I’m playing a gig in Macclesfield this Friday, 21st June 2013 at the Acoustic Sanctuary event at the King Edward St Chapel in Macclesfield. The lineup features:
- Ivan Campo
- Hugo Kensdale
- Helen Walford
- Tom Kerswill
I’m really looking forward to it — it’ll be my first gig for quite a few months, and a chance to play some new songs too!
You can find the Facebook event for it here…
I did one of the first co-writing sessions I’ve ever done earlier this month.
Co-writes are a pretty common thing for songwriters to do, but normally they involved being in the same room as the other songwriter(s), so that you can bash ideas back and forwards quickly. With this co-write, though, I was in Manchester, and my co-writer, Grace, was across the Irish Channel — on the West Coast of Ireland.
Skype for Songwriting
We used Skype to do the audio conversations, and brainstormed the lyric of the track. Google Docs was perfect for this. In fact, for any collaborative editing, whether songwriting or putting together a travel article or report, it makes things super-easy. Words that you type on-screen appear on the other person’s copy of the document within a second or so. You can see the other person’s cursor, and both be typing out ideas as quickly as you can say them.
But when it came to writing the melody and put the song together, things got more difficult. It’s tricky to use Skype for this. We tried recording the session and jamming it out, but it’s hard to follow what the other person’s doing, and it’s only really easy to record your own side of the conversation.
There are ways of recording an entire Skype session and doing clever routing of the audio to the other side. Soundflower for Mac is a good example. But it’s a little clunky.
And when it comes to actually recording the thing, Skype and other telephony solutions are a no-go, because the quality isn’t there, and the latency is unworkable. We started looking for better collaborative recording software. And surprisingly, it was really difficult to find anything.
Trying out Mantis Recording Software (Indaba)
I initially looked at Mantis, by Indaba. On the face of it, this looks like an incredible, realtime, web-based recording system, and reviews of it were good. There were even detailed guides on Indaba’s site. And a massive community that seemed to exist around it. But I couldn’t find the actual software on their site, and it turned out it’s been discontinued. Quite why, I wasn’t able to find out, but perhaps it didn’t work as well as people hoped. Good, solid audio software that allows you to collaborate over the Internet, certainly seems like a tricky problem to get right.
Trying out OhmStudio’s collaborative recording software
And then I stumbled on Ohm Studio. This bills itself as an online “Collaborative DAW” (Digital Audio Workstation). Rather than a web-based application, it’s a desktop program, so it’s running natively on the computer you’re sitting at. Versions exist for Mac and PC (though sadly no Linux version yet).
It works great on the Mac, although the only plugins supported are VST ones, which means that Logic / Garageband plugins won’t work with it. That’s apparently because of the collaboration aspect… Since PCs can’t run the Mac AudioUnit plugins, they’ve stuck with plugins that will work across both systems.
As a standalone DAW, this is pretty powerful already. The interface is similar to Logic or Cubase. The difference is that your projects are stored online (“In the cloud”). Which means the first thing that you do when opening the program is to login:
That’s a pretty quick process, and files must be cached on your own computer, I’m sure. Adding tracks and recording is a snap — Just like it would be on logic:
To add a collaborator, all you do is hit that share button at the top right. When they load up their own copy of OhmStudio and join your project, they’ll be effectively seeing the same screen as you. And they can begin recording their own takes right into the project. A few seconds after they finishing recording, the project seamlessly updates, and that new track’s available to all collaborators.
So it’s not 100% realtime collaboration, but it was near enough for us. And because everything is synched, there’s no more sending of Logic project files via Dropbox, or anything like that. There are also no latency issues. There’s an internal click-track, and when your collaborator records, they’ll hear everything just like you did, and everything stays synched.
Grace uses a PC, and I was using a Macbook Pro – so it was a good test of the two systems working together. Things seemed to work pretty smoothly, and it was very easy to create a bounce-down of the project, which could then be easily shared with other people who weren’t using the software.
Mirroring the session
Pretty much everything is mirrored between collaborators. Even tweaks to the VST plugins you use, will be mirrored on the other person’s computer. It’s like Google Docs but for audio, which is what we wanted.
And it looks like there’s a great community. Every week, they have a new collaborative project, which users are encouraged to get involve with. I checked out one of the recent projects — which was to make a “hit”. When I loaded it up, about 20 people were busy working on it, recording vocal takes, bass and tweaking the levels.
Back in our project — we’d set this to private initially, until ready to unleash it on the World. I made a bit of a mistake with the settings though, and half way through the recording session, we started to get friendly people popping up on the screen and listening through it. There’s a chat interface, so messages started coming in with people who’d had a listen. It’s quite cool to know that there’s an army of potential collaborators / musicians out there who might be up for adding their takes onto projects in future. Lots of possibilities there!
Realtime jamming online?
One thing it wouldn’t be useful for, would be real-time jamming. The idea is that the recording happens in real-time on your own computer, and only when you’ve finished that take, does it get synchronised to everyone else. Synchronising collaborators across the World is tricky, and perhaps the problems caused with latency and bandwidth are enough for it not to be workable right now. But I’d love to have a solution that works for that. I’m sure eventually there will be one… But until then, Ohm Studio is a great recording tool, and worth checking out.
It seems to be completely free whilst in Beta (and there’s no indication of how long that process will last), but if you want it long-term, then you can pay monthly or buy a lifetime subscription. Though lifetime option is apparently is only a limited offer. Definitely worth having a play with it first, while it’s freely available!
Hope everyone’s having a great 2013 so far! I’ve got lots of new songs — I’ve been spending time writing rather than gigging or recording. In April, I’m off to London to record a new EP. I’ll keep you updated on progress!
Happy New Year everyone! Looking forward to a great year of music. I’ll be updating the Manchester open mic guide soon… It’s becoming a little dated!
Also looking forward to doing more pa hire and sound engineering out and about in Manchester this year. The main PA system powered last night’s New Year’s Eve show at the Bay Horse….
Whatever you were doing on New Year’s Eve – hope you had a great night!
Just a quick one to say – Merry Christmas everyone, and all the best for 2013!
It’s been a bit of a while since I last updated this, but tonight I’m off checking out a new (to me, at least) open mic.. It’s the Gaslight at the Nip & Tipple. More soon:-)
The Seven Miles Out festival is a great, free festival in the centre of Stockport, from the organisers of The Teenage Market. It’s taking place today (Sunday, 29th July 2012) from 11am until 4pm. I’m playing at the Baker’s Vaults at 12.40pm today – and on one of the stages inside the market at 2.50pm (Just before Manchester musician Gideon Conn). It’s going to be a great day. The sun’s even come out!
It’s been a while! I’m playing a set tomorrow in Stockport, at a brand new mini-festival called the Teenage Market. We had the organisers in the studio last Monday (for the All FM Unsigned show). Sounds like it’s going to be a great event. Loads of music-related stuff, as well as street performances, lots of film showings, and Mr Scruff’s Tea Tent. It’s from 12pm-4pm, though there may well be street performances and events in the morning too.
Last night’s All Fm Unsigned Show was great fun. We had live sessions from North West-based bands The Portlands and Glass Ankle, plus loads of other music from Jon Kenzie, Passenger, Extra Love and loads of others. You can take a listen to the MixCloud copy of the programme below…
I’m a bit late catching on to this, but I’ve finally begun to really “get” spotify. Absolutely great to have pretty much unlimited access to music on the move. Looking forward to getting into listening to other people’s Spotify playlists…
This week’s Unsigned Show is now up on Mixcloud:
Here’s the track listing:
We Are Willow – Deep Blue Skies
JP Cooper – Little House We Built
Extra Love – More Love
The Restless – The Way I Do
Dr.Butler’s Hatstand Medicine Band – Penny Farthing
Gideon Conn – Yes No Maybe
KT Whitehouse & Kenny McGeachin – Coming Home
Mike Mellor – On a Train
April Maybe May – Seasalt
Liz Green – Midnight Blues
Phil Davies+The Ninja Smokebombs – Enid Blyton
Roos Galjaard – In the Night
God’s Little Eskimo – In Salute Of The Body
Nancy Elizabeth – How Can I Stop
The Bee’s Niece – Funny Features
Jessica May Buckle – Drop It In
Edwyn Butler – Birds On A Wire
I’m getting round to uploading some of our previous Unsigned Show broadcasts. Here’s the first – from 28th March 2011
And here’s the complete tracklisting:
- Glass Ankle – If You’ve Been There
- Letters To Fiesta – Drag The Fire
- Bedlam Shake – Indian Giver
- KT Whitehouse+Kenny McGeachin – Coming Home
- Liz Green – Midnight Blues
- The Restless – The Way I Do
- Safires – Straydogs
- We Are Willow – Bound By String
- Gideon Conn – Londonderry
- Maxwell Watts – Climbing This Ladder To The Top
- Roos Gaaljard – In The Night
- Extra Love – No Rush
- Bluebird Kid Clark – Hold Me Down
- Monsters Build Mean Robots – Psalm 57
- Josephine – Fun In The Dark
- Paper Aeroplanes – Safe Hands
- John Fairhurst – Daylight
- John Fairhurst – Pay Day
- John Fairhurst – Big Dig
- Thoughts In Therapy – Secret Garden
This week’s Unsigned Show on All FM was great fun, as always. We have the Bee’s Niece (Ragnhild Zeigler) live in session (fresh from Oslo) and played the cream of the crop of unsigned music too. Here’s the playlist:
# Kreg Viesselman – The Busker
# The Safires – Stray Dogs
# Jo Rose – Balcony Doors
# Garron Frith – This One
# Monsters Build Mean Robots – Psalm 57
# Louise O’Brian – Runaway
# JP Cooper – All I Ever Wanted Was To Be A Better Man
# Liz Green – Midnight Blues
# Letters To Fiesta – Traveller
# Glass Ankle – If You’ve Been There
# The Locals – Nah Don’t Shoot Me Down
# John Fairhurst – Big Dig
# Samson And Delilah – Black Dog
# Maxwell Watts – Happiness
# Joe Swindells – Time Makes Fools of Us
# Death To The Strange – Drink and the Devil
# Denis Jones – Clap Hands
# Edwyn Butler – Birds on a Wire
# KT Whitehouse and Kenny McGeachin – Coming Home
# The Bee’s Niece – The Bike Song
# The Bee’s Niece – Saw song
# The Bee’s Niece – Funny Features
See you next time! AllFm.org
This week’s unsigned show on All FM has been great fun! Here’s our tracklist…
1. Joe Swindells – Time Makes Fools of Us
2. Phil Davies and the Ninja Smokebombs – Morning Flight to Stockholme
3. HoneyFeet – That Little Boat
4. April Maybe May – Seasalt
5. Richard Barry – Strolling Along
6. Travelling Band – Hindsight
7. John Fairhurst – Daylight
8. TG Elias – Rancid Misbehaviour
9. Mike Mellor – On A Train
10. Louise O’Brien – Runaway
11. Josephine Oniyama – Fun in the Dark
12. Roos Galjaard – In the Night
13. Letters To Fiesta – Drag The Fire
14. Old House PlayGround – Katherine Has Left the Bed
15. Bone Box – Dragging Wires
16. Zoe Mulford – Open Water
17. Thoughts in Therapy – Secret Garden
18. KT WhiteHouse – Man Of Few Words
19. Beggar Joe – Ain’t No Way
20. Beggar Joe – Rely On
21. The Roots Union – The Straight And Narrow
22. Beggar Joe – No More Revalations
Really enjoyed doing tonight’s unsigned show. Was good having Nay Medici on the show – they ended up staying on into the second hour and playing a few more tunes. Here’s the complete tracklisting from tonight’s show:
Glass Ankle – If you’ve been there
JP Cooper – Little House We Built
Matthew Ganley – Salford Lullaby
Mike Mellor – On a Train
Caulbearers – Small Spaces
Nay Medici – Nancy Whiskey (live)
Nay Medici – Men and Women (live)
Nay Medici – Soliloquouy (live)
Nay Medici – The Horse Song) (live)
Nay Medici – Down and Out in Paris and London (live)
Roos Galjaard – In the Night
Deaf to Van Gogh’s Ear – Several Ways to Eat a Biscuit
Tanante – Mendiani
The Bee’s Niece – If you’re Lucky
Jessica May Buckle -Drop it in
I’m playing at Huddersfield’s Cotton Factory tomorrow (Friday 10th Dec 2010). It’s a charity gig, raising money for the Karma Enduro rally, which in turn raises £10,000 for charity. Click for more details of tomorrow’s gig.
It will be good to be in Huddersfield again. I seem to have ended up playing there quite a lot recently – including the Huddersfield Oxjam event back in October.
I’m really excited to be playing the Oxjam Huddersfield gig on Saturday, 23rd October.
It’s a whole afternoon and evening of music, with a total of 42 acts playing – from acoustic solo artists and duos, to full bands.
Tickets can be bought at Oxfam’s shop on New Street, from the venues on the day or online at We Got Tickets.
Complete Lineup for Oxjam Huddersfield 2010
The Graduate (Huddersfield SU):
5.45-6.15pm – The Rise
6.30-7.00pm – The Creeks
7.15-7.45pm – EBGBs
8.15-8.45pm – Ether5
9.00-9.30pm – Ashe Vendetta
9.45-10.30pm – Five Minute Limit
10.45pm Onwards – The Rag Tags
The Parish, Kirkgate:
5.45-6.15pm – Wind Up Mind
6.30-7.00pm – Nicola’s Cage
7.15-7.45pm – Mark of 1000 Evils
8.00-8.45pm – Mr Shiraz
9.15-10.00pm – MinionTV
10.15-10.45 – Cub Club
11.00pm-0.00am – The Scaramanga Six
Bar 1:22, New Street:
5.30-6.00pm – Luva Gunk
6.15-6.45pm – The White Tide
7.00-7.30pm – NAKED
8.00-8.30pm – Keirononon
8.45-9.30pm – Escape Artist
10-10.45pm – King Kananga
11.00pm-0.00am – AuditCONTROL
Sleepers, Viaduct Street:
5.30-6.00pm – The Kitschens
6.15-6.45pm – Last of the Sirens
7.00-7.30pm – Bad Bad Bird
7.45-8.30pm – Feeds
9.00-9.45pm – The Revenues
10.15-11.00pm – Leo Brazil and His Twitch
11.15pm-0.00am – Nu Popes
Little Buddha Bar, Viaduct Street:
5.45-6.15pm – Thomas Armstrong
6.30pm-7.00pm – Aether
7.15-7.45pm – Jack Hopkinson
8.00-8.45pm – Stuart Nolan (psychological experience)
9.00-9.30pm – Harrison Richards (mind reader)
9.45-10.30pm – Owen Phillips
10.45-11.30pm – Liz Mackenzie
The Head of Steam, St George’s Square:
5.30-6.00pm – I am the prize
6.15-6.45pm – Dave Haigh
7.00-7.30pm – Jasmine Kennedy
7.45-8.15pm – Alice Nicholls
8.30-9.00pm – Tom Kerswill
9.15-10.00pm – Ben Marron
10.15-11.00pm – Steph Stephenson
I’m starting to get excited about this year’s in the city. The Fugitive Motel blog have a really good preview of some of the artists playing at this year’s festival. I’m having a listen to that now, and beginning to plan out which acts to catch.
I’m excited to have a delegate pass this year, courtesy of All FM and Ursula Pabish’s Monday drivetime show on the station.
As always, it’ll be a mad rush trying to fit in as many talks and bands as possible!
Had a really good, busy week – including a trip to Go Ape yesterday, which is always good fun. We also went to check out Alt Country band Mt. Desolation, who played at the Deaf Institute last night. It was a well-attended show – impressive, because this is the band’s first tour. They’re made up of members from Keene, the Killers and Noah and the Wale. Though in actual fact, the touring band seemed to basically be the two frontmen from Keene, and some other assembled musicians. It was an enjoyable gig though.
This afternoon I’m playing at the Yard Bird in Birmingham. Doors open at 4pm, and I’m on at 4.30. It’ll be good to be doing an afternoon gig. The event is called the Free Love Club, and it runs from 4pm right through to midnight. You can get more details of the event at reverbnation and Facebook.
Last Saturday I did the sound engineering for a really lovely gig at the John Rylands Library on Deansgate in Manchester.
The gig took place in the evening – after the library usually closes. It was in the main hall – an amazing, ornate building, with incredibly high ceilings, and a really weird acoustic – kind of dead-sounding if you talked quitely, but with a really nice reverb if you clapped your hands or shouted.
The space was laid out to hold 130 people, and the gig was sold out… or rather, all the free tickets were taken. It was a great atmosphere. Becca Williams (and her Broken Biscuit band) opened the night, followed by JP Cooper, and finally Karima Francis.
The night was organised by Chris Thomas, who has put on several gigs in unusual places previously – including the Manchester Museum. It was a highly successful evening, so hopefully there will be more of the same in the future…