Monday, 15 August 2016

Six Hundred Outback Miles

While travelling on my motorcycle (The Red Devil, a BMW F650GS twin) I often get ideas for new songs.

The inspiration for “Six Hundred Outback Miles” came to me when riding between Barkley Station and Daly Waters in the Northern Territory, Australia. By the time I arrived at the camp site, the tune and the first verse were set in stone. Over the next few weeks I had the pleasure of musing with the lyrics while I enjoyed riding the roads of the Northern Territory and listening and learning about Aboriginal Culture and Country.

I have just finished recording this song, which is on my latest album, “Does it Rhyme?”.

The Photographs:
Charles Knife Canyon, Pilbara, Western Australia
Lake Argyle, Kimberley, Western Australia
Cape Range National Park, Western Australia
Great Northern Highway, Pilbara, Western Australia
Great Western Tiers, Tasmania
A Jump-Up, Channel Country, Western Queensland
Overlander Roadhouse, Western Australia
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory
Daly Waters, Northern Territory
Pemberton, South West Western Australia
Aboriginal Art, Wyndham, Western Australia
Mt Roland, Tasmania
Playing Music Sticks @ the Katherine Markets, Northern Territory
Campsite Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Gig @ Kalangadoo Crafts, Narrikup, South West Western Australia
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory
Aboriginal Rock Art, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Mabel Downs, Kimberley, Western Australia
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Litchfield, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Does it Rhyme?

Sitting on a Jump-Up in Western Queensland,
How could I not be inspired to write a song?
In January 2016 I knew I couldn’t procrastinate any longer ~ I had the means, I had written the songs ~ the time had come to knuckle down and record another album. We don’t take projects like this lightly at Studio 453 and perhaps that’s the reason there had been over ten years since I released my last album, The Moods I’m In.

The fourteen original songs I selected for my third album, Does it Rhyme?, came right from the heart and span genres folk, pop, blues with a touch of jazz and novelty. After I selected the songs I realised the Australiana flavour of the album, with six of the fourteen songs inspired by our land Down Under. 

Playing to the Kangaroos during a break in recording.
I created a booklet containing a lyric sheet for each song. This became my bible, the place where I would write down my ideas on the arrangement for each song including intros, outros, and other instrumentation and harmony that would be added after the vocal and guitar tracks had been laid down.

Alas, recording an album is twenty percent inspiration and eighty percent perspiration. And so began the hard work of practicing and then recording each of the tracks that would make up the album. My husband, Steve, is my recording engineer and twice we took my mobile studio down to The River Road, our country hideout, for some uninterrupted recording time.

My recording studio is made up of the following components:
·         HP Envy 17” (Intel Core i7-4700mq processor, 16GB RAM and 1TB hard drive).
·         Cakewalk Sonar X3 DAW.
·         Roland Octa-Capture Audio Interface.
·         Rode NT2000 Microphone.
·         Adam F7 Studio Monitors.

The recording process for this album was as follows:
·         Record fourteen guide tracks.
·         Record fourteen guitar tracks.
·         Record fourteen vocal tracks.
·         Record bass guitar on Six Hundred Outback Miles; The Wobblebox Song; The Coal Miner.
·         Add bass guitar, recorded by Lindsay Gould, to Take You to Vegas.
·         Record lead guitar on Six Hundred Outback Miles and In The City.
·         Record a second acoustic guitar on the title track Does it Rhyme?.
·         Record harmony on Jump Up; The Spell of Acrospire IV; In The City.
·         Add Session Drummer track to In The City.
·         Record stone flute on The Wobblebox Song.
·         Record music sticks on Six Hundred Outback Miles.
·         Record tenor saxophone (Lindsay Gould) on Secrets of a Bass Player; Purple Poodle; Mr Dinosaur Bones; Take You to Vegas.
·         Record soprano saxophone (Lindsay Gould) on Trackless and Windforce.
·         Record clarinet (Lindsay Gould) on Kilkenny.

At The River Road
On average it takes us one hour to record a track and one hour to edit a track. The total time to record and edit this album was 120 hours (there are 61 recordings).

The mastering of this album was a reiterative process of mixing down with the required effects (eq, reverb, compression), creating an mp3 at 320kbs and then listening to the song on a variety of devices, checking for clarity of sound of all the instruments and the overall volume. This process took us about one day (8 hours) per song totalling 110 hours.

In total we spent 230 hours (6 weeks full time) just to record, mix and master the songs. This doesn’t include the countless hours spent rehearsing so that we could create solid, clean recordings.

A special thanks to my friend, Lindsay Gould, for his inspiration and magic touch on the saxophones and clarinet. 

Lindsay and me ~ gigging
Lindsay and I collaborated on writing Secrets of a Bass Player and Take You to Vegas. I wrote the lyrics and Lindsay wrote the music. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and it is a pleasure to include these two songs on this album.

Also, thank you Steve, for your patience during the recording process and your diligence during the mixing and mastering phase of the project. You have a wonderful ear for the final product and I’m lucky that you are part of the music I create.

Of course the creation of this album is only the beginning as we work towards finding avenues so that you folks out there can hear Does it Rhyme? I’m very proud of this album and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing the songs.

You can listen to sound bytes on the player below or on the Does it Rhyme? page on my website ~ Enjoy!

Six Hundred Outback Miles
written while riding my BMW F650GS though Northern Australia

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Radial PZ-DI

It had been evident for quite a while that the piezo pickup, in my twenty year old Maton EM225 acoustic guitar, wasn't delivering the volume of sound I require at gigs with the 1/4" input plugged directly into the PA. This had been on my mind for so long that I nearly lost sight of the wood through the trees and thought of upgrading my guitar to solve the problem. Enter the Radial PZ-DI. This is the neatest piece of stage kit I have ever laid my hands on. Amongst other features, you can adjust the load to suit the pickup so it works well with my bass guitar too and there is enough sound colouring for my requirements with a variable low-cut filter that works like a charm.

This little box is so easy to use as all the input and output panel features are clearly labelled on top of the box so you don't have to keep picking it up if you need to make an adjustment. Of course I now have headroom beyond my wildest dreams; I should have bought a PZ-DI years ago.

Monday, 3 March 2014

River Road Recording Studio

River Road Recording Studio.

I decided to take a week away from home and cut a bunch of demo tracks for a selection of songs that Lindsay Gould and I have been working on. My recording gear fits easily into the boot of the car and by mid afternoon we were set up and ready to go in our favourite hideout at the Porongurup National Park

Enjoying the recording process.
Porongurup is a little piece of remote country, where we go, from time to time, to recharge our life batteries.
My home studio is called Studio 453, when we are set up at Porongurup it's called River Road Recording Studio. At River Road I put down guide tracks for eleven songs and then single tracked the guitar and then the vocal. 

The Rode NT2000 was worth its weight in gold and recorded a good solid wave for my Maton guitar. The noise of the local wildlife interrupted our recording from time to time but mostly we were able to work, unchecked, in the cool of the morning and it was a thoroughly enjoyable recording experience. Thanks to Cakewalk's Sonar X3 Studio who never let us down.

Lindsay will be recording the Sax back at Studio 453, looking forward to the mixdown.

The Sound Engineer gets a pretty good view.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Maton EM225 Truss Rod Adjustment

After eighteen years, a truss rod adjustment on my favourite guitar was long overdue. I took her back to Just Music, the place where I found her in 1996. For only $100 the guys did a full service including a set of awesome Elixir strings. 

While I was hanging out in this great guitar establishment, I fell in love with the full bodied tone of an expensive Cole Clark guitar. Now my Maton is worried I may never look at her in the same way again. I keep telling her "nothing's going to change." I'll just think about the Cole Clark when I'm in bed at night; sweet dreams.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Jane Laws and Lindsay Gould

After the Christmas break, sax player, Lindsay Gould, and I are back together adding some jazz standards to our set of original tunes. In particular, Blue Alert, written by Leonard Cohen and Anjani, is wetting my appetite for some dramatic tunes to add to the repertoire. Something tells me we'll be gigging sometime in 2014.

Gary Oliver Fundraiser Concert
The Cruising Yacht Club of W.A.

Friday, 10 January 2014

HP Envy - Broken then Fixed

Computer woes have held me up a little. My new HP Envy Notebook developed an overheating gremlin and after time in the workshop the problem persisted. Thanks to HP for coming to the party and issuing me with a new notebook.

Now I'm up and running again I'm thoroughly enjoying learning Cakewalk Sonar X3 and using it as a tool to develop arrangements for my songs. My bass guitar is out and about and once again life is sweet in Studio 453.

Getting everything together at Studio 453.