Q&A #28: Gabriel Öberg

 

Gabriel shares his journey as a composer: How playing around with looping software grew his interest in creating his own music, not letting his lack of mixing/mastering skills keep him from finishing projects, and the importance of playing live.

Leigh Lim: Hi Gabriel, thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A! While on your Instagram feed, I noticed that the posts are mostly videos. Do you find that posting them ensures you don’t procrastinate?

Gabriel Öberg: Hey Leigh! No problem, it’s always rewarding and fun sharing your process to hopefully help and inspire others! I mainly upload videos because it’s essentially what my music is designed for Plus, I personally think videos are more enjoyable to watch than photos.

 

LL: Why do you think you do the things you do?

GO: Well, the simple answer is because I love what I do. Being able to find a way to make a living out of what you love is a dream for most people. Having that as a driving force gives me more than enough motivation to keep going, no matter how tough and exhausting it is at times.

LL: Can you give a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are as a composer?

GO: it started when I was a kid and got a demo of Ejay, which is a very simple program where you just drag and drop loops. That sparked my interest and eventually, I got into more advanced programs. From that point to where I am now, all my skills and knowledge come from just sitting and creating songs digitally. So, to sum it all up, creating music all the time is how I got to where I am as a composer.

 

(Editor’s note: A link of Ejay has not been provided as the site has tested positive for malware)

 

 

 

LL: Would you say that it was the looping software that got you into piano?

GO: Maybe not the looping software. But definitely music software piqued my interest, it all started with drawing midi notes to make a melody, which made me want to learn the piano and eventually guitar as well.

 

LL: Do you have specific books that you keep within reach that you regularly refer to?

GO: Not really. I do have “Oblique Strategies” that I use sometimes if I get stuck for whatever reason. The tips there are slightly abstract, but it can help to shift your perspective on things that helps me often. For more specific problems I’d say just use Google or YouTube. There is a lot of really great and helpful content all around us.

LL: Are you referring to the card deck from Brian Eno? (I’m keen to hear about a specific card from the deck that helped you tackle what you were stuck on. And yes…if you can include how web searches have helped you get unstuck and how you ended up deciding to purchase the deck!)

GO: Yes, exactly! The more abstract ones have helped me the most, when I’ve been completely stuck and need a new perspective. One good example is “convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element”. Or “what wouldn’t you do?”. Things that can put a spin on your entire approach can always be helpful. Regarding YouTube searches, I have no good examples. I just use that for a specific problem, like how a certain synth is made, etc.

 

 

LL: Were there any challenges that come to mind during your learning process?

GO: I’ve always struggled with mixing and mastering, probably because it’s on the technical side and I am not a technical person. And, since I am an all in one producer, it’s hard to keep track of everything sometimes since I do everything at once.

LL: Do you find the ‘everything at once’ approach gets things moving for you compared to doing things linearly?

GO: It’s the workflow I’ve developed over the years. I would not recommend it to anyone though. I think it’s better to have a linear workflow. A creation phase, then a mixing and mastering phase. It’s a bit chaotic doing all of those at once, but it works for me since I rarely have a clear vision for a track to begin with. It all shifts and changes while I’m working.

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

GO: That’s a very tough question. I do think that everyone has to go through that hard journey, to find out if they really like it. But regarding music, there are so many paths. But if I were to decide, it would start very simple. I’d share a lot of music, with different mixing styles, compositions, genres and emotions and work on an individual level from there.

LL: Artists are known to be very protective for their work. What would you say to someone who can’t seem to let go, and share their ideas/work — while it is in progress?

 

GO: What I’ve learned from being in this business, which I think can be translated into all of the music business is that you have to take some distance away from what you’re making. It’s just a song. You’ll make so many more songs in your lifetime. Stop being selfish and afraid of being judged, and share your unfinished (and finished) work to the world is what I would say to them. Everyone will have a different opinion on your songs, every single time. All of us are struggling with doubt when it comes to our work, you’re not alone.

 

 

LL: How important was it to have someone help you learn a specific technique?

GO: I’m completely self-taught when it comes to music. I did have a teacher that inspired me in different ways but it didn’t really change my overall thoughts on music. What he did, though, was introducing me to Sigur Ros, a band that everyone in the entire world should check out!

 

LL: In what way would you say you are self taught?

GO: I just jumped into a program with both feet and learned that way. By just experimenting and creating. Eventually, I got pretty good at it and could make my very own song. So all my learning came from just listening to a lot of music and loving creating. If you love doing something, you will learn about it automatically.

LL: Would you say it was discipline that got you to where you are as a composer?

GO: As I said before, it was only really the love for music that made me who I am today. The discipline came out of that love, no matter how hard it’s been. Sometimes I’ve thought of giving up, but I can’t stay away.

LL: Is there a specific time of day you enjoy working?

GO: Early morning or late at night is where I get things going.

 

 

LL: Have you been always mindful of ergonomics when you sculpt your compositions?

GO: Honestly, not at all. Never even crossed my mind.

LL: How much do you plan before you start a project?

GO: I rarely ever plan anything, I usually come up with an idea on the spot, which turns into a song.

LL: What usually is the sign you look for that will give you the signal that it’ll be the take/version you like?

GO: It’s always about the song. If something I record isn’t perfect, but it fits for the song, then I’ll go with it. If a certain take makes your song a lot better, no matter the imperfections, then use it. There’s always a certain point when your track can be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5% better, that’s the point where you have to let go. Let someone else listen, listen to it in a weird speaker. Realize it’s just a song and move on. It’s never, ever going to be perfect, neither for you or for anyone else.

 

LL: How long would you say it takes, for you to complete a recording?

GO: I usually have a track done in a regular workday (so 6-8 hours), but it depends on the scale of the song and arrangement required. Some tracks take longer, some I have finished in 1 hour.

LL: How would you describe your creations?

GO: I’d describe my creations as heavily emotional, dynamic songs. The core of my songs is always to convey a clear emotion, and mostly I tend to do the melancholic or the euphoric ones.

LL: What are some misconceptions you find about you as a composer?

GO: Well, I guess it’s the misconceptions that everyone makes about the things they don’t understand: The enormous amount of time and the energy that goes into it all.

LL: Are you learning something specific at the moment?

GO: I’m always learning. Right now I’m looking more into the dynamics and placements of orchestral strings, as well as mixing.

 

 

LL: Can you share three approaches you take that helped you become a better artist?

GO: Distance yourself from your work, do not take what you do too seriously. Be curious about everything regarding music, it will help you. And finally, don’t forget why you do what you do.

LL: What’s your go-to set-up?

GO: Reason (my DAW) and my Nektar Panorama Keyboard is my setup when I’m creating a song from scratch.

LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the kind of set-up that you like?

GO: Not really. I’ve always been based on software

LL: So, your current MIDI controller, that’s something that you didn’t really have to research?

GO: Well, I did research what MIDI controller would work well with my DAW (Reason), and I found the Nektar. I’m not playing live, and have no plans for doing it right now so I only care how well the controller works when I’m composing.

 

 

LL: If you were to start with scratch to build the gear that suits you best, do you think you’ll end up with the same thing?

GO: Yes. I’d end up with a simple computer and Reason, maybe a cheap midi keyboard too for convenience.

LL: Do you think the rule of thumb for DAW use (gaming laptop specs: which would be at least 16 GB memory with an i5 processor), is too much for a workstation?

GO: It all depends on how big and demanding your projects are. I like to upgrade my workstation pretty often so that I don’t have to worry about that. But you can easily make a great song with a simple workstation.

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

GO: No warm-up, I just get up and do the work!

LL: What’s next for your projects?

GO: I’m working with different music libraries that keep me busy pretty much all the time. But when I have some time over, I like to try different creative techniques within my DAW, like weird sorts of processing, genre mixes and so on that hopefully gets me started on a new song.

 

 

LL: How do you maintain your gear?

GO: I don’t, but I’m trying to get better at it.

LL: Has any of your equipment undergone customisation?

GO: I’ve colorized my acoustic guitar some times. Other than that, no.

LL: Do you have a piece of equipment (or software) that you thought was a good buy at that time, but you eventually didn’t use it as much as you hoped?

GO: I’m very careful about that, especially software. So no, I haven’t purchased any software that I regret.

LL: Any learnings you’ve picked up through the years when playing live?

GO: I recommend every musician to play music live, even if it’s not in front of an audience. You learn how to communicate your ideas in a new way which is very helpful, especially if (like me) you’re always alone when making music. Getting an idea through in a way that other people can understand is very beneficial because you have to remove all the fluff. And, of course, getting inspired by other people’s ideas is always good for you.

 

View this post on Instagram

#photography #light #artwork #artist #producer

A post shared by Gabriel Öberg (@gabrielobergmusic) on

 

LL: Do you keep an archive of your work?

GO: Yes, I keep a backup of all tracks and project files. Since I’m selling my songs to music libraries, it might come a day when they want something to be changed or whatever it may be, then you have to be prepared for that.

LL: What I noticed when uploading videos on Instagram is that not all formats are accepted. Did you also struggle to find a way to upload video that has audio properly mixed? (Or are you looking to build more content on your YouTube channel as you can upload ones that go for longer?)

GO: Indeed I did, it took some time to figure out what formats work for Instagram. But now it’s all good. I could upload more on Youtube, but I really like the Instagram format. You only have one minute, which means you have to make that minute count. I like that, and I enjoy consuming that sort of content.

LL: Can you share a bit of background on how some of your videos came about? (You can choose your own, though I’m particularly keen on hearing about: ‘Reverse Piano’ and the process you went through with the audio. Did you flip the video then grab the audio? Or did you just slow down the video then overlay the processed audio?)

GO: Most of my videos are used as a way to showcase what I’ve been working on. Almost every time I record audio I take out my camera and film it. Regarding the reverse piano video, I just recorded myself playing. When I looked at it later it didn’t really grab me, so I tried reversing the video and I thought it sounded and looked cool and interesting. The audio is ripped straight from the camera and processed with lots of reverb and some tape saturation.

 

 

LL: What approach do you find is the best way to serve your listeners?

GO: Be humble, service minded and grateful that people find value in what you do.

LL: Are you looking into constantly tweak your site for yourself as a composer?

GO: I try to, but making new music is what takes up most of my time and it’s always my highest priority. Like with most musicians, marketing and self-promotion are definitely not my strong suit.

 

LL: Do you have a regular schedule of posting entries?

GO: Not really, although I try not to take too long between posts. I mainly post something if I think it’s good content. But ideally, you should be posting at least once a day.

LL: Were there instances when you hesitated about posting something?

GO: Almost every time, haha. I always have that voice in the back of my head saying: “no one is gonna care about this, why even post it?”. But now that thought is actually what encourage me to post it because I’m mainly doing it for myself and try to not take it too seriously.

 

LL: What’s the one thing you have to put time on —- but have been putting off?

GO: The marketing and business side of music, it always kills all my inspiration. But I’m learning one step at a time.

LL: Are you currently mentoring someone?

GO: Nope, and I never have. Maybe I will in the future, who knows.

LL: What do you do when you come across something that annoys you?

GO: It depends on the problem. Spending time fixing a problem is almost always a good investment of time I think. Like fixing a certain thing in a mix, a certain synth sound etc. But some problems are just not worth it, then you just have to let it go.

LL: Are there certain things you can’t help but ‘geek out’ about?

GO: I have pretty good knowledge in all fields regarding music, so I don’t have a certain field where I’m extra passionate, skilled or geeky. Which is both a strength and a weakness, I guess.

 

 

LL: Got any peers you’d like to mention? (Basically a chance for you to say to readers of your Q&A: ‘Hey, you’ve got to check these musicians out!’. Also I’d be interested to hear about something you’ve come across that has really inspired you — or a specific approach that a peer is doing…that made you go: ‘Whoa! I’d like to try that!’)

GO: Julius Wallenberg is a great composer and producer who makes music similar to mine. N-S makes some super cool techno and edm stuff, I recomend him too. Regarding what has inspired me lately, I would say the techniques by Mick Gordon has inspired me lately. He uses a simple sine wave and manipulates it with lots of different kinds of distortion. A technique I’ve had a lot of fun with.

LL: What were the last 5 things you pre-ordered?

GO: Oh, I never pre-order anything. The one and only thing I’ve ever pre-ordered was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PC.

LL: Are you a big listener of music?

GO: I am, but not as much as I should be. Constantly looking for new music is always a good investment, but I tend to fall back on the same old music that I love. My favorite band of all time is Radiohead. Other bands and producers that I take major inspiration from in my music right now are Sigur Ros (an Icelandic post-rock band which is also one of my favorite bands), Jon Hopkins (electronic music producer), Mac Quayle (tv-series composer) and Mick Gordon (video game composer)

 

 

LL: What are you reading at the moment?

GO: A book called “The Art Of Mixing”, which is student literature I should have read about 8 years ago.

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

GO: Always, whether it’s new genres or approaches to mixing and sound design. I recently found a Youtube channel called Sonic Scoop that has a lot of great mixing masterclasses.

LL: In what way do you approach motivation and inspiration?

GO: Watching other people create almost always gives me motivation. Also finding new music that you haven’t heard before can spark some ideas in your head. I usually get inspired when I can’t do anything about it, like when I’m not in my studio or at home. So if I’m feeling uninspired I usually go for a walk, I just find it easier to get ideas going when you don’t have your tools around so to speak.

LL: What makes you smile?

GO: First thing that come to mind is the movie “In Bruges”, a favorite of mine. Many scenes in that movie make me smile. Definitely check it out!

 

 

LL: What’s your view about social media?

GO: Personally, I’m not a big fan of the shallow climate on social media. The spamming of fire emojis on every post just to get clicks. But due to how extremely saturated everything is, I totally understand why that is and I’m a part of it as well. It is what it is, and it’s necessary to grow your brand.

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

GO: Splice.com is my favorite site at the moment because I can always find inspiring loops and samples there.

 

LL: What would you do when you need cheering up?

GO: I usually watch a comedy or a stand up show. Memes are also a good instant joy injection.

LL: Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists?

GO: Sure! Although I don’t do it that much currently. It’s always inspiring and rewarding letting someone else apply their ideas and thoughts on your work or vice versa. Even though the product isn’t always great, I feel like I’ve learned something new every time I collaborate with other musicians.

 

 

LL: Are you interested in technology?

GO: Can’t say that I am. I love new software and instruments that I can create something musical with, but the actual technical side doesn’t interest me that much. My computer is built by my friend, and contains an i7-7800X @ 3.50 GHz, 32 GB of RAM and some 2.5 TB of disk space split between some SSD’s and other drives. The software I use is Reason (DAW), Izotope Ozone 8 for mastering and Hitfilm Express for video editing.

LL: With your Instagram posts, do you have specific subjects that you go through a rotation of?

GO: Yes, I try to. I love posting snippets songs that I’ve made in different types of genres, or different spins on some recording technique etc. Keeping it varied is very important to me.

LL: If you were asked to pick from the entries (either a post or video on Instagram or elsewhere) you have, which one would be your favourite?

GO: I think it would be this one [using a violin bow on an acoustic guitar]. I’m very happy with the sound and melody I got from the guitar. I don’t know, it just makes me kinda uplifted.

 

 

LL: Are you the type of person that finds it easy to start something? (For example, you are hit with an idea — then within a couple of hours, you have written up a plan on how to make that happen. Or at least taken the first step! Or are you more of the person that waits until the idea is pulling you urgently before making a move?)

GO: Definitely the first type. I can get things going very quickly, and I rarely stop and plan things out. I work best when I just go for it without a solid plan.

LL: For someone listening to your work for the first time, what is the message you’re hoping they’ll take with them?

GO: I’m always after emotion and atmosphere when listening to music. And it’s pretty hard to pinpoint where that comes from. It could be from a certain chord progression, the sound of the synth that plays those chords, a vocal melody, or maybe just the ambient sounds and fx behind the actual song. And I always try to create that with my music, a mood that makes you feel uplifted and inspired (mostly).

LL: What makes your soul sing?

GO: Music, obviously. Good movies, video games, meditation, cooking are some things that gives me energy.

LL: What’s the best way to connect with people who admire your work?

GO: Can’t say I have that many people who admire my work since I currently just make music that’s aimed at supporting other mediums. But I think the best way is to always answer everyone who has taken the time to comment on your work, no matter in what form.

 

 

LL: Have you found your tribe yet?

GO: Can’t say that I have. I’ve always gone my own way, and I’ve met and worked with a lot of inspiring and talented people. But I can’t say I “belong” anywhere.

LL: What kind of opportunities are you looking forward to?

GO: Hopefully just getting some bigger projects and more clients. I really hope I get to do an actual custom soundtrack for a movie, that would be super cool.

LL: In what way do you enjoy helping others?

GO: Creative help, new perspective and new ideas are my favorite type of help to give. As i have mentioned, I’m not a technical person. So helping out with those sort of things isn’t as rewarding, but I’ll of course do it if it’s needed.

 

LL: Looking back through your journey, are you amazed at what you’ve accomplished so far?

GO: I’ve grown a lot as a musician and as a person, but I don’t like to look back too much. I’m very proud of some things I’ve accomplished, but I still feel like I’m in the middle of journey so I haven’t really reflected on that.

LL: How can we support your work?

GO: Following me on Instagram @gabrielobergmusic is more than enough if you want to support me! You’ll find more information If you’re interested there.

 

 

 

 

 

* Gabriel Öberg is a composer based in Borås. See things though his eyes via his Instagram feed. If you have any business suggestions or feedback on his tracks, he’ll welcome the news via email as something that can spark a creation is always fun! With that said, collaboration is also something he’ll welcome (as in the past he has been the one who has reached out and would be delighted if the reverse would happen).

 

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (January – October 2020) between Gabriel and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.

Leigh Lim is a Sydney composer helping brands get their mojo back. When she is not doing that, she can be found spending time through various rabbit holes (offline and online) or sniffing out stories for a music discovery project.

Notes:

  • If there are things that you’d like to know about Gabriel that should be included, please do leave a note (opting for your question to be displayed publicly gives the opportunity to share your request with the WNE community as well as giving Gabriel the option of answering).
  • Corrections and additional information: Spot one? Please reach out here!
  • If you share a quote from your favorite Q&A on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag ‘#WNEQA‘!
  • WNEQA is also on Facebook! 🙂 In the feed you’ll find related readings from past Q&As as well as curated posts to help artists find new ways to engage with their fans.
  • This post has been tagged so it could be considered for Long Reads.
  • To lock Leigh in to be involved creating your own Q&A/FAQ (for your home on the interwebs or your next book), contact her or fast track your request here. 🙂

Interested in reading more?

  • Following each Q&A session a separate entry (The Quote Jar: Twenty Seven) is posted that would be a companion piece to Gabriel’s Q&A.
  • How about checking out all the other Q&As?

First time visiting the site? Highly recommended you take the time to check this out!

** For feedback and comments that you wouldn’t mind displayed publicly, you’ll have to publish it on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook then reach out to me directly to send the link, once I receive it, I’ll embed your feedback or comment!

*** If you are unable to log-in through any of your social media platforms using this device, and would not like to lose this page, you can use this:

🙂

Q&A #8: Dean Wuksta

 

 

“Dean shares his drumming journey, being on YouTube, and his approach to mastering.”

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

DW: I started on ice cream containers and bamboo sticks. I’d sit in front of the TV and watch the morning music shows and play along. Got a drum kit for xmas which was snare, kick, one cymbal (no hi hat) and began playing real drums at age 8. Six months later got my first gig playing at my school dance, and a family friend gave me a hi hat. I’m left handed, but my friend told me to play right handed so it will be easier in my career if I need to play other kits, which it definitely was.

I played to vinyl records for many years and just tried to copy what I heard, no lessons. I began lessons to read drum music at 15, and also learnt about rudiments, mainly the double stroke and the standard paradiddle. I used ‘Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer’ and ‘Syncopation’ by Ted Reed.

I also had some books by Frank Corniola and several others, mainly concentrated on funk styles, lots of left hand ghosting patterns. I also went to live clinics, watched videos, hung out and watched other drummers all the time. I have always spent most of my practise time playing to music, and use it as a metronome while I go thru stuff i wanna work on, like fill combinations, rudiment applications etc. And even more so lately, I love to get lost on youtube and watch other drummers, its an incredible resource…taught me loads since 2006.

Seeing Buddy Rich on TV as a child blew my mind, I didn’t know it was even possible to play like that, and he’s the reason why I investigated rudiments, particularly the double stroke roll.

Then while still at school, I heard of Vinnie Colaiuta through some Frank Zappa recordings, Steve Gadd, Toto’s drummer Jeff Porcaro (particularly the stuff he did with Bozz Scaggs and Steely Dan). Later it was Dave Weckl, Manu Katche, Virgil Donati (which inspired me to play double kick in the late 80s, but I have since lost interest).

LL: Heel-up / Heel Down?

DW: I’m ‘heel up’ on kick and hats, but sometimes my heel is also down on hats, depending on what style I’m playing, I often go heel down on jazz type stuff, or lighter funky stuff, but I’m not really conscious of it, I just find myself doing it naturally.

 

LL: Drumming Shoes?

DW: When i was a kid (like 12-16) I would do gigs at weddings and have to wear a suit and good shoes, I tended to slip my shoes off during sets. My dad (who drove me to every gig) said it looked unprofessional, so I got used to leaving them on. Now, I always wear shoes, thin rubber soles are my preferred shoe, but I will play in whatever…it’s very easy to get used to, and you def get more power wearing shoes.

 

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

DW: My generic set up is a basic 4 or 5 piece kit, 2 crashes, one ride. less to set up, the better. I’m using a Pearl Session series maple 10, 12, 14, 20, 14” by 7” Evetts blackwood snare.

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

DW: I have a good selection of Zildjians, Paistes, and Sabians. My normal set up is Sabian 17” thin Crash, Sabian 16” thin crash, and 20” Rude ride, or 20”Paiste Big Beat as a ride and Zildjian 14” new beat hats. I use Vic Firth 5A wooden tip sticks, I have a Pearl World Series 14” chrome snare, Mapex maple piccolo 13” snare and the Evetts 14” X 7”

 

Photo: Dean Wuksta

Photo: Dean Wuksta

 

LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the kind of set-up that you like?

DW: Not really, I find it a bit laughable when drummers are so particular about their set-up, I spent so many years playing other peoples kits on stages, and sometimes i barely got a chance to adjust anything, there was no time.

I’m def much happier with my own kit, but I will play whatever, preferably with some time to adjust heights etc to my liking. I’m sure drummers in famous bands get fairly spoiled and have everything within a millimetre of perfection, but no, I’ve never experienced that kinda luxury.

LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide?

DW: No, I will take notes to practise if it’s a particularly hard arrangement, but I generally prefer to commit it to memory.

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

DW: I’ve never really done it, I like what Buddy Rich says, he reckons his warm up routine was to take his hands out of his pockets, I concur.

 

LL: In your videos, you seem to be light-handed — as opposed to other drummers who seem to really lay it into the kit and cymbals. Would you describe your playing style as ‘drumming with a light touch’?

DW: I do use a lot of force with my wrist but at a low level, but I also play differently depending on the gig, but I do prefer a lighter touch.

 

Photo: Dean Wuksta

Photo: Dean Wuksta

LL: On your CD Baby page, there is a note that you played all the instruments yourself. Can you touch on your journey with the different instruments you play, and routines to ensure you don’t get ‘rusty’ in any of the instruments?

DW: In high school there was no drum teacher, and no drums, so I learnt guitar. I had already been playing drums semi pro for years, so I thought another instrument would good to learn.

Over the years I’ve taught myself bass and keyboards, but I don’t consider myself anything but a drummer, I know enough on those other instruments to write songs and communicate ideas…so it’s come in handy having a basic understanding of every instrument.

LL: How did you build up your bass and keyboard playing? (Were you going for being able to play a particular song?

DW: With bass guitar, I kinda got thrown in the deep end because of a school production. We had 2 drummers for the school production in year 9, I had always played drums so I decided to give bass a go, the student that had taken on the bass had problems learning the songs.

Being a drummer I already had a sense of what the bass guitar does in terms of following the kick drum, and I had already learnt guitar and could read music, so I didn’t find it that difficult. Once I learnt a few songs I began to really enjoy it, so kept practising.

I do not consider myself a great bass player, but I can figure out most songs and copy them by ear. With keyboards, I also never had any lessons, I have an understanding of basic music theory so I can work out where to put my fingers to make basic chords, but only well enough to add simple parts to my original songs.

 

Photo: Dean Wuksta

Photo: Dean Wuksta

LL: YouTube has a very interesting approach to copyright — how do you find it? I ask because I came across one of your videos (Custard Pie) and noticed that the audio has been muted. Was it a case of not having the words: “Led Zeppelin cover” in the video title? Because you’re other video (linear 16th triplet) had the ‘guide track’ details in the ‘about’ section of the video, and the audio of that wasn’t blocked.

DW: Yes, that was annoying, and not the first time that has happened. I generally take a chance and hope for the best. If it becomes blocked, that’s okay, I’m not really that bothered, just a small waste of my time.

I have posted covers of loads of songs, but I don’t monetize them, just my original music. I’ve been a youtube partner for a few years.

LL: What monetising options are you going with (with YouTube)? The information page mentions there are three options. Can you comment on your experience with being a YouTube partner?

I applied to be a partner and got accepted a few years ago. I do not know what the deal is, I just monetize the videos that contain just my music or drumming, and youtube places ads on them. They used to send me a cheque from google but now it is deposited directly.

LL: Before putting your original music up on YouTube and CD Baby, what things did you do first?

DW: No, I never really put any research into where to place my songs on the net, like YouTube etc. I realize the chances of people using my songs without permission is quite high, as has happened in the past. Or people write to me and ask for permission.

But as far as making money these days on the net, it is very difficult, even for big stars, so much music is being downloaded for free. This is the reason why bands tour so much now, the income from recording sales is not what it was.

LL: Is there a specific reason you decided to go with CD Baby rather than itunes to carry your music?

DW: Not really, I use iTunes and CD baby, I think CD baby offers a better deal, and it seems to be popular with indie type artists. I have my music on other sites also.

LL: Did you have to jump through a few hoops to get your music on iTunes?

DW: I actually uploaded a track to CD baby (I think) and it automatically appeared on iTunes. I don’t know how that happened, maybe I accidentally ticked a box or sumthing when I was uploading, I have not ever specifically uploaded to iTunes.

LL: What’s the average amount of takes per video?

DW: That varies, sometimes it’s done by the first take after I practise it. But then sometimes it will take 5 or 6. Not usually because of major mistakes, but usually because it just sucked a little. I don’t think I have ever uploaded a perfect video to YouTube, I tend to play better when the camera isn’t rolling…I dont mind recording the audio, but the filming thing puts me off.

I’m not an extroverted person, quite the opposite. The fastest I could do a video, 5 mins for recording (if I got the first take) then mixing it on the movie software takes about 30 mins…so yeh, about 40 mins from start to finish.

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

DW: I use Pro Tools 7.4 software with a 002 Digidesign rack recording at 24bit/44.1 using about 10 mics on the kit. I have a sony HD camera which I set to highest resolution. I import video and pre-mixed audio into Magix movie software, bounce down to quicktime for upload.

My studio PC is very old, single core PC, 4 Gigs of ram with XP. My video editing is done on my Aspire laptop, windows 7.

LL: Have you previously used another recording/mixing software?

DW: Yes, I had a Fostex 4 track recorder, then I got an Akai DPS12i which was a 12 channel all in one digital recorder. Then I moved into Pro Tools.

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

DW: I have a template set up in pro tools. My go to settings are eq on everything, compression on kick and snare (I might use a slow attack and release on bottom snare mic, adds an interesting fatness) I sub the whole kit to an auxiliary channel, more eq and compression.

I don’t eq heavily, and often it’s more destructive than additive, trying to control low mid frequencies and spill without using gates. I believe the kit should sound pretty decent without any eq or effects, otherwise, I look at tuning and mic placement. I also add a little reverb, which I like the Waves Renaissance Reverb.

Photo: Dean Wuksta

Photo: Dean Wuksta

LL: Can you walk me through your mastering process?

DW: Once again, I believe to master properly you really need to out source. But when I make ‘fake’ masters, I use waves eq, L2 limiter, and Izotope. I mainly use destructive eq, pulling out the low mids, I use the exciter in Izotope and a little of the maximizer, and then I add the L2.

I go for an RMS level of around –10, I feel trying to compete with commercial loudness levels is dangerous, but my mixes aren’t too far off. I still retain dynamics, and most of what I do is usually streamed on the net, so no need to try and push loudness.

LL: Would you say you spend more time editing or mastering a track?

DW: I spend a lot of time mixing and editing my music, a song may take me half a day, but for YouTube, I spend very little usually. Often it’s just a pre-mixed playalong song that I might drum to and ake a video, and my drum template is set up, so there is very little to do. If I’m mastering my music, I will spend days and keep doing listening tests…but for YouTube, I just chuck an L2 Limiter on the master fader, mastering done!

I have done multiple camera videos and spent a lot of time editing, but my movie software isn’t very reliable, freezes up all the time, wont play etc…so I keep everything very simple. I may look at changing the way I do things in the near future because I do enjoy film editing, just don’t have the gear to do it reliably.

 

LL: Also, I’d like to link to one of your videos. Which one would you say is either your favorite, or the one you’d regularly send if you were asked for a video?

DW: ‘practising linear 16th triplet phrasing‘ — my favs change regularly, but this is the one I have featured on my channel at the moment.

 

LL: Thanks for your time Dean, to close our Q&A session, are there any particular people who you’d like to reach out to you?

DW: Yeh sure, I have done cover suggestions before, and I have also done collaborations in the past too. I welcome questions or even just chatting about drums in general.

I also have some subscribers who send me videos for advice, and i have also made specific videos explaining fills etc that have remained private, just for the benefit of the one particular subscriber.

 

 

 

Dean Wuksta is a drummer based in Rockingham. You can find his videos here and some of his collaborations here. and can reach him through the form below

 

Photo: Dean Wuksta

Photo: Dean Wuksta

 Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May-August 2014) between Dean 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 Dean that I have not covered, please do leave a note (using the second form gives me the opportunity to put up your message with the option of getting Dean to answer).
  • 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: Seven) that would be a companion piece to Dean’s Q&A.
  • 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.

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.

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?

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.

Q&A #3: Liina Vokk

Liina shares her journey as a guitarist/composer, her initial (and current!) preference for PRS Guitars, love for Olafur Arnalds’ compositions, and how useful tempo can be during a first-aid course.”

 

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

Liina Vokk: You’re very welcome! Thank you for your interest! I really appreciate that. 

As I’m focusing on writing new music, I think it will be some of my own compositions and I really would like to make music videos for them as well. But I will definitely take requests on songs, that would be a great challenge.

 

 

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

LV: I started out by playing some Pop and Latin songs to accompany my singing. I did it all by listening and playing what I heard. In the beginning I didn’t have any kind of system – every song I learned was a whole new universe. Later I learned about the chords and scales which make up a system and it made songs much easier to remember.

 

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?

 

LV: Hm… it’s quite hard to put together some universal plan, because everyone is different and what works for some, might not work for others. Therefore I’d really suggest a good teacher, but first and most importantly – listen, listen, listen! There’s no better learning material than the music itself.

Listen and try to produce the same sound. If one’s really interested in becoming to know the guitar, then I’d suggest this book “A Modern Method for Guitar” by Willliam Leavitt. It really covers a LOT, from the very beginning to advanced level of guitar playing.

 

As for the whole journey, I’d just say if you feel that it’s your path, then go for it and be willing to sacrifice. There’s hell of a lot work, but every second you put in, pays off when you’re finally able to play the music and share it with the world.

 

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

 

LV: I play PRS Custom 22 Semi-Hollow and all the details on the guitar are original. For a long time I used D’Addario Chromes but recently switched to D’Addario EXP 9s. The picks I use are self-made, usually from plastic cards but also from wood (Juniper).

 

LL: Was there a specific reason you switched from Chromes to EXP 9s?

LV: Yes, I wanted to try a bit brighter tone and also more flexibility in melodies (bending for example). I am happy with the sound they produce.

 

LL: And why Juniper?

LV: Besides the fact that Juniper wood does not break easily and has very strong and nice aroma, it’s a bit spiritual thing too I guess. The island where I grew up is mostly covered with junipers and a lot of souvenirs are made from it. I thought why not make guitar picks too.

 

LL: Is there something specific about PRS guitars and the specific one you have (PRS Custom 22 Semi-Hollow) that drew you to it?

LV: At first sight, the looks of PRS Guitars were the thing that got my attention 😀 It made me [look] deeper into what’s beyond the hot design and curious how they would sound like and they sound even better than they look! I was looking for warm tone and a bit acoustic-like, airy sound and I think the semi-hollow model was the best option to suit my needs. Another criteria I had was that the guitar must be light weight, because I myself am pretty light weight as well 😀

 

LL: Interesting point about guitar weight! Would you say your guitar weighs as much as an acoustic?

LV: I wish someone made electrics that light! It’s a bit heavier though, but somewhere about 3 kg.

 

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

LV: Not really. I trust my intuition about these things, it hasn’t let me down yet 🙂 It’s important to have an idea of how one wants their instrument to sound like. Otherwise you could try different gear forever and still be unsatisfied.

LL: What sound did you have in mind? (you mentioned that “It’s important to have an idea of how one wants their instrument to sound like”) And does your PRS tick all those boxes?

LV: As mentioned above, I think my PRS together with my effects has all I look for in a guitar sound – a lot of air, rather warm sound, little delayed. I’m pretty much of a nature-person and coming form a small island, surrounded by the sea and the winds, I just feel it’s my sound 🙂

 

LL: What effects are you using at the moment?

LV: At the moment I use Hardwire Delay DL-8 and Boss Equalizer GE-7 when playing live gigs.

 

LL: How about adjustments (headstock/bridge/nut), did you have anything done? Or did the PRS feel great as soon as you picked it up?

LV: PRS original parts feel just right, I have only adjusted the height of the bridge and strings.

 

LL: Did you have help (a guitar tech)? Or did you do the adjustments yourself?

LV: I am very grateful for my guitar teachers and fellow guitarists who have explained how to do these adjustments, so I was able to do those myself.

 

LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide?

LV: It depends. I always prefer to play without any notes whenever possible. The most important thing during a gig is to be very relaxed. I know that the music is all there – in my head and in my fingers – I just need to keep my muscles relaxed to let them be guided by the music in my head.

 

 

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

LV: I always start my day playing the acoustic – some chord Arpeggios, Etudes (I love Bach) and then some Standards or Latin tunes. On the electric I do some Chromatic exercises, different rhythm patterns and end up my warm-up with improvisation on a scale I’m currently working on. That’s the basic routine, about an hour long, that I try to pull off every day. After that I rehearse for any on-going project as long as it takes.

 

 

LL: Description of your playing style?

LV: I like to keep it very simple, even minimalistic. To me, most of the music happens between two notes. I also love to use delay and reverb effects for the same reason – it creates some kind of space or environment where all separate notes become one idea.

 

Photo: Liina Vokk (Self-Portrait) Editing: Leigh Lim

Photo: Liina Vokk (Self-Portrait) Editing: Leigh Lim

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

LV: I’m working on my own compositions at the moment, trying to find the right sounds and energies to them. As for spicing up my playing, I’ve been listening to a lot of Santana’s music lately – such strong melodies and the clarity of sound. That’s the idea where I strive for.

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

LV: I’d say the first thing to do is to define your perfect sound, whether you want to sound like some of your guitar heroes or something abstract like “I want to sound like the wind”. Then make yourself familiar with as many choices as possible (find information, try, explore). And when it feels good, it’s good. There should be no effort in playing your instrument, it should come as natural as singing.

 

 

LL: Would you say you have a long reach with your fingers? (With guitar, usually what stops other people from attempting to learn — or improve, is the struggle with complicated chords. Would you say you have a bit of an advantage? or did you struggle with getting past it too?)

LV: Luckily, God has gifted me with rather long fingers, but it doesn’t mean I can take complicated chords with no practice. Actually, it’s not your fingers that play the chord, it’s the whole hand, starting from elbow, and one should pay serious attention to overall playing posture and especially to the position of the wrist.

I’d say start with simple chords and get some guidance from a teacher to avoid health problems with hands. In the end it’s really all about how you play it, not what you play. Sometimes less is more.

 

 

LL: Do you have a Guitar Maintenance and Storage routine?

LV: I don’t have a specific maintenance routine for my gear. I clean my guitar when it’s dirty and get stuff fixed when needed but it’s really very random. I like to keep my things compact so it will be easy and fast to just grab my guitar when I want to play.

 

 

LL: Is there something specific that you wanted to learn (a song or technique) that you struggled with?

LV: In the beginning I struggled quite a lot with getting my rhythms tight. I really worked hard with 16ths and all the funky stuff and at some point it seemed impossible. But I kept (and still keep) going because I don’t want any barriers to my playing – I just took things slowly and tried not to beat myself up about it much.

Now I can say I’m pretty confident about rhythmic stuff. Sometimes you need to look at things from a new perspective. Most of the struggles come from the way of thinking, not from the technique.

 

 

LL: Your Guitar Lick video  — is that from a gig? (Did you upload it because it’s your favorite lick?)

 

LV: I was just jamming one day and came up with this one that I liked. I didn’t want it to get lost in the depths of my computer’s hard drive, so I decided to upload it. Hopefully it’ll become a full song one day 🙂

 

LL: Can you share more about the creation of the video of “It’s Going To Be Alright“?

LV: This video is made with a small Canon camera and it was shot on a ferry going from Muhu island in Estonia (where I live) to [the] mainland.

The music has a funny story actually. It was made for a first aid training course to practice doing heart massage in rhythm, so it had to be in this specific tempo. Later I found this video I had shot earlier and thought they’d work well together. I used Logic Pro X for the composition.

 

LL: What an apt title for music in a first aid training course. Has the song been used in a first aid related video as well?

LV: Haha, yeah, that would be interesting to see 😀 I wish they had filmed the course, but I’m afraid they didn’t. At least I haven’t seen it.

 

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

LV: When recording at home, I use M-audio Fast Track Pro where I can just plug in the guitar and play. In the studio I like to use additional microphones near strings for more acoustic sound, but the main signal is going through DI-box to the preamp.

 

LL: How important is it to have a DI-box in your set-up?

LV: It is very useful when recording in a studio, as you can play through it instead of amp and therefore have more cleaner signal to modify later in a program. Of course, one can use it together with amp too, it’s just my own preference at the moment.

 

LL: Before putting your original music up on YouTube, what things did you do first?

LV: With those songs that I’ve uploaded I haven’t done anything complicated, just write some tags and a brief description.

 

 

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

LV: From guitar players I really dig Baden Powell who I discovered this year, that’s a shame I haven’t heard of him earlier. My absolute favorite composer at the moment is Olafur Arnalds who, besides his own albums, has also written great music for films. I often wonder that many people haven’t heard about him. He has very unique style and the music he writes is absolutely beautiful.

 

LL: Did you first come across Olafur Arnalds because of a film that you like (Olafur did the score)?

 

LV: Actually, I think I found [Undan Hulu (The Cello Song)] first which wasn’t even from a film. I even played it at live with a pianist and myself playing cello part with e-bow. Unfortunately there’s no video of it.

* Leigh’s Note: You can watch a performance of ‘Undan Hulu (The Cello Song)’ by Ólafur Arnalds and Paul Grennan here.

 

LL: Any plans of playing the song live again? (and maybe recording it)

LV: I haven’t had a chance for a gig like that again (together with pianist), but when something comes up, then that’s definitely an option 🙂 Such a beautiful song.

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

LV: As mentioned above, Olafur Arnalds’ – Living Room Songs is one of these albums I could listen to forever. And Joao Gilberto of course, his albums have the most hits on my playlist.

 

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

LV: I recently started to use more twitter, so it’s my favorite at the moment 🙂

 

LL: Would you be willing to share your Twitter handle? (What do you think of Twitter so far?)

LV: Sure! Everybody can follow me at @liinavokk.

Twitter is great! I have found so many talented people over there who share their music and art.

LL: How about SoundCloud, do you still go on it much? (There is a link on your YouTube Page)

LV: Yes, I use SoundCloud too. Mostly for more chaotic things, like when I get an idea and then record it with most nearby recording device. I like to get my ideas online as soon as possible to minimize the gap between me as a musician and the listener.

 

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

LV: I like Richard Branson’s blog a lot for its design. Nice and vivid.

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

LV: 9gag.

 

LL: 9gag! Really!? Would you also go to the site when you are stuck with a musical idea? (Maybe check out something like: ‘Cute cat just wants a kiss‘?)

 

LV: Pictures of cute cats always work 😀 When I’m stuck on a musical idea, I like to take a walk in the nature. It opens up the mind.

 

LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists? Specific people you wouldn’t mind reaching out and getting in touch with you either over the web or invite you to play a gig or two?

 

 

LV: I’d be very interested in collaborating with other artists whether over the web or live. I’m opened to all kinds of new connections over the world.

 

 

LL: Are you interested in technology? (Like internet security, tech linked to your artistic medium)

LV: As an electric guitar player and composer I do have interest in sound technology, from guitar effects to music production. The technology in general is getting more and more into being a natural part of our lives, no matter what area of life.

I take it as it is, not worrying about internet security and similar stuff, I just acknowledge the fact that everything we do these days is public to some degree. Just be the person that you are, no hiding, no faking. Being honest to yourself and to others is important.

 

 

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

LV: I plan to continue with uploading my favorite licks to Youtube. I’d definitely do things like Pat Metheny’s Map Of The World on requests and there will also be something from live gigs in the future.

* Liina Vokk is a guitarist based in Tallinn. You can find her videos here and can reach her through the form below.

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May & June 2014) between Liina and Leigh. Subsequent additions and corrections will be added when available. Content has been edited for length, and the posting of the draft version of the Q&A has been 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 Liina 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 Liina 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?

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

Q&A #2: Andrew Angell

Andrew shares his journey as a guitarist/singer, covering Dave Matthews, as well as e-commerce tips.”

 

 

Leigh Lim: Thanks for agreeing to share a bit about yourself Andrew. Looking at the videos on YouTube does give a bit of insight (you have a number of interests and passions). Do you think you are the sort of person who leans toward multiple things, and just doing ‘one thing’ wouldn’t work that well for you?

Andrew Angell: I definitely have lots of interests / hobbies, so I guess I would say that, yeah, I like to have lots of stuff going on. Too much of any one thing tends to burn me out. “Resting” from one thing involves doing another in most cases.

 

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

AA: My learning flow was a little different than what I think most do. I learned how to read tablature and then just tried to pick up songs.

I didn’t really understand chords, though, and seeing them on tabs confused me. As such, I started with anything that sounded like one single note at a time. For example, the intro lick to Collective Soul, December, was one of the first things I ever learned to play. Actually sort of a complicated lick, but it just sounded easier to me since it was one note at a time.

I really never have gotten into scales or actual music theory much at all. I’ve always just played stuff I like.

 

LL: With tabs, did you study the available material for DMB songs?

AA: I studied original tabs pretty closely, but the thing about Dave Matthews Band (and Dave in particular) is that the songs are played and sung in lots of different ways. They really evolve over the years and different versions of the same songs can vary quite drastically sometimes.

What I wind up doing with my covers is looking at the tabs to learn how it’s actually played, and then my version usually tends to be some sort of a mixture of all the different versions I’ve heard them play over the years. Each time I perform one of those songs, too, it comes out different. Melody is sometimes different, guitar parts are sometimes slightly different. Just sort of depends on the current mood I guess.

 

LL: Do you find that once you learn a song, you had it committed to memory? Or did you have to have a guide (either tabs or notes), when you play a song again?

AA: Once it’s learned it’s in there, but if you don’t play something for awhile it can be tough to remember. If that happens I can grab the tab or watch a quick video to refresh my memory and pick it up again pretty quickly.

 

LL: How has your voice evolved through the years?

 

AA: Ever since I was little I always enjoyed singing along with music. Never have done any actual vocal lessons or anything like that, but I’ve just done a lot of singing in general over the years.

It often takes me awhile to “find” a song vocally. There are some things I can hit pretty easily, but other things I’m way off key with my voice until I keep working at it to find it. Often that’s a matter of singing from the gut and belting out the notes instead of trying to do it in my throat. The general practice I’ve had with that over the years has allowed me to pick songs up more quickly, but it still happens quite a bit where I learn a new song and have to practice the vocals quite a bit.

I don’t know guitar and music theory well enough to move the guitar part into a key that fits my voice better, so I just have to work with my voice to get it to work with whatever key the original tabs are giving me.

I’ve been told that I’m sometimes singing the harmony, and I think that’s why. It “fits” so it allows me to perform the song, but some people seem to love that and some seem to hate it.

 

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

AA: Many of my earlier videos were done with the built in MacBook mic. It was an old MacBook and had a decent mic in it. Then I got a new MacBook at one point and the mics ever since have sucked.

That’s when I went out and bought an Audiobox USB input and a Shure vocal mic. Now I plug my guitar and mic into that, and I use GarageBand on the MacBook. Pretty basic stuff.

I often fight with the settings, and you’ll notice some of my videos have nice, full audio, and others simply don’t. I’ve never been able to find and stick to a solid setting, and I’ve never taken the time to really learn how to produce the audio.

 

LL: Which vocal mic is it? Did you go with it based on a recommendation or did you just shop around and decide?

AA: The vocal mic is just a basic Shure mic that the guy at the music shop recommended.

LL: Is it the SM58? (I checked out your videos and that would be my approximation from a distance)

 AA: It’s Shure BETA 58A

 

LL: Do you mix the audio for your videos?

AA: I do “mix” but just barely. I play with the channels a little bit to try and make it sound good, but I actually struggle with that anyway because I have Tinnitus and that tends to interfere sometimes when listening to regular speakers. I’ve been meaning to go get a real nice set of headphones, but I just never have.

 

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

AA: Currently I have a Taylor 910ce and a Taylor 914ce Dave Matthews Signature Model.

I use D’Addario XPP17 Medium strings. I like a medium thickness pick with some grip on it.

 

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

AA: I pretty much learned how to play guitar by learning Dave Matthews Band tabs and playing those songs. I wanted the same sound, so that’s what I went with, and I’ve loved it all along for all types of music.

I’ve played Martins and some other nice acoustics, but the Taylor’s really do it for me.

 

LL: What are the key things people should know before signing up to Paypal? (or deciding if they should keep their Paypal account or go with another payment processing platform)

AA: Educate yourself about seller protection, disputes/chargebacks before you start selling a bunch of stuff.

I def. recommend including PayPal as an option on your website (or wherever you’re taking payments) because conversion rates have been proven to raise drastically when you do so. There are lots of other things I could say about that, but it would go on forever. heh.

 

LL: conversion rates? In terms of benefitting the seller rather than Paypal?

AA: Conversion rates as in completed checkouts on a site instead of an abandoned shopping cart. eCommerce sites always have lots of abandoned carts, but adding PayPal can greatly reduce that, so it’s good for the seller, but also good for PayPal because they make their money on the fees, and good for the buyer because it’s more secure and quicker for them to checkout.

 

LL: Is there anything that frustrates you about Paypal?

AA: Frustrations with PayPal (or any merchant account provider) come from ignorance. If you educate yourself about the standard procedures to follow when selling online you will avoid frustration.

So, I have been frustrated with PayPal, yes. That was in 2000 when I sold my very first thing and it turned out to be a stolen credit card so I lost the money and had already shipped the product. Then I learned that it wasn’t PayPal’s fault, I educated myself on how to avoid it in the future, and I’ve been happy ever since.

 

LL: Buyers seem to have little knowledge on what goes on when a seller unknowingly processes a stolen credit card. Does that mean that the seller actually shoulders the financial burden?

AA: Sellers do shoulder financial burden if they don’t follow standard procedures for selling online. For example, if you sell something for $1k to somebody with a billing address in Ohio, but then you ship the item to an address in New Jersey, and that transaction winds up being on a stolen credit card, you’re not going to have any luck when the credit card company comes asking for that money.

If you ship to the billing address the odds of fraud happening are much lower, and then credit card companies will at least make people return merchandise before honoring a dispute/chargeback.

 

LL: This is when business insurance would probably come in handy?

AA: Yes, but too many people don’t have that sort of thing.

 

LL: What would be your advice to sellers who want to avoid the headache you experienced in 2000? Does it come down to purchasing additional software?

AA: No extra software. Just a matter of ensuring you follow standard procedures like ensuring the AVS (address verification system) comes back as a match, the security code matches, ship with signature required on items $200 or more, pay attention to feedback buyer history (on platforms like eBay), etc.

 

LL: Do you think there would be another site that could overtake Ebay’s popularity?

AA: For an auction platform it’s going to be tough to compete with eBay. They’re a big boy now, and they can squash competition if they need/want to. There are def. market places that can compete, though. Amazon being the biggest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more in the future.

 

LL: angelleye.com does have a clean feel to it, not overloaded with banners. Was this a conscious choice? Or did the site go though different versions until you found out what worked?

AA: Yes, [there was a conscious] choice to keep the site relatively clean. Really, these days it’s pretty simple to setup a WordPress site and find a nice theme that makes that pretty easy for you.

 

LL: Did you create the logo of the site as well?

AA: I had a designer make the logo years ago.

 

LL: What advice would you give to artists who are overwhelmed with number of options (hosting, site layout, tools) to get their website up and running?

AA: Advice for people needing a site would be to go with HostGator for the hosting and setup WordPress with WooCommerce and responsive design theme. I typically sell such packages to people for $1k.

 

LL: Seems like the more simplistic approach to take payment is to just have a link to paypal on your site. Rather than go for a credit card processing facility?

AA: I like to have direct credit card options as well as the PayPal Express Checkout option on my sites to increase conversion rates as much as possible.

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

AA: My “smart favorites” in Chrome currently include YouTube, StackOverflow, PayPal’s Developer Site, Experts Exchange, Facebook, and ChiefsPlanet

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

AA: Not really, no. I visit sites for content.

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

AA: I’m pretty lucky in that I really don’t often need any cheering up. I tend to live a pretty simple, happy life. If I ever need a laugh, though, jumping on YouTube and browsing around can certainly do it.

LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists? Specific people you wouldn’t mind reaching out and getting in touch with you?

AA: Sure, I’d be open to collaboration if anybody wanted to give something a try.

 

LL: I’d like to link to one of your videos. Which one would you say is either your favorite, or the one you’d regularly send if you were asked for a video?

AA: My most popular video is [Tool 46 and 2 Forty Six and Two Acoustic Solo Cover] so we might as well go with that one.

 

* Andrew Angell is a guitarist and consulting web developer based in Kansas City, MO. You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form directly below. If you’d like to learn more about payment processing on the web, Andrew was previously interviewed by Nerd Enterprises — you can view the interview here.

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May 2014) between Andrew 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 Andrew 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 Andrew 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?

 

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

Q&A #1: Clarke Robinson

 

Clarke talks about his journey as a guitarist and his liking of the POD interface.”

 

Leigh Lim: Hi Clarke, thanks for giving your time to do a Q&A. After having a quick look at your YouTube feed, I noticed you checked out a couple of Paul Gilbert videos. Have you been keeping track of him since his days with ‘Mr. Big’?

 

Clarke Robinson: Good question. I’ve been into Paul’s playing since hearing “To Be With You”. His guitar work on “Lean Into It” became a lifetime goal to aspire to. The intro to the song “Alive N’ Kickin’” still makes me smile. It’s actually one of my YouTube videos.

 

In the last few years I’ve discovered through the internet & YouTube just how good a teacher Paul is as well as a player, so much so that last year I signed up to his online Guitar School at Artistworks.com. I’ve learned lots since then plus I get to interact directly with one of my guitar heroes!

 

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

 

CR: I started playing at 16. My brother got a guitar and went to lessons and used to bring home little scraps of paper with chords written on or whatever he had been shown that day. I used to try to learn a little from those.

I was also big into Elvis so once I had figured out a few chords, I watched the Elvis 68′ special on video (Black Leather suit show) and tried to copy the chords from that. I also remember watching an old BB King concert from Africa and studying from that. Then I graduated onto tab books for my favourite bands and it grew from there.

 

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

 

CR: To keep it simple for youtube, I tend to plug my guitar into the computer and use software called “Pod Farm” which can produce realistic sounds without the need for a real amp. So I tend to use that for all my recording purposes at home. I also have a POD HD which I’ve used. It’s similar to Pod Farm.

 

LL: What would you say to POD users who struggle with the Accompanying software for the POD?

 

CR: Hard one for me to answer. I haven’t struggled with it but if I did I’d probably turn to google or YouTube for answers

 

LL: How’d you end up going with a POD? What was your rig like before incorporating it in your playing/recording?

CR: I always liked the idea of a POD as I’d like to get the variety of sounds that different amplifiers without needing the space or money to own all those amps. A pod is an effective way of being able to capture the sounds of certain classic amplifiers in the studio without breaking the bank or having to own a warehouse full of gear.

 

Having said that, A POD is just part of the gear I use. Lately I’m using just some of the effects (like overdrive etc) from the pod and bypassing the amp simulator stuff as I’m using a real tube amp. I’ve always had a Marshall of some sort, starting with a valvestate from the 90s. So, often it’s a stomp box into the front of a Marshall.

 

LL: Do you mix the audio for your videos?

 

CR: Yes. I record the audio separately from the videos. So far the video has been done through a digital camera, whilst at the same time recording the guitar audio straight into the computer. Then I sync the two back together by replacing the camera audio with the guitar audio.

 

LL: What software do you use to mix the audio and finalise the video?

 

 

CR: I use Camtasia at the moment. I’ve just downloaded the latest free Movie Maker for windows 7 so might try that in future if it’s easy to use.

 

LL: Do you have a specific picking style?

 

CR: Hmm, I think it’s a combination of different styles. I use what’s called Hybrid Picking quite a bit. So for certain notes, rather than use the pick, i’ll use the middle finger on my picking hand.

People like Zakk Wylde do this a lot, and that’s who inspired me to try this technique a few years ago. More and more these days I play quite a bit with just my fingers, which is a little smoother sound than a pick.

LL: not planning to keep the nails on your right hand a bit longer for more sound flexibility?

 

 

CR: Nope. It feels funny to me to use the actual nail for picking as opposed to the flesh on my finger. Granted, at first, the nail won’t give you pain, but I’ve now built up some calluses on my middle finger on my picking hand so that’s not a problem.

It just feels more natural for me to use the finger rather than the nail. If I grew the nails on my right hand I’d have to worry about protecting them day to day. Not for me.

 

LL: Are you working on something specific at the moment to expand your technical ability? (or musical exercises that you tend to do)

 

CR: Always! My theory and chord knowledge has always been lacking, so I’m learning more chords at the moment, and beginning to figure out what notes go well with certain chords when soloing. Lately I’ve also been trying to learn vocal melodies on guitar too. It’s challenging!

I’m also constantly also playing little scale patterns. I want to be able to play really fast runs (shred type runs), but have never been that good at it. So in the background, I practice that stuff a lot as I want to be able to play faster than I can sometimes!

I find there aren’t enough hours in the day to practice, but I really love it so much, it never feels like practice, just fun.

 

 

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

 

CR: I use D’Addario strings, Dunlop Gator Grip picks (0.59mm i think), a few guitars, whatever ones you see in the videos, a Tele, Strat and Les Paul mainly.

 

 

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

 

COG: Strings, not really. I’ve used D’Addarios for as long as I remember. Always been great for me. I remember trying a couple of other brands many years ago, but always kept coming back to the D’Addarios.

Picks, I change those sometimes. 2 years ago I was using really heavy 2mm picks. Now, I’m using really light ones. The light ones are great for big rock slides!

 

LL: You mentioned earlier that your main guitars are a Tele, Strat and Les Paul. Were they purchased at the same time?

 

CR: I wish! I can’t afford to rush out and buy 3 good guitars at once lol. I’ve bought those 3 over the years. I owned a Les Paul for many years, then the Strat came next, and the Tele is a relatively new addition (3-4 years).

 

LL: with your consumables, particularly the strings. How long do they last?

 

CR: I’m not gigging at all right now, so all my playing is done at home. I don’t change my strings often at all. If they feel good and sound good, I’ll keep ’em on there until they break (which is rare anyway). If they begin to feel rough on my fingers, then I’ll change them.

It’s more tricky in the summer months as my fingers sweat that little bit more so the strings might need changing more often. But for sure, I only change strings when I really have to. If I were gigging, I’d probably need to change them every gig or two. I should really change them more often, as I love new strings on a guitar. Makes the guitar feel new every time.

 

LL: Any specific schedule for guitar maintenance?

CR: I’m quite lazy about cleaning. Some of that dirt might be adding something to my tone (ha!). I normally give the guitar a real good clean when changing strings, and rarely after playing. Occasionally I’ll wipe the strings down, but honestly not much.

LL: During a gig, do you keep some notes as a guide?

 

CR: I haven’t gigged for many years, but as a band, we had a setlist written so we wouldn’t forget what to play next!

 

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

 

CR: It varies. Perhaps learning a song, some 3 note per string picking patterns, jamming with backing tracks, it really just depends on the mood of the day. I don’t have a strict schedule to adhere to.

 

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

 

CR: Loads of them. Guitarwise, my big inspirations growing up were the likes of Slash, Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Paul Kossoff. Those Gibson blues based rockers! I had to have a Les Paul because it was what Slash played. I also love Paul Gilbert’s playing these days.

Another big influence would be perhaps less well known, Audley Freed. He has played with the Black Crowes and had a band of his own in the 90’s called “Cry of Love”. Great Southern Blues-based rock music. Audley uses hybrid picking too, and inspired that style of picking in me.

 

 

LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?

 

CR: YouTube! Other than that, I don’t have particular favorite sites. I like to shop so Amazon is good! Ebay for strings.

 

 

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

 

CR: No, not really. I’m more interested in content, style helps, but I’ll put up with bad style if the content I want is good.

LL: Also, I’d like to link to one of your videos. Which one would you say is either your favorite, or the one you’d regularly send if you were asked for a video?

 

CR: Hmm, not sure. For some reason, the first video I put up, the Floyd Blues one, seems by far the most popular video. So I guess if that’s the one people most watch, then that one. In all honesty, I’d say my favourite will always be the next one I’m working on!

 

Clarke Robinson is a guitarist based in London. You can find his YouTube videos here, and can reach him through his YouTube channel, either via messages or comments. If in any case he is blessed to receive an offer to jam with Paul Gilbert or Angus Young, YES will be the next word out of his mouth.

Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May 2014) between Clarke 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 Clarke 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 Clarke 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?

 

 

 

 

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