Complete!

Everything for the Project Development and Applied Research is now complete!  Check the work experience, applied research and original work pages to see the results.  It has probably been my favourite module in university so far and I look forward to continuing the project next year.

Also, head on over to the Advanced Production Techniques to see how I progressed in that module.  You can now hear my drum recording, samples track, mixtape and final original recording!

Revenue and Funding

My main aim behind this project is not to make money but to represent the place I live by making music that I like.  However, if I were to think about it in terms of revenue, I would need to take advantage of the internet and the various DIY ways of releasing music that are now available.  For example, like Cofa Tree, the Coventry duo who were mentioned in my comparative projects, I could make my music available on iTunes for a suitable amount of money.  That could be a full album download or individual song downloads.  iTunes is still a very popular way of accessing music and although I have never used it to sell my own music before, it might be something to consider.

Another possible platform is the site CD Baby. This site is designed for independent musicians to release their music.  The artist decides a price and CD Baby keeps the equivalent of $4 and the rest of the money gets paid to the musician on a weekly basis.  There are other fees that are attached such as an album fee which is paid once per album.

http://www.cdbaby.com/

Outside funding for this project is not essential but it is still something to think about.  With extra money I would be able to record at a studio with people who have more knowledge and equipment.  However, the one thing I do not want with this project is it to be over produced.  I want it to sound raw and loose so perhaps in some ways a high end professional recording may not be the route to go down.  Funding could go towards other things though, such as musical equipment or CD’s and packaging for example.

Crowd funding is one option for an artist on my level but the reality of that coming to anything may be minimal.  I would need to first share some of my music so people actually know what they are paying for.  Even then, it is not something many people are interested in.  With illegal downloading and streaming sites, people won’t even pay money for the most popular music so the chances of people paying money to hear someone on my level release their first solo album is unlikely.

However, funding could also come from more organised sources.  For example, I looked at a Welsh site called Wales Arts International.  This site offers funding programmes that help Welsh musicians take their projects to an international level.  It is designed so Welsh musicians can develop their practice and present it to a wider audience.

http://www.wai.org.uk/funding

Another source is the Arts Council of Wales.  This Welsh organisation is set up so that it offers musicians living in Wales a chance to get their projects up and running.  Small grants up to £5000 and large which are over £5000 can be applied for.

http://www.artswales.org.uk/what-we-do/funding/apply/individuals

Marketing and Audience

To start, I will talk about where this kind of music is performed.  It has designated festivals that have only been around for a few years.  There is one called Desertfest, which began in London and Berlin and has now expanded to Antwerp.

http://www.thedesertfest.com/london/

There is also Freak Valley festival, Stoned from the Underground, Keep It Low festival and Void Fest, which take place in Germany.

http://www.rockfreaks.de/festival/index.php?lang=de

https://en-gb.facebook.com/stonedfromtheundergroundfestival

http://keepitlow.de/

http://voidfest.de/en/

Sonic Blast Moledo and Reverence Valada in Portugal…

http://www.sonicblastmoledo.com/

http://www.reverencefestival.com/

Riff Ritual and Kristonfest in Spain…

http://theheavychronicles.com/2014/02/riff-ritual-fest-barcelona/?lang=en

https://es-la.facebook.com/pages/Kristonfest/167609766611359

Roadburn in the Netherlands…

http://www.roadburn.com/

and finally, Lake on Fire in Austria.

http://www.lakeonfirefestival.com/

Duna Jam is another example of this, although it is only available to attend by request via email.  Only a handful of people get selected.  Taking place in various landscapes including beaches and mountains, it is still only small and somewhat secret but they do have some big names in the scene playing there including Colour Haze and Yawning Man.

http://www.dunajam.net/

Lots of these festivals have only appeared in recent years meaning that this scene is seeing a major rise in popularity.  It is clear that Europe is where the main audiences for this music are.  The majority of music from this scene now comes from Europe and it is performed to European fans.  This is not to say that America for example has no market for it, but it seems as though Europe is the place that is thriving and is the place my music would be best received.  With the return of masters of the genre Black Sabbath in recent years, the scene has had a major boost and bands have started moving up to more mainstream festivals such as Reading and Download.

Next, I will talk about the online presence of the scene.  The main place I go to hear the latest is the YouTube channel Stoned Meadow of Doom.  This user uploads full albums of various bands in the genre.  On this channel you will find discussion amongst fans and recommendations on who to listen to next.  It is a definite bookmark for anyone interested in this scene.

http://www.youtube.com/user/StonedMeadowOfDoom93

Another YouTube channel I came across was AnotherTime AnotherSpace.  Again, this user uploads psychedelic, space music albums and it’s a good channel to visit when looking for instrumental music in this scene.

http://www.youtube.com/user/95XDhaha

The main blog to go to for this music is Heavy Planet.  I have been visiting this blog for a while and it has always been useful in giving me the fairest and most unbiased reviews on albums and concerts as well as sharing interviews with bands and offering new music.  They offer free downloads of their own compilations, made up from tracks they enjoy and even include an email address you can send your own tracks to and they will review and even upload it if they like it.

http://www.heavyplanet.net/

Another good blog I have accessed is Sleeping Shaman.  Again, this provides visitors with detailed albums reviews, photos, interviews and general news within the scene.

http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/tag/stoner-rock/

Other blogs I have looked at that look good have not been in use for a while and so at this point in time are not ideal reference points.  Stoner Hive was the next best blog I could find.  It is up to date and constantly updated with new tracks, reviews and stats.  It is certainly one for me to keep my eye on in the future.

http://stonerhive.blogspot.co.uk/

Another interesting online post I found on the genre was presented in a chronological order of the history of the genre.  Entitled ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Doom and Stoner Rock’, the post is almost like a family tree of the genre.  This speaks volumes for what I mentioned earlier that there is a sense of togetherness and community in this scene – bands and fans have respect for each other equally.

http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine/history-of-doom-stoner-rock

There are independent record companies that are dedicated to this style including Rise Above Records, Catacomb Records, Sound Zero and more.

http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

http://www.catacomb-records.co.uk/

http://www.soundzero.net/

I also found this blog which linked me to many other record labels that specialise in this area of music.

http://ridewiththedevil.blogspot.co.uk/p/labels.html

However, I haven’t been able to find any magazines, venues or independent stores that are primarily for this scene and I put that down to it not being big enough.  However, with the evident rise the scene is experiencing it may not be long before these things start appearing.

Comparative Projects

The main area of influence for this project was the Palm Desert scene, which includes a group of bands and musicians from Palm Desert in Southern California.  Traditionally, the music from this scene is played with drums, guitar and bass.  Vocals are part of it sometimes, but it does include a lot of instrumental ‘free jams’.  So, in the two songs I have recorded so far, I have used only the typical instruments that are used and had one song include vocals and one without.  I did this to position myself in the song writing mentality of musicians in the scene I am attempting to emerge myself into.  This scene has become popular because of bands like Queens of the Stone Age – a band who saw more mainstream success than any other band from the scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE

The scene is famous for its outdoor gigs – often in the desert as the name would suggest.  This scene is still alive and well today and the reason for its success is the relationship between musicians and fans.  The fans never paid to see these bands in the desert and there were no barriers or security.  There was trust and loyalty and I believe this is why this scene has been successful – the respect everyone has. Bands would take all of their gear out into the desert, plug it into generators and play all night to a crowd of about one hundred people.  What draws me to this idea is the feeling of travelling out into the desert with your friends and staying there all night – miles away from any civilisation.  You would listen to the music and each individual person, although being in the same place listening to the same music, has a different experience – a different journey.  This is where the comparison with my project and this scene happens.  I wanted to capture that feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere and experiencing a personal journey.

A main influence from the Palm Desert scene is Brant Bjork.  He has played in various bands including Kyuss and Fu Manchu who are both big names within the scene.  However, like me, he wanted to have a break from that and create his own ‘trip’ as he puts it.  In a two part documentary about his first solo album ‘Jalamanta’, he talks about his motives and routines around the time of the album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv0XGtLcFyQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cTtbsY2DBE

This is very similar to my project.  He talks about recording some grooves and beats and riding around on his bike during sunset to see if they worked.  Again, it was all about the journey and the ride the music took you on.  He says it’s not urban music but instead it is simple, approachable music from a small town and people in small towns across the world can relate to that – similar to Cwmbran.  The album ‘Jalamanta’ has acted as a major influence for me in both the ideas behind it and the style of music.

On a smaller scale and out of my usual circle comes another project I came across that happened recently.  From Coventry, the two piece band Cofa Tree created a track that is an ode to their home city.  They say it’s about living there and what it has to offer.  On top of that, it was recorded as part of a soundtrack to an upcoming film.  They say the music has sold really well.  So, I can learn from this as it is a home grown, organic project that combines audio and visual, and focuses on home.

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/listen-coventry-bands-new-song-6986896

Description of the Project

My project is essentially a DIY solo album.  I played drums, bass, guitar and for the first time, performed vocals.  After playing in bands for years, this project was about me trying my own personal style and relying on only myself.  It is about hearing the music that directly represents me.  I had created plenty of songs over the years and this module finally gave me the platform to put them to the test.  To accompany the audio material there is added visual content, to give it more depth and texture.  Again, I did this myself.  I took all of the videos on a hand held camera and edited it all together myself.  Within the general scene of music that I am trying to pinpoint, the visual elements are often very important and they often focus on nature and landscapes.  Mountains, rivers, trees, deserts, oceans, skies and dirt tracks – these are the sort of things that are seen.

The idea was to really dive into the concept of music taking the listener on a journey.  My aim is to travel after university and it is really the idea of journeys and travelling that has captured my interest over recent years.  My idea is to finish this album for the third year project and listen to it in full whilst on my travels, meaning I can experience a very personal journey.  Being more optimistic, I would love for other people to use my album as a backing track to their own journeys once I have released it.  Visually, it is about representing the place I grew up – Cwmbran.  Viewers can get a taste of a small town in Wales through an audio/visual experience that shows them the scenery through the eyes of one resident.

Final Pieces

After some in depth research on the entire scene and project idea, I have completed 2 pieces of content.  I have written and recorded two songs, playing all instruments myself, as well as singing for the first time.  Both songs also have videos to accompany them, both recorded and mixed by me.  It was a complete solo project and I feel confident with the pieces I have that next years final project, which will lead on from this, will be both exciting and rewarding.  For more information on these two songs and videos, look at the applied research page.

Here they are:

Work Experience – Success

After rejections and no replies, I have finally been able to sort something out for work experience.  It will take place in June, after the module has finished but it seems as though it will be very useful for me.  It is at a studio called Ty Du, in Rogerstone, Newport.  I emailed a man called Alex, who has done a similar course to mine in Glamorgan university and has since recorded musicians including the Super Furry Animals at this studio.  After realising how difficult it is to get a work experience position in a studio, I could not turn this down.  Below is a link to their website where you can see examples of bands they have recorded as well as pictures and news on the studio.

http://tydustudio.co.uk/

Work exp success

 

 

 

work exp success 2

As well as doing this for the PDAR module, I aim to do some more work experience over the summer too.

I plan to apply for the BBC work experience that they offer because it would be great for me to learn new things, meet new people and make contacts.  It would look great on my CV and may help me once university has finished as applying for the BBC was one of my thoughts.

And finally I may be helping out on the sound desk at an event in Caerphilly during the summer too.  This will be good experience in live sound and again, teach me new things.

 

Final Project!

Here we have the final project for the Advanced Production Techniques module.  It is a recording of a song I have been developing for some time.  I played all instruments on this track and mixed and mastered it.  Even on the day of recording parts were added, removed and changed.  This has become a regular occurrence whenever I record.  I am happy that after all this time of having the song I have been able to record it to a good standard.

The drums were recorded first in the university studio, without a click, using the SSL desk.  Some minor editing and mixing was done before recording but the majority took place afterwards.  Guitar and bass were then recorded at a home studio, where all the mixing and mastering took place.  This was all done on Logic.  The guitars were double tracked through a Marshall amp and the bass was recorded directly into the desk.  Effects such as echo and reverb were added to parts of the guitar tracks and the usual compression and EQ was applied to everything.  I then grouped the drum tracks together and applied more compression.  Next, I grouped the guitar parts together and the bass parts together and along with the drum group, sorted out levels.

When mastering, I listened to the track next to some other songs I would group it with to see how it sounded.  (For an idea of my reference list, look at my mixtape track listing).  I bounced it down and listened to it on as many different speakers as possible.  I realised it needed some minor changes including rising the bass levels to create the warm sound I was going for and turning certain parts, such as the lead guitar parts, up in volume.  Finally, I needed to turn the volume up of the entire song as I realised it was a bit too quiet next to other songs.  Having a list of reference songs was important when mastering this song.

I am happy with the outcome and hope to keep up this standard of work when recording future songs.  So, here it is…

Work Experience Contact Evidence

Work Exp

Orchard Entertainment – This was a music promotion company based in Cardiff.  Up to capacity so no space.

work exp 5

Jeff Rose – co owner of Unit 42, a small recording studio in Newport.  Studio was too small for work experience students and after going down there myself and seeing it; I can understand why he said that.

work exp 4

Sevenfish Promotions – promotional company based in South Wales. Had no reply.

Work Exp 2

Work exp 3

Global Promotions – Cardiff based promotional company.  Seemed like the most hopeful one but after my second message there was no reply.

Mixtape

The third task for the APT module was to create a continuous mix of music that lasted at least 20 minutes and featured at least 8 songs – one of which was an original piece of my own.  The idea is to hear one of my own pieces of music alongside artists I would like to be in the same area as.  As I had used the one song I recorded for PDAR in my samples task, I chose to use the other one I have recorded for this mixtape.  It is an instrumental piece so I included some instrumental tracks in this mix but also included some with vocals.  I didn’t follow a certain BPM or key but instead tried to focus on the mood.  I included various types of artists ranging from full bands, to solo musicians and even a friend of mine who sadly passed away this year.  These are all influential artists to me and so it was the best way to hear my song alongside those, instead of hearing it against songs with the same BPM or key.  In my chosen area of music, that sort of thing is not so important.  It is more about creating the mood and keeping it flowing.

Outcome

I am happy with how my mixtape came out.  I had already attempted it once but after some reflection I wasn’t pleased with my first effort so I scrapped it and started again.  I felt that the first mixtape didn’t flow as well as I pictured it in my head.  This was a good learning curve though as it taught me to listen more instead of simply assuming it will just fit.  The second time I was able to collect a good selection of songs that all, at some point, have influenced my song writing.  This is the first time I have ever done anything like this but I found it very rewarding and may try doing more in the future.

Here it is:

 

Track Listing

01: Colour Haze – Tempel

Album – Tempel  Label: Elektrohasch

02: Brant Bjork – Porto

Album – Gods & Goddesses  Label: Low Desert Punk

03: Stoned Jesus – Bright Like The Morning

Album - Seven Thunders Roar  Label: Moon Records

04: Birth of Joy – Devil’s Paradise

Album - Life in Babalou  Label: Suburban Records

05: Ben Hughes – 33

Album: Crow Valley (in progress)   Label:  Unreleased – my original piece

06: Scott Jones – Biomechanoid Dirty Beastz 2

Album – Risk Assessment  Label: Unreleased – late friend’s home made CD

07: Weird Owl – White Hidden Fire

Album - Nuclear Psychology.  Label: none – self released

08: The Myrrors – Warpainting

Album - Burning Circles In the Sky   Label: Strange Design Records