I recently wrote an article for Access All Areas, which is a shop and tuition centre in Bradford.
I’ve been going to Access All Areas basically since I started playing music, and this article talks about that.
Cheers in advance for reading!
Here’s another breakdown video, this time breaking down Almost Unique’s second single “Embrace”.
Hope you like it. If you do, please like, comment, subscribe… All that kind of thing.
See below to watch:
Also, by request, on this video and on the “Break The Tie” Breakdown Video I have added links to all the third party plugins I’ve used in the description, so hopefully some of you will find that of interest. I’m planning to do this with future breakdown’s as well.
More videos coming soon…
Almost Unique dropped another single last month called “Wanna Feel Alive”. This track was a lot of fun to create, and there were some interesting challenges to face.
As per usual, I was sent an acoustic guitar/vocal demo, and as soon as I listened to it I knew I wanted quite small sounding drums, but bigger sounds as the song went on. I achieved this by using one Battery kit through more or less the whole song, then in the second chorus I added a second Battery kit, and for the last chorus I added some acoustic drums from Abbey Road Modern Drummer. The tom fill that joins the different sections of the song together also came from Abbey Road Modern Drummer, with heavy treatment from flanging.
Next came the piano intro, played with Alecia’s Keys, which I then continued to use throughout the song. This was quickly followed by two bass layers from Sylenth1, and then a pad from FM8. I then happened to be flicking through and messing around with some other sounds from FM8 and stumbled across the stab sound, which also features throughout the whole song.
To help lift the chorus’s and add some variation I played the same part on two different synths, one being Sylenth1 (I like that one, can you tell?) and the other was Xpand!2. They’re very similar sounding, so playing the same part on both and panning them out and adding some pingpong delay provided a nice touch to the chorus’s.
This done, I added some smaller parts, like the messed up brass stabs that play in the verses and the bridge, which I played using a stock Logic brass sound and heavily manipulating the audio, and a little synth part in the second verse from Massive.
We then ran in to the issue of what to do to make the bridge sound interesting and different from the rest of the song. I decided to try making it completely different sounding, so I kept the pad from the rest of the song, but played a more intricate part on it, almost like a solo, and moved it up an octave. Next I used an 808 bass sound from Arturia’s Analog Lab, and added a new beat using some bigger, harder hitting drums from Polyplex.
To come out of the bridge we used the classic technique of dropping out everything aside from the piano and vocals, and adding the guitar in the second half of this section to give it more of a build up. Of course, Rise And Hit had to be the transition from this section to the final chorus. Just like on “Break The Tie” I added a low octave piano to add some energy, the acoustic guitar played by Liv (Almost Unique) that had played throughout the whole song became stereo as we added a second one, and the final touch was a choir preset created by James Berry, which sounded wonderful and really added something special to the final chorus. Do go Subscribe To James On YouTube and Follow Him On Twitter
I plan on doing a video on this track as I did with “Break The Tie”, and “Embrace”, so watch out for that!
Go check out “Wanna Feel Alive”.
This project happened shortly after The Anchor – Quarantine Edition.
Luke Penning (AKA Sagittarius) approached me with this idea, and asked if I could co-produce and mix. I agreed, and Luke set about looking for vocalists. The whole idea behind this cover was to bring people together, and to promote the idea that, in these strange times, we should unite together, and not divide.
Again, all the people involved came from the Bastille Stormers Facebook group. Joshua Ulysses and Leah Knight, who had both sung lead vocals on The Anchor, were involved in this project as well, Leah once again doing some lead vocals while Josh handled the artwork. Luke also got Elfie D-Dieth, Verronika Brandauer and Mia Hovinga involved to do some vocals.
Due to the Coronavirus lockdown, all the vocal recordings were done from their homes, so the quality of microphones varied, but we managed to work with what we had. Luke, who was working in Ableton Live, did some drum programming and also provided the pad you hear at the beginning of the song, along with a few other pads throughout the song.
For my part, I played piano on the song, and added a sub bass to help fill out the track. I also added some acoustic drum samples to Luke’s electronic drum sounds, making them sound more impactful and dramatic.
If you have any further questions about this project, feel free to ask via my social media links.
So Almost Unique just dropped her new single “Embrace”, which is another collaborative effort from Almost Unique (Liv Baker-Mendoza) and myself.
This one’s based off an old idea that Liv came up with in 2014 or 2015, and honestly we stayed pretty faithful to that initial demo. The lead synth sound was already in place, as were some of the drum samples, but this demo featured Liv playing bass guitar, rather than the bass synths we ended up using.
Liv only had a bounce down of this demo, and no longer had the project file (I believe the demo was made in Presonus’ Studio 1), so she had to go back in to Studio 1 and recreate the demo completely. Luckily, she remembered all the sounds she used, and having recreated the demo she sent me over the stems, which I then imported back in to Logic to start working on the track further.
I should mention that this demo only went as far as just before the first chorus, so once I’d added some other tracks to the stems Liv sent me, Liv began working on lyrics for the song, as well as writing a chorus, second verse and, later on, the outro.
Over the course of the production, much like Break The Tie the lyrics and production evolved and grew, the constant goal with this track was to create a something that had the vibe of Freya Ridings track “Love Is Fire” , something that was powerful and energetic and something that could be the first song in a live set.
I ended up using a lot of the original parts that Liv sent, in some cases using Logic’s built-in drum replacement tool to trigger other drum samples. This way I was able to use the parts she had programmed and sent to me, but with my samples as well as hers. The kick drum, for example, ended up being a blend of her original kick sound, plus an electronic kick sound from Logic.
Again, like Break The Tie, I plan on doing a breakdown video of this song, so stay tuned for that.
If you missed the Break The Tie video you can watch it here
Check out the track below:
If you saw my previous post about Almost Unique – Break The Tie then you’ll have noticed I mentioned that I was planning to do a video breaking down how I produced the track, the plugins I used, the instruments used, etc. Well, I did it! And here it is.
I really enjoyed making this, and hope to do more in the future.
Like, share, subscribe etc, and do let me know what you think!
Watch the video below!
So off the back of the cover of Bastille – The Anchor
me and Liv Baker-Mendoza started working on some of her original material.
One of the first songs we worked on together was this track, Break The Tie. Originally it had a completely different vibe, almost like a country song, but that wasn’t quite what we were looking for, so we left it for a few days.
Then one day I for some reason had an idea to put a sort of early 2000s beat behind it, something like “I’m Like A Bird” by Nelly Furtado. So I laid down the drum pattern and bassline, and them came up with the hook while playing around with some Sylenth1 presets.
I should mention here that I’m planning to do a video doing a full breakdown of the mix, explaining the plugins and sounds I used etc, so stay tuned for that.
The next day I sent what I had to Liv, and she loved it. She rerecorded her demo acoustic guitar, as this new version of the song had a totally different groove to what we’d been previously working with. Originally the song was called “News” and was about how people process the news they see on TV and social media, and how this news can be very deceiving sometimes. Liv ended up completely rewriting the lyrics and changing the meaning of the song.
Over the next few weeks we added more and more layers, the lyrics and instrumentation gradually settling in to the song it is now. Liv did the final vocals at Pirate Studios, and after a few more mixing and mastering decisions the track was done.
Check out the track below, and stay tune for possiblly some more stuff from Almost Unique…
Had loads of fun working on this.
For those not in the know, Distraction Tactics is a thing that Dan Smith (singer from Bastille) started doing on Instagram. He picks a film, and the fans watch it during the next week, then Dan does a livestream where he talks about it, the fans comment and contribute to the discussion and there’s often a guest on with Dan (virtually) to talk about the film etc.
Here’s a song to say thank you to Dan for creating Distraction Tactics.
This was Liv Baker-Mendoza idea, and I helped produce it, did some programming and also mixed and mastered.
So, given that quarantine is a thing, some of us in the Bastille Stormers group on facebook decided to collaborate on a cover of a Bastille song, specifically The Anchor. Liv Baker-Mendoza (Guitars and bass) had the initial idea, and I offered to mix the project. As well as mixing, I also ended up doing some programming on the project, as well as mastering it. I play the Rhodes you hear throughout the whole song, which is first heard along with the lead vocal in the intro, and I also played the synth melody in the choruses, the strings at the end, a sub bass that plays throughout the whole song, and some additional brass parts in the bridge which are very heavily treated with effects.
Shoutouts to the other awesome musicians that were involved on this project:
Beth Goodchild: Drums
Joshua Ulysses: Vocals and backing vocals
Leah Knight: Vocals
Liv Elwood: Backing Vocals
Liv Baker-Mendoza: Guitars, bass and co-producer
Sam Hinch: Trumpet
And of course, written by Dan Smith, and originally performed by Bastille.
This is a playlist of tracks recorded at Leeds College Of Music, featuring myself and many other extremely talented musicians. Most of these tracks are from the Write, Record and Perform course, held at LCoM during easter and summer holidays. I love this course. It genuinely does make you feel like you’re working in the real world, as if you were recording material for an album. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
It Must Be Love:
Away With The Wind:
Electric Piano (For the curious I believe it was a Nord Electro, with a Rhodes type sound. It’s quite hard to hear over all the guitars, but it’s there.)
Electric Piano (Same as in Something Real, only you can actually hear it on this one! You can hear it best in the intro, where it plays on its own for a while before the vocals come in.)