Q&A #6: Brinley Hall

 

 

Brinley talks about his journey as a drummer, how he got into the habit of wearing socks during rehearsals, and why he chooses to ‘over-mix’ the snare when recording.”

 

LL: Thanks for agreeing to share a bit about yourself Brinley. When you joined YouTube, did you do so intending to create content?

BH: No problem! Yeah, when I first made my account it was to upload my first video, which was The Final Countdown, which now, inexplicably, has over 130,000 views!

 

LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing?

BH: I started playing drums when I was 11 in school. I had lessons until I was 13 learning the Trinity Guildhall Syllabus of grades, I learned a lot of the rudiments during these lessons. I got to grade 6 by the time I stopped. That’s where I learned the basics. I’ve never really had any books that I’ve learned from. I listen to a lot of music though so I developed from my style from my favourite drummers.

When I first started playing drums I was really into Jimi Hendrix and Zeppelin so I tried really hard to emulate Mitch Mitchell and Bonham, those guys are still my ultimate heroes. When I started doing covers I was massively into The Who and Muse so that was where most of my videos were based from. Towards the end of school I did my grade 8 exam and that was a nice bit of discipline which really helped to calm down my playing.

Now I’ve been playing in an originals folk act for a while my playing has calmed down even more and I’m pretty happy about it. I’m happy with the level of my playing at the moment. If I had to name one drummer that got me to where I am, I would say it would be between John Bonham, Jeff Pocaro and Mitch Mitchell.

 

LL: You mentioned you did two years of lessons from the ‘Trinity Guildhall Syllabus of grades’. Being where you are now with your playing, would you still want to go through that route?

 

BH: Yes! I believe that you have to have at least 6 months of lessons when you first start playing. Things like learning to grip your sticks properly, basic rudiments and limb independence are probably the most important. If you don’t learn this early you’ll end up with a lot of bad habits that will be harder to get rid of later.

 

 

LL: Can you give some examples?

BH: Stick grip is the main one. You see some people who have been playing for a long time still holding their index finger on the top of the stick and pushing down – who thought that was a good idea?! Lessons do help with a lot. I learnt to tune my kit and how to set things up so they are easy to play, and so I don’t break anything. You see a lot of drummers with their cymbals horizontal and 3 feet above them – that’s how you crack a cymbal!

 

 

LL: How do you think doing the grade 8 exam calmed down your playing?

BH: Before I did the grade 8 qualification, I had been teaching myself playing along to tracks for 5 years with no one telling me I was doing anything wrong (apart from the occasional hurtful comment on YouTube, which were mostly about my appearance rather than my playing).

When I started getting lessons for the grade 8 stuff, it was nice to have someone to say “no”. My teacher would stop me if I’d get distracted and make me play it again right. I think that helped me think a lot more about what I was playing.

Now when I play with my main band, I’ve actually got fills which I’ve written and use every time. Constant improvisation is only workable until it goes wrong somewhere important!

 

LL: Heel-up / Heel Down?

BH: I play heel up with both feet when I’m playing most music. If the setting is particularly quiet I will play heel down. It does depend on style. It often varies on the drum I’m playing too. If the kick is small and has a long sustain, I will avoid keeping the beater against the head after the strike has been made – this is easier to achieve with your heel down.

 

 

LL: Feet location on pedals: Would you have your feet closer to the edge of the foot-board (away from you) or not? Or maybe you’d go middle ground?

BH: I’m pretty sure I’m a middle ground player. You can see from that Wattershed cover where my foot lies. The faster the linear speed of the playing, the further back your foot comes is the rule, which is why some players use longboards (Gavin Harrison and Chris Adler both talk about this in interviews).

 

LL: In one of your videos it seems like you are playing with only socks for your feet. Has that always been a preference?

BH: My parents have always insisted on me taking my shoes off when I walk through the door. This meant I always was shoeless when I was rehearsing and it’s a habit that’s stuck. I play gigs with my shoes on, so it’s not an essential for me, just something I’ve got used to at home.

 

 

LL: With footwear (shoes during gigs, and none at home), do you think that influenced your choice of pedals?

BH: Not at all! I have a set if Iron Cobra doubles here which I use with just socks and you barely notice the texture on the pedals. I have a Sonor JoJo Mayer single pedal as well, which is completely smooth brushed aluminium. I find this pedal is easier to use with shoes as it can be a bit slippery with socks.

My choice of footwear is based on whether I can drum in them however. I always choose snug sneakers with grippy soles. I used to wear Addidas Low Riders but then the discontinued them – I was heartbroken. Now I wear Onitsuka Tiger’s and I love them!

 

 

LL: Are you learning something specific at the moment to augment your drumming?

 

BH: At this very moment in time, I don’t have a lot of time to practise my own drumming. We (Tom James) are rehearsing, writing and recording getting ready for a summer of shows and festivals every day. If I’m behind the kit (which I am at least 2 hours a day) it’s with a band!

Having just finished university (I couldn’t have a kit there) I’m hoping to get some more lessons on general technique as I feel I’ve become rather lazy with my playing recently. I also aim to work heavily on my music theory, which I am appalling at, and my bassist/guitarist/keyboardist/good friend Ed and I are planning on working through the electric guitar grades together too.

 

LL: Did you have to go out of your way to find musicians to collaborate with?

BH: I’m lucky enough to have been good friends and band mates with Tom since we

Photo: Brinley Hall   (Self-Portrait with Ed Sirl)  Editing: Leigh Lim

Photo: Brinley Hall
(Self-Portrait with Ed Sirl)
Editing: Leigh Lim

were 12. When he decided he would like to have a drum kit in his set up I was the first person he came to, which is nice. Another very good friend of mine, Ed Sirl,

also happens to be a great musician. He plays with Tom too, and me and Ed have played together for a very long time. His YouTube username is ThymeFlies42. On

that channel you can see a few full band covers me and him have done of our favourite bands.

Aside from my close friends, I have found it very difficult to find other musicians I connect with. At University I had a shortlived band which I really liked. See “Start Again” on my SoundCloud (www.soundcloud.com/longstandingdead). Unfortunately, time constraints meant none of us could commit to rehearsal so the band never got off the ground.

 

 

 

 

LL: In what way do you think working on music theory could make you a better musician?

BH: It will give me a better understanding of the way music works. It’s healthy to understand everything you are doing on a musical level, rather than just recognising things by ear, like I do.I’d like to get to a point that I can sit in with other musicians (whether in the studio or live).

Most of the time you’re given sheet music and would need to learn how to ‘sight read’ — and for me, I still need a lot of practice before I can say I can.

 

LL: How would you describe your generic kit set-up?

BH: The kit that I would ideally play all the time is a one up, two down set up. My set up is often very much like Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. He’s another big influence on me I didn’t mention before! Two Crashes, a china/ozone and a splash is fairly essential.

 

LL: With drum tuning, do you get pretty fussy?

BH: I tune by ear. I am fussy though. I like my drums to sing. I like a 3 or 4 second pure note decay so it takes a while to get to that tuning. For me, it’s a trial and error process as even though I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, I’ve had so many kits that I can’t remember what works for each kit!

Some live engineers hate ringy drums too, so sometime I have to tune a couple of lugs down to get a bit of pitch bed, which these guys tend to love!

 

LL: Did you only keep one kit at a time? (Can you talk about the kits you’ve owned in the past? The reason you bought each one, and when you decided that it is time to let go and find a new one?)

BH: Up until 2012 I only kept 1 kit at a time. I had my first starter kit – an Arbiter CB kit. Then I had a Gretsch Blackhawk, which I bought from my local music shop on recommendation of the owner. It was a great kit for the money and I loved it until I decided to make a big upgrade. I chose a Mapex Saturn because the reviews were so good. It was a lot of money for me at the time and it took 3 months to arrive. I loved that kit, it looked and sounded brilliant and went perfectly with my Blue Bell Ride. The kick was 24×20 however which was too big when I started playing with Tom. So I bought a Mapex Orion, which was great, and sold the Saturn. This only had two toms though, so I decided I should have two kits; a rockier kit and a Tom kit.

The Orion was my Tom kit and I bought a Highwood Custom Lite with 4 toms as my rockier kit. I had those to kits together for a year and I loved how different the kits were for different stuff. But I then fell in love with my Ultraviolet Sparkle Tama Starclassic so had to sell the Orions. Then I fell in love with my Birch Customs and had to sell the Highwoods. Now I have two kits which I love, and they are both great for different things. The Yamaha has a lovey 20×16 kick which is great for folky stuff and the Tama has a 22×18 which is great for rock covers which I do a lot.

I’ve also owned a lot of snares. I have 4 at the moment and I couldn’t get rid of any because they all sound great for different stuff. My Tama Warlord Masai is my favourite though!

 

LL: What are your ‘go-to’ mixing settings for the kit?

BH: Now I have Pro Tools, I generally just use the EQ and reverb presets which come with the package. On the kick, I scoop out a lot of the low end and add a lot of upper mid frequencies for the click. On Snare, I cut the low end and add a tiny bit of upper mid.

On the toms it’s a similar setting to the kick. Overheads get a complete high pass treatment and lower mid cut, and a slight boost in the top end. I add some snare plate when I’m recording full tracks. I instinctively over mix the snare in terms of volume. That’s something I’ve grown up with. If you listen to Toto tracks, the hats and snare are terrifically over-mixed. It sounds right to me!

 

 

LL: With your ‘go-to’ mixing settings for the kit. Were those a result of trial and error?

BH: They were trial and error. When I got my first mixer (and started using more than one mic) I didn’t know a lot about kit EQ settings so I googled “Drum Kit EQ Settings”. One website had a great table of different sized drums and which frequencies to boost and that really help me work it all out.

With Pro Tools you get a lot of EQ options post recording, so now I record everything pretty much dry and then sort out the EQ after when I can listen to it properly and sort out what sounds good. A real recording engineer would never do that, but in order to get a decent pre-record EQ you need a separate recording control room and someone to hit the drums for you!

 

LL: What did you use before Pro-Tools?

BH: When I was first doing covers, I used some free software called Audacity, which was great considering it was free. Then in about 2007/8 I bought Adobe Audition, which I loved, but then it was discontinued and Adobe switched off the servers which allowed me to switch the licence between my laptop and PC. At this point I decided it was time to update so I bought Pro Tools 11 on the day it came out in a student deal and I haven’t looked back, the quality increase was dramatic!

 

LL: Do you have advice to those still preferring to use Audacity?

BH: I haven’t used it since 2007 so I can’t remember a thing about it! I would say don’t use G-Verb!! You’ll be surprised with the increase in quality when you move to a bit of software like Pro Tools/Cubase/Ableton/Sonar.

 

LL: Adding snare plate? Do you do that digitally? Or just listen to the track and decide which parts you needed added, then just make a separate snare plate track?

BH: On every track I’ve recorded recently I’ve used a bronze snare 14×5.5 snare tuned low so it sounds like someone is getting punched. This snare sounds a whole lot more epic with a nice plate on it so I’ve just put the reverb Plug-in on for the entire snare mic track. I never used to put any snare plate on – as I said before I always over mix the snare so I always felt the plate stuck out too much. Now my mixing is improving I’m more confident with putting the snare right in the mix so the plate fits a lot better.

 

 

LL: When recording (no matter the software), how do you deal with latency issues?

BH: I’ve never had bad latency issues. When I first get a new bit of software or hardware I just work on the settings until the latency isn’t an issue anymore. I have the advantage of having very quick computers so there is virtually no lag when I’m recording. Firewire desks like the one I have the moment have no latency at all as the data transfer is so fast.

 

LL: Do you do much video editing?

BH: The videos which have been posted on Thymeflies42 (http://www.youtube.com/user/ThymeFlies42/videos) have all been heavily edited and there’s multiple camera angles. Ed has been in charge of the video on those and I’ve done the audio so I haven’t been involved with that. In terms of my own videos, my expertise extends as far as getting the video and audio to sync up, and sometimes I can’t even do that!

 

LL: Have you been using the same video editor since posting your first YouTube video?

BH: I have. I’ve used the windows XP version of Movie Maker since the start. It’s very easy to use and has so few functions I can’t get confused. I would like to make my videos more visually stimulating but I only own one camera so there’s not much point really!

 

LL: It was interesting to read in your message when you said: “I didn’t know anyone was still a fan on YouTube” — Do you mean that all YouTube users have generated their own content and that would mean they are no longer ‘fans’?

BH: I meant that I haven’t uploaded many videos on YouTube in quite a long time, so I wasn’t aware that people were still following me enough to want a Q&A session! It’s flattering!

 

LL: Are there artists that you absolutely dig, and are surprised that others haven’t heard of?

BH: YES! I am intensely into Arcane Roots, Vulfpeck, Theo Katzman, Natalie Duncan, Brother & Bones the olllam. Those are small bands though so I’m not surprised not many have heard of them. I’m in to Alter Bridge, and they’re not as popular as I thought they’d be.

 

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new music?

BH: I try my best to buy a new album a week. When the BBC series Later with Jools Holland is on I pick my favourite artist and buy their album. I discovered Natalie Duncan, Drive By Truckers and Ellie Goulding (before she was huge) though that show.

I read Rhythm Magazine too, which has album reviews. If something catches my eye in there I’ll try that too. I discovered Killer Be Killed and Messenger through Rhythm, and I’m big fans of them too. Otherwise I get recommendations from friends.

 

LL: Do you have a go-to site for new music?

BH: I download my music through iTunes for the convenience and I know that the money is going to the artists. I’d say YouTube is good for it. Because I watch so much music on YouTube I often get some suggested videos which lead me on to a new favourite band! That’s how I discovered Vulfpeck (great band) and UZEB (80’s legends). I have a lot of musicians on Facebook too, so a lot of good music is shared on there.

 

LL: Where do you go for inspiration? What do you do when you need to come up with a musical idea?

BH: I used to go out and sit on a bench on the coast when I loved in town, but I now live 2 minutes from the bench and I have the same view from my house (I am very lucky) so I don’t need to leave my drum room!

I’m not a great writer. I am good at matching my parts with other peoples, which is why I love playing in bands.

 

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

BH: I’m in the middle of exams in my final year of Uni at the moment so I haven’t had time to spend discovering new sites. I spend a lot of time on Facebook. The only site I can think of is Tickd.com, which is a meme site. I’m into it big style.

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

BH: I love it. I’m on most sites and I use them every day. Facebook is good for communicating with my friends and making plans, and there are loads of groups for buying and selling music gear. I have bought a lot of gear through Facebook. I’ve never been nervous about using social media, as long as you know your privacy settings, I haven’t found there’s anything to worry about.

 

LL: Are you interested in technology?

BH: I’m only semi interested! I’m not a big software guy. Music technology interests me greatly and I try to keep up to date with new innovations in that field. I’ve never been a computer guy past knowing about general information – I’ve never changed my RAM for example!

 

LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?

BH: Not really, I’m not as big a web surfer as I may look! My bands website is nice and clean – tomjamesmusic.co.uk

 

LL: Website that you would go to when you need cheering up?

BH: Tickld it has to be for this one too!

 

LL: With your videos, are you looking to upload the same kind in the future? Or are you looking to do different things?

BH: As I said earlier, I’ve recently just been doing full band covers with my friend Ed. I think these have a bit more value than just straight forward drum covers because you’re doing so much more. Having said that, I just uploaded a new drum cover! It’s of a Bruno Mars track where there were no drums originally, and I played bass, so I feel there is more value here as well.

 

LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favourite?

BH: My cover of Anastacia – Left Outside Alone. I think it’s the tightest video I have up!

 

LL: For someone watching a video of yours for the first time, what is the message you’re hoping they’ll take with them?

BH: Since last year I’ve been hoping that people seeing my videos for the first time think “Wow, he’s really tight”. I also always hope my playing comes across as musical. I try to listen to parts and play something that fits rather than play all over it. I also like to think people will be impressed by the audio quality on some of my videos.

If anyone was inspired to take up drums or start producing their own content because of one of my videos, I would be very proud.

 

 

 

 

Brinley Hall is a drummer based in Cornwall. You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form below. He currently performs with Tom James and also collaborates with his long-time mate Ed as a duo (Ed and Brin). Brin welcomes jam invitations, recording inquiries (remote session work), and gear recommendations (or questions!).

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May-July 2014) between Brin and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Brin that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me an option of putting up your message.). And I’ll aim to get Brin to post the answer to your question here!
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome. 🙂
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads.

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

  • Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry (The Quote Jar: Five) including quotes from the names Jim mentions.
  • How about checking out all the other Q&As?

 

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.

The Quote Jar: Four

Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry including quotes from various sites and publications from the web. Clicking each of the links will open a new window containing the full article or video (if publicly accessible).

The names below were mentioned by Jim Bryan during his Q&A.

I’ll be playing a song every night live and I’ll think it means whatever I think it means to me and then Pat will tell me what it’s about and I’ll be like, “Really? You just ruined it for me!” – Jimmy Stafford, Train (Marie Claire)

 

“I hate to use a corny analogy, but [with] a sports team, people always credit their coaches because their coaches push them to be the best players they can be. It’s the same thing with music.” – Chad Gilbert, New Found Glory (Alternative Press)

 

“I wanted to find a way to put that out there in plain man’s language to let people know that there is hope out there.” – John Taylor, Duran Duran (Guitar World)

 

“We use DR strings. 40/60/80/100 in gauges. Avalon preamps. I have a switching unit that switches between basses, made by a British electrical engineer called Pete Cornish.” – Danny Quatrochi (Singing Bassist)

 

Notes:

  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.

🙂

 

Q&A #5: Jim Bryan

 

“Jim shares his journey as a bassist, why he prefers headphones as monitors when recording, and how using Pandora led him to Blake Shelton.”

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Jim! Thanks for agreeing to share a bit about yourself. Looking at the videos you have on YouTube, at the moment it is geared towards different artists. What are your plans for the next videos you’re going to upload?

Jim Bryan: I mainly do covers of songs I enjoy, sometimes more popular songs to get some extra views! I do take requests and have done a bunch of them in the past. I’m currently working on covers of Train, Cutting Crew, and a few others.

LL: What were the last two requests you’ve gotten?

JB: The first was New Found Glory – Constant Static which was done recently… and The Airborne Toxic Event – Timeless that someone requested so they could learn how to play from my video.

LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing?

JB: I started playing about 5 years ago. The very first thing I started doing was looking for tabs online of my favorite songs, from there I looked up how to position my hands properly and read various books/online lessons for beginners.

I eventually got into music theory and scales but I still have much to learn in that regard. Practice, practice, practice!

 

LL: Just five years playing? Amazing progress! Are you surprised as well as to how far you’ve come after 5 years?

JB: Not really surprised, I put a lot of time and effort into practicing and learning the instrument.

 

LL: Has the time you spent practicing during the last five years changed?

JB: I never had a set amount of time to practice, I would always just pick it up and play, sometimes would get really into it and learn more than one song at a time and just play for hours and hours.

 

LL: What is your warm-up / practice routine like?

JB: My warm up is usually just running up and down the fret board a few times for about 5 mins. After that I’m usually ready to go.


LL: Was there something specific that you wanted to learn that you struggled with?

JB: I struggled with learning the song Rio by Duran Duran. It’s a really difficult song and has you moving around nonstop for the whole duration. What I did was go really slow at first to learn the different riffs of the song.

I usually break a song into different halves and learn them one at a time. Such as an into, pre-chorus, chorus and outro. After playing it over and over I eventually got the speed and dexterity to play the song and I then did a cover.

 

LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never played before, so they could have the capacity to play at your level and skill. What would it look like?

JB: I would recommend to get a music teacher if they have no musical experience. Learning to play on your own is really hard and it would be nice to have someone that knows a lot to help out from the start. Everyone is different, so it might come easier to some people than others.

 

 LL: What’s part of your guitar arsenal at the moment?

JB: I mostly use the brand DR for my bass strings, they are currently my favorite since they have a nice sound and tend to last longer than other strings I have tried. I have a bunch of old picks my dad used to play with but I really just use my fingers to play.

I have an Ibanez sr600, Squier vintage modified 70’s jazz, dean edge 09 (my first bass), yamaha rbx a2. I use a Sansamp bass driver DI as my main pedal going through a Behringer BXL450 amp.

 

LL: What’s the story behind each bass purchase?

JB: The first bass I bought (Dean Edge) was a beginner practice bass, it was cheap but I just wanted something to start learning. After that one of my friends said he was getting rid of a bass (Squire Jazz Bass) and if I wanted it for a good deal. So, I said heck yeah I’ll take it!

He then later on sold me his other 2 basses (Ibanez sr600 and a Yamaha) since he wanted to focus more on electric guitar playing.

 

 

LL: What are the tell-tale signs you watch out for to remind you that it is time to change strings?

JB: The strings will start sounding dull and the sound won’t be as bright, a good rule of thumb is to change them for bass every few months or so.

 

LL: Do you have a Maintenance and Storage routine for your bass guitars?

JB: I keep 3 of my basses on a guitar stand, when I’m ready to play I grab one and start jamming. I do wipe them down often and I use Tone Finger Ease spray to keep the strings sounding bright. When changing strings, I really wipe the fret board and make sure it’s clean.

 

LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the gear that you like?

JB: My friend recommended I try DR strings and have been using them since. It did take me a while to find out what guitars I like, since there are so many different kinds/brands out there.

 

LL: In what instances would you use each of your guitars?

JB: I like to use the squire for slapping since I have the strings higher just for that reason, and I use my Ibanez for most other things since I put the strings really low.

LL: Did you do the set-up for all your basses?

JB: I did eventually change the bridge height/truss rod adjustments etc. That wasn’t until I’d been playing for a few years though.

 

LL: Did you change the bridge height/truss rod (adjustments etc.) because the bass felt different to play?

JB: I messed with those adjustments mainly because of sound and making it easier to play. Making the strings higher lets me drop the tuning of the bass really low without having the strings sound muddy and out of tune since I don’t have a 5 string bass.

Having the strings really low is easy to play since its less stress on the fingers to press down, so I have different basses set at different string heights etc

 

LL: What would your advice be for a bassist confused about the array of choices?

JB: It will take a while to find strings you like, so try as many as you can, and the ones you like stick with them! I would say buy a beginner bass package that comes with a bass and an amp, straps, picks everything you need to get started. After a while of playing you can then upgrade and shop around to see what’s best for your style of playing.

 

LL: Description of your playing style?

JB: I tend to keep it simple with a few fills here and there. I prefer playing with the fingers on my right hand since I feel I have more control over the sounds that I can make with the bass. I do use a pick sometimes but I’m not very good at it.

 

LL: What’s next for your playing? Are you working on something specific at the moment to spice up your playing?

JB: I’m not working on anything specific at the moment, and am happy with where I’m at. There’s always room to improve and as long as I play everyday, I’m always getting better.

 

LL: Have you specifically worked on something because of a suggestion from someone watching your videos?

JB: Yes, I have people leave suggestions on songs to cover or sometimes an easier way to play a part in a song.

 

LL: With your recording equipment, what are the current specs you use?

JB: I use a Sansamp bass driver DI plugged into a Behringer BXL450 amp that connects to the back of the soundcard of my computer.

 

LL: If you didn’t have a DI what would you be using?

JB: I’d be using a Digitech brand pedal that I keep in the closet just in case.

 

LL: I noticed that your earlier videos (like this) had the bass with a similar volume level to the music. Your Later ones have the bass playing a more prominent part, in your more recent videos — music seems to be 60% less volume than the bass. Was there a specific reason you decided to have that approach to audio?

 

JB: Back then I was using different programs and audio settings etc. I think that people watching a bass cover video would want the bass louder so they can learn how to play by hearing and seeing what I’m doing. If the music is too loud they might not be able to hear what I’m playing.

 

LL: Was there a specific reason you wanted to use headphones for monitoring (In your videos)?

JB: Since I use headphones for PC gaming its easy since they are right there to pickup, and also so my neighbors don’t hear me rumbling at 3 am.

LL: Do you have multiple headphones?

JB: I actually just bought new headphones and I am switching to them for recording/gaming also. They are Steelseries Siberia V2 USB.

 

LL: For gaming, are you partial to specific headphones?

JB: I usually use Plantronics or Steelseries

 

LL: Have any of your headsets/headphones ‘die’ on you?

 

JB: I break headphones A LOT, I just bought a new headset because my older ones broke haha

 

LL: Do they break the same way?

JB: Not all of them break the same way, it depends how they are made and the quality of the headset itself. It’s usually the wires that get yanked out or one the ear pieces loses sound. They usually last 6 months to a year. Sometimes longer if I’m really careful :p

 

LL: Yanked out!? Are you also guilty of walking away from your computer and forgetting that you are wearing a headset?

JB: Yeah i do that all the time, also if I step on the cord while Im standing up the headphones get thrown off my head

LL: Are there artists that you absolutely dig, and are surprised that others haven’t heard of?

JB: Incubus, Silverstein, Blake Shelton, Black Label Society, and many others

 

LL: Blake Shelton!? Interesting! So different from Incubus, Silverstein, and Black Label Society. Is it because Blake did Footloose?

JB: I just heard a song of his on Pandora that I really liked, I think it was Sure Be Cool If You Did, after hearing that one I went on Spotify and listened to a bunch of his hits that I now like.

 

LL: Was the song a suggestion from Pandora?

JB: Yes it was from Pandora

 

LL: Are there songs/albums that you cannot get enough of?

JB: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory album by Oasis I listen to that A LOT at work.

 

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

JB: Reddit, Youtube

LL: Are you interested in technology?

JB: I’m very interested in technology. It’s what has helped me get my bass playing on the internet for others to see and enjoy.

 

LL: Your YouTube Channel Banner looks great — is it one of your creations?

JB: I had one of my friends whose a graphic designer help me out with that one. I gave him the idea and I thought what he came up with looked awesome.

 

LL: Would you be open to ask your friend if he would be open to credit?

JB: Sure, his portfolio is at http://simplybiscuit.com/

 

LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favourite?

JB: Velvet Revolver – Slither. It was a fun song to learn for sure.

 

LL: Have you collaborated with other artists?

JB: Yes, and I have actually done that a few times. I met a few people and we made a few songs together over the internet just recording our own parts and mixing them with audio software.

 

LL: Still open to do collaborations in the future?

JB: I’d collaborate with anybody, it’s such a fun experience!

 

 

 

* Jim Bryan is a bass player based in Wilmington, Delaware. You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form below. Jim welcomes messages containing collaboration ideas, bass cover requests, the name of a cool song you’d like to send his way, and other gamers wanting to connect (his Steam username is Dramacyde5 and his Facebook page is here).

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May-July 2014) between Jim and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

 

Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)

 

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Jim that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me an option of putting up your message.). I’ll aim to get Jim to post the answer to your question here!
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads.

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

 

Interested in reading more?

The Quote Jar: Three

Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry including quotes from various sites and publications from the web. Clicking each of the links will open a new window containing the full article or video (if publicly accessible).

The names below were mentioned by Scott Brahniuk during his Q&A.

 

 

“I never actually had any particular desire to be a pianist!” Ludovico Einaudi (Dots & Dashes)

 

 

“For us, how amazing it’s been that Friday Night Lights has kind of served as this megaphone for our music and our name. And people who have never seen us and don’t know what we look like, they know what we sound like because of the show and because our name is connected to it. So for that we’re forever grateful.” – Munaf Rayani (Interview Magazine)

Notes:

  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQ&A’!

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

 

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.

 

Q&A #4: Scott Brahniuk

 

 

“LOL along with Scott as he talks about his journey as a pianist, the decision to use VST to augment his sound, and looking forward to the Moto 360.”

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Scott, thanks for giving your time to do a Q&A. Are your videos a mix of requests and ones you like?

 

Scott Brahniuk: Never been asked to do one before so it should be fun!

Almost all of the songs I play are ones I like but some of my personal friends have requested a few that I’ve played. I’m definitely up for song requests just never get any lol If the song is challenging to learn I’m up for that as well unless it’s something way too difficult for me.

I spend so many hours looking for good songs so receiving requests from people would be a nice break from the hours of searching I do sometimes lol

 

LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your playing?

 

SB: I’ve never had lessons on playing piano, all self taught. Right away I started learning songs and making my own songs as well, I never learned scales or chord names. Luckily when I first started it felt pretty natural playing and I have such a huge passion for it so I was very determined to learn how to play.

Back then I was also only working part time so I was probably playing 3-4 hours every day so after a short amount of time I was learning songs in a few hours when people who have been playing for a few years would still be struggling to play it after practicing it for over a week.

 

LL: How did you go about doing that? Learning without learning chord names. Were you going by ear? Or was it more memorisation? And you just eventually understood what sounded good, then…was able to work from that and do your own songs?

SB: Pretty much learned a lot by ear to begin with, I feel like watching lots of people play on YouTube helped. So when I finally got my first digital piano I had a general idea of where to start.

Also memorisation is probably a big part as well since I don’t read sheet music I heavily rely on my memory. I played bass for about 8-9 years and after awhile I just got really bored and that’s when I decided to start to learn piano.

 

LL: Any chance you’ll be doing a bass-piano video in the future? (with the right song and inspiration)

 

SB: Absolutely! Lately I’ve been thinking about dusting off my bass and maybe doing some videos.

 

LL: What is your warm-up / practice routine like?

SB: For warm ups usually I’ll play some of my favorite songs or I’ll just play and maybe come up with something that sounds good, and if it is good I’ll turn it into a song! lol

 

LL: What’s next for your playing? Are you working on something specific at the moment to spice up your playing?

SB: Sometimes I like to use other instruments to spice things up. I have a ton of VST programs so I can make my digital piano sound like drums/guitar/cello/violins, pretty much any instrument so if I feel like doing something different I have so many different sounds to really changed things up.

Right now I think I’m happy with where I am now but in the future I’ll probably try to learn how to read sheet music/scales and all that but for now I’m getting by just fine without that knowledge.

 

LL: Can you expand more about the VST programs you have? What’s the set-up like?

SB: So when I play piano you’re not actually hearing the sound built into the digital piano, I use a VST host program called Cubase and use programs that work with it. For piano I use Synthogy Ivory II and Synthogy Ivory II American Concert D.

Pretty expensive programs but I use them because they sound amazing and you can really create any type of piano tone/sound that you want which is great because some songs I want a softer tone or maybe something with more of a punch. I also use L.A scoring strings for cello/violins. My digital piano has a midi in/out which is how I connect it to my computer to get these sounds.

 

LL: How did you hear about each software? (Cubase, Synthogy, LA Scoring Strings – LASS) Were they used by the people you watched on YouTube?

SB: I heard about Cubase by searching on Google for different music production programs. For LASS/Synthogy Ivory II I found them on YouTube, usually I search for things like ‘best piano vst’ or ‘best cello vst’ and try to find ones that sound the best.

I’ve spent countless hours looking for new programs and sounds to use [and] always looking for something better. It takes a lot of time as there [are] sooo many different programs [but worth] it when you find the perfect ones that you need.

 

LL: What would you recommend to someone who’s interested in getting into VST and making the most out of it?

 

SB: For someone who is getting just getting into it I would recommend starting out small, there are lots of free VSTs that you can use and you can get a feel for how you can customize them. I also recommend Cubase, very easy program to use, never had any issues with it. Also if you don’t have a high end PC download Asio4all and it will help if you have latency issues.

 

LL: What’s your recording process?

SB: For software I pretty much covered it just above but for video editing I use Sony Vegas 11. My digital keyboard is a Yamaha Arius, I can’t remember the exact model number but it was one of the entry level ones I would say, it costs about 1,200. After my wedding in August I’ll be able to afford something better lol but for now it’s great. The camera I used is a Canon EOS T3 Rebel bought it a few months ago and before that I was using a pretty basic video camera. I don’t do much mixing, usually I find a piano tone that I think will be good for the song then I record it and that’s it.

Something maybe I should look into more maybe, adjusting audio levels etc..could be fun lol the one annoying thing about when I record is because the audio that I used get’s recorded into the computer so I’m not using the audio track from the camera which means I have to manually sync the audio to the video track which doesn’t take too long but it’s extra work lol

 

LL: Do you use the Canon EOS T3 Rebel for photographs as well?

SB: I bought the Canon mainly for videos but every now and then I’ll take some photos, usually of my cats lol.

 

LL: Taking pictures of your cats?

SB: Pretty much, my cats are always there and are pretty cute so it’s easy to take pics of them lol

 

LL: Some of your videos have maybe 30-40% less volume than the others…for example: Winter Night compared to Into The Fire. Was that intentional?

SB: Ah yes! the audio issues lol I recently found out why some are much more quiet then others. During the intros for my videos some time the audio for the intro is too loud and what happens is the program actually lowers the audio for the entire video by quite a bit. Now I realize that all I have to do is lower the audio for that one loud track that way once it’s rendered it’s not going to be 30-40% lower

LL: Is that a Cubase quirk?

SB: So the audio quirk is from Sony Vegas, when I render it from Cubase the audio volume is still good. I need to start paying more attention to when I render them from Sony Vegas, usually I just upload them right after I finish with Vegas without checking them lol.

 

LL: Piano Maintenance and Storage?

SB: For me piano maintenance is pretty easy as I use digital pianos so I don’t have to worry about tuning them. Storage wise I have a “Man den” lol as I call it, that’s where I keep all of my equipment.

 

 

LL: Are there artists that you absolutely dig, and are surprised that others haven’t heard of?

SB: Ludovico Einaudi and Helen Jane long are my favs for piano. I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t know Giovanni Allevi who which I really enjoy as well, he’s not quite as known as the others but his music is amazing!

Outside of piano music, lately I listen to Rage Against The Machine, Killswitch Engage, The Black Keys, Explosions In The Sky.

 

LL: Are there songs/albums that you cannot get enough of? (or ones that you listened to multiple times)

SB: Absolutely! some songs I can just listen to over and over again. ‘Your Hand In Mine’ by Explosions In The Sky, it’s such a beautiful song and never gets old to me. ‘Aria’ by Giovanni Allevi another great piano tune that I really enjoy. ‘Welcome Home’ by Coheed and Cambria. I could go on for a very long time but I won’t haha Music to me is very important so I [have a] massive list of songs I love.

 

LL: Does that mean you have a massive music library as well? (A mix of digital and physical libraries)

SB: Yeah I got a decent music collection, I try to mainly keep the music that I really like so it’s not too cluttered. Mainly all digital files, I’ve got no room for piles and piles of cd’s lol.

LL: Were there “piles and piles” of CDs at one point?

SB: Never really had too many cd’s. All of my bookshelf space is dedicated for video games :p

LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new music?

SB: I definitely go out of my way to discover new music. When I’m looking for new songs I grab my tablet, headphones, and search for new songs on YouTube. Usually I type in stuff like ‘top ten favorite piano songs’ or ‘sad pianos songs’ — stuff like that. Sometimes, I spend over an hour listening to different songs trying to find ones I really like.

 

LL: Do you have a go-to site for new music?

SB: Go to site is YouTube, just do lots of searches to find new songs.

 

LL: Where do you go for inspiration? What do you do when you need to come up with a musical idea?

SB: For me inspiration comes from a few different places. Sometimes listening to my favorite songs will light the fire or sometimes depending on my mood will give me lots of inspiration as well.

Sometimes after watching a movie like Transformers, I get in the mood where I want to make something that sounds really epic and powerful or other times if I’ve had a bad day and am feeling down I’ll sit down and write a sad piano song.

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

SB: I remember when my sis first asked [me] if I had a Facebook account and my response was “What the hell is Facebook?” lol Definitely was reluctant to join, I enjoy social media and don’t have much against. I’ve tried to get into using Twitter but I never end up using it lol

 

LL: Really!? When was this (When you asked your sister about Facebook)? Do you think the reason you aren’t hooked (or at least a regular user) compared to others, is you haven’t found the upside of spending time either on Facebook or Twitter?

SB: My sis first told me about Facebook when it first came out, because it was something new I think I was hesitant about it. I think if I got more into joining groups and posting more I would probably get into it more. For Twitter yeah just never really seen the upside to it, but then again I never used it long enough to find a upside lol

LL: What are your favourite sites at the moment?

SB: Favorite sites at the moment are N4G.com good site for keeping track of gaming news/IGN.com another favorite gaming site of mine (I play a lot of video games lol) Aside from those the only other sites I use are Facebook and YouTube

 

LL: Are there times when you find gaming competes with music for your attention and time?

SB: Gaming definitely competes with music, I have a Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U so that takes up a lot of time lol. Yup! even when I first started learning piano I was big into gaming, I’ve been into it since I was pretty young. Usually I try to create or learn a new song on my days off from work.

 

LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?

 

SB: Hmmm can’t think of any sites that I like from design, usually I’m more looking at the content of the site.

 

LL: Website that you would go to when you need cheering up/inspiration?

 

SB: If I need cheering up I’ll go to YouTube and listen to papa’s got a brand new bag, can’t be sad when listening to that song lol Listening to songs on YouTube is probably the only website I go to for Inspiration.

 

 

LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists?

SB: I’m always up for collaborations, I’ve done a couple with some fellow YouTubers but not many. Definitely looking to do more in the future.

 

 

LL: Other than VST, Are you interested in technology?

 

SB: I’m very interested in technology, I try to keep up with what’s new in the tech world. Lately Smart watches have my attention, Can’t wait to get my hands on the Moto 360.

 

LL: Your Channel Intro Clip — is that one of your creations?

SB: For my channel intros I find templates online and customize them, definitely do not have the time to make my own from scratch lol

 

LL: With your videos, are you looking to upload the same kind in the future? Or are you looking to do different things?

SB: Right now my videos will probably stay the same style for now but I’m sure that will change in the future.

 

LL: If you were asked to pick from the videos you have, which one would be your favourite?

SB: My favorite video would be For Samantha just because it’s one that’s very important to me.

 

 

 

* Scott Brahniuk is a pianist based in (Nanaimo, BC). You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form below.

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May-July 2014) between Scott and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee before being posted.

 

Leigh Lim is Mini-Bio Photoa musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)

 

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Scott that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me an option of putting up your message.). I’ll aim to get Scott to post the answer to your question here!
  • Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads.

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

 

 

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.

The Quote Jar: Two

Following each Q&A session I post a separate entry including quotes from various sites and publications from the web. Clicking each of the links will open a new window containing the full article or video (if publicly accessible).

The names below were mentioned by Liina Vokk during her Q&A.

 

“Why don’t you just do it right the first time?” – Paul Reed Smith (Harmony Central on YouTube)

“Kids are the same. They still need the same things that we need. They need to know, even though they won’t say it, that they are important. And they need to know that we are proud of them.” – Carlos Santana (NY Rock)

“Yeah, I think I am really a perfectionist, and ideally I always want to be in the studio for nine months. I also have realized that doesn’t necessarily make better music.” – Ólafur Arnalds (Interview Magazine)

“Often the answers to so many things are right there if you ask enough questions and search for them.” Richard Branson (Blog)

 

Notes:

  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Let me know!
  • Q&A Suggestions (individuals or groups) and feedback (specific or general) are always welcome!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA’!

Pick one of the forms below and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you can use the ‘leave a comment link’ below.