MARC DOTY w/ AUTOMATIC-GAINSAY

How did you get hooked on Rock & Roll?   It’s interesting to be asked that, as people seem to have pretty much forgotten about Rock & Roll, but I still describe myself as a “rock keyboardist,” in regard to music.  As a synthesizer enthusiast, these days, the assumption is that I’m all about various electronic genres… and while I do enjoy a few, that’s not what I do.  I think initially, I liked pop.  But my brother was inclined towards heavier music, and played a lot more Rock-oriented music.  I think I connected with it intuitively, but it was that exposure that made it happen.

Do you have a favorite go-to album of all-time and how have your feelings about it changed at all over the years?  My favorite albums are too numerous to name, but I do have two albums that I would say are my favorite albums of all time… truly my “go-to” albums.

Out of the Blue– Electric Light Orchestra.  When I first heard this album in 1978, it was everything I wanted music to be.  It had a great Beatlesque vibe, but also explored a lot of different genres, production styles, instrumentation, and technology.  It was where I first saw the name “Moog.”  My perception of it has changed primarily in that as I have gotten older, had more education, more experience, etc., I’ve been better able to hear the instrumentation, recognize the production techniques, and understand everything “underneath the hood.”   My love of it has not wavered at all.

The Beatles– The Beatles.  I probably don’t need to say anything about this, but I will say that the weird combination of exquisite production and raw messy production along with the combination of amazing songcraft and unique musical exploration basically made me who I am today.  I think I love it more every time I hear it.

What was your first public live performance and how did it go?   If I exclude piano recitals, my first musical performance was in high school… in a band where we dressed up in punk clothes and performed Country music.  I was just plunking out chords on a piano, but it was incredibly exciting, and it pretty much set everything in motion.  My first “public” performance was probably this one time in a bar that I was too young to be in (but there were provisions for under-age musicians).  I felt confused and out-of-place, but very excited to be playing in public. And in a bar.

What you gives you the biggest high as a musician?  I have been obsessed with creating music since I was nine years old (the age I started writing music at).  I have been intent on learning to express myself and create compelling music.  So, I guess I’d say that… but I also enjoy performance, and have often chosen performance over writing.

How does the song writing process happen for you ? (Is there a Marc Doty riff graveyard?)  Initially, it was me sort of imitating the music of my idols.  Then, I went to college and got a degree in composition.  During that process, writing music became essentially an opening of the floodgate in my brain, and a desire to make every idea into something interesting.

It depends largely on what the intent is… what I’m writing for.  But in general, most of my music starts with either messing around on a piano, or having an intense emotion that I vent by spontaneously creating lyrics and melodies.

I do a lot of synthesizer demonstrations on YouTube, and when I’m writing the themes for these demonstrations, I often let the unique strengths of the synthesizer I’m writing with inspire me to create theme music.

And yes, if I never wrote anything new ever again for the rest of my life, I have enough ideas lying around to probably carry through the rest of my life!

What’s your philosophy on drums and getting the right drum take?  The most inspirational song for me in regard to drums was “Louie Louie,” if you can believe that.  Louie Louie had a drum sound that really reached me on an emotional level, and I realized early-on that it was because it is natural and expressive, and because the vibration of the drums in the room lead to the timbral aspect of the drums.  That is to say that drums sound best and most expressive as a person who is experiencing them there, and experiencing them there is an aural experience of how the vibration of the drums interact with the room they are in.

Recognizing this led me to recreate the drum production of some in the past… and I found that a great way to record drums was with a single mic sensing the vibration of the room.  I LOVE the sound of single-mic recorded drums.  And most of my songs feature acoustic drums captured with a single mic in a room.

I’ll admit that I do often boost the bass drum, or record it separately with a different mic arrangement simply because placement of a mic in order to capture snare, toms, and cymbals often results in a baseless bass drum… but still.

I loved drum machines when I was young, but I got tired of them.  Even when I do electronic stuff, I tend to sample live drums and create loops.

Will rock & roll continue to boast bands whose careers span decades or have folks attention spans shrunk too much for a new band to sustain such success?  It’s hard to imagine Rock surviving what is happening in music right now.  It has become a business first and foremost, and the music has been reduced to its most selling aspects.  It’s no longer about expressing what you personally feel and having another person identify with it, it’s about pandering directly to musical aspects and lyrics that invoke immediate feeling in the listener.  It’s not so much communication as it is manipulation at this point.  I wonder what the future will hold.

Your speaking at KnobCon here in Chicago this week, what sort of stuff do you plan to get in to?  Well, I have somehow generated a world-wide following in regard to my synthesizer demonstrations and education, and I look forward to any opportunity to teach people about how vast, deep, and long the history of synthesizers is.  At Knobcon, I’ll be doing a presentation on a synthesizer inventor that most people haven’t heard of… which is sad, because he created many of the aspects of synthesis we attribute to others!  It’s an awareness campaign.  It will also be fantastic to interact with synthesizer pioneer Tom Oberheim, and my friend Michael Boddicker, who, in addition to being an amazing keyboard player and synthesist, was responsible for SO many of the session keyboard parts for musicians like Michael Jackson.

Synths almost killed rock in the 70’s with prog, tried again with new wave in 80’s and today seems to have found a new host in EDM: Is this just another occupational hazard or will it have longer legs the ‘keyboardist’ as it were?  Ha ha, yeah… it’s hard to beat keyboards back, sometimes.  But the fact is, there is a balance that can be had with the synthesizer and Rock… it’s just that it’s easy to go too far.

What advice would you give to a talented young artist wondering how the fuck to get from A to B and make a real go of it?   Well, I spent 12 years desperately trying to get a record contract back in the 80s and 90s.  I worked my ass off trying to do what was expected.  I tried to write songs that would appeal to audiences and A&R people.  I tried to get that stuff heard.  I had a manager in L.A., and interest from labels like Geffen and Interscope… but it all failed.  And I think largely, that was because I was shooting for an idea as opposed to doing what I loved.

Conversely, I started demonstrating synths on YouTube, and suddenly, my work was spread all over the world, synthesizer companies started asking me to demonstrate their products, I got hired at a historical synthesizer foundation, met all of my idols, and have tens of thousands of people hearing my music every month.

I really think the key isn’t to try to be something you want to be, but to try to show people what you are.  Don’t make your art some sort of bartering for something that has nothing to do with art, delve deeper into your art and live it, and opportunities will come to you.

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ALYSHA BRILLA

 

IMG_7620 (1)What is your favorite personal single recording (or song) and what about it makes you happiest?  My favourite single is “Womyn”. I love it because it is an empowering song for anyone, especially women; musically, it draws from some 70’s African Jazz, which I am crazy about.

Do you still believe in the concept of an album over the single?  I believe in albums, yeah. The reason being that they are pretty acurate portraits of an artist and sort of logs their growth chronologically. I love making records. I don’t care what the internet says.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to recording?  My philosophy when it comes to recording is; to capture a good vibe. A good vibe from myself, from the musicians and the engineer. I am super aware of the energy of spaces and so I have to feel the studio vibe is right; you can have a studio with $100,000,000 in gear and unless the energy is right, you won’t get a good recording.  

How does the songwriting process work for you?  Are there any triggers in your life that cause you to sit down and write something, or does it just happen?  (The) Songwriting process for me is all about inspiration. You couldn’t pay me to sit down and write a song under pressure. Literally- my old label tried to do that with me in LA and it doesn’t work. I am so inspired by this amazing and flawed world. I tend to get song ideas when a) I am emotional b) I am walking/biking/on a bus c) I am travelling.        Right now I am in India and am sooo inspired. Writing everyday!

0What was the first real concert you ever attended and what impression did it have on you?The first real concert I attended was…Christina Aguilera/Justin Timberlake. Yeah, I know. Stripped  was such a good album for 11 year old me. So empowering thematically.

What is your approach to playing live and what is your mindset pre-show?  My approach to live performance is pretty dedicated. I take it seriously; in that…I am so serious about letting go and establishing a sense of release for myself and the audience. I am very playful and jokey on stage. I think that helps. My mind set pre-show is excitement and a bit of healthy nervousness. Mostly excitement.

If you could tour with any artist next year who would it be and why?  If I could tour with any artist next year it would be…Sam Smith. I think we would blend well. I am in love with him and his music.

What are your favorite 3 albums of all-time?  My three favourite albums of all time are:

  1. Back to Black– Amy Winehouse
  2. Blue– Joni Mitchell
  3. Everything Bob Marley has ever released

Earth is to be destroyed by an asteroid — you been instructed to put one song (any song ever recorded by anyone) in a time capsule to represent mother earth, what might it be?   The song I’d put in the time capsule as a gift to our cosmic neighbors would be… “Svefn-G-Englar” by Sigur Ros

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SCOTT PEREZ

1.0 – How did the recent recording session go for you guys?

The recent recording session is going super well. We’re in the studio with Andy Wambach up at Audio Impact Studios in Clearwater, Fl and he’s the most laid back engineer/producer we’ve worked with. Super awesome guy at everything he does. We’re almost done with everything this first session. Just gotta finish up vocals and bass then prepare for the next batch of songs we have. Things are lookin great.

2..0 – Will it be continuation of the direction on the debut The Wanderer EP or a new tack for the band?

A lot different from our last recored which is great – its definitely a new track. We’re kinda doin away with the rockabilly/country feel and goin for a darker, more raw, rock n roll sound. I feel its more us in a sense and being true to our music is number 1 on our list so we’re super excited to show everyone.

3.0 – How did the you come together? 

We got together from a disbanding of a previous project 3 of us were in. I was doing The Wanderer as a solo project on the side with my brother Chris Perez at drums and then Ricky Stephens and Ryan Kersey showed interest in making this a full time gig so we started playing shows together and it took off from there. It was kinda fate in a way because we’d all been friends for a while and in seperate projects and this band was what ultimately brought together and its stuck for a while.

4.0 – Putting you on the spot: what’s the best thing about being a ‘Wanderer’?

Haha…the best thing about being a Wanderer is definitely feeling a chemistry when we all get together and write music. There’s definitely an energy in the room when things click between us. Almost like a freight train haha. Once we start, there’s no stopping us. Ideas just flow.

5. Was there a guitarist that got you hooked initially on the idea of playing music?

Oh man! Most definitley. For me U2’s guitarist, The Edge, hooked me from a very young age. My guitar playing definitely takes heavy influence from him. Just his sound and the choices he makes not to stand out to much but more so fill out a song and really bring it the depth and atmosphere that U2 songs have really inspires me.

6.0 – When did you start writing? 

I started writing at a very young age. I think I was about 8 or 9 when I wrote my first song. I remember sitting in my moms bedroom with my brand new Fender Strat Squier that my dad bought me and I pumped this song out called “Graceland”. It was definitely a post-punk kinda song that I wrote after watching U2’s Rattle And Hum movie. It was named after Elvis’ home where they (U2) had visited and I remember pausing it and writing this song. It was cheesy as all get-out though haha.

THE WANDERER

It definitely depends. Usually it starts with either Ricky (our guitar player) or I comin up with a riff and just building from there. There have been times where it started with a title like “The Awakening” off of our last ep so it really depends on who brings what to the table first.

8.0 – When / how did you find out you could sing?

I wouldn’t call it singing really, just yelling really loudly in a melodic fashion haha. But the first time I remember being able to sing was when I was in first grade. My music teacher at the time heard me singing to some music video we were watching and she pulled me to the side and asked me to sing some lines from “The Little Drummer Boy” and next thing I knew, I was singing it in front of people at my schools Christmas play. So I guess you could say that was my first recollection of being able to sing.

9.0 – Do lyrics come easy to you or do they come together over time for a given song?  

Like with riffs, it depends. Lyrics usually come pretty easily to me but then again sometimes I find it hard but it always comes through in the end once I put all my ideas together and piece it out. I usually find myself writing lyrics first and fitting them in.

10.0 – You are sleep walking in a dreamscape and wander on stage in your pajamas to join what band on what encore? 

Oh man! That’s an easy one for me haha. I would wander on stage and join Bono and the rest of U2 for one of my favorite songs, “Love is Blindness”. Hands down. Now it’d be a little weird to be in my pajamas but, hey, I’ll get over it pretty quickly haha.

SUEDE STOUT

1.0  –  What records were you listening to in 8th grade? Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Bad Co..

2.0 – Was there an artist you wanted to be as a kid? a hero figure? Peter Criss, Billy Powell.

3.0 – When did you realize you could do music for a living?  1985.

4.0 – Is Darwin Records looking for new artists? Always.

5.0 – Is the Chicago music scene a focus for you? Absolutely.

6.0 – Turnstyles; Live In The Studio is a cool concept, were you happy with how it turned out?  Very, have gone through 4 pressings!!!  yay!

7.0 – Are you working on any new material right now?  Finishing new Turnstyles CD called Youthful Wisdom features nearly every great Chicago musician I’ve known –Matt Walker, Scott Bennett, Steve Gerlach, Tom Gerlach, Warren Beck, Chris Tomek, Dan Ponosky, John Schulte, Paul Mertens, Todd Sucherman, Clark Sommers and about 20 more! As the title suggests, maybe in some ways we’re smarter when we’re young and our priorities are more than money and world domination.

8.0 – What advice would you give to a young artist entering the studio for the first time?  Work out everything you want to do beforehand, practice with a metronome, but be flexible to the creative nature of recording so you can morph and grow with the process.

9.0 – How long do you think it will be before everything we do is broadcast 24/7 as standard artist branding?  Less than 10 years, maybe 5?

10.0 – You bump into Paul McCartney at The Lantern and he’s up for a late night jam, what Beatles song do you guys play together? “Blackbird”, “One After 909”, “Silly Love Songs” (but I get to play Bass  :-) )

JOE DELL’AQUILA

1.0 It must be an exciting time to now have your own studio in Exeter Recording, how is it going?

It’s been going really great.  It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come.  Just to think I started out with a Tascam 4 track at my house to this is just insane. Been having a lot of great young bands coming into the studio, and the 7inch wall is still growing! I’m really happy with the sounds I’m getting here and the place has such a comfortable atmosphere. I’m always updating my equipment and always figuring out ways to improve everything I do.  Just ask any band that comes in here about how insane I go when mixing!  I have the gray hairs to prove it.

2.0  Would you be able to produce as well if you hadn’t been in bands yourself?

I always think about how hard it would have been if I didn’t grow up being in a band (With Resistance). I can relate to bands on a lot of different levels.  Whether a band is just starting out recording the first songs they’ve ever written, or recording a debut full length and are about to hit the road for a month, I feel I know exactly what they are going through having been in the situation myself.  One of the great things about being a producer is feeling like you’re apart of every band that enters the studio.  No matter how you feel about the band’s music, you become apart of that band’s history, and are working as hard as they are to put out something awesome.

3.0  When did you realize producing was what you wanted to do?

I think as soon as I hit the realization that high school was ending, that’s when I decided I had to figure out something to do that wasn’t going to make me miserable for the rest of my life! I remember feeling like it was such a make or break decision, and figured, whatever it was, that it was going to start there and then, and that I wasn’t going to give up on the decision unless I hated it. Music was the obvious choice for me, and I was so amazed by the recording experience every time my band had to record that I said “screw this crappy supermarket job”…. I want to do this! Then I went to school and nabbed an associates degree, but that’s not where I felt it started.  Once I started to get hands on experience just figuring out how to record on my own, that’s where I got sucked in and knew I could only get better from there.

4.0  What is your favorite part about the process?

It’s to hard to pick a favorite. I love mixing because it really is amazing to hear the transformation from raw recorded sounds with no set levels, to something that sounds so together, with everything having its own space and being brought more upfront.  And even though I’m not a drummer, I loooooove recording drums.  Nothing feels more awesome than great drum tones.

5.0  What records and producers would you say you have been most influenced by?

I feel like I remember liking the sound of a record rather than who recorded it, which is horrible because I should be hoping people do the opposite when listening to my recordings! But annnnyways….I was definitely influenced by Chris Badami at Portrait Recording Studios.  My band went to him when he was recording out of a garage.  We had such a good experience that we never went to anyone else, going to him the next four times we had to record, and watching his studio grow into the amazing place that it is today.  It was really inspiring because he was just a genuine, nice dude, that was cool to work with for 10 hours a day, and I saw him do exactly what he set out to do. Another guy is Dan Korneff at House of Loud, the guy is a damn genius!  His mixes are enormous, and I think the guy knows more about Nuendo than Steinberg does!  He has indirectly taught me so much, and its awesome to be in contact with him to shoot the shit about recording.  Which leads me to the last guy, my buddyJosh Jakubowski.  He let me use his home studio for years to start my business while he worked in north Jersey at another facility.  Basically my mentor, he taught me things he learned on a daily basis, and we were able to put together an amazing studio for a couple years.  As for records, I love the sound of Small Brown Bikes’s records, Elliot – False Cathedrals, Cave In’srecords, Propagandhi’s records, Jimmy Eat World’s records, I think Days Away; “Mapping An Invisible World” still has my favorite kick drum sound ever! And when my father breaks out his Beatles vinyl, I still get amazed at how good they sound.

6.0 Do you see yourself first as a producer or a musician?

Well about 8 years ago, I would have said musician without even thinking, considering I was in a touring hardcore band at the time.  But since the band broke up, being a producer has completely taken over.  The time I used to spend writing songs is now replaced by figuring out ways to better my recordings and better myself as an engineer.  I feel like there will always be room to improve and that’s what makes recording so addicting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to play shows again and I have a bunch of songs I’ve written over the years but right now, the studio is the number one priority in my life.

7.0  Was producing records something you had to work hard at or was it something that came naturally to you?

Engineering is something that takes a lot of work to get used to, but Producing is definitely something that comes more naturally to me. Having written so many songs myself, and now having worked with so many bands, I feel I can easily get a grasp on what a band is going for, and from there the ideas start to flow. I always like to throw in my input when something pops up in my head. I’m not scared of getting turned down, because I know bands have a certain idea of how they want their songs to sound, so that makes me an easy person to work with and also keeps a creative atmosphere. I want nothing more than to make the band happy and to make their songs bigger than what they even imagined.

8.0  Can you offer any advice to young bands who are thinking about entering a studio to record for the first time?

Preproduction and practice!!!!  There are so many basic ways of recording available now a days, that young bands with a small budget can do preproduction on their own and be prepared to focus mainly on their performance in the studio.  A lot of bands like to jump the gun on recording, and then you get the, “that’s what you’ve been playing there?” line. So unless you have the time to break down songs in the
studio, it’s something that’s really important to do beforehand.  It just leaves so much more open to focus on performance and to sprout
ideas to make the songs even better.

9.0  Do you have a philosophy about producing?

It’s usually whatever comes in my fortune cookies from the Chinese food I eat every day here! “What’s the deal with fortune cookies being
just statements now a days, I want a fortune damn it!” But seriously, it’s just about working with the artist that came up with the song and realizing the direction they are trying to take. Be open to any ideas they have, and build off them and your own together.

10.0  Is it really true that “every room is different sound?”

I think it’s true, but in the same sense, it doesn’t mean that you can record in one room and not in another. I feel like I could take my set up anywhere and get the sound I need.  It’s all about knowing your equipment, knowing your mic placements, and trusting your ear. On the other hand, getting used to your Monitors and control room is a different story. I feel like that is something that takes a little more getting used to, but its all about comparing and testing the room with different things you and other people have done.

Exeter Recording Studio is located in Freehold, New Jersey