Yeah i could rant a while on this one. Well i got started by selling out to a country label in Nashville at 17 and having my tunes butchered. Then said that will never happen again. Then ended up learning a ton about studio production from my mentor starting on an Neotek Elan and an MTR80 back when Pro Tools was still Sound Designer. Fast forward to running a 160 input SSL9000J studio and a Neve VR60 for 5 years to opening my own smaller studios to not having a job. Wow i love this industry!
I'll try and keep mine short and sweet...
I am almost 35 and have been playing guitar since I was 16. I started writing music shortly thereafter and recorder three cd's in my early twenties (check them out on wwwDOTsouncloud.com/rodrigo-dinsmore). Those experiences peaked my interest in recording but i did not really start getting into it until a few months ago.
My dad recorded a cd for his mother, a mixture of songs he'd written and others he knew she liked. My boys went to bed many nights in a row listening to this cd. That really stuck with me and I realized i wanted to record the other 25 or so songs I've written and have not recorded. I wanted to pass them on to my sons and to future generations.
I am a pastor vocationally and also write music for a church context. I hope to record those songs so people from our church can enjoy them at home and in the car as well.
All in all- I'm a noob at the recording and mixing thing. I am looking forward to learning along with my eight year old son.
First of all - Thanks to Lee for wanting to hear these stories and taking the time to ask; God knows the only people in ,y life ever interested in hearing the tale have long since bored of sitting through it again!
So, I started playing music at 8 years old. Played 2 instruments by 13, 4 by age 18 etc. was playing semi-pro at 17 in NYC (read: regularly playing, but for little or no pay). At 17 I started working as a guitar tech for the guy who (at the time) was Bo Diddley's second guitar player.
Despite my ease with picking up and learning various instruments and even though i knew that music was what i wanted to do for ever; I couldn't read music and didn't have the stones to apply to Berklee. So after high school I went to BU instead. I guess I figured I would stand outside Berklee and see if I could the theory of osmosis....or something like that.
With all my history and connections in NYC this proved to be as successful as it now sounds and I split Boston after about three months and went back to NYC, where I worked as a guitar tech and musician for about 3-4 years. Through tech-ing and playing I had been in several studios, many small but also some bigger sessions too (Mary J. Blige, Steven Tyler and my personal favorite Rob Fraboni).
So at some point in this process, realized that if nobody was going to pay me enough to play music (which is what I really wanted to do) then I might be able to make a living recording music. So, I took out all the necessary loans (which 15 years later I am still paying back) and went to school for it.
To cut a ponderously long story a little short, that education has taken me from being an unpaid intern working on Multi platinum recording artists' basement studio to a minimally paid head engineer in a studio in St. Louis working on a Rock and Roll HOF's "comeback" record, to recording my own band's record in a $2M studio outside of Austin, TX with a Grammy award winning engineer (side note: Rupert Neve's phone number was on a yellow post-it on the console! Very awesome thing to see turning up to work every afternoon). From there it's took me back to NYC to being a somewhat better paid head engineer doing the audio post work on Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and lesser know anime cartoons, to finally being back in Texas and being a minimally paid guy playing and recording my band's material as well as engineering, mixing and producing artists that I choose in my home studio.
Looking back, I don't think I would change a thing. Certainly, all the moving around hurt my ability to network and prosper in one given scene. Certainly, as my wife would tell you, all the playing and recording work I've done for little or no pay, hurt my bottom line. But, I don't think I would change too much about it.
I mean, most of us dont get into this gig for riches anyway. we get into it because we love it and are good at it. I still get downright giddy when there's a new awesome piece of gear or plug-in released, I learn some new tip or trick for a mix, I mic my big room in a different way for awesome results or I find a new forum (like this one!) that lets all of us like minded individuals connect, learn and help one another.
I still consume everything written about the topic that I can get my hands on and obsess over a mix problem endlessly until solved.
I still grumble and bitch when I talk about the current state of the biz. And, despite all my grumbling, I still can't imagine a world without it.
I'm not that old yet (39), but inside I'm still that truly memorized kid that eats, breathes and sleeps all things music and recording. The road goes on forever and we wouldn't have it any other way.
In today's economy my two cents are only worth a buck-three-eighty.
In third grade, I missed the "finish pillar" at the end of a footrace and put my left hand thru a glass storm door. ER cleaned it, sewed it up, good to go.
I started playing classical guitar and sang in the choir beginning in fourth grade. By seventh grade I had graduated to electric guitar and hard rock. My sister was 6 years older, and she turned me on to Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly. Sabbath picked up where they left off.
One day while pushing the lawn mower, a lump the size of a robin's egg popped up on the back of my left hand. X-rays showed at least three pieces of glass inside, a couple pencil points and a quarter inch triangle. A general surgeon lined me up for surgery, 75cc of Demerol, bright lights, on the table when he decided to refer me to a hand specialist. Rockin. After surgery, it took more than a year to recover full use of my hand and get back to the level of guitar playing I was at before having the glass removed.
I practiced up to seven hours a day, played in garage bands, and ran sound for other bands up thru senior year in high school. A high point was a seminar put on by Marty McCann of Peavey electronics, designer of the HDH stack, and CS series power amps that were a building block in many professional sound reinforcement systems of the time. The primary take-away was the concept and details of setting mixers to unity gain.
Senior year I began experiencing pain in my left hand, like having an ice pick stuck thru it, while carrying books....and while playing guitar. X-rays showed another glass pencil point inside. Hand surgeon went in after it, couldn't find it, and told me it was cutting thru a nerve each time I felt the pain. He wasn't sure which nerve, but said when it was cut completely thru, I could lose all feeling in my two middle fingers....or lose the use of those two fingers. Looking at at least another year to recover and get back to the level of guitar playing, plus long term consequences, I hung it all up.
I built some killer stereo systems during the following years. I hung out around the desk at live venues, and spent a few interesting hours with a guy who claimed to have been on the plane with Lynyrd Skynyrd when it went in. According to him , the pilots came back and said they were out of gas, some guys didn't make it to their seats yadda yadda, and he woke up strapped to his seat in a cornfield. I took it with a grain of salt till he asked me to watch the desk while he got his car after the gig, he had some cables he wanted to take home to solder, and came back driving a Ferrari 308. By strange coincidence, I ended up tour guiding .38 Special around town while they were on tour break some years later. Two guys rolling on the ground outside a 4 star hotel, doorman had concerns, I asked them what was up and they said they were headed for The Crafty Cockney, the best rock club in this city.
I said guys...The Crafty Cockney has a dart board...and maybe a jukebox...you want rock, come with me. We had a national repped sound reinforcement retailer in town at the time, and your band didn't make it in the door of the local clubs without $50k in PA and lights. That all had to be paid for, so we had some pretty good local acts. On the way they introduced themselves, when we got to the club I laid a napkin at the feet of Driver's bass player, 'wanna jam with .38 Special second set?" They did and it was sublime. Ass kicking hard rock, mixed right, and every babe in the place on my lap. I was signing autographs for beers. Unbelievably, Bon Jovi showed up in a limo after their concert, tween second and third set; I had visions of a legendary performance third set, but we had all the babes locked up and the Jovis left in search of greener pastures.
I had graduated from pickup truck stereo...couldn't find an active crossover to tri-amp a driver array that ran on 12 volts in those days, and Fosgate and Alpine power didn't play nice together without, so I took the $7k from the insurance settlement when the truck was broken into and started playing with newfangled toys involving something called 'MIDI".
It was keyboards only in those days....syncing audio required SMPTE and six figures to do right...and I also didn't have $8 grand for an IBM PC, so my first studio was centered around a Radio Shack mixer, two cassette decks, a Strat my brother built, that I was afraid to play, a Yamaha DX100, and a Yamaha Portastudio (that I still have) with a built in drum machine an a whopping 1200 note MIDI sequencer onboard. The main bottleneck there was volatile memory and no storage. You had to start and finish one song before you could erase the data and start a new one. That was a bit of a buzzkill.
About 1991, I got an IBM, 8088 based computer at a local electronics swapmeet for $129, my first, no harddrive. The rich people had 80286 based supercomps, but I tricked that mother out, taking it from 286K of ram up to the full meg, CGA graphics, Seagate 5 meg hard drive, 8086 processor, 8087 math-co, it was...a rocket!
I dropped Twelvetone's "Cakewalk 2.0" on it, and never even came close to filling 256 MIDI tracks. I still have that system in storage. The inability to sync audio was still a problem. Multi generational bouncing from cassette deck to cassette deck ran you into noise problems early on, but I got a few ideas on tape.
286, 486 DLC, Pentium, PII...I kept upgrading my processing power and adding outboard gear, but I never got the audio quality I was looking for. I finally moved to my present location, with plans to be buried here...I may set up another house or three on a beach somewhere, but this is my main base for good. I waste a year hunting thru boxes everytime I move and I've got better things to do. The studio pretty much stalled out with a PIII running XP and a Behringer 1622 board. The onboard sound card and mixer had a noise floor around -35 db...it colored everything I recorded and sounded like crap and my ears are too old to listen to anything short of 44.1/16 done right.
Somewhere along in here I decided to risk losing my hand, and played guitar sporadically, but not being able to record and evaluate took all the joy out of it. Between construction and computer networking, (I lucked into 'owning" an airline's global WAN, but they divested me of root, admin and enable when they all figured out they had to ask the night sysop for priveleges...hey...my roomie poured crete, set steel, hung dishes, tuned signals, and tuned dataflow for Australia's WAN, after she welded 220kV circuits live, and she liked to talk networking, what can I say?) I had retired from wage slavery at age 42, and gradually began to Feng Shui my house and lifestyle. Two years ago, I went looking for a suitable Gibson SG to replace the one I sold after my second surgery, and was going to have to settle for a standard...Customs were listing at $4500 and I wasn't having it. The love of my life and I walked into a Guitar Center on my birthday, and she immediately told me she saw the guitar she'd pick. She knew some stuff, but was a hard partier so I checked every SG in the store and had it down to 3 standards. I asked her which of the 3 and she stuck to her guns and pointed to the spotlighted store showpiece on black velvet in a glass frame above the counter.
It was a Custom Custom SG and its mine now. I replaced the tuners with lockers and it plays like a dream. Its listing for double what I paid for it on Ebay and I'll be buried with it. I might even know how to play it by then. I can hear it in my head, 32 years worth, but my fingers don't quite obey...yet. I figured I might as well upgrade the studio to match the axe and...32 months later, I'm closing in on completion. The patch rack in the tracking Room ran into a snag last Thanksgiving...some bonehead wrestled with 8-10 snakes behind each rolling desk rack, but thought he could hardbolt the patchbay and tame 24 snakes in the dark behind it. I do Christmas for my kids right, so it went on hold till I could build a rolling rack after the holidays.
My bro and sis drag me down to the Florida islands for Christmas and it works me. Just getting the decorations up here, buying, wrapping, cooking, unwrapping, undecorating, snow, ice and ex-girlfriends who ski but still party hard take all I've got, but this year the bar was raised. Bro and Sis decided to do Christmas at Thanksgiving, good idea, but the tranny dropped outta the Jeep the week before and the race was on. I dialed it all in, but was stuck for a present for my brother.
Travel guitar leapt out and bit me on a cable run at Sam Ash, I'll take a pair and FedEx them to Sanibel, please. Laptop already packed, I grabbed a Focusrite 8i6 and the smallest monitors in stock, Alesis POS that buzzed at 35db SPL that were swapped for Yamaha HS50s on the way to the airport. TSA trashed my suitcase...one of three Marshall minis quit working, they pried the metal grill off my Ipod amp, that's a speaker, guys....SPEE KER...it makes sound from an electrical signal, and just what kind of tool do you use to bend a 9 volt battery in half, anyway?
Bro loved his axe, and I loved mine, when the Focusrite wasn't losing USB connectivity with the lappy, anyway. Back home after the trip, I diddled with Focusrite, lost patience and swapped the interface with an M-Audio CS600 which worked right outta the box and has ever since. Sonar X2 Essential, Amplitube, Sampletank and T Racks later, and pretty much by surprise, I have a highly mobile recording studio with a noise floor I can't hear, digital audio sync, and ideas flowing faster than I can get my fingers to work.
After Christmas I built the rolling rack for the Tracking Room and still had some major hassles taming 25 snakes, but the wiring is done. My vocal instructor sixed 'stay at home and play with her credit cards hubby',and she wanted a PA she can carry, so I picked up some Carvin PA speakers and Behringer unpowered stage monitors at burglary prices and flew them by the bigscreen in the living room. An old Sony 235 watt integrated amp drives the array to 133 db SPL at three quarters meter throw on the amp, so I can finally let my bass guitar thump the way it needs to.
A bunch of old 14 inch flatscreens married up in my office, along with a mixer and an Altec 2.1 computer audio system, and Cakewalk's and IKmultimedia's generous licensing system are going to bring that up soon as an alternate mixing station. The travel guitar and mini Marshalls ended up in my bedroom, along with a couple old Galaxy Androids, and now things are coming together fast. Since Thanksgiving I've gone from zero functional studios to five...this Remote, the Tracking Room, the office mixing room, the playback room with the bigscreen, and my practice room with headphones.
An LLC I set up to dodge legal responsiblility for hard partying ex's car adventures has been retasked as a tax shelter for my audio hobby, I've got the logo and graphics for brochures and a website finished and paid for, (who knows...maybe an Indie label and Publishing?), and I just finished the major software installs in the Tracking Room.
My mood lighting controller doesn't have a MIDI out, but I have the MyDSP software/interface and a laptop I need to slick crazy ex's **** off of, a couple three Sony Handycams, a greenscreen in the tracking room and white seamless in the playback room.
Today I have to cut grass and weed eat. They farmed this land for 150 years and cutting, trimming and sweeping takes 15 hours per iteration. With rain like we've been having, it needs cut twice a week. On the plus side, its very quiet here, you can feel city stress just falling off you on the drive out. 35 minutes driving gets me to a top ten US downtown, an international airport, all my banks, and the ritz mall I have no use for, but which attracted three big music stores, and I can hear the air over the ducks wings when they line up on final for the pond, 150 feet away.
Tonight, I need to get MIDI dialed in in the Tracking Room. Wiring done, and LEDs blinking when they should, but I gotta config channels to get 5 hardsynths, I don't know how many softsynths, a bunch of outboard FX, and Sonar X1 Studio all on the same page. At that point, practice moves from the Remote to the Tracking Room, and I have to decide whether to bring up the Office/Mixing equipment first, or put X2 Producer on the Remote. I will NOT be left without a place to hammer ever again.
Ideas...yeah, I have a few...about 32 years worth, but my fingers are 32 years rusty too. We'll get around to that. I'm not sure what to tell you guys in LA and Nashville. Land around here is cheap, plenty of room for you to nestle up to where the industry is going to move, right here, but I have a fat pipe to the net and daddy had 39 US patents, bless his heart, we can telecommute if you'd rather moshpit with the bucketheads a while longer.
I gotta run. My son has discovered girls and $$$, and he cuts cheaper than my roomies, hotbabes charge more and need to be free to tell me how to marry Britney and Slash for ALL the marbles.
This adventure is just beginning....
You all have a great story
I from Indonesia, 25 old, interested with audio since my age 19..
My first 'toy' is Fruity Loops. Move on to cubase, and now happy with S1.
I am very excited to write my story but My english very limited
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