Archive for October, 2009

Tiny Desk Concerts

It is rare to experience the kind of intimacy with musicians as can be found on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.  Different bands or musicians come in to this NPR studio, which is really more of an office space than a recording studio and perform a short concert.  The vibe is casual and relaxed, and tends to capture a side of the musicians that is hard to come by.  I only discovered these little jewels just a few days ago and have been glued to my computer ever since, watching such legends as Vic Chestnutt and Jim White, as well as underground eccentrics such as Dr. Dog and Thao Nguyen.  Genius idea NPR.

The one I have posted here is from my current favorite musician.  I discovered him about two years ago and it really pissed me off.  The album, Close to Paradise, featured the combination of electronic and beautiful, organic orchestrations that I had been trying to achieve.  The band I had assembled was talented but did not understand the idea.  Watson, essentially, beat me to it.  His next album, Wooden Arms, proved far more beautiful and strange and has become my current obsession.  This video shows the amazing depth of sounds that this band is able to achieve with just four musicians playing very standard instruments.  Enjoy:


Oryx and Crake (the band)

safe_image.phpIt’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally getting to a place where I have achieved enough separation from the recordings my band, Oryx and Crake, made a little over a year ago, to do some mixing. I tried to mix as soon as the recordings were done and quickly realized what a terrible idea this was.  I couldn’t hear but the mistakes, and even what was played well enough seemed to be too loud or too soft at any level I tried.  A year and a couple of rerecording sessions later I think I’m finally ready for final mix mode.  The problem, of course, is how close to the album I am.  I programmed the beats using Ableton Live, played the guitar, autoharp, piano, organ, and some of the guitar, and, most personally, did almost all of the singing across the songs.  You may be thinking that I should have known better to be mixing my own music… even at this late stage of separation.  But I’m going on in spite of this, and in spite of myself.  I love this music, and I’m going to make it match my vision, even if my vision has shifted a step (or a jump) from the one I had last summer.  Stupid… maybe, but I’m having a blast.

Check it out on myspace or facebook.  If you like what you hear, add us as a friend or fan.  I’m also getting back on the promo highway, and so I’ll be sending updates about shows and posting more mixes in the short run.

Traphouse Thriller

I had never worked on anything anywhere close to Traphouse Thriller.  So, when I was asked about doing the production sound for a thriller re-make featuring the rapper Chill “Wealthy” Will, I knew I had to do it.  The concept was good, if obvious, and the rapper had a great voice to boot.  But I have to admit that it was breaking out of my comfort zone combined with the fact that I had just moved to Atlanta and felt this was the proper first project to work on that really made me want to jump on board.  The production sound, it was decided, was not worth the cost (although watching some of the awkward production sound, I kind of wish they had splurged), and so I became an actor instead (That’s me getting chased by a machete-wielding crack-zombie).  All in all, a fun Saturday night.  Now it’s time to get back to my decidedly chamber-rock roots and Wii-mote wanking.  Enjoy!

Youtube Bandit

The idea of using sound clips from Youtube videos has come up no less than 100 times each quarter since I began teaching audio.  Although I am completely naive to the legality of this, I almost always indulge them with the one of the, I’m sure, thousands of ways there is to accomplish this.

Youtube videos are now saved as .flv (flash video) files.  In order to import these into most DAWs, you will first need to convert these .flv files into .mov files. The way I do this is using a Firefox plug-in called download helper.  You will need to download this at

You’ll see a yellow box to the left of the screen like this one below:

Picture 1

Click “Installation” inside the yellow box.

Follow the installation instructions.

Before download helper will work, you’ll need to restart Firefox.

One more plug-in you’ll need is a Quicktime plug-in known as Perian which allows you to open the .flv file you download from Youtube.  Go to this web site,, and download Perian.  A lot of my students have forgotten to follow the entire download through to its end.  Don’t forget to click “Download Perian” on this screen:

Picture 2

Restart Quicktime.

Now go to the Youtube video you want to sample.  You will now see three dots next to any video that you can download via Download helper such as below:

Picture 3

Clicking the three dots will begin an automatic download of the .flv from Youtube.

Picture 4The video will download directly to its own download helper folder:

The final step is to open the file using Quicktime.  If Perian is properly installed, the .flv should open in Quicktime with no problems.

The file will open in Quicktime.

Next, simply export the file.

Picture 5

The file will default as a .mov.  Save the file to a convenient place and import the newly formed .mov to Pro Tools or whatever DAW you’re working with.

Sample away.