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donnie joe’s American Swing; Photo shoot with JessyZee Creative

February 22, 2016

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Capturing a Proper Demo. FeelGood Music in your soul.

Alright, the website is built. We’ve got photos, a band logo, some artwork, a social media presence, but we are missing that all important must have key ingredient for any band; the Demo recording. The thing that shows folks who haven’t been to our monthly residency at the Cafe Jazz, Cardiff exactly what to expect when they book donnie joe’s American Swing.


So far, all attempts to capture a nice Live recording at the gig using a Zoom are proving futile. Even placing two Zooms around the stage is just not right. Don’t get me wrong, they are capturing the sound, but there is too much hiss, audience noise, and no way of EQ’ing that away later at home.


Now I’m a big fan of recording a band, all in the same room together playing live. For me, that’s where the magic happens.That’s where the sum of parts can can create something bigger than what each individual is contributing. It’s just not the same to lay down tracks, one at a time overdub style. We are playing Swing Jazz music, an improvised art, and in any given moment the piano player may adjust his comping because of something he hears from the bass, the drums or me. Those in the moment adjustments just can’t happen if we’re all playing to tracks.

 

The plan to record our first demo EP is hatched. 

Everyone over to my house to record live. We set the drum up in the living room with just a bass drum mic and 2 overheads. The Piano, Guitar, and Upright bass are in the kitchen going into the system direct. That is 6 channels into a Focusrite firewire audio interface, plumbed into Logic on the MacMini. We’re all wearing headphones half on and half off. I sing in the room so folks can hear, but not loud enough to bleed into the drum mics. I’ll overdub the vocals later. A mate of mine Stephen Preston mans the desk pressing record and stop while reading a book.

 

We run through each tune once to warm up and then press record. Just two takes through each 

number and done. That’s 3 hours to setup and record the demo. I spend another afternoon adding 

the vocal track to each tune. I mix it all together and bounce a 2 track stereo version out ready to be

mastered. 


Now Mastering music is an art in itself, and I am a novice doing any of this recording engineer business at a stretch. Let alone, my resources are Logic with the default plugins and youtube. All I am really trying to achieve is loud track, so when you play this on various systems, they are comparable in volume to a commercial CD.

 

I  owe a big thanks to Rob Williams on youtube. His video, 'How To Master A Song - 7 Steps to Loud,' sent me back to remix the tracks much quieter than I had originally. Once these new mixes were bounced, I used his techniques as a blueprint to master donnie joe’s America Swing Demo EP, Live from FeelGood Music.

 

… Feel good music in your soul. Makes your body want to rock and roll."

Hey Pocky Way

Ziggy Modeliste, Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Jr.

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