Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not a note wasted....

Of course, all the songs we have done will be released on some format or another.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Big "Thank You" s

To Andy and Vince for their friendship and positive and professional attitude throughout the production, and to my studio team of Jeff and James and Joe, likewise. Also thanks to Margret my European Manager, and to MJ and Anne in the Mute Studio Office, for all their hard work co-ordinating and facilitating - they were always there for me when I needed them, and nothing was ever too much trouble. Also to Daniel, of course, for his ever present friendly and knowledgeable criticism, and constantly pushing us to do the best we can.

Special personal thanks also to my wife for her patience and understanding and encouragement - I couldn't have done it without her. xx.

And thanks to a long list of genius talent that has built all the amazing tools that we work with.

What a pleasure and a privilege for me to work with all these amazing people and all these incredible tools.

Thank You God!

The final running order

Andy usually works very hard on the running order, and this album was no exception. He came up with a couple of good proposals but I had a particular vision for the first and last tracks, (I had produced and mixed these 2 tracks especially for this position on the album) and for the position of one of the other tracks and I really wanted to run this by him, so after the photo shoot we met up at Andy's House with the mastered versions of all tracks and I loaded them into iTunes. We quickly tried a few variations. Andy and I were both on a roll (especially because we were getting a lot of pressure from MJ to get this thing sorted out!) and we seemed to understood each other particularly well this evening. After about 90m minutes work it was clear that we were actually going to leave another 2 songs off the main album, and a beautiful running order had emerged. I burnt an audio CD and we took it into the living room to listen down to the whole thing. We cranked up the stereo and listened to the album from top to bottom, and we enjoyed it. I hope you do too!

Love from Gareth.

Erasure's biggest fan

The Photo Shoot

Last Monday I dropped in at teh Photo shoot - I wanted to have a word with V & A about the tracks on the LP and teh running order. They both seemed in high spirits even though Vince must have been very jet lagged:

I took some nice shots but I am under strict instructions from Sarah (press officer) not to load anything up that gives away "The look" of the campaign. Anyway, here are a few snippets:

Data details

So the album was delivered on two hard drives (each one containing all the Pro Tools and Logic Pro Sessions) with a third hard drive containing the complete Retrospect back up of the Logic and Tools work over the last 6 weeks. Also 2 complete AIT Retrospect backups of everything, and a DVD set of Multitrack Masters (wth Stems and Mixes) - one song per DVD. TV tracks and Instrumentals were also delivered as Audio CDs. After this I used the optical disk shredder to destroy older unwanted DVDs and CDs:

Ring Tones

Since the album started I have had "Blue Savannah" as the ring tone on my phone, and I really enjoyed the ring tones that Native Instruments gave away for Christmas, and that inspired us all, so whilst Jeff and I were beavering away at mixes, stems, multitrack masters etc we asked James to go throught the stems and create some ring tones.. I think he made about 20 - he had them all on his phone and he demo'd them to us. Basically they were little remixes of the tracks - combinations of beats and riffs. I hope everyone enjoys them as much as we did.

So much has happened

I hardly know how to wrap this Blog up, so I won't do it quite yet :-)

Jeremy did a great radio mix of the single, but I still wanted to do a mix for the album, with the original bassline and arrangement. This proved to be quite difficult for me personally because there already was such a great and big sounding radio mix. I finally made it, but in future I am always going to finish the album mixes before any other mixmasters do their radio mix thing, just for my peace of mind.

Also we had a lot of fun with running order and tryoing to decide which songs to put on the album an which ones to leave off - at times we were in completely different ballparks. For instance I initially suggested leaving off one track, and Vince said it was his favorite track. Woops. Same with Andy. I was SO surprised at this. Then the band wanted to leave off one son that Daniel and I really loved. So we spent a lot of time playing with different possibilities.

Whilst all this was going on, Jeff and I were fulfilling my contractural responsibilities by providing Instrumentals & TV tracks of all the songs, as well as "stems" for every song. ie Drums, Bass, Sequences, Riffs, Pads, Vocals and Backing Vocals all recorded seperately. Sometimes this will be 12 or 15 stems per song, depending on how much we split everything up. The stems are really useful for tweaking mixes later (should we ever need to) and for making 5.1 surround mixes.

Also we bounce out (consolidate) all the files so that we have a set of files (.wavs) that all start at the same point. This is the "multitrack master" and is useful for any remixes that might be done in the future.

All this took us quite a long time!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Album Release Date and Title unknown to me

I figure the best place to get this information will be the EIS

The Mix Suite is cleared down

James and Oli spent a hard working morning clearing up the Mix Suite and here is the evidence

Noting to do with Erasure, but AMAZING

Three people, 3 DAWs

Today we had Logic, Pro Tools and LIve all running on the session. Daniel uses Live and he has created a new bassline for the single mix, Jeff uses ProTools and I use Logic Audio. So some mixes have been created in Logic and some in Pro Tools. (All the tracks where arranged and created in Logic of course.) What fun.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jeff has "Road to Damascus" moment

Controlling sibilance and over-emphasised consonants is an important part of our vocal sound - especially with close mic'd, compressed and bright vocals. I tend to do a lot of work with Automation, (inspired by Steve Fitzmaurice's work on "Exciter", I have to say) which gives me a great deal of control and helps me make a big warm bright pop vocal sound that is friendly and not viciously attacking on certain consonants. Jeff has the same aim of course and has done a lot of work with sophisticated de-essing plugins, but today he dived in deep and really started working that Pro Tools Automation. It was a pleasure to behold (and to hear).

A note from Mission Control

So here we all are in the Control Room, Daniel Jeff James and I - on the final straight.

We are also in constant eMail communication with Vince. Andy was expected today but hasn't shown up yet :-) Daniel is here with his notes (very focused on anything interfering with the vocal) and we are zipping through tthe tracks. Everyone is in great spirits and excited about the album.

This is definitely coming together now (I am pleased to report).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nearly finished

I have completed all my mix tweaks except for one final track which we are doing today - in fact I have Jeff in one room doing a mix and I am in another room doing a mix of the same track. We are having a "mix off" as James, our assistant, described it. Just for fun. If they both turn out good I will upload both mixes later today and let Andy and Vince choose a favorite. Our A&R man, Daniel, is back tomorrow from holiday and we will spend 2 or 3 days with him listening through and doing final adjustments before the next (last?) mastering session next Monday.

Friday, January 05, 2007

James made some great dinners

Our asssistant James has been making us some great suppers, as well as his many other duties. We invested in a little hob and a couple of pans, and Daniel lent us his rice cooker so we have been continuing with healthy pasta and brown rice dinners. Tonight James put some onions and broccoli in the rice, which we enjoyed with Sardines and Mackerel, and very delicious it was too. Thanks James. Only trouble is that he doesn't like garlic as much as I do (and I dont think his girlfriend does either). In fact that's probably why he took over cooking duties - too much garlic in my food!

Best Wishes

And another thing - I would like to wish everyone a healthy and happy peaceful year. Actually I would like to wish everyone a healthy, happy and peaceful life. Best Wishes to all.

Mastering sounds good

The work that Ted sent us back from Sterling Sound is getting a good reception - pretty much everything sounds better, which is great. We really made sure that we left room for the Mastering Engineer to work on this project - i.e. we did not overly Squash or Limit the mixes in any way, (just a little light buss compression from my Liquid Mix SSL buss compressor) and so the results coming back are very pleasing to the ear. Of course there are a couple of small adjustments I would like to make, but generally I am very pleased too.

Andy sings one final song for this project

Over the holidays Vince worked on another tune that we started in Falmouth, and it arrived a couple of days ago. Andy came down to sing it today. After a couple of warm ups he did the vocal in one take (with one drop in - he is so new to this arrangement of the song that he hadn't quite learned the structure) So it is a very fresh interpretation.

Also we are doing ongoing tweaks of the mixes - a few minor things and a few major things. Vince was unhappy with a couple of changes that were made with Daniel in in London, and he has asked to hear mixes based more on the Falmouth material. So far this has been a very productive exchange of ideas and feelings.