Thursday, 22 October 2009

People power

A bit off topic today, but I wanted to bring this to the attention of those who didn't know and those who snub social networks as gimmicks.

My faith in humanity has been restored a little after the two real world situations that Twitter users affected last week. I'm not going to go over what happened as it's now been told a million times but you can find out about the Trafigura incident here and the Jan Moir talking shite incident here

Has Twitter finally found it's niche as a open forum to express opinions en masse? The Trafigura story broke and was finished with in a matter of hours. In the old days there would have been a petition and maybe a demonstration or the like, which would have taken days, weeks or even months to organise and execute. Now the same effect can be achieved within a day. Love it.

I also love the fact that people with power seem to take the internet seriously, and in some cases are even intimidated by it. Not exactly why that is yet, but it could be because the net is such an open playing field. Once a dirty secret is laid out in a secluded corner of the net it can spread within hours to be a global talking point and those involved are often forced to respond. This is a powerful tool, and unbelievably it's still in it's infancy. It's inspiring and scary all at the same time.

In other news, I somehow was talked into running the live sound for an awards show at Alexandra Palace. It was for inventors and whilst I had no idea what most of the things did, the Korean guy who won invention of the year had a pretty amazing product. It's a synthetic bonelike material that can be used to hold breaks together. The idea being that if you break your arm you can be out of hospital in a couple of hours and have no need for a plaster cast. That's got to be worth an award at least!


See you soon,


Saturday, 10 October 2009

New Day Rising

It's quite possible to create a good recording anywhere with the equipment available these days but the one point that people seem to miss out is that you have to have the experience to be able to get the most out of it. For example - Waves have just released a series of 'Signature' plug-ins from such luminaries as Tony Maserati and Eddie Kramer. You can have a look at them here. Now what each these units actually are is a group of various plug-ins (compression, eq, stereo imaging, FX, etc) controlled by one GUI. Each of these units settings have been designed by the aforementioned 'Signature' artist, the idea being that you can now EQ your kick drum in the same way Eddie Kramer would.

I haven't tried these plug-ins yet and am actually looking forward to seeing what they do, but I do do have one huge problem with them - the way they are being marketed! I'm sure they sound great and do a good job, but they will not sound great on everything. On some things they will be bang on and exactly what you're looking for, and on other things they may be not so great or even make things worse. There's nothing wrong with that, as the same can be said for almost every bit of kit out there, from Neve to Behringer. Ok maybe not Behringer but you get my point.

Waves have chosen to market this as if it's the same thing as having Eddie Kramer come round to your house and mix it for you, and I think that's incredibly misleading. Most professionals and knowledgeable amateurs will know the score and if they choose to purchase, they will do for the right reasons - because they like what they do. However I think there will be a lot of people without the experience buying these thinking they will be the magic wand they've been looking for. If you put to much bass on something it doesn't matter that Eddie Kramer or Tony Maserati designed the plug-in, it'll still be too bassy! The same goes for too much compression, over (or under) use of effects, bad stereo imaging - the list goes on.

The greatest example of this technological quicksand is what i call 'The Beatles Fallacy'. Ever since the advent of the Tascam Portastudio, salesman and the misguided have been keen to point out that the home recording set up du jour is technically better than what The Beatles had available to them. I couldn't agree more.


A) You're not The Beatles.
B) You're not in Abbey Road.
C) You don't have George Martin around.
D) You don't have have some of the most inventive engineers of their time helping out.

I could go on.

There was a interview I read once that I swear was with Brian May though my memery of it is a little cloudy. Anyway, whoever it was supported Jimi Hendrix one night, and for one reason or another ended up using Jimi's guitar rig. They said that all it just continously produced feed back and a sounded bloody awful, yet when Jimi got up and played through exactly the same set up it sounded like Jimi Hendrix! The point being that having the same kit doesn't somehow allow you to absorb someone elses talent or instincts.

So in conclusion, be careful - don't believe the hype! Buy something because you've tried it and you like what it can do, not what you hope it can do!!!


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Brave New World?

How are we all? Everyone ok? Good.

I'm the proud owner of an iPhone which has become an intrinsic part of my life in the last few months. Indeed, I'm actually writing this blog on it! Amazing bits of kit. A couple of weeks ago I downloaded the Spotify app for the iPhone and also signed up for a premium account with them. I'm sure you all know about Spotify and if you don't then you should.

Anyways, the app only works if you have a premium account, which costs about £10 a month, and as I'm the adventurous type I thought I'd give it a go. The main feature for me is it's ability to cache up to about 3000 songs for a month, meaning that you can have your playlists available off line if you need it (on the underground, on a plane, up a mountain, etc, etc). For me that is definitely worth £10 a month and more importantly Spotify itself may offer a glimpse of the music industries future. Sure it's not perfect and I know there's some controversy about artist payments but as a starting point it is definitely worth taking seriously.

The thing about it that compelled me to write this blog is the customer review section for the app on iTunes. There are plenty of people singing it's praises but there seems to be just as many who are complaining about the 'rip off' pricing of Spotifys premium account without which the app will not work. The ferocity and venom that some of these reviews have really shocked me.

It seems to be indicating that there are a lot of people out there who believe that they deserve this service for free. Not would like it for free, but rather expect it for free. Are these people a minority? Has the the wonderful inclusive and liberal nature of Web 2.0 backfired and created a mindset where music as a commodity is worth less than ever?

I know this cultural battle is far from over but I do belive that sides are becoming more clear cut than before. I understand the pirate reasoning for doing what they do, but I do not condone it. On the flip side to that I think the mainstream industry has been desperately hanging onto the past when they should be the innovators. Maybe it's too late to turn this round or maybe it's just a cultural shift that will balance out in the end. I don't know what the outcome will be or most importantly what this means for the musicians who are valiantly sending their work into the ether in the hope of some reward, but I do know that when the smoke clears it will definitely be a very different world.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Keep on keeping on.

Hello world,

How are we today?
I've been trucking away in the studio with quite a selection of jobs this last week and a bit. We've had in Darling Bones, Nimmo And The Gauntlets, Jessica Grace and Alex Vald (a.k.a. Lextrical). I've also been getting the scissors out for a radio edit of Wild Palms forthcoming single. The engineering legend that is Tom Morris took the reins for a quick and dirty session with the band Deep Shit (yes that's really their name), and Pinna is currently accomodating producer/engineering team Weller Hill tracking drums for a band whose name I don't know.
Add to that a couple of voice over sessions and a bit of avant garde electronic noise sculpture for Dan Wilsons latest film project and there you have it.
Currently I'm enjoying a couple of rare days off, but no rest for the wicked as you can expect to see a new Pinna website very very soon. How exciting!
Also today I made a stand for common decency. Some 'youngsters' on the bus sitting behind me kept playing bad hip hop from their phone as loud as they could. So annoying. So I played Frank Sinatra on my phone as loud as I could. They stopped their music and I won a small, petty victory. Still tasted sweet though.

Till next time,


From the pen of
Kevin James Feazey.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Back in the saddle

Hey all,

Today I spent the afternoon working on a song for a new band project I've started up. I've been threatening to do this for years, and never quite had enough time. Or at least that was my excuse. Then about two months ago I started getting the itch real bad. Apart from a few bits of session work I haven't played in a full band since 2005 (I think). I've had a few attempts at writing some songs but nothing ever clicked, everything seemed a bit weak.
So today I got together with my friend Steve and we bashed out the structure for a new song and I can't believe how much I enjoyed it! As an engineer/producer I've worked with many different artists and many different genres and always thought that I was satisfying my creative needs but I realise now that I was kidding myself. I became an engineer through being a musician not the other way round and today I started to see all the creative possibilities that my studio has to offer. Even though I use this equipment every day it was only when I started thinking about the kit relative to my own music that I regained a lot of my enthusiasm for recording that i didn't even realise that I'd lost!
So I guess todays He Man morality lesson is to make sure you keep doing your own thing as well as your other work. Here's a picture of Steve to prove it all happened.

Ta ra then,


Posted from the future.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Today I was ill And not in the Beastie Boys sense of the word. Think i had eaten something dodgy. Haven't been ill for quite some time and it's not something I see myself picking up as a hobby. Anyway, feeling much better now so all good.
Been looking at the new Z Vex pedals, especially the Mastotron. If Zachary's demo video is anything to go by then this could be the pedal of my dreams. I'm so fed up off guitarists turning up at the studio with Boss Metalzones or Digitech Grunge pedals. Or even worse the dreaded multi-fx board!!! I'm sure all those products have their place it's just that I've never found it. Why would you want to sound like an angry wasp? Thank god for people like Mr. Vex and also Mr. Matthews over at Electro Harmonix who are still producing pedals that are interesting and don't take their selves too seriously. Ok, rant over.
Tomorrow I've managed to get a car for the day and am going to get the hell out of the city. The plan is to head for the sea and go from there. Feels like years since I was out of London. Am really looking forward to it as I haven't had an adventure in quite some time.
I only get one day away as Thursday is Silvery mixing day!!! Something I genuinely look forward to. The new album has a few more twists and turns than the last one. And flutes. Lots of flutes.
Oh and today I saw the smallest patio in the world.

Till next time,

Posted from the future.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

It's official!

That's right - I am officially the worst blogger in the world. I try to write something every week but it just ain't happening. So new tactic, I'll just write whenever I feel like it. Sometimes essays and sometimes mindless ramblings. Sound good? Ok.

Lots of love,

Posted from the future.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Testing testing

Just testing to see if I can blog from my iPhone.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

How to get your sound

Hello one and all. Sorry for being a bit late with this, I am trying!

This week I’d like to talk a little about a subject that is often overlooked and ignored by musicians (and often engineers) in the recording process and leads to a lot of wasted time in the mix and worse, a lot of unnecessary compromises. I’m referring to the art of knowing what you sound like. Before any session I talk to the band I’ll be working with and discuss what direction and overall sound they want to aim for. Invariably they will have a strong, definite vision of who they would like to sound like, but when they actually start loading the kit in it becomes obvious that they have no idea how to achieve that goal. The guitarist will want to sound like Hetfield but will only have a Strat and a Fender Princeton amp, and the keyboard player will want to sound like he’s playing a Steinway with a £30 Casio.

I believe that a lot of this comes from a lack of understanding of what The Studio is for. Yes, most studios will have an array of preamps, equalisers, compressors and the like with which you can beat your particular sound waves until they submit to your will, but wouldn’t it be better to use said tools to enhance your sound rather than mangle it into something it didn’t want to be? I’m starting the movement now - getting your sound at source is the new black!!!

For now I’m just going to be talking about electric instruments, as I think setting up acoustic instruments for your individual needs is something to be talked about separately another day.

The problem that I see most is when a musician wants a sound he’s heard produced by a hugely expensive pro rig. Invariably the penniless musician will only have the instruments and amps that he can afford, and usually these are nothing like what is required to get the aforementioned ‘expensive’ sound. What I propose is that you (the musician) should give in to fate, accept the equipment you have and it’s limitations and use it to your advantage. Sure you may never sound like The Edge or Jack White, but you will hopefully start to carve out something that sounds like you and nobody else!

The most important thing here is to not get frustrated. Frustration will lead to gear lust which will lead to spending money on kit you can’t afford, debts, jobs delivering pizza, and broken marriages, all to chase a sound that belongs to someone else. What you need to do is to sit down with the equipment you have and learn how to use it! I cannot stress this enough. Learn the sounds that your rig is capable of.
Guitarists - go through each pick up setting on your guitar. Roll the tone pot back and then up again. Roll the volume pot back and then up again. Try different combinations and take note what effect each change of setting has. Set the equaliser on your amp to zero and listen to what each knob does as you turn it up. Then try different combinations of eq, more bass less treble, more treble less bass. Crank the gain up, see how distorted a signal you can get from the amp. Is there a sweet spot for the gain? Listen loud, and (very important) listen quietly. What sounds good loud might sounds terrible quiet and vice versa.
You are now learning what your rig can do, what it is capable of. Forget what anyone else sounds like; just keep experimenting until you get something that you like. Certain combinations of settings will sound better to you than others and this will be the beginnings of your very own sound produced by your very own rig.
Keyboard players – learn what every setting on your keyboard does. Read the damn manual!!! Synthesisers often have hundreds of settings and you are going to have to learn them all. Sorry. What do the filters do? What do the oscillators do? Can you set the portamento rate? Can you assign settings to the mod wheel? Can you turn effects on and off quickly? If you are using a sampling keyboard do you know how assign and edit new samples? Most will have a display with menu functions, so learn what is buried within each sub menu of this. What does the sine wave sound like? The square wave? The sawtooth?

So now you should have a pretty good idea of what you can do with your rig, and what you sound like playing through it. Hopefully you will also have found a unique combination of settings that you feel good about. This, my friend, is what you sound like!
And as you now have an expert knowledge of what each component of your equipment does tweaking it should be a breeze. Does your guitar amp sound a bit dull in a particular room? You should know whether it’s the treble or the presence knob that needs turning up right? Are your synths oscillators slightly out of tune with the track? That’s ok because you know how to alter the tuning right?

All of this hard work will make your life so much easier both in the studio and live. You will be able to adapt your unique sound quickly and easily to fit in with other instruments and to be heard in a mix without having to be kicked through with a steel toe capped boot. And now all of the dark arts of the studio can be used to make you sound as good as you possibly can. No longer will microphones be placed with damage limitation in mind, they will now capture every facet of your dynamic performance! Equalisers will be used to sweeten rather than chop huge chunks of offending frequencies out. And compressors will help you to bounce along in the mix instead of keeping you in your place with a sledge hammer. Happy days and good times for all!


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Getting it together

Hello world!

Haven't been on here for a while,which is mainly due to my inability to organise my life properly. But all that is in the past now, and I have a new system worked out that will help me to blog more regularly. I call it a 'Calendar'. That's right folks i've invented the 'Calendar'. Once i've ironed out the bugs I might let other people have a go on it.

So from now on you should expect to see a new blog every week on either Wednesday or Thursday. If I slack off please feel free to shout at me. I highly reccommend subscribing via the RSS feed so that you don't miss out on my spectacular ramblings. And if you want to follow me on Twitter you can do so here. And there's more!!! Have you often said to yourself, "I wish I could actually see what Kev gets up to, ideally in 12 second bursts"? Well fret no more! Get your self over to my 12seconds channel and your wish will be granted! For those of you who don't know what 12seconds is, just go there and have a look as it sounds really dumb when you try to describe it.

So that's enough self promotion for now I think.

In other news i've been working with Lydia Lunch again. Her new band is now officially called Big Sexy Noise and you can get hold of the first e.p. here. It's only available on vinyl but i'm guessing when the full album is released there will be other formats. I'll let you know when it's all done and dusted, we're mixing it in July so should be out fairly soon after one would hope.

Polar Bear have been back in to finish of the new album sessions. You should check out my amigo Sonny's blog for more on that as it was his gig and I was just helping out. Bloody good stuff though, it was a joy to listen to. Not sure when it's going to be out, but keep you eyes open people!

Talking of which we managed to catch Acoustic Ladyland (whos share two members with Polar Bear) live at the Southbank centre last Sunday. They too have a album coming out and from the new songs I heard in the live set I would say that it will be well worth taking a punt on it!

And on that note, good bye!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Testing mobile updates.

1, 2. 1, 2.
Ovi Mail: Get mail on your mobile or the web

Testing twitter feed.

Is this thing on?

Multimedia message

Hello. This is a quick test to see if i can post from my mobile. It's like living in the future this!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow Fun!!

What a crazy week! I've had three sessions canceled because of the damn snow. They couldn't get to the studio which you can't blame them for as the transport system in and around London shuts down at the sight of the first flake. It's just mad to think that the UK can't handle some snow. I know we don't get much but it really shouldn't be this much of a shock when it happens.

Anyway, rant over. This week I should have been recording rhythm tracks for Massimo and doing some more editing on Rachels vocals for Rory Forsyth but alas that wasn't to be. I did manage to finish the mixes for Lydia Lunch which was really enjoyable. Lydia had returned to Barcelona so it was just the other guys (James, Terry and Ian from Gallon Drunk who are acting as her backing band) and me. Nice and raw, and a great lesson in resisting the temptation to overmix.

Finished off the vocals for Steve from datapuddles solo outing. Really good stuff. Very cool bluegrass track as well which was good fun.

Last weekend I had the mighty Silvery back in tracking three more songs. A bit more straight pop this time, well as straight pop as these guys get!! They should be huge by now so go check them out and buy the album Silvery - Thunderer & Excelsior. I'm not on points so don't think i'm trying to hard sell it:)

Right, that's it from me today. Short and sweet. I'll be back with more when the snow stops and the clients can get in:)

Monday, 26 January 2009

Where the hell are they?!?!?

This is one for all you studio owners out there. Where do you find your customers? This is something i've been mulling over the past few days. When Sonny and me set up Pinna we went the traditional route of website, print ads, web ads and flyers. The print ads had absolutely no impact at all, and neither did the web ads. None. Nada. Zilch. The website was getting some hits from Google but it was always low double figures at most.
Then we started to think - where is our customer base? We are not a shop front where people casually wonder past and pop in for quick bit of recording time. People do not browse through a music magazine and suddenly decide to record because of an advert. Putting an ad in a music tech magazine just advertises your services to other studios and engineers. We do not sell a particular item. We sell a niche service.
So I cast my mind back to my days as a musician and how we used to find studios then. The internet wasn't as big a part of peoples live as it is now so that didn't have as much relevance. We used the Yellow pages. So Pinna signed up with and sure enough enquiries started to come in. The other way we used to look for studios to record in was simple word of mouth. Now that's not quite as easy in a town like London, there are so many scenes going on and so many musicians it's hard keep track of. How to put the word out then? Well like I said we placed fliers all over Camden, Denmark Street, Central London and loads of venues and rehearsal rooms. We had a few hits from this but again not loads.
So how to contact a hugely disparate demographic? The internet is the obvious answer hence a lot of our time is spent optimizing our website, twittering and rambling on our blogs. This is pretty good fun, but still - is it enough. Web 2.0 doesn't work if people aren't looking for you in the first place!
Pinna is now at a stage where word of mouth has kicked in and most of our clients are either regulars or we've been recommended to them by one of our regulars but we are still keen to kick things up a gear.
We want to make great records for great artists, and we want to let everyone know! So how to do it??????

Answers on a postcard.

Or just comment below:)

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Cameras, Lunch and Puddles of Data.

Out of the blue I ended up recording a session with the inimitable Lydia Lunch yesterday. Should have got some photos but as usual I completely forgot. Very cool session - Lydia and a three piece band all recorded live, 6 tracks in 6 hours including set up. This is why I like to record live, once you get everything rigged the band can do their thing. Quick and definitely more vibey. Should be mixing it next week.
Datapuddle were in last week for a couple of songwriting sessions which are always fun. Lots of improvisation and strange noises. Very nice. And I did remember to take some photos!
If you want to have a look then you can visit my new flickr page here. I'm trying to take as many pictures as I can these days so if you want to check in now and again please do.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

No shows suck!

I was booked for a session today in the studio and guess what? The client never showed up! I went in on a Sunday for nothing. Man that sucks. But on the upside it was booked through a third party who I can still invoice, so I still get paid. Nice. Just sucked that I wasted a day. Grrrrr.

Friday, 9 January 2009

New Year, New Website

Well hello and Happy New Year to you all. Just a quick one today to let you know that my new website is up and running. I'll be adding more bells and whistles in the coming weeks. Enjoy!