May 302007
 

I wish I could say that! Actually, it is half of the title of the book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles written by the illustrious Geoff Emerick (and a less fortunate co-author Howard Massey) – with foreword by Elvis Costello.

Emerick is the audio engineer who enjoyed and endured recording the Beatles pretty much throughout their entire career. This book collects those memories in a vivid and down to earth fashion. The book is not a technical book (thevery few times a technical word like “compressor” is even used, it is explained between parenthesis for the readers who are not engineers) but rather a book about the Beatles, except that nobody ever talked about the Beatles from this perspective. For obvious reason, reading this book is much more interesting than reading any other book about the Beatles OR about the evolution of recording techniques because it is a book about BOTH of those things!

Geoff Emerick has come up with some of the most ground-breaking tricks and techniques that are pretty much considered and used as a  given in today’s recording business and his influence on this world, our world, stands the test of times.

The Beatles have revolutionized pop music forever and their songs are equally timeless and majestic in importance. Much less is known or written about their personalities and how they did get (and later didn’t get) along.

Everything has been said about the Beatles, but not much as been said about who molded their sound and how they were to each other between closed doors. This book is a must read for every engineer (Beatles lover or not), ever Beatles lover (engineer or not) and everyone with just the slightest of interest or curiosity about either one of these two worlds. Absolutely highly recommended!

May 242007
 

Josh DionA few years ago I saw this great drummer playing at BB King’s whose style impressed me. They introduced him but I didn’t catch or couldn’t remember his name at the end of that show. I did however remember the funny faces he was making while playing (he looked like Francesco Basile, another good friend of mine who’s a good drummer at Berklee and makes faces like that too) and I did remember that he was wearing a Shawn Pelton-style leather hat dropping form one side…

I hadn’t forgotten about the promising musician but I didn’t know where he lived so I thought I’d either never see him again or (if he lived in NY) I’d cross paths with him again at some point. Sure enough newly acquainted NY-based singer Kristen
Maxfield told me about this amazing drummer that sings while he plays drums and recommended that I’d check him out. I looked him up on the web and there he was: I recognized the face and the hat right away! So Josh Dion was his name and it was obvious now I had to go see him.

I am usually a Lower EastSide kinda guy but on this night (after I checked out the beginning of the monthly Warper Party) I set out to the West Village. That hood is happening! Nothing new, of course, but the village really felt like it had that old school live music charm to it that even the LES sometimes doesn’t quite have. I went to the Bitter End and saw Josh Dion’s set. Needless to say he killed it! Bass, guitar, keys and a background vocalist plus his essential four piece + ride + crash drum kit slapped in the middle of the decent sized stage. I take my hat off to the minimal drum kit because I can think of many other great drummers that wouldn’t even play if they didn’t have 2 snares, 5 toms and 10 cymbals! Less is more! But wait… he sings! Obviously there aren’t too many bands like that out there, but Dion’s band does it right. He has a great voice and knows how to keep the crowd happy and entertained (there is never a dull moment in his show and even if there was his faces would make up for that). This groovy cat is right on the money and smacks R&B/Funk/Blues rhythms in the pocket, barefoot while making funny faces and singing great songs! And that is one other very important thing here… Sure, Josh can play, he can sing too, but he’s got great catchy songs, which once again proves that ultimately, it is all about the song!

The one other time I felt that excited about an unknown/unsigned drummer was when I saw Nikki Glaspie playing the shit out of her drums with Martin Luther… My instincts told me she was dope and she was gonna make it big so I had gotten her number and called her up to hire her for a project two months later, but she had just been discovered by Beyonce’s talent scouts so unfortunately we never got to work together… but that’s another story… I hope Josh gets what he wants out of his life as an artist, he certainly seems to be on the right path!

What a great night out!

May 212007
 

Remix Hotel NYCRemix Hotel is a convention that seems to be mostly targeted at and is obviously attended by a demographics of young DJs, electronic musicians and hip hop artists, but even though most of the gear on display might be from the so-called “pro-sumer” market section (when compared with the kind of gear at conventions like AES), the people attending Remix are from across the board and so it becomes increasingly interesting to interact with peers and musicians alike.

I checked out a few of the seminars this year, although I did not want to wait on line for half hour or more for the others. Hank Shocklee’s company organized all and moderated most of the panels. That guy just has a great sense for business and experience in the music field so I enjoyed the panels he moderated because he had a good idea of where to take the panelists and how to keep things moving, balanced, interesting and on topic.

Having the convention at SAE (School of Audio Engineering) where the rooms are somewhat acoustically isolated and where there is good gear in a lot of different rooms makes sense and is nice (it certainly adds to the atmosphere and to the whole experience), but I think Remix Hotel NYC might have to accept the fact that they outgrew the space and need to look for venues that can accommodate more people, to avoid creating huge lines that clog the hallways and keeping people from attending panels they might be interested in seeing.

Except for the crowd issues, I think the single most annoying thing about Remix Hotel attendees is that everyone calls himself/herself a producer…  I understand what they mean and where they are coming from but I just don’t think that owning a computer and a music software makes you producer, sorry. Hank Shocklee hit the nail right on its head when he intervened in one of the panels to point out that it’s about a lot more than just that… Sure, if we take into account the etymology of the word, we are all “producing” music my merely “making” music, but I don’t understand why at some point in time somebody started using that word to make them look cooler even though they never actually produced anything (at least not according to what “producing” meant until a few years ago). I guess this might be a by-product of digital technology (which I absolutely love and embrace, don’t get me wrong) but people like George Martin, Rick Rubin or even Timbaland must be rubbed the wrong way by this. Maybe I am just a bit nostalgic of the original meaning attached to the word, but producing is much more than “making” music, producing includes musical skills, knowing what works where and when, knowing who to hire to play what, knowing how to deal with people (many would argue that producers are also psychologists!) and much much more…

Anyway, aside from my little rant of the day, Remix Hotel was a fun weekend. The highlight for me was the fact that NARAS (the Grammy Awards accademy) had a VIP lounge with (not the greatest) food and (a decent selection of) drinks that definitely facilitated the whole networking aspect of things. I met a lot of cool new people, saw people I hadn’t seen in a while, made new connections etc etc… Actually the lounge was sponsored by the Producers and Engineers wing of NARAS, so I felt right at home and the NARAS people were very welcoming and great…

This was my second year at Remix Hotel NYC and I enjoyed it…

May 152007
 

I’ve just spent a late Sunday evening watching this documentary film by Dave Cool called “What Is Indie: A Look into the World of Independent Musicians” which turned out to be a very well edited, well thought out and well put together documentary that entertains, informs and takes a deep look at what being “indie” really means today. Very clever and inspiring, Cool’s movie addresses and answers some very basic question about the etymology and true meaning of the word, and about the repercussions and effects the word has had and has.

It seems that a lot of the interviewees offer differing definitions of the word, but they all seem to concur on the advantages and obstacles that being independent implies. I don’t want to give away the film, but I will say that it is intelligent and even controversial at times, if you will.

“What is Indie?” comes as a DVD packed with tightly edited interviews, fragments of live performances and special features: CD Baby founder Derek Sivers, Sonicbids founder Panos Panay, Canadian best selling indie artist and activist Ember Swift, Music Business Solutions’ Peter Spellman, artist/producer Tim Rideout and many more offer insights, advice and experience. For the same 20 bucks that buys you the DVD you also get a CD featuring 71 minutes of music in 22 tracks by artists interviewed in the film.

I wish more artists saw this movie ’cause, frankly, I am growing tired of attending music conferences and hearing wannabe-stars ask the panelists the same old boring questions: how do I get noticed? how do I get signed? where do I send my CD? how do I send my music? Enough! Watch this movie, maybe you’ll understand that indie is the future and that it is a philosophy we should all start to embrace.

My only criticism is that a film about the true meaning of independent cannot be complete without AT LEAST mentioning Fugazi. I can’t believe the filmmakers omitted such a great example of indie! But anyway…

Highly recommended! Buy it from www.whatisindiemovie.com

What is Indie?

May 082007
 

Ines is a very talented pop singer from Estonia whom I started working with recently.

Ines lives between New York and Estonia, where she is very popular and is among the country’s best selling artists.

We recently got together at EastSide Sound to record the vocals for her new track. Here are some pictures of Ines and myself hard at work:

Ines singingInes singingInes and MarcInes and MarcInes and MarcInes and Marc after the session

May 072007
 

tff07.jpg

When my phone is on vibrate for two weeks and I check my email every other day as opposed to every other hour, then you know it is Tribeca Film Festival time. This is my second year attending and I loved the entire experience: seeing movies that might or might never make it to the big or the small screen, meeting directors/producers/editors, attending the ASCAP music lounge to network and discover so much up and coming talent… Out of the 150 movies in the program, this year I packed in 36 feature films and about 20 short films, running around town from theater to theater, watching 4 to 6 movies per day. You are bound to miss some things you wanted to see, but you have to try to prioritize (which is why I was at the music lounge every one of the four days, instead of watching more movies).

I saw a LOT of movies, a lot of good movies, some bad ones too (what was Aimee Jennings thinking?). Some of the best movies I have seen are: Benson Lee’s Planet B-Boy (a documentary about break-dancing that you are going to like whether you are or are not into those moves; so well done, put together, filmed, edited; simply the best documentary this year!); Ian McCrudden and Robbie Cavolina’s Anita O’Day – The Life of a Jazz Singer (great singer, great film, great discovery!); James Crump’s Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe (extremely well done, hard to believe it was this director’s first movie; an insight look into the world of art and human relationships in the ’70s and ’80s); Bruce Broder’s Chops (documentary about the Florida high school jazz band who won the Wynton Marsalis Essentially Ellington Festival); The Hennegan Brothers’ The First Saturday in May (a documentary about the Kentucky Derby and it’s all time favorite horse Barbaro; I never got into horse racing, but this documentary was very well done, entertaining, informative); Andrew Piddington’s The Killing of John Lennon (strangely nobody has ever made a movie about that, but it seems like nobody needs to anymore because this one covers it all and does so very well!); Jim Brown’s Pete Seeger: the Power of Song (very interesting and informative); Stephen Kijak’s Scott Walker – 30 Century Man (this movie was awesome and even David Bowie knew that, because he put money into this film and executive produced it; a real find, a real treasure, both the film and the artist!); Mark Obenhaus’ Steep (an epic Warren Miller-like documentary about extreme back-country skiing); Alison Thompson’s The Third Wave (documentary about the Tsunami’s effect on Sri Lanka and the rebuilding efforts by a team of independent volunteers); Carolina Cruz Santiago’s Aloha New York (as a fellow NYC surfer, I went to see 2 hours of shorts only to see this one short and it was worth it! Finally a movie about surfing in NY, an idea I had actually been flirting with myself but that Cruz Santiago, a NY surfer herself, has brought to life; a unique film; an awesome film!); Donald Rice’s I Am Bob (featuring Bob Geldof as himself in a hilarious comedy in which he needs to prove he is who he is at a look-alike convention he stumbled on as a result of numerous mistakes); Albert Maysles and Antonio Ferrara’s The Gates (the controversial Central Park installation that I managed to miss; I finally got an opportunity to see a lot more than just pictures of it through this very well made documentary).

I’ve seen many other movies that are worthy of mention (2 Days in Paris, The Air I Breath, Blackout, Bomb It, Doubletime, The Grand, Heckler, Live!, The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio -whose screening was followed by an amazing live concert by this multi-national world music orchestra based in Italy-, We Are Together) but I think the above ones deserve special mention as my 2007 Tribeca Film Festival favorites!

Generally my main complaint about documentaries, is that they rarely have good background music or (even worse) rarely have music at all and that they could be edited much more tightly. Self-indulgence, attachment and budgets are usually the main reasons for that but I have to say that most of the documentaries I mentioned luckily escaped that fate! More documentary directors/producers today understand how important a good score (or even just source music in the background) is and how much a good editing job can bring to the film. These two things alone can make or break a movie and I wish more directors/producers were to understand that.

All in all the Festival was awesome. Delays in screenings and exorbitant ticket prices are certainly something to consider, but the opportunity to mingle with so many people in the industry and to see so many good movies is unique and maybe even priceless.