Let’s find out more about them and what’s new in the Pigface camp in these surreal times we’re in:
Martin: I’ve had a long storied career – starting in 1979 when I joined Public Image Limited (the band started by Johnny Rotten when the Sex Pistols imploded) for a 5 year spell that included world tours and their most successful albums. A few years with Killing Joke (who just opened for Tool last year) some work with Nine Inch Nails (appearing on the Grammy award winning Wish) touring with Ministry and founding my own band Pigface – an industrial ‘supergroup’ that has included Mary Byker (PWEI, Gaye Bykers On Acid), Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Ministry), Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God), Danny Carey (Tool), Curse Mackey (Evil Mothers), En Esch (KMFDM), Lesley Rankine (Silverfish, Ruby), Charles Levi (My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult), Bobdog Catlin (Evil Mothers), Bradley Bills (Chant), Andrew Weiss (Ween, The Rollins Band), Greta Brinkman (Moby, Druglord), Orville Kline (Porn and Chicken), Gaelynn Lea, Dirk Flanigan (77 Luscious Babes), Leanne Murray (Beer Nuts), Chris Harris (Project 44), Mike Reidy (Worm), Leyla Royale, Andrew Apocalypse, Ali Jafri, Roger Ebner, Bruce Lamont, Jesse Hunt, Dai, C.A.M., J Lamar, Just Chris (courtesy of Add-2) and Rona Rougeheart.
I started my own label Invisible Records in 1988 and, after a few short years it was obvious I should open my own studio – I bought Steve Albini’s tape machines (an 8 Track ½” and a ¼” machine both by Otari.) As digital started to enter our lives my studio became a hybrid of cool quirky analog, circuit bent pieces, and whatever digital interfaces were affordable at the time.
More and more of my time was spent either in the studio or out recording live events with my band in the US or over in China where I travelled a couple of times. I’ve always been impressed by how supportive PreSonus is to artists– either with no nonsense customer support when needed or by carefully crafting new pieces of equipment that just make sense. I think the piece that illustrated their support of artists for me was the now “classic” Faderport– when most companies were trying to sell multi-fader automation they (and then I) realized that most of us only needed one channel to write volume and pan automation – so, that, I guess, cemented everything for me.
It feels like things are really coming to fruition now, with support from PreSonus and my good friend and audio engineer, Mark Williams. I got to see the StudioLive 64S Series III console mixer in action first at Mark’s studio in Baton Rouge where he laid out all of the tracks, but then we got to work at River City Studio, which is an amazing recording facility, right there at the PreSonus office building. Everyone was so welcoming, people jumping out of meetings to say hi that I had met speaking at PreSonuSphere years ago (you should bring that back!) and I even met the CEO. Mark and I were able to tweak the tracks there and then finish up any tweaks remotely from Chicago.
All of this made the need for a StudioLive 64S console essential for my studio– with so much catalog and multi-track sessions it will be an essential hub of our next few years of activity as a band and as a label. I have the ability to quickly communicate the power of these live shows we have been creating. We recorded many of the shows during our 2019 tour – the line up was just AMAZING and, just be reading through the names you’ll know this was nothing to roll the dice with – the new format allows seamless passing of sessions, follow up tweaks, and easy workflows. Not only has the StudioLive 64S made the mixing of the live tracks from the last tour possible, it’s enabling possibilities of making other shows available for the fans who want more material from us.
Mark: I met Martin the first time in 1993 while working in college radio at the University of Alabama. I worked for him as a field representative for Invisible Records for about 5 or 6 years. Martin contacted PreSonus about one of his ACP88’s and became an Endorser for the company. Throughout the years, PreSonus has outfitted his studio with products including: the ADL600, Central Station, Fadeport, Digimax 96, and their award-winning DAW software, Studio One.
I’ve worked on numerous recording projects and mixes throughout the years with Martin and in November 2016, we recorded the Pigface 25th anniversary concert at the Chicago House of Blues using 2 StudioLive RM32 rackmount mixers and Capture recording software.
In 2019, I supplied Martin with a Quantum interface to record all Pigface live concerts with. The front-of-house (FOH) engineer for the final concert at Thalia Hall sent me all 32 channels of the recording. I synced up the 26 channels from the multitrack with 6 additional channels from the board mix and FOH feed.
Breaking down the 32 channels, 48khz recording down by song was quite an undertaking, as it was a massive amount of data to go through.
Martin flew down the last week of February 2020 so we could mix the album in my studio. The heart of our system was an IMAC with 32 gigs of RAM with a few external terabyte drives, a StudioLive SL64 console mixer, Scepter 8 monitors and Avantone Mixcubes. We went through each song to evaluate what we would use. As we did that, we created template fat channels for each musician. We had 3 drummers, 3 bassists, 2 guitarists, a DJ, 3 saxophones, cello, viola, violin, sitar and more vocalists than I can remember.
Basically we mixed everything “live” using the StudioLive 64S, relying on the console for dynamics processing and effects. We did some simple edits in Studio One. However, to maintain the integrity of the recording, we didn’t repair or fix anything. We used the recording as is in all its chaos and beauty. We didn’t correct any timing, pitch (i.e. no Auto-Tune!). I wanted to stay true to the Pigface form for the live energy.
A couple of days went by of mixing in my studio and then went to River City Studio. I was able to store the presets for the StudioLive 64 on the iMac. We just carried it up to the studio and plugged it in. The scenes loaded up quickly and easily. The transition from my studio to the PreSonus studio was seamless. We were able to get a different perspective in PAE HQ due to the different room and monitoring.
Then, we finalized the mixing in my studio and I uploaded the mixes online for filesharing, as Martin had to fly home to Chicago. He and I tweaked the final mixes over the next month easily to get to the final product that has been pressed to a beautiful Double LP. Y’all need to check it out… click on the link below for more info!
The mix that we did there is what is being used for the live video concert on October 10th.
Around the end of 2019, We Don’t Ride Llamas (WDRL) was introduced to PreSonus by Grammy nominated music producer, King Michael Coy (Dr. Dre, H.E.R, Anderson .Paak, Ms Lauryn Hill, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Bilal, Kendra Foster, Frank N Dank) who has been a Studio One Professional endorser for several years now.
By March of 2020, the group was armed with an AR16c mixer, a PX-1 condenser microphone, the PM-2 stereo pair mics and Studio One Professional DAW software, the kids have been upping their recording game while staying home during the time of COVID-19.
Being the super-duper creative explorers that they are, WDRL has maximized their use of these products in true DIY fashion:
From creating cool voice-overs (did y’all 👀 the trailer video above ☝️ yet?), producing band interviews and promotional videos to the more obvious use case of recording original music and cover songs… the band can now achieve high quality recorded or live streamed audio that kids from previous generations would not have been able to do.
As a matter of fact, We Don’t Ride Llamas recently just wrote a song called “Buddy” that is featured in Welcome To Sudden Death, now streaming on Netflix. You can check out both the “Groove” and “Dance” mix versions on Spotify here!!!
Synecdoche is the long awaited EP that’s on the horizon for release. The recording is an extremely personal project for WDRL as it explores feelings of being displaced, yearning for the future, their general melancholy at the current state of the world and how everything (for them at least) always comes full circle.
Here are a few things they had to say to us:
“We knew that he company has a longstanding reputation for products that are easy to use, sound great and within the budget for most rock bands. These are the reasons we initially were interested in PreSonus. Can’t wait to get our hands on one of those ATOM pad controllers (hint, hint)… :)”
“We love how user friendly and multifunctional everything is! Your products make us feel like sound alchemists even though we’re still fairly new to recording our own stuff at home.”
“The fact that the AR16c mixer is pretty simple to understand and we can just pick it up and go record somewhere is amazing. Also the amount of product videos and training tutorials PreSonus has available online now makes a huge difference.”
If you know him well, you know him as “Kirkee B.” To the rest of us, Curt Bisquera is a world-renowned professional studio and live drummer. Having played with more famous artists than we have room to name in this blog post, he’s in-demand—both in the studio and on the road. Talk about a Dinner Party DREAM guest list: Mick Jagger, Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Seal, John Fogerty, Sarah McLachlan, John Legend, Hans Zimmer, Josh Groban, Lana Del Rey, Celine Dion, Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Donny Osmond, Lionel Richie… those are a few of his credits over the last 30 years in the music industry.
We recently connected with Kirkee B on Instagram and found out he’s a HUGE PreSonus Sphere user and fan! We thought it would be nice to hear his thoughts on PreSonus Sphere.
How did you first hear about Sphere?
I heard about PreSonus Sphere through PreSonus’ Artist Relations Manager, Perry Tee. He really didn’t say what it was… he just said, “Look out for what’s coming… it’s gonna blow your mind!” And he was correct!
What got your attention?
The video content. I’m on Sphere every day watching all the new video content that’s posted. I’m getting better at using Studio One 5, thanks to all the videos from Gregor and Joe! They are a huge help and inspiration.
What’s keeping your attention?
The fact that it is always maintained and updated and that I can also join in with a bunch of other users around the world.
Can you speak to the value of PreSonus Sphere?
Oh man, where to begin? After the morning espresso kicks in, there are two things I check: the news and PreSonus Sphere! I always feel like I’m on top by checking Sphere everyday… Super valuable!
Is there something specific that you’ve learned from one of the exclusive videos?
YES! I’ve learned how to use the Splitter Tool thanks for PreSonus Sphere and I LOVE IT!
What would you tell someone who’s considering Sphere?
Once you sign on, you will feel the world of creativity at your fingertips! There’s nothing like it.
In your opinion, how can PreSonus Sphere change the music industry?
It allows users to gain confidence at their own pace in using PreSonus products and software in an easy, one-stop, online environment. Confidence is huge if you want to be successful in this industry.
How does it feel to be one of the FIRST to join the PreSonus Sphere family?
I am honored! It’s really changed the game for me, now in my creativity is limitless. I can do things now I was unable to do in the past. NOW the future for me is PreSonus Sphere!
[For those of you who don’t know already about the talented New Orleans based jazz pianist David Torkanowsky, you are about to. Lucky for us, New Orleans is just an hour drive to the Southeast of Baton Rouge (where PreSonus is based out of).
We’re honored to have our relationship with David: not only is he a true master improvising musician from the city where Jazz was born, he is also in tune with the latest 21st century audio technology that helps artists actualize and share their sound to audiences world-wide.
Without any further ado, we’ll let him take it from here…]
I’m David Torkanowsky and I’ve been lucky to have grown up in New Orleans under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis, Danny Barker, James Black, Al Hirt and other Smithsonian-level greats… too many to mention.
I’ve also toured and recorded with artists as different as Al Hirt and Al Jarreau, Boney James, and Joe Henderson. I’ve been M.D. for the great vocalist Dianne Reeves.
The touring and performance economic model for all musicians, regardless of genre, has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many artists, myself included, have navigated a sudden and steep learning curve regarding our social media presence. New Orleans has always tended toward the organic and away from the technical aspects of playing music, which I love… but that paradigm has proven to be a headwind as we move toward our new reality.
Posted by PreSonus Audio Electronics on Thursday, May 28, 2020
So, I’ve been producing, directing and playing in livestreams from The Bayou Bar at The Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans for the past month, with artists such as: Ivan Neville, Nigel Hall, The Tin Men, Zachary Richard, Meschiya Lake, Sasha Masakowski, Jason Marsalis, Herlin Riley, Davell Crawford, and jazz great Cyrille Aimée.
Many cats are teaching online, and many more are performing live. These live performances have completely replaced the in-person delivery of our art. Although, in many respects, it will never duplicate the transformative experience of being in the same space. The only way we can minimize this disparity is by presenting this content in the best possible way. Primarily, it has to sound good! Most of the streams that I’ve seen, some with world-class artists, don’t really touch me because they sound less than average. A solo acoustic instrument can sound just okay through an iPhone mic, but it’s never truly impactful. Add any other instruments, and you can just forget about it.
I’ve gotten a massive amount of feedback (the good kind!) from the listening public about how amazing these artists are sounding on these social media live broadcasts, and there’s one reason:
The PreSonus StudioLive 32SC. Their newest Series III S line of consoles are exactly what the doctor ordered to mix streamed performances. I’m using the 32SC, the powerful and compact member of the Series III family. The Fat Channel technology makes tweaking the impact of a particular instrument intuitive and fast. The EQ, Compression and digital FX are all super usable. It’s a game-changer. It’s one serious piece of gear!
[Incidentally, from now until Aug 31, 2020, anybody who buys a qualifying StudioLive Mixer will get a pair of Eris E7 monitors for free!]
[Jakubu Griffin is truly one of Las Vegas and NYC’s most versatile drummers. Son of trombonist Dick Griffin (who played with the legendary Rahsaan Roland Kirk), he has been surrounded by music from an early age. Growing up with many musical instruments and influences around him, he was always drawn to percussion and can remember playing the drums as early as age 3 or 4. He started studying classical piano at age 5, and later added the trumpet.
Jakubu has performed and led groups all over the world. While living in Las Vegas in the early 2000s, He was featured in David Cassidy and Sheena Easton’s “At The Copa” at the Rio Resort. After that, he was musical contractor and drummer on a show featuring Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson, and Melissa Manchester called Signed, Sealed, Delivered: a Celebration of Stevie Wonder’s Music at the Venetian Resort.
Griffin has also been a musical director for Kings Productions, as well as Norwegian and Premier cruise lines. Back in the NYC area where he grew up, he has performed and recorded with award winning jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, Ryko/Warner recording artist Matt White, and Broadway stars Tracie Thoms (Rent, Case) and Shoshana Bean (Wicked). Jakubu is currently playing with the legendary Las Vegas singer Clint Holmes. He was also the house drummer for Cirque Du Soleil’s production of Zarkana which premiered at NYC’s world famous Radio City Music Hall in June of 2011, moving on to Madrid, as well as having a historic run at the Kremlin Theater in Moscow in 2012. Jakubu’s powerful, yet very musical drumming reputation has been highly appreciated by many musicians and music lovers both here and abroad.
When not on the road, he’s kept busy at home recording and teaching. But, with the recent stay-at-home measures implemented due to COVID-19, working in his own studio has become his primary focus.
Jakubu has graciously given us a virtual “walk-through” of his home studio environment, where the StudioLive 24R is the centerpiece and his dedicated audio interface to his DAW of choice, Studio One. Let’s check out his setup and how he’s been using our products in action at home.]
Jakubu: My first audio interface was the PreSonus Studio 192 along with the DigiMax DP88. As a drummer, I need to have at least 8 channels dedicated to drums in my space at all times for my own use. With the Studio 192 and DP88 giving me 16 total channels and great preamps, I was able to stack them in a rack and run my 8 drum channels into the DP88 using the Studio 192 rear channels for my keyboards, bass, extra drum channels etc. and even leaving the 2 front channels open for a vocalist or instrument to plug right in. As my studio evolved, I graduated to the StudioLive 24R rack mixer, as well as the NSB 8.8 AVB Networked Stage Box to expand channel inputs in my other rooms. Since I don’t have the space for a console mixer on my workstation, the StudioLive 24R is the perfect solution for me with UC Control as my console. I use the HP60 for 6 stereo headphone mixes. With a router plus the network control via Wi-Fi of the StudioLive 24R, my clients have the option of using the QMix-UC app to control their own headphone mixes. The PreSonus Monitor Station allows me flexibility to switch between my different sets of of studio monitors and speakers, and also gives me 4 more headphone outputs if needed. I’ve used other DAWs, but I’m completely sold on Studio One Professional because it’s just more user/musician friendly. I understood more about using Studio One in 24 hours than I’ve learned on other DAWs after countless months of usage. I’m a musician first, not an engineer.
Jakubudrum Studios is my home as well as my recording space. I have three isolated rooms on one floor. I have eight CCTV cameras installed, and video monitors in every room for visual communication. My main “studio” room is my acoustically-treated drum and keyboard room, as well as my control booth. My living room is my large room and features my Baldwin L grand piano. My smaller acoustically-treated room is great for acoustic bass as well as other instruments, and it also serves as a vocal booth and isolated amp miking room. I’ve done several live recording sessions in the studio with different configurations ranging from solo piano to live strings… and various band sizes, genres, horn combinations, etc. I do a lot of drum and percussion tracking for projects myself, but I’ve also engineered tons of keyboard track layering sessions, instrument tracking sessions, vocal tracking, and my space is perfect for tracking bass and drums together. I record voice-overs as well, and I’m currently producing an audiobook session.
Now that I have the StudioLive 24R, I have the luxury of using 14 dedicated drum channels just for myself. I usually use two different sets of overhead mics simultaneously, another stereo room mic, and a subkick along with my normal kick, snare, hi hat, and tom mic combinations.
I also use seven channels for my keyboards, and a channel for my bass amp to run direct with a pre amp. I use the NSB 8.8 Stage Box in the other rooms to mic the piano, horns, strings, vocals, etc. I use the 12 outputs from the 24R mixer to sum 2 outputs to each of the 6 stereo inputs of the HP60 headphone amp and made them stereo mixes from UC Control. Again, I have a router connected to the 24R mixer and a network setup so people have the option of using QMix-UC to control their own headphone mixes. I have two sets of studio monitors, but I also have small PA for the keyboards, rehearsals, gigs etc. The monitor station is actually one of my favorite pieces of PreSonus gear to be honest. I love the versatility I have with 2 sets of monitors, but I even use the PA as a 3rd reference sometimes. The Monitor Stations onboard talkback routed through the HP60 is perfect for my setup, plus I’m the type of guy that just needs a big volume knob in my life since I don’t have a console.
So, funny story: I actually learned about PreSonus through another drummer, Dre Boyd, who is also an Artist with them. We both met and quickly became good friends working for the Cirque Du Soleil company. I finally had the space and needed an interface to start getting into recording and he highly recommended the Studio 192 and DP88. I’m an impulse buyer, but he told me to wait so he could “hook me up” with his representative at PreSonus. Well I’m impatient and went ahead with the purchase of the interfaces anyway. I was ecstatic, but then a couple weeks later Dre let me know that the PreSonus Artist Relations Manager was none other than my college buddy, Perry Tee… so I should have waited!!! Not only do I love the products, PreSonus reconnected me with an old friend, who happens to be on guitar in this video below that we produced remotely with 4 other buddies using Studio One Professional:
I love the power and versatility that I have with the StudioLive 24R mixer, especially for low-end instruments. Now I have the ability to mic an acoustic bass and get a warm, powerful tone without any need for a DI or outboard preamp. Its considerably better for my drum miking as well. I get better headphone mixes, and I have plenty of room and power to hear my kick drum perfectly which can be a problem in regular interfaces without external pre amps. The ability to control mixes across Wi-Fi is a true bonus allowing my clients the flexibility to control their own mixes with QMix-UC. The HP60 is a great solution for my headphone needs with 6 channels, and stereo mixes plus the Monitor Station is one of my favorite additions to the studio, and has made my work flow much smoother and faster. The onboard talkback is perfect for my space. Studio One is absolutely the best DAW available, in my opinion. I know has everything I could possibly need for my studio. Everything in my setup works seamlessly. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the sounds, and results I get with my gear.
Every piece of gear is perfectly matched and catered to the needs of my workflow and studio ecosystem… thank you, PreSonus!
[Incidentally, from now until Aug 31, 2020, anybody who buys a qualifying StudioLive Rack Mixer will get a PX-1 microphone for free!]
Songs like “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely” were Top 10 hits that remain on playlists to this day, but her varied (and ongoing) career includes solo albums, an acting stint in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” creating music for several films (including “Moscow on the Hudson,” “Teachers,” “The Golden Child, and her “Soul Man” duet with Sly Stone), and working in theater. She still tours—at least when there’s not a pandemic—and amazingly, her voice is better than it was in the 80s. But, it took Studio One’ Project Page to bring a solo album back to life that had been all but written off ten years ago.
The collection of songs on “I Have My Standards” (Fig. 1) was meant to be an album of jazz standards, with orchestration—but the twist was that Martha had written the “standards.” She cut a demo album with longtime musical collaborator Marty Jourard (piano, tenor sax), Allen Hunter (bass), Paul Pulvirente (drums), and Felix Mercer (clarinet). However, the budget to do the orchestration never materialized, and the record was never finished.
When Martha found out I did mastering, she mentioned “the album that never was” and being curious, I asked to listen to it. I was floored. The songs were deep, the vocals flawless, and the instrumentation excellent. I heard the lack of orchestration as an advantage because the sparse, emotional treatments were compelling in themselves.
Except…being a demo, there were technical problems. Among other issues, the acoustic bass overpowered the song on some of the demos, the mic had a boxy quality that was no friend to Martha’s voice, and there were mix and level issues that resulted in a lack of clarity. I asked if she could locate the multitracks so I could remix before mastering, yet no one had any idea where they were. Oh, and the project had to be mastered for vinyl—she wanted to put it out on 180-gram vinyl for her nascent record label, Remarkable Records.
Fortunately, the songs were recorded with the same basic setup. Although I’m usually not a fan of “one size fits all” mastering chains, in this case, there weren’t too many variations among the songs (Fig. 2).
The Splitter separated the frequencies below 178 Hz from the rest of the audio. With vinyl, bass needs to be centered, and the dynamics need to be controlled—hence the Limiter, and the Dual Pan. with both left and right channels set to center.
Another reason for the Splitter was that in some songs, the acoustic bass overpowered the mix. Note the fader at the end of the Dual Pan, set to -9.0 dB to help keep the bass under control. This setting worked for most of the songs but for one of them, I had to pull the level down by -13.8 dB to get the right balance. The frequency splitting was crucial.
For the rest of the audio, EQ was by far the most important process. Fig. 3 shows the setting that was used on most of the songs. Remember that the RIAA curve for vinyl (which boosts treble massively on the vinyl, then cuts it on playback) isn’t a fan of high frequencies, so the highs were often cut on vinyl masters. Although the steep high-cut filter wasn’t needed on all the songs, when necessary this gave a sound that was more consistent with vinyl records.
The substantial dip at 625 removed the muffled quality by making the highs more prominent. The dips at 2.72 and 3.06 kHz were tricky—they were essential in removing a resonance on Martha’s voice that took away from of the openness and intimacy. Almost all the songs needed the dip at 8 kHz, where treble energy from recording the individual tracks “bunched up.” Bass wasn’t an issue, because the split took care of that.
The Binaural pan was set between 124% and 137%, depending on the song. This mainly had the effect of spreading out the reverb more than the instruments, which enveloped the sound in an ambiance it didn’t have otherwise. This also moved the reverb a bit out of the center, so there could be more focus on the voice.
Finally, I’m not much of a believer in “special sauce” processors, but the Scheps Parallel Particles from Waves was ideal (Fig. 4).
After taming the highs to accommodate vinyl mastering, I wanted to restore a perception of high frequencies. Adding a significant amount of the Air parameter, with just a touch of Thick and Bite for a little more midrange presence, did exactly what was needed.
I was aiming for a LUFS of -12. This was a bit of a compromise between vinyl and streaming. A little compression would make it easier for the vinyl cutter to optimize the levels for vinyl, and besides, being a little “hotter” than the typical streaming target of -14 LUFS was fine. For the last stage of dynamics control, I used IK Multimedia’s Stealth Limiter (which is designed for mastering), in the Project Page’s Post slot. It’s a transparent but CPU-intensive plug-in, hence using only one instance as the final limiter. The songs were the levels I wanted, so they needed only very slight tweaks to hit the Stealth Limiter a little harder or softer to reach the -12 LUFS goal.
It was easy to generate timings from the Project Page, so that those cutting the vinyl would know where to put the bands between cuts…and we were on our way. The vinyl hits the world in August (available from themotels.com and specialty record stores). The digital release is available now on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Amazon Disk on Demand, and you can hear it on Pandora, Shazam, iHeart Radio, and YouTube Music. Most of these have ways to preview the songs, and I think it’s well worth following some of the links to check out music that sounds like it’s frozen in time, yet curiously modern.
I checked out some of the customer reviews on Amazon. While they’re all over-the-top about Martha’s voice and songs, as you might expect my favorite is the one that said “The album is mastered in such a way that you would think that Martha Davis is actually in the same room with you.” Mission accomplished (Fig. 5)!
And that’s why we’re excited to share the next episode of River City Sessions. This month, we’re sharing an original song titled “Papi Chulo,” by South Louisiana natives Sydney and The SAMS. Read more about the band, the song, and how it was recorded below.
Give us some background on yourself and the band. How long have you guys been making music?
We have been a band surprisingly for less than a year! I think we have a natural friendship and chemistry that makes people think that we’ve been together for years.
“Papi Chulo” Such a great song! Can you tell us when you wrote it? What’s the inspiration?
“Papi Chulo” was actually the first song I ever wrote! I (Sydney) recorded three years ago when I first started making music. When we got together as a band, we started incorporating some of my originals into our sets and this song became an instant hit with our fans.“Papi Chulo” is about liking a guy and wanting to hang out and smoke. It was actually about a guy I liked at the time and all we did was hang out in the car and talk.
Does writing a melody come naturally to you?
It depends. The beat has to be catchy. I have to find the melody and it kinda has to come to me. If I don’t feel it in a few minutes, I usually move on.
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
All my music comes from personal experiences. I feel like songwriting is therapy to me. The fact that it’s relatable to listeners is just extra. It feels good to know my lyric is relatable and people have been in the same positions as me and felt like I’ve felt at some point. That’s the point of music; to touch people in some way whether it be a happy emotion or a sad one.
Can you describe the first time you wrote a song?
I found this cool beat on YouTube and just started writing. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do but never really tried to do. One day I was like, “whatever, I’ll try.” I did a rough record on my phone and sent to NJ (my engineer) and told him “If this sucks, tell me. If not, I wanna book a session.” And it’s been history ever since.
Do you prefer performing your own music or covers? What’s the difference?
I enjoy both because even when we do covers, we always put our own little spin on it or rearrange it so it’s more our own. We also do medleys with our originals to kinda bring the crowd back and make them interact with us. Ultimately it’s about having a good time and making sure the crowd has an amazing, memorable time.
How has the Coronavirus affected your music?
We used to gig so much and it really put all our gigging and traveling at a complete halt. At first it was creatively discouraging but we decided to virtual concerts to continue to perform and connect with our fans in a different way. People really loved them and received it really well. Livestreaming is a way for us to reconnect and stay fresh. It also gave us time to finish our EP which will be released this July!
Now that the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in everything, What do you miss most about performing live?
I miss having fun with the crowds mostly. Dancing and singing with them was the most fun part of it all. As a concertgoer, that was my most memorable time and now as an entertainer, I want every person in the room dancing and having an amazing time! I hope we do that every time.
Do you plan on doing any live streams?
We’ve done two live-stream virtual concerts. We’ll be live streaming our EP release concert and party as well. So y’all join the fun!
Last month, we had the opportunity to sponsor an event called “Band Together NOLA” for a virtual, live-streamed festival with more than 20 acts!
PJ Morton, Tank and the Bangas, Jon Cleary and more New Orleans’ musical heavy hitters played an online benefit festival to raise relief funds for the city’s musicians who have been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, over $40,000 has been raised!
The Band Together virtual festival also featured Ivan Neville, Kermit Ruffins, Galactic’s Stanton Moore, Nigel Hall, Cupid, Dawn Richard, Water Seed, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Sean Ardoin, Flow Tribe, Glen David Andrews, Hasizzle, Shane Theriot, Elizabeth Lyons, Fermin Ceballo, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Kelly Love Jones, LeTrainiump, and Caren Green.
Our friend, Steve Himelfarb, was the engineer for six of the acts using a StudioLive 32 and Studio One Professional. We took some time to talk about his experience with the live stream and his career.
Our interview with Steve follows.
Tell us about Band Together NOLA. How did it come to be? What was your role?
New Orleans is known for its tourism, food, and of course live music. The pandemic has put much of that to a halt which has left musicians our of work. The Band Together Online Benefit Concert took place on April 25 and helped New Orleans musicians whose livelihoods have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a part of multiple non-profits, and serving the community has always been something that I strive to do no matter where I live or what job I have. I was approached with the opportunity to participate with Lou Hill and Kermit Ruffins, it was a no-brainer. I was in!
Sounds like a huge undertaking. Did you know what you were getting into before you got started?
Yes and no. I had taken a break from the audio industry to focus on several other projects. Three years ago, my childhood friend, Tori Amos, had a show in New Orleans. From the stage, she says, “I’d like to thank the person responsible for me being here… Thank you Steve!” From that moment on, I knew I wanted to get back into recording and producing music and saying “Yes” to whatever opportunities came my way. Getting back into audio after a 20-year hiatus was like learning a whole new language that sounded familiar. Everything was the same but what changed was the technology. So, yes, it did seem like a huge undertaking but I was up and willing for the challenge.
We used a PreSonus StudioLive 32, multiple PX-1 mics and Studio One Professional, of course.
After watching the live stream, it looks like you recorded in multiple locations. How challenging was it recording in multiple locations?
We recorded six bands, all on the fly. Each band did a few songs, then we had a soundcheck for the next band all while doing our best to keep social distance guidelines. It was super hectic and everything was happening so fast. The onboard EQ and limiters on the 32 were AMAZING! We had no problem at all. This was very important and there was no room for a hiccup because everything was moving so fast. Once one band left, we had to wash down the stage and all the cables and mics to get ready for the next band to arrive. With the StudioLive 32, it was really a best-case scenario. Set up was easy, no distortion at all, the mixes sounded great.
What’s something you learned about live streaming?
With these harsh conditions and because everything is happening so fast, you have to be able to trust the gear you’re using. Be prepared, make sure the equipment is working, and use PreSonus.
Last November our friends Molly and Denton got hitched! A few days before their wedding, they stopped by River City Studios to record another River City Session. They recorded an original song titled “Bartending” written by Molly Taylor. Thank you, Molly and Denton for taking the time out of your busy week to join us and share your song. Read more about Molly and Denton’s track below and learn how audio engineer Wesley DeVore, recorded the song.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you guys been making music?
We have been writing and performing our own music separately for over 15 years now. We started performing together about 2 years ago and we got hitched last November!
“Bartending!” Such a great jam! Can you tell us when you wrote it? What’s the inspiration?
Molly wrote the song because she worked as a bartender for 10 years! If you ever stopped by a bar in Baton Rouge, chances are Molly’s served you!
Does writing a melody come naturally to you?
Writing music is something that comes naturally to Denton and I. We are both individual songwriters with different ways of writing a song. It’s interesting and fun to connect and work with a partner to create a song that you both feel great about.
Do you prefer performing your own music or covers? What’s the difference?
We definitely love performing our own music but we love doing a good cover of a great oldie as well!
How has the Coronavirus affected your craft?
Due to restrictions in place because of Covid-19, we’ve had to cancel over 30 shows for us so far so it has affected us big time. We are ready to hit the road and start performing again!
Wanna know more about how their session was recorded? Hear from the audio engineer, Wesley who captured all the magic here:
We recently had the opportunity to help out locally with an event called “Music Is Medicine” hosted by the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. It was a small gesture, but our hope is that it leaves a lasting impact. Our friend JST DAVID was our connection to the event, and he did an incredible job producing, videoing, organizing, AND performing for the live-streamed event. This seems like a daunting task, but… as is the case in all things, hard work plus creative energy made for something awesome. He used a StudioLive AR12c to record each performance. We wanted to take some time and hear from David about how the experience was for him and how the StudioLive ARc performed. Read more from JST DAVID below.
JST DAVID says:
The “Music Is Medicine” event was an online benefit concert to raise funds for front-line health care workers, done in joint with the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. I was initially asked to participate as an artist, and ended up producing the entire initiative. It was a thrill to be a part of such an incredible cause during these unprecedented times, and to play a small role in sharing God’s love with folks who are risking their lives to save others.
I honestly didn’t realize the number of limitations COVID-19 would pose in pulling together a production like this! The turnaround from start to finish was less than two weeks for a 90-minute, pre-recorded broadcast, along with a web platform that could display the broadcast stream and securely collect donations for the cause. Even though that’s incredibly ambitious, I’ve actually been responsible for executing projects with even tighter timeframes. Still, that was all pre-COVID, you know? Social distancing requirements forced us to either film and record these performances outside, or within venues that required a high level of health precautions for myself, my second shooter, and the talent. It was exhausting, to say the least. You can’t show up with a huge crew to these shoots, so I stepped in as the director, producer, audio engineer, and primary cameraman for all the performances.
On two of the shoots, we had to literally juice the AR12c from extension cords that were powered from our vehicle. Oh, and then I also had to figure out a way to record my own performance as well. I laugh thinking about it all, mainly because it all ended up being a success (we raised nearly $4000 for the hospital during the online event), and also laughing a bit at myself for thinking it would all be easier to pull off than it was.
And real talk, there’s absolutely NO WAY that we pull these off without that AR12c mixer provided by PreSonus. Lifesaver. After dialing in the levels and just the right amount of effects, I was able to record all of the performances straight from the mixer into my SD card. I didn’t even have to edit the audio once I was done! The time it saved me, and the utility of it being lightweight, portable, while still having so much to offer with effects and such, made the event happen. I basically had to stay up for 2 days straight to get this thing to the finish line and didn’t make it on-site with the final file to broadcast until an hour before. No way this thing gets completed if the AR12c doesn’t do such an incredible job of speeding up my workflow.
As a lot of artists and creatives are finding out, live streaming is tough. Sure, anyone can flip open their phone camera and “start streaming.” But in order to bring your fans or followers something of quality, it takes a combination of having the right gear and a really well-coordinated plan. Thankfully I had enough sense to pre-record the entire “Music Is Medicine” event, and it was also what Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge wanted to do. Once the final video file was rendered, we streamed the entire performance via OBS to Facebook LIVE, and it all went off smoothly. But yea, for those who are desiring to up the quality of their live streams or do a combination of pre-recorded and live within the same broadcast, it’s not that simple.
Having a great mic and interface would be my basic prerequisites (I personally own the PX-1 and Studio 26c combo from PreSonus), and there are several other great video and audio switchers and controllers that could really get you in a great space to be creative and make your broadcasts really engaging. OBS is a free, open-sourced software that’s incredibly stable and useful for powering your live streams, and I’d just encourage anyone looking to take their broadcasts to the next level to do as much research as possible on what’s out there. That’s what I had to do and it paid off.