're allowed to walk around!
In my opinion, between the Saturday (gala) and Sunday (televised), it's all about Saturday if you're part of the business or more importantly, an artist.
You're in a giant room, filled with your friends, peers, probably a few mentors, and likely a few people who've done you dirty over the years... saying hello to people in that environment means a lot... for some of them, that might be the only time they've seen each other in years because we've all got our heads down, on tour or in our batcaves, working our butts off. Hearing your name called on Saturday is just a touch more huge than hearing it called during the nominations.... and once your category has been announced, all that anxious excitement you've been holding onto the past 6 weeks or so finally leaves your body... win or lose... you feel amazing... and you feel motivated.
Finally... finally, finally... a shout out to all those who were nominated but couldn't afford to make the trip. It aint cheap once you factor in travel, hotels, clothes, food, tickets, etc... for me, 2010 was close to $2,000, 2012 was around $1,500 (+$450 for the award! lol).
Obviously you look at the price tag vs. experience and think it's totally worth it... but I've heard of several artists over the years, mainly in the lesser known categories who just couldn't swing it... plus they didn't think they'd win anyway so why bother... which is pretty sad.
With the amount of money organizations like FACTOR have thrown around over the years to artists in that room last night to record, market, and tour... it'd be nice to see them throw a little in the corner of a few artists to help them make the trip. Even $10,000 could've helped send 5-10 people a year who otherwise sat at home last night... who despite having expectations so low, still had a sliver of hope in the pit of their stomach their name would be called... or at least the Leafs could've beat Philly... seriously guys... c'mon.
- Mike :-)
101 Tips To A Better Band: #9. Create ways to constantly get your ideas down... you need more than you think!
... so I have just shy of 25+ blogs and 70+ Tweets in draft form... some are well over a year old but for whatever reason, they were set aside.
Often it's because of the wording/rambling... but usually because of the timing. Sometimes I think some of the topics hit a little too close to home for who/what "inspired" them. Some of the blogs are #DearBands^10.
They always come from a good place in the heart though... but I gotta say... sometimes I just scratch my head as to what some people are thinking out there... or at least wish they'd be upfront and honest with what they're actually thinking.
I'm sorta comparing all these drafts to songwriting... I have lots of ideas in various states. Some flow naturally... some start with (what I think) is a great idea and take a little longer to develop/execute. This way I always have a deep pool of ideas to draw from. It can make all the difference in the world if you're a creative.
... and just like songwriting, you need to develop quick ways to get your ideas down... because you will forget the best ideas you have if you don't.
... so today seems to be the day everyone is chiming in on PONO. I've known about this for a while... and while I think it's a good idea at heart... it's kinda like seeing a concept horse and buggy at the autoshow.
I feel sorry for Neil Young... I think his heart is in the right place but he either hasn't surrounded himself with forward thinking techies and/or hasn't been told the truth about where things are going... or worse, he's surrounded himself with a group of 'yes men' that just want to make a quick buck off his celebrity endorsement.
So PONO... for those who don't know, is a service/device that plays higher quality audio files. Haven't you always wished all those MP3's you bought (or maybe didn't buy) sounded better?
Maybe... if this was 2001.
Things have gotten way better though... in fact, better to the point nobody really seems to care... and by nobody, I mean the general public... the ones who actually consume all this music in the first place.
I just read a post on facebook saying producers and labels should be really interested in the technology but here's the thing... we (producers/labels) don't buy the albums... the fans do. It's like saying the farmers care about the food... no... the people eating the food care about the food. Farmers only growing food with the intention of feeding other farmers is called jazz.
Anyway, if a record sounds that bad, the fans will speak up... and you only hear of a couple notable turd albums/songs a year at most. Often they're the result of someone in the chain screwing things up one way or another. Hell... think about how albums are being made these days.
Anybody coming up is working off their laptop with whatever gear they have. The good stuff rises... the quality is irrelevant if the song's a hit! Making a great sounding recording these days is cheap and easy... and I'd be curious if Neil would be ok with making an album on a laptop and releasing it into the wild for fans to consume for free... because that's basically what's going currently.
... but the main point PONO doesn't seem to grasp... is people don't want to own music... they don't want that even more than they don't want to buy another device that'll become obsolete as soon as they take off the plastic... and risk dropping in the toilet.
Think about it... why did we like MP3 players over CDs? Why did we like CD's over cassettes? Why did we like cassettes over vinyl?
Storage and logistics.
Each has been easier to transport and more convenient than the last... and we're well into the process of replacing our super convenient MP3 collection with streaming... and the bottleneck isn't the playback device. It's our ISP's (Internet Service Providers). Eventually we'll have enough bandwidth and quick enough data transfers to stream high resolution audio on whatever device you want.
Any music, anytime, anywhere.
We don't need to own the music. We just want to stream it.
We don't need to have a copy of the file any more.
We want to be able to pull it out of thin air... via subscription service or simply as part of our Phone/ISP data package.
We've been spoiled and anybody under 20 probably doesn't really know anything different. There's no going back now. We know this option exists and there's always someone who can make this option available. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.
Dare I say we've crossed the "sex" threshold with this relationship.
... PONO... I hope you enjoy your well intentioned milk and hugs... but our smartphones are the ones currently doing the dirty work... soon to be replaced fully by tablets. The killer app for audio quality will be just that, an app... not another device.
P.S. I've heard Pono referred to as an "iPod rival". Apple cannibalized it's own iPod with the iPhone. Just something to consider here.
P.P.S. Sorry if some of this doesn't make sense... only had a short break... back to tracking acoustics. :-)
P.P.P.S The audiophiles who want Pono have been and will be fine without it... and the money they might help generate will be such a tiny drop in the ocean of revenue anyway. Anybody have numbers on Super Audio CD's? Anybody even remember them?
... so it's March already... and I have to admit... life has been a blur since xmas... the good kinda blur though.
As always, I've been trying to find time to write... even something short... but no dice... so I'm forcing myself to write something (anything) tonight.
Studio life has been kick ass since December. Usually the holidays are pretty tame... people are busy spending money they don't have and then dealing with their credit cards come January. This is a problem when it comes to budgeting for band related costs and investments... this wouldn't be a problem if more people actually budgeted for things... but that's another rant. A couple mix projects and EP's showed up though which filled up the schedule in a hurry.
They say when it rains, it pours... and it's definitely been pouring the last few months. All the major projects: Jason James, One Fire, The Sole Pursuit, The Divided Line, Blind Race, and now Luke Michielsen who started his new album yesterday, have been/are going awesome... and the mix and oddjob/editing projects have been fun as well. It's nice to have some variety, but really nice having so much positive energy floating around the studio.
A couple highlights...
Tony Roost from One Fire Movement asked me to produce a single called One Day featuring several of the One Fire artists. A sort of urban/soul tune along the line of Bruno Mars/John Mayer... but with several artists trading off verses and all singing the chorus together.
I'm sure you can see how this could get complicated and turn into a jumbled mess. You have to be careful taking on projects like this... recording is far from simply recording most of the time... I'll leave that for imagination and for another rant too. But I signed on pretty quick because I knew the level of talent that'd be involved, and when you've got singers who can sing, and egos checked at the door, the track will sort itself out.
I think the tune will be coming out in the next month or two. Looking forward to sharing it with everyone... it's definitely a departure from the norm around here.
The uber talented Samuel Bisson was in to track cello on the Jason James EP. It's an acoustic guitar/vocal based project Jason asked me to produce and during prepro he tiptoed around the 'c' word. It's easy to name off a wish list in the early stages of a project, but if you need session players, you have to either know the right people, or start looking now.
Not many people know session players for strings (or horns actually) that can just "play". I met Sam on one of the Parabelle albums. Kyle (guitarist for Parabelle) found Sam through Google. Sam showed up and threw down. He's been my 1st call ever since.
I'd like to write a post on what I think makes a good/great session player. The biggest thing I feel they should add to a project though is production value. Exceptional players make the whole recording sound better... strings especially make things sound expensive.
Some people might puke at the idea of paying someone $100/hr (standard around here for session players, and most will get through a song an hour), but after you hear what great players can do, it quickly turns into ear to ear smiles and a "shut up and take my money" situation. One song in and Jason fully understood what I was talking about.
Here's a link to Sam's site: www.samuelbisson.ca. Definitely send him a message if you need the good stuff.
I'm only listing two highlights because I said a couple earlier (a couple means 2... unless we're talking about cookies or ice cream scoops), and because I don't want to play favorites.
I've found myself staying at the studio late and getting up early simply because I'm excited to get back to work. Again, meaningful work... with appreciative people... it's a two way street... there's a lot of extra hours that go unnoticed (and unpaid) on the production side... or probably in the entertainment industry in general.
#DearBands: It's amazing how much further you'll go if you say thanks instead of making (assuming) demands... just because you think someone is working for you. There's more than enough music being made these days... and more than enough good stuff to go around... and the good stuff gets priority, if given the choice.
Heading in for 9am to get some mixing done before we get back to tracking drums on the new Luke Michielsen album. This is album #4 (including the Slowking album) I've worked on with Luke. He told me to "go crazy" sonically during prepro... thanks Luke. :-)
P.S. I put all that stuff in the title because I'm curious if it'll show up in search engines.
P.P.S. Hoping to get some tour dates for Age Of Days soon... I miss playing.
P.P.P.S If you puke at the idea of paying a highly skilled musician $100/hr, quit music now if your goal is to turn it into a career... and hopefully you can go through life without ever needing to call a plumber or electrician.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!