Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Very Little Christmas

Well the Christmas album is out now, if you haven't got it yet you can download it for free from or you can purchase it from good record stores in NZ. So far we've had 2200 downloads from all over the world. Thanks to those who've been sharing the link around so far. If you haven't  yet we'd really appreciate it if you wanted to. I just want to give a Christmas present to as many people as possible. 

Today I was reading the text from Phil Spector on the back of his Christmas record (and even though I am sure he would probably hate my christmas album/me) I thought I'd post an excerpt it here because it sums up some of my feelings towards and behind "A Very Little Christmas"

"...This album was produced solely for you and only with you in mind. It is an endeavor to epitomize the great young stars in the recording field, singing some of the greatest music ever written. It comes from me to you with the sincere wish that you understand and appreciate this endeavor into something new and different for Christmas. I am very proud of my artists at this moment and very grateful for having the opportunity to express myself as I have been able to do in this album. I, along with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans, hope that you enjoy and love this album as much as we enjoyed making it for you and wish you the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years and we thank you so much for letting us spend Christmas with you.

Phil Spector, Producer "

- liner notes from "A Christmas Gift For You" (you can read the rest here if you want)

This is also happening next wednesday, if you're in Auckland it'd be great to see you there. There will be free mince pies. FREE MINCE PIES! Plus good bands playing hooray. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ruby Frost - Lennon Cover

Ruby Frost and band were over yesterday recording a John Lennon cover. It was quite a different process from all the recording I've done with her so far. In the past we've done almost everything in the computer with software synths, plus maybe some percussion here and there and a bit of electric guitar or bass (and some hammond of course) but this time round we recorded real drums, real synths, even guitars played by real people...

Cam, Haddon and Jimmy (and even Ruby herself) are all really good musicians so the parts are played really well and its got a really nice groove which I think is important for this song. However it doesn't give me as much flexibility with the sounds as I would with programming the parts, so we spent a lot longer thinking about synth sounds etc instead of programming all the parts in and then considering sounds.

We recorded what was probably one of the most obscenely rock and roll guitar parts I have ever recorded. Haddon played power-chords through my big muff and stood leaning back and forth to get just the right amount of feedback to keep the chord sustaining... We tracked it for the whole song but I think I might just use it here and there and maybe quietly in the mix.

Drum sound is pretty huge, I've got a ribbon set up quite far back in the room which I've got limited really hard to almost sound like distortion. But it really helps to have a consistent and central hitter like Jimmy with a really nice sounding drum kit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Very Little Christmas - Behind the Scenes Video

A Very Little Christmas gets released in stores and as a free download from my website next monday the 6th of December. Till then enjoy the little behind the scenes video I made.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Album - Artisan Guns

Apparently 17 songs just wasn't enough for a Christmas compilation and I agreed to record Artisan Guns Christmas song this Saturday (despite it all needing to be done before Tuesday) we'd planned to record it the other week but Jonathans hand ended up being put in a cast and a couple of members just couldn't make the recording.

Anyway its recorded now and is really great. We ended up using all of my guitars, Matt used my acoustic for the main part (and then doubled the end with his jumbo) then added a rhythm track on the Musicmaster, a dirty rhythm track on the Gretsch then played a part on the Tele, which Jonathan also used again later to double the Organ part.

Theres some really cool backing vocals in the end part where the "bay" and "bee" of "baby" are split in to two parts sung by reuben and matt. One sings the "bay" and holds that note while the other comes in with the bee over the top and they end together. So we recorded this part with them both infront of the mic together.

Alex added a few layers of toms, rims, tambourines and samples from his drum pad that don't make much sense on their own but together work really nicely off each other. We recorded the electronic drums with a delay plugin in time to the click so that they delay would be part of the drum performance, but also so I could adjust the delays various settings and sound later. The final section has a pretty big sounding drum kit in it, I've got 2 room mics up in the recording (and they're both fairly high in the mix) the ribbon which you can see in the photo and my Blue Kiwi set to omni in the corner behind where the photo was taken, just next to the door.

Finally Jonathan (who came straight from cricket) added some Organ which helped to tie the song together, for a couple of the parts we turned the leslie up to 8 so it was just starting to break up. Its probably one of the most satisfying sounds ever.

The album is coming out on the 6th of December as a very limited CD release in stores and online as a free download from

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Album - Cool Rainbows

So I said all the tracking was over for the Christmas album, well it was nearly done...

Today Alex added some drums for Cool Rainbows song we recorded on Tuesday. We were going for a kinda wierd roomy sound so I got Alex to set the drums up in the corridor, something I've not tried before. 

In the past I've put mics out there for wierd room mics etc but never moved the drum kit out there. Fortunately with Alex's stripped down kit we had just enough space to fit him in (although I'm sure we could've squeezed a floor tom in there too) Drum sound was really nice, probably wouldn't suit most things but fits in really well in this song. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Album - The Crawley Christmas Singers

The picture above is for a very special joint effort going on to the Christmas Album. The Crawley Christmas singers, featuring Lisa Crawley, Matthew Crawley and (the lesser known for music but still very important) Emma Crawley.

Real life family band.

Also in the photo is Simon, cameraman for Nightline. They did a little feature on the Christmas album that you can see here

Back to the recording, we recorded all 3 vocals, Acoustic guitar and Piano live and then overdubbed a toy piano solo.

Not long after the photo was taken I put an SM58 in front of Emma (on the left) as a placeholder to stop her getting too close to the KM184 which was popping a bit. The KM184 sounds great on a female vocal and as Emma was taking the high harmony I gave it to her, while Lisa took the Kiwi (set to supercardioid to cut down on piano bleed) and Matthew sang in to the warmer Baby Bottle.

Thats all the songs tracked! (although I think we might be adding some drums to Cool Rainbows track on Friday)

Christmas Album - Cool Rainbows

I recorded a Cool Rainbows Christmas song on Monday for the Album. For a while we tried recording it live outside and all the birds and occasional cars sounded really cool in the background but then we opted against recording it live and moved inside so Djeisan could focus on playing+singing it better individually (he mostly wrote the song that morning) Emily came out later and added some vocals too but I was really slack with photo taking.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Album - The Bayonets

Another song for the Christmas Album, this time was the Bayonets turn. We started with a guide guitar to a click, then Joel put his drums over that. While Joel was playing drums Phil and Martin sat outside and re-wrote the majority of the melody and a few lyrics!! Then we added acoustic, electric and bass guitar before some vocals and then glockenspiel and Joel programmed in some of a plugin organ sound on my computer. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Album - Dear Times Waste

Recorded Dear Times Waste's christmas song today, ended up keeping it quite stripped back. We started recording with vocals and guitar live (no click) I had the guitar amp set up in the bathroom to avoid bleed. After that Claire added some drums.

Halfway through the first take of the Bass drum I was thinking how cool it would be if we tuned it to be a note that would work with the song. By complete fluke it turned out that I'd accidentally tuned it to an F# that works quite nicely with the D pedal note that most of the song is based around. 

Theres a bit of organ and some BV's but not much else. Really beautiful song though. 

I'm really pleased that so many of the artists/bands have taken care to write/arrange something to the usual standard of their output for this album rather than throwing together a weak/novelty christmas song. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chelsea Jade - Choir Day

We recorded various choir parts for Chelseas album today, Anthony also featured in the Choir but there are no flattering/in focus photos of him.

With most of the group vocals I end up recording I like to just double or triple track them and pan stuff rather recording in stereo. Wide Cardioid on the Kiwi suits this nicely.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Malcolm Jack - Roundhead Single

Spent the day at Roundhead yesterday in the Brick Room producing a single for Rockquest 3rd placers Malcolm Jack.

I knew that I'd be mixing the vocals to be quite wet so I got Jordan to print reverbs from each vocal track individually to protools for me (which is what he's doing in the photo above) You can't beat the real thing.

I've been having a bit of a listen back today and I think it sounds pretty good so far. I'll be mixing it from here this week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Christmas Album - Bannerman

Bannerman recorded their Christmas song on Wednesday evening. 

We tracked Drums, Bass, Organ, Keys, Vocals and electric guitar live. Ritchie sung and played guitar in the bathroom and the guitar amp out in the corridor and everyone had headphones. 

I even had my Leslie set up in the laundry for Finns Hammond to plug in to, but different years of hammond connectors meant no real Leslie fun (although we ended up running it through a plug in Leslie emulator in protools)

After that Cole played some tambourine and then Finn and Oliver recorded their Trumpet and Trombone parts respectively. Ribbon on the Trumpet and MD421 on the Trombone.   

Christmas Album - The Gladeyes

I had the Gladeyes here on Sunday for another Christmas Song for the album, its not far off now, soon you'll be able to download it for free (or purchase one of the limited run of CD's)

The Gladeyes album was one of my favourites of last year, if you haven't heard it yet you really need to. 

Recording was fun, we tracked individually to a click, guide guitar and vocal, everything went really smoothly! Great! Here are some photos! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Christmas Album - Alaska

Another Christmas song, this time from Alaska. They made a really nice arrangement of an old Christmas song "Oh Holy Night"

The Alaska arrangement features Harp, Acoustic guitar, Mandolin, Cello, Vocals and some stripped back drums. 

Recording was good. Nice sounding instruments, played well, captured with good microphones. Really its difficult to mess it up.

Here are some photos!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christmas Album - Hold Dear

Hold Dear recorded their christmas song today. If you've not heard of them they're quite a new, but very fun band. I recommend getting along to one of their shows asap. 

We opted to keep quite their song quite stripped back, its really enjoyable as it is, we considered bass and maybe drums but really it probably would've detracted from the song. I got Jonny to double the acoustic guitar part with a roomy electric, I wanted to get some of the acoustic sound of his pick hitting the strings in there too so just set him up sat infront of his amp with the volume down and put a mic a wee bit away from that. (see the last photo)

We tracked the two vocals together with Chloe and Jonny facing each other to help with their phrasing and just general feel of the vocals. 

Chloe recorded some Melodica and then I got her to quickly double it on the piano. 

It was a REALLY nice day again here in Oratia. Wow. Hello summer!

Christmas Album - Luckless

Ivy (aka Luckless) came in to record her christmas song on Saturday. She had a drum beat from a little drum machine that I re-made in an evening this week using samples from my marching drums and various percussion, I also used a snare hit from a drum beat on my new casio keyboard (the little white one in the photo above) 

Yesterday we recorded various guitar parts and lots of vocals. I played some bass. Ivy played some shaker. Got some reaaalllyyyy cool guitar tones, Ivy's Hagstrom sounds amazing, I love playing around with loud guitar amps+pedals.

Christmas Album - Chelsea & James

Recorded Chelsea and James's christmas song the other day. James played some drums, then chelsea some bass, then we layered the rest on top.  We recorded some woodblock and cowbell through my princeton, sounds SO Phil Spector. 

James also played some toy piano through the princeton, sounded less Phil Spector but still really cool... 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christmas Album - Canadia

Canadia came over to record their song for the Christmas Album, we tracked Drums and Bass live to a guide electric guitar and vocals from Ashley in my bathroom. Then we recorded an array of guitar and vocal parts over the top.

The guide guitar sound was really cool with the vocal mic capturing the room sound so I left the vocal mic in there for when we tracked the main electric guitar part. (Ashley posted a picture on his blog here it kinda just cuts out the kiwi set up recording the room sound) Later we recorded the other electric parts through my princeton for its lush reverb. 


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