Monday, January 26, 2009

Access Virus TI Polar

Last week a friend from Sydney came to visit us and he brought his Virus Polar with him.  I was incredibly excited about this and had it hooked up within minutes.  Over the following few days I got to explore the sounds the synth was capable of and even replaced several synth parts in songs I had in progress with Virus parts, as well as taking about 150 multisamples and one-shots for my sample library. 

Virus TI Polar

I only had the synth hooked up via MIDI and audio, so therefore completely forewent the whole "TI" (Total Integration) element, which makes the unit act as an Audio Interface and behave as a VST instrument, among other things.  This is probably a real shame, as I had seen youtube videos of the Atomiser, sidechaining and other TI features, however it must be said that the synth engine of the Virus Polar alone was enough to win me over and enthrall me for days (even years, potentially). 
The thing just sounds great.  It is quite seriously the most versatile synth on the market and every component of the synth is outstanding, from the cutting VA oscillators to the analogue-emulating filters to the freaky waveshaping controls and the high quality distoration and decimation and time-based FX. 
It won't sound just like a Moog, but it's the best representation of what virtual analogue has to offer.  When I was playing with it I kept imagining that it would be an invaluable commercial sound design tool, as much as a stock trance/electro staple, by virtue of it's versatility and tweakability. 

The aesthetics are worth a mention, too.  There's something about white shades and frozen themes that really turns me on.  If you don't believe me, look at almost every CD cover for The Crystalline Effect - they're essentially identical colourschemes to the Polar.  Access just understand good, understated aesthetics, and that adds extra inspiration. 

Here are a couple of demos I did:

Percussive loop.  The one-shot samples are from the Virus which I recorded while tweaking several paramaters, then chopping the files up and loading them into HALion and programming this beat.  This'll be used in a Shiv-r song:
[audio:http://www.thecrystallineeffect.com/shiv-r/media/VirusPercussiveDemo.mp3]

Synth demo.  This little riff won't make it into any of my tracks but it shows off the Virus' nice filters:
[audio:http://www.thecrystallineeffect.com/shiv-r/media/VirusSynthDemo.mp3]

Monday, January 19, 2009

(A post about) videoclips, radio play and obscene royalties

This might be a bit of an eye-opener to any musicians who are new to releasing music, but one very worthwhile reason to make film clips and push for radio play is the royalties that you can earn as a result. 

I just got an e-mail telling me that last Friday, 16 Jan 2008, at 5am, one of the film clips for my other band, The Crystalline Effect - "When You're Asleep", was played on the RAGE program on Australian television (ABC).  Because we have signed up with APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association), we get $70AUD each time our clips get played on RAGE, in our bank account, after tax.  To my knowledge, we have been played 4 times on RAGE, so that's $280 in the TCE backburner.  Considering the fact that the film clips were free for us to make (using camcorders), this is pretty sweet.  Not to mention every time our clips get played, I get a bunch of extra Myspace messages, e-mails and CD sales from new fans. 

Extrapolate this to the big bands - if we get $70AUD from getting played once on the ABC at 5am, imagine what you'd get from a more commercial station at a more prime timeslot.  Multiply this by high-rotation, and you've got yourself a wad. 

Radio play is comparable in royalties, and when you consider that a high-rotation single from a major lable band gets played on every commercial radio station in the world, the royalties are astronomical.  Last year, Straylight and I were driving a rent-a-car through the French countryside, and I remember hearing Katie Perry on the car radio at least once an hour.  Damn, I thought, I'm so sick of hearing this song, and I don't even listen to the radio.  Now I'm thinking, damn, if this single is literally getting played on every radio station in the world this often, it would have made the people responsible for this song overnight millionaires - and I use no hyperbole here. 

For those who don't know, here's how it works.  By law, every TV station, radio station, club, venue and theoretically every shop that plays CDs in the background (though the lattermost isn't always adhered to in most small, non-chain stores) pays an annual fee to a similar Performing Rights Association in their region to APRA/AMCOS (this is also why you hear a lot of copyright-free music at train stations, major chain-stores and on-hold music - remember; copyright expires 50 years after the author's death, so when stores try to appear "upper class" by spinning Mozart, they're really being cheapskates by exempting themselves from paying mechanical royalties). 
These establishments make playlists for every song played, and submit these to organisations like APRA/AMCOS.  DJs at clubs also submit playlists to APRA/AMCOS, and for bands performing their original compositions, they submit an annual Live Performance Return, stating their set lists and venues played at for the past year.
At the end of the year, APRA divides their royalty pool between their artists (after administrative costs), based on how often their songs have gotten played.  So high rotation songs get more royalties than a band who got played once. 

This is also why it's incredibly important for ALL radio and club DJs to make playlists and send them to performing rights associations!  How many goth DJs do you know who do this?  If they don't, give them a slap for me. 

On a more creative and relevant side, this is why it's good to make lots of film clips - by Australian law, RAGE is obliged to play every clip submitted to them by an Australian band at least once, so it's safe to feel flattered if you get played multiple times.  This is also why it's a good idea, after having serviced all of the radio stations you can find with promo CDs, to encourage fans to call up and request songs.  

Below the cut is the playlist from Friday's RAGE show from 5AM. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bangkok October 2008

In late October 2008, Straylight and I flew to Thailand to visit Kong in Bangkok.  With the whole Shiv-r crew in one place, Kong took us around the city.  We went to a bar (several, in fact) in Soi Cowboy, where there were girls doing shows (blowing darts and popping balloons, blowing out candles and blowing whistles, as well as the standard "ping pong show").  It was funny to walk down the streets in this area where the husslers would come up to you with a card that read like a menu of different types of DVD porn they had on offer, also proferring to take you to a "Ping pong show: very nice!".  We were there for halloween and our friends who run Fantasm-Agoria, from Lithuania, were there on business so we all went out to a black metal club on Khao San.  At this club we also met the guys from Dark Asia, who have been supportive of us thus far. 

Apart from this, we checked out the temples and even spent a few days on an island - nothing funnier than 3 goths from an industrial band kicking it on a tropical island.  Unfortunately between the sights, bars and extensively playing a Quake III mod called DeFRaG at Kong's apartment, we didn't get any music done, but it was mainly a holiday. 

Below are some shots of some night-scapes.  I fucking love big, grimey cities, and Bangkok is as big and grimey as they come.  Only bad side is the EXTREME humidity, which made walking for more than 5 minutes at a time during the day impossible (apart from on the islands, mind).  I've found the true meaning of a city that never sleeps to be a city that when you walk through it in the middle of the night, you see markets, businessmen and general bustle in the streets comparable to what you'd find during the daytime.  Conversely, Australian cities, for example, are big, but if you venture out around midnight, the only people you see will be intoxicated couples and sparse groups - no balanced life after business hours, just empty recreation.  Bangkok is a city that never sleeps, and feels immense and faintly violent.  I can see why Kong digs it...

Bangkok October 2008

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alesis Andromeda A6

My A6 has been with me since around 2005.  I think at that point I had a few releases out under my belt and wanted to invest in a serious bit of kit to take my music to the next level.  It was $4000AUD from Sound Devices, Sydney, which was cheaper than a Virus TI Keyboard at the time, and the fact that it was pure analogue and likely to become a synth classic sealed the deal.  Tangent time: I originally just wanted an Alesis Ion, but Straylight said no, don't fuck around with cheaper, lower-level synths; get the real deal. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Antythesys

Antythesys is a new name to watch out for.  The project is the brainchild of Alex (aka Nemesis), who was a founding member of Alien Vampires.  During 2008, Alex/Nemesis left Alien Vampires due to creative differences and started creating music the way he wanted to.  A musical collaborator was sought to join this new project and that's where I come in. 

Alex and I met in London in late 2007.  We'd both been producers in the scene a similar amount of time and although he'd achieved somewhat more with Alien Vampires than I had with The Crystalline Effect, we had alot of common ground in terms of (generally positive) experiences with record labels at a similar level; him with BLC Productions and me with Advoxya Records. 

The musical direction is still primarily Alex's, but I'll be a part of the project in the sense of making sure it sounds as good as it can. 
Expect a mature approach to stomping electro club music from Antythesys.  The tracks in progress have an irresistable groove and a brutal punch, without the stereotypical lead sounds so overused in today's industrial music.  The quality of Alex's beats and hooks is really something else - this project will hit hard! 

For now, keep an eye out here and at www.antythesys.com.  We will tie the projects Shiv-r and Antythesys together with some remixes soon and more news will be announced when the time comes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

From the studio...January 2009

Have been grinding away on a new track...this one has taken a lot out of me.  Mostly because when this track started it really had that "something special", and when I wrote some lyrics and ran them through in my mind, I thought I had a hit on my hands. 
Yesterday after I recorded the vocals my heart sank though...when the vocals were down everything just sounded horrible and my little "hit" sounded like amateur bollox.  I'm happy enough with my own vocals these days but I still need that bit of lightning to strike to make them great, and yesterday it didn't happen.  I'm not sure how I can manufacture that spark but I guess I'll just try another day.  I'll send it to Kong now and maybe after he adds his parts I'll be able to do a better take. 

Here's a shot of what I've been staring at for the past 48 hours:

Shiv-r virul3ntstudio January 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

Blood - Lost Sky (Shiv-r remix)

Last week I got my gratis copy of Blood - Lost Sky in the mail, which features a remix by us.  This is the latest and final ever album by this hugely respected Japanese goth/j-rock/visual kei band and I've been enjoying the disc so much - and not just because we're on it! 

Here is an excerpt of our remix. 
Blood - Lost Sky (Shiv-r remix):
[audio:http://www.thecrystallineeffect.com/shiv-r/media/Blood_Shiv-r.mp3]

By the looks of it, there was a remix competition for this album and over 300 remixes were submitted.  We didn't enter the competition but were asked personally by the band's label, but I can tell you all the remixes on the album are really high callibre. 

If you're not familiar with BLOOD, check out the clips below.  The band are bona fide rockstars - their song "D.T.M.H" was the themesong for a Japanese movie starring Lucy Liu and Marilyn Manson.  The 3rd clip (live in Mexico) is insane - listen to that crowd scream!  A search of Youtube yields dozens of other live clips with similarly immense, bloodthirsty crowds.  I'm a fan...this is inspiring stuff! 



 

 
Unforgiven: Live In Mexico


Lost Sky is available here.