Universal Audio Apollo 8 review

Universal Audio Apollo 8 review

Considering the UAD Apollo for your step up in the music world? Maybe you’re looking at the Apogee Quartet or a MOTU 828x or something by Focusrite?  The later is all amazing and wonderful hardware options, but the flexibility and sound quality of the Apollo unity preamps, paired with a preamp emulation is worth the extra $1k in price alone.  If you get the aforementioned hardware, you don’t get the hands on, audibly inspiring sounds of the onboard DSP processing powered UAD plugins. Have you recorded something with a cheap mic through your computer or I/O and think, not the best sound I can get, but I’ll fix it later…Then when later comes, you sit their trying all the different EQs and compressors out there, not sure what the best combination is…then suddenly you have 7 plugins on a track bogging down your computer? Well those days are done.  You now have the option to commit early on and be happy with the results using the UAD  Console software for the Apollo.  Hands down the coolest mixer around.  PLUS! The Apollo comes with 4 unity preamps that can emulate, a Neve 1073 and 88RS, the API vision strip, and the vintage UA 610. The image below shows someone using the API Vision Strip in their first channel with a Studer tape machine inline.  Gotta try that tape machine! After working for people with real vintage Neve 1073 and API channel strips, I started to realize how important and game changing a solid signal chain is!  Imagine what a bass sounds like through a real vintage neve 1073 pre into...
Mac Book Pro with Apple Cinema Display

Mac Book Pro with Apple Cinema Display

If you’ve recently purchased an Apple cinema display to pair with your laptop, be aware that tapping the brightness button on your laptop keyboard will only change the brightness on your laptop.   Using it with a 2nd keyboard will give you control of the cinema display brightness.  Just close your laptop lid and increase brightness from your 2nd apple...
Digital Performer 9 tip: Open Instrument Hotkey

Digital Performer 9 tip: Open Instrument Hotkey

Ever find yourself hunting for your instrument track? I always feel like it’s too many clicks away, but not anymore!  I just learned this assignable hot key from a composer here in LA. Go to your Commands window for customizing your hotkeys.  (shift + L) Type in Instrument Then click the box under Key 1 in the Open Instrument row and type: H Now H has been assigned to open the instrument of the track you’ve highlighted. Here I highlight this track: Hit H: …and hooray!  Zebra shows up. Easy hotkey to increase productivity in...
Pixel Pirate Preview

Pixel Pirate Preview

Update! Here’s the latest track we’re using in the game. Had tons of fun writing this. Anyone catch the throw back to Castlevania? Just a tiny motif reference. Hawken King who runs an indie game development company called Dadako approached me to do music and SFX for a new game of his called Pixel Pirate.  Knowing that the work load could get heavy, I approached my friend and  pianist/organist of Pink Floyd acclaim, Harry Waters to join me.  Harry is a more avid gamer than myself, a great musician and has a great sense of melody. Since the game is a retro style Metroidvania, we initially started writing using the genius Magical 8-bit Plugin instrument developed and used by the Japanese retro 8-bit jazz group YMCK.  I didn’t want it to be pure chip tune, so I started to introduce reverb/delay and this amazing plugin called DECIMORT on any pure audio sources. This is a preview video that was used for the first presentation of the game.  Check out our music...
Midi CC Guide

Midi CC Guide

If you’re interested in writing music using a DAW and aren’t familiar with MIDI CC, here’s a quick easy guide that I found online. I also have something similar printed out at the studio I work at because every once in awhile, I hear “Justin, what’s the Midi CC for Foot Pedal?” etc… So it’s good to have a list nearby.  You can usually find CC lists for hardware synths as well.  The Nord Stage 2 occasionally will dump all sorts of CC into Digital Performer and this can wreck havoc when running that midi track to a different software synthesizer. List of Standard MIDI Continuous Controllers (CCs) 0 Bank Select (MSB)  Never re-route anything to Controller 0.  It will mess up your program changes. 1 Modulation Wheel or Joystick (positive polarity) (MSB)  Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths 2 Breath controller sometimes Joystick (negative polarity) (MSB)  Can be effectively remapped to other controllers on some synths 4 Foot Pedal (MSB)  Don’t mess with it 5 Portamento Time (MSB)  Only use this for portamento time 6 Data Entry (MSB)  Better leave this one alone too. 7 Volume (MSB)  If you re-route to Controller 7, your software mixer will mess up 8 Balance (MSB)  Some synths use it 10 Pan position (MSB) If you re-route to Controller 10, your software mixer will mess up 11 Expression (MSB)  Roland synths use it.  Some synths use it for LFOs, some for crescendo/ decrescendo (loudness).  Sometimes routed to keyboard aftertouch. Also, Spitfire’s amazing sounding orchestral instruments seem to use CC11 for overall volume.  Which it seems CC7 also does fine, but in case you don’t want your faders moving...
KING MORELLI – David & Goliath

KING MORELLI – David & Goliath

When I turned 35 in 2014, I had a little get together at a bar in Silverlake to celebrate and on whim, I invited an old friend from high school who I knew lived in LA now. To my surprise, he showed up and after a few beers started telling me about how he writes raps & songs, as well as paints, and designs clothing. A few days later I decided to send him a few tracks that I had made during my time with David Schwartz on the TV show “Benched“. Not more than a few weeks later, KING told me he had a few songs to go to my beats I’d sent him.  We got together and tracked our first official song together. That track was called: DAVID & GOLIATH KING MORELLI sent the track over to another guy from our hometown who edits picture for the FOX TV show Empire.  He loved it so much, he found a perfect spot for it and dropped it in a party scene in the season finale of Empire.  This led to the two of us getting interviewed in our hometown of St. Louis, MO. In this interview, I’m standing outside of composer John Leftwich’s studio  where I was in the middle of helping him finish a 6 hour session for the movie The...
ゴジラ、ゴジラ、ゴー (gojira, gojira go)

ゴジラ、ゴジラ、ゴー (gojira, gojira go)

So I’ve always been in love with a band called “The Divine Comedy” and always strived to write something in that over the top orchestrated style that Neil Hannon and his previous orchestrator Joby Talbot and current Andrew Skeet create.  Thus, when my best friend Misung sent me a demo of his song called “Gojira: Half Whale, Half Gorilla” I decided it’d be the perfect chance to try my hand at some orchestration in my Digital Performer template and try my hardest to sing like a wannabe Neil...
Production Library Music

Production Library Music

As things wound down with Benched, I got to focus on writing and mixing tracks for one of Universal’s production music libraries. It was a really interesting experience. We were given a task to create music for “reality tv” in a comedic style. One thing I’ve learned from working at David Schwartz‘ studio is that comedy music should be FUN not funny. Here’s a few of my favorite examples from what we...
Only In Dreams (cover)

Only In Dreams (cover)

I really enjoyed this song when I was growing up, so I thought I’d do my own version of it.  Originally recorded most of this in Japan and added vocals here.  Finally learned how to mix a little better and printed this for the INTERPET. Secret for you to know: I ONLY USED BASS & KEYS...
Benched on USA

Benched on USA

We started working on a hysterical new TV show at David Schwartz’ studio called Benched. The show was pretty edgey and at times required some serious heavy urban style score.  Early on, my friend Freddy Scott was called over to help us make the music sound legit.  This gave me some insight on to how TRAP music was made.  So many places to get TRAP sounds on the internet, I reached out to producer/composer friend Ludwig Goransson who produces Childish Gambino, and he suggested starting with some Lex Luger packs.  I’d link to those but I’m not sure where he keeps his stuff these days.  Whoops. Here’s the stuff I ended up doing for the show:   We were fortunate enough to have a music editor from MICDS on that ABC Family show, so my job as an assistant and mixer was easier because I didn’t have to run to the editing suites to make sure everyone was placing music in the right place.  Really sad the show didn’t last more than one season.  Hope to work with that same group again sometime.  It kinda felt like...