Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Principle Look of Twin Lust #14


I have a list of songs I'd like to mashup, and this was not originally on that list. But when I came across it in my stack of CD singles and gave it a listen, it was an immediate must-do.

It turned out to be a bit of a challenge, though... I only had the experience of one mashup under my belt (maybe more like one-and-a-half mashups with the extended version of my first). And I didn't have an instrumental of the Enigma jazz mix. Nor did I have the acapella for the Diana Krall tune, so I extracted my own. And, of course, jazz can be a little loose when it comes to where some of the instrumental or vocals kick in, so I had to reconstruct some audio sounds to remove some clicks and fill in a few tiny gaps.

I also got a bit stuck on what to do for the mix on a small section, so I just put the project aside for several days while the songs stewed around in my head. Once I figured it out, I was quite happy with the end results. This is definitely not a dance/club mix, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

The Principle Look of Twin Lust #14
Enigma - Principles of Lust (Jazz Mix)
Enigma - Principles of Lust (Everlasting Lust Mix)
Diana Krall - The Look of Love
Aphex Twin - #14 (from "Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II")
Depeche Mode - I Want You Now
5:27 / 192 kbps / 7.6 MB

Download the MP3 file here.

WARNING: Maximum speed of this mashup is only 95 bpm -- Not intended for the dance floor.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thinking About Pumping Up the Volume


This was the first mashup I worked on while learning the music production software I had purchased. I included some voice extraction and other sound extraction tasks as well as applied a few other simple effects and techniques (especially working with automation paths) as part of the learning process.

I also discovered a bug with one of the VST plug-ins whereby an automation path for any of its custom parameters wouldn't stay locked to the audio clip, so if I moved the audio clip, the automation path wouldn't move with it, and I would have to reconstruct the automation path. Note to self... don't create automation paths for this VST plug-in until I'm almost done the edit, or I'm positively sure I'm not going to move the audio clip.

Part way through creating this mashup, I realized that a song by Yello would fit in well, but I was really liking the clean simple sound of the original mashup. So I decided to complete the original mashup and create a second extended version of the mashup.

I had completed and posted the 2 mashups on the MashupTown forum on Jan 26, 2008, inviting some critical feedback. I received some very good feedback with tips for improving the mashups, which I incorporated into the final edits.

Here's the details and album art for the mashups along with the DivShare embedded player for the MP3 files so you can listen to or download the songs...

Thinking About Pumping Up the Volume
Londonbeat - I've Been Thinking About You (The Eclipse Mix)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (Instrumental)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (7" U.S. Version)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (Bonus Beats)
4:33 / 192 kbps / 6.4 MB

Download MP3 file here.

Thinking About Pumping Up the Volume (Touched by Love Unreal Mix)
Londonbeat - I've Been Thinking About You (The Eclipse Mix)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (Instrumental)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (7" U.S. Version)
MARRS - Pump Up The Volume (Bonus Beats)
Yello - Unreal (from the album "The Eye")
5:39 / 192 kbps / 7.8 MB

Download MP3 file here.

If you're interested in listening to the original non-tweaked version to compare the before-and-after changes, here's a link to the file I have on my DivShare account:

Download/Listen to non-tweaked version of Thinking About Pumping Up the Volume

It All Started When...

Although I've been listening to mashups for a few years now (thanks goes to Mr. Sandman for introducing them to me), I just started producing my own mashups recently as of Jan 2008. Two months and two mashups later, I've determined that I do, in fact, enjoy both the artistic and technical aspects of producing mashups. I may not be very good at it right now, but I want to learn from anyone willing to offer feedback and tips, and I want to focus on producing good quality audio and mixes. The Internet mashup scene and forums have been helpful thus far as it appears to be a very supportive community for newbies and veterans alike. And now that I've decided to continue with this intriguing hobby, I've erected this blog to showcase my work.

But before I get into posting my work, I'm going to season this first blog entry with a dash of retrospect and a pinch of introspect (for anyone who dares to read on)... and then I'll get right into posting my first 2 (sorta 3) mashups that I completed these past couple of months.

So the question is, "Why did I start a hobby producing mashups? And why now?" The word now meaning now that I'm over 40-years of age (Yikes! I'm over that hill already!). My full-time gig is not related to the music industry whatsoever and I haven't worked in the music industry for over 20 years now (more on that later). I also haven't played a musical instrument for over 20 years, and I haven't done the bar/club scene for about 15 years now.

So what's the drive? I didn't get the bug for music production after I was introduced to mashups... it was actually long before then.

[Rewind back to my junior and senior high school days]

I started writing a little story here about my exposure to various musical influences in junior and senior high school that really didn't have any importance to me, and when I re-read it, I could hear "blah blah blah" echo in my head, so I deleted it and opted for a more concise and shorter paragraph...

I had listened to top-40 radio like most average junior/senior high school students at that time. I had played the trumpet in band course through my junior and senior high school years. I was a bit of a natural at it, and required very little practice to remain in first chair (most of the time), but I definitely was not a trumpet prodigy and I didn't have a desire to make it a career choice.

Obviously, I didn't catch any music bug from this.

It was my final year in high school and I was on a group trip to Europe with 19 fellow students (and 2 teacher escorts) as part of a school-supported trip. We were in Lisbon during the last couple of days in Europe, and a few of us had popped into a small music store. I thought I'd buy a tape for the flight back to Canada (I had one of those new innovative portable tape players the size of a brick). One tape caught my eye as I recognized the cover from my favorite uncle's record collection (y'know, those black vinyl platters that scratch easily and warp or melt in the sun, and you stick a needle on it while it's spinning slowly and it somehow played music). I thought my uncle was cool (he played in a local rock band, so he must have been cool), so I bought the tape. It was a tape of "Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe" by The Alan Parsons Project.

The first time I listened to it was on the flight home to Canada. I will admit, on a public blog, that for the first time in my life, I found the music so emotionally moving that it put tears in my eyes. Why weren't the radio stations playing this kind of music? From that point forward, I started buying albums and listening to the entire record to fully appreciate the artist's work.

I caught the music bug, but not the production bug.

It wasn't until a few months later that I made the connection regarding how influential the producer and/or engineer can be on an artist's music and album. I came across the "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd and realized there were some similarities on that album to some of The Alan Parsons Project albums. That's when I read that Alan Parsons was the engineer on the Pink Floyd album. Wow! Music wasn't all about the artist, although public perception believed it was.

[Fast forward a bit to my university days]

I needed some cash while going to university. My friend, Mr. Sandman, was doing some sub-contracted DJ'ing for local social events (well, actually, tape jockeying), and persuaded me to give it a try. It turned out to be a great part-time gig. Needless to say, I could dish out some beat mixes using tapes, and was known for popping off the acrylic window on the tape doors so I could slow down the drive wheel a bit with my finger to get the beats to mesh

But I wouldn't say I caught the music production bug at this time, either.

[Fast forward a few years]

I took a break from university, got a full-time job, met a girl who lived outside the box who introduced me to the truly non-mainstream music of that time (Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, Jean-Michel Jarre, Devo, etc.) and some awesome parties, dropped the part-time DJ gig, and became rebellious for a couple of years. Some of her friends played music and sometimes jammed (MIDI keyboards and drums, guitar, etc.). I had a chance to plunk around on a keyboard a little bit during a couple of the jam sessions, but for some reason, I didn't have the urge to try my hand at learning to play.

[Fast forward a year or so]

It was time for me to get back on course with my education and career. I went back to university but changed my major to something that I felt was more in line with my interests (but it wasn't related to music). And I picked up the part-time DJ (tape jockey) gig again.

Somewhere between the realization about the producer's and engineer's influence on an artist's music, doing the primitive tape jockeying, the short stint as a rebel, and returning to university, I somehow caught the bug to produce music in some form or fashion and found myself looking through the for-sale ads for used MIDI and mixing equipment. I was about to make a purchase from someone who had the whole package when an opportunity to work in a different city for my co-op work term portion of my education had presented itself. It was a tough decision, but somehow good judgement prevailed and I passed on the equipment so I'd have the money to move so I could accept the work term position. It wasn't until a few years later that I would come to the realization that this decision turned out to be one of the most important pivotal decisions in my life... one that led to a chain of other life-altering events... but I won't get into all that because they're not directly related to the focus of this post nor this blog.

In the meantime, I put the music production bug into a jar and sealed it.

[Fast forward about 17 years to the present time, skipping over university graduation, a wife, a kid, new city, new home, a few ups'n'downs, and a few career advancements]

This could use one of those visuals where my past self suddenly plops into a scene with my present self...

"This is me?! In the future?! Nice! We've done well for ourselves, haven't we?! Yikes! We've also got a few grey hairs now, too."

During those 17 years, I had listened to and collected a lot of music from various genres, embracing the transitions from vinyl and tape, to CD, to MP3 players (and the like), to on-line streaming music, and yes, even iTunes. And not once did I get that urge to get into music production. Not even when I was first introduced to mashups... it didn't even enter my mind... or at least I didn't think it did.

In the dying months of 2007, my friend and I sold a small part-time business that we had been operating together for several years. Part of my share of the profit went towards a new LCD TV to replace a 17-year-old failing CRT TV (the very same TV that I had purchased when I made the move for that educational work term position over 17 years ago after putting the music production bug in the jar). As for the rest of the money... from within some inexplainable mental fog, I suddenly found myself researching the different music production software packages available. Apparently, I had the notion... the idea... that I was going to try my hand at producing mashups. Where the heck did that idea come from?!

Someone let the bug out of the jar! And my subconscious already knew what it wanted to do... my conscious mind was just catching up.

Wish me luck!