Friday, 31 August 2012

A limitation or an opportunity for creativity?

I love limitations being imposed on me and my work flow. In essence, it is why the Mashup Session happened. A desire to push myself with a new challenge. This has got me thinking recently about some records and the limitations they had imposed on them, for example Sgt Pepper recorded to only 4 tracks because 8 wasn't invented yet. Jim Sutherland a few years back recorded an entire record on 1 mic and it sure as hell sounds like nothing else. Donna Maciocia recently turned me onto an artist called Tune-Yards who recorded her whole debut album on a Dictaphone and mixed it in Garageband and it sounds like nothing else I have ever heard.

This got me thinking about my own work flow and what sort of limitations I could impose on myself that would result in having to be more creative in how I record, mix and produce. Restricting the number of microphone I use is a good start. OK, so I now have 3 mics for the kit where I would ordinarily use between 7 and 16. What about the mics? I can only use dynamic or ribbon mics, no condensers. Alright. The backing vocals on the record need to be recorded on an inbuilt laptop mic rather than in a studio. NOW WE ARE TALKING! All effects used during this mix must come from guitar pedals. THE POSSIBILITIES HERE ARE ENDLESS!

Can you imagine how these little tweaks to work flow will change the sound of the record? The character that would start shining through? Do any of them sound like limitations now, or a chance to be super creative? I'll let you know how I get on!

What have you been up to, Garry?
Things have been busy recently with lots of cool stuff happening. Here is a quick run down:
  • I have been working on a 3 track EP with Billy Liar. It is coming together very nicely and I mix it all this weekend. It is a big departure from what Billy is known for and I think an outstanding piece of work. More about this soon.
  • The Horndog Brass Band album is starting to take shape with 3 or 4 of the songs now mixed. I am hoping to have this one totally done by the end of October. We will see how that pans out.
  • In July I was in Castlesound Studio recording a couple projects for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival in Stuarts place. Both sessions were amazing and featured some of Scotland's top Jazz musicians. I learned loads on these two session, as I always do at Castle. Cant wait to hear them both mixed.
  • Euan Burton and myself produced Sean Gibbs first EP at Castlesound. Sean is an amazing upcoming talent so have a listen to his Bandcamp page.
  • Kat Healy was in the studio filming this lovely intimate video of 'How Long' to help promote her record which is out next week. For more info check Kat's webpage.
  • The Das Contras and Holy Ghosts albums are FINISHED! Should be out soon.
  • I have been working with Creative Scotland for the third year helping young upcoming bands to produce and release their first single. Supported through the Cashback for Creativity program it is helping young musicians at the very start of their career. The Proclaimers popped into a session last month to celebrate the fantastic work the project is doing. Jack Hinks, Censor Thoughts, Frink Out and Blueprint Makeover are the bands to keep an eye on.
  • I have been mixing some of the upcoming releases from new independent label Strange Fish Records. I mixed and mastered the upcoming Kill The Waves and Battery Face double a-side releases. Great bands and a great upcoming label. Check them all out.
  • I produced a single for Soujourner who are a great acoustic / folk quartet. They are talking about supplementing this track with another few and turning it into an EP.

SSL Chris Lord-Alge Masterclass at Real World Studios
A few weeks ago I was invited down to Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios by Solid State Logic for an exclusive Masterclass with one of the top mix engineers in the world, Chris Lorg-Alge.

During the seminar Chris spoke about what drives him as a mixer, his career path and how he approaches his mixes. He mixed some Green Day tracks from American Idiot on the studio's SSL which just seemed to solidify how gifted he is. In less than the time it took for the whole song to play, CLA had the mix close to down and sounding MASSIVE. The funny thing is, he uses less than half the compression people seem to think. Real World is such a stunning studio and the 'Big Room' is truly monstrous! Lots of fantastic tips, tricks and an amazing human to meet in the flesh. Chris, you are a hero.

A very inspiring day and a huge thank you to Mike at for the invite.

New Studio Toys
Well, we continue to upgrade the studio at The Depot. The monitoring has just been changed over from my trusty Dynaudios to PMC TB2s. They are sounding amazing! The depth, stereo imaging and detail these speakers provide is just outstanding. Worth checking out the website alone to see the technology that does into a speaker like this. Very impressed.

I also just got a Neve 8803 Eq which, again, is sounding just outstanding. Dual channel EQ from the 88 series with total recall. So far I have used this on every session and it flexibility is just blowing me away. Every mix has had this thing strapped across the mix bus in a classic top and bottom shelf (+3db @ 80hz +3db @12khz) sort of thing.

You should drop by The Depot Studio, have a cup of tea and check it all out. Especially if you have not been in and read this.

There are a couple more gadgets on the way but more about them when they are here.

Anyway, September is super busy with three records I am SUPER EXCITED about, but for now, I must keep them quiet. But, I am SUPER EXCITED about them.

Over and out

Garry Boyle

Monday, 2 July 2012

2012 Part 1.... Where has the year gone?

I remember when I started this blog. Once a month I thought. Aye. Anyway, here is a run down of the last 6 months. I have had the opportunity to work on some outstanding material in what has been a very busy start to the year. The studio at The Depot continues to build a reputation as one of the best studios to record in the East of Scotland. Here is why:

  • Finished up the Project DSB album. It is sounding good! 
  • Finished Kat Healy's album due for release end of July.
  • A little for-fun jam session with some buddies brought life to this track by the aptly named Wolfpack.
  • I produced an EP for Backlash and two singles for The Industry both of whom continue to go from strength to strength.
  • Live recording with Stanley Odd at the 02 ABC for Celtic Connections. Check out the videos here.

  • Started work on the Holy Ghosts debut album. 6 tracks recorded and mixed in three days (you read that right) which will make up the first half of their album. A 3 track taster EP is available here.
  • Mixing for the Cairn String Quartet promo CD.
  • 4 track EP with Toy Machene at the studio. This ended up being the first half of their debut album.
  • I also had the opportunity to stand in and help record vocals for two songs for the Pixar film Brave with Jim Sutherland and Julie Fowlis at Castlesound in late Feb. Working on such a big film was a real pleasure and a huge eye opener. The songs are now online here and here. Stuart and Jim did an amazing job on these two songs and am very proud to have done my wee bit.

  • The Broken Records were in studio doing the first 2 (of 5) weeks on their third album. The band wanted to self produce this record in a more stripped out/wired way then their previous record. Over the next 2 months I tracked 11 songs with the band before it was handed over to Tony Doogan for mixing. Keep an eye out for this record when it is out next year.
  • The Firebugs were in the studio producing their first 3 track EP.
  • I mastered the Whiteheath Single produced and mixed by Graeme Steel. Grab it for free here.
  • Homework back in working on the second half of their album. This one was great fun and the band really pushed it to the next level. I can't wait for it to be out there. Check out the single they released from the album here

  • The lovely Echo Arcadia were in for a weekend working a their new EP 'High Hopes and Low Expectations'. The lineup has been augmented by a trumpet player and new keyboard player. 
  • Finalisation of mixes for the Homework album.
  • Continuation of the Broken Records album including a day at Castlesound to track the strings.

  • A final week of sessions for the Broken Records album.
  • Second half of The Holy Ghosts album. It is away being mastered and due out in the next month.
  • I produced two tracks for the BBC Songs of Praise TV show. I did a similar series of tracks a few years back however this time round the band was augmented by a string quartet, flute, oboe and horn section. This went out on BBC 1 on the 1st of July and is available to watch here for the next few days (16 minutes 10 seconds in).

  • I went on a lovely holiday to Italy with my girlfriend. It was deserved after those 5 months! I didn't listen to any music for the whole week!
  • I was invited to speak on a Producer Seminar at GoNorth 2012 in Inverness. The panel included producer John McLaughlin, manager Francis MacDonald, mastering Engineer Mandy Parnell and myself and it was a great experience to be part of.
  • The Das Contras record which has been ongoing for the last year was mixed. It should be finalised very soon and off to be mastered.
  • Greg Pearson was in for a day working on his single 'Coming Home'. Greg had started this at another studio however the final product was not up to standard so we re-tracked the vocals, piano and bass and reworked the track to give it plenty of life. Look out for it soon.
  • The Glitch were in for a day working on their new single 'Fireworks' due out soon.
  • I mixed two tracks for Strange Fish Records latest signing Kill The Waves. This will make up a double A-side due out shortly.
  • Toy Machene were back in for a weekend working on 4 new tracks to augment the 4 done in January. The whole lot is being mixed later this week.
  • Billy Liar was in for a day making a start on his new EP. Billy has been on the scene for a few years developing his style of acoustic punk but is taking this new material down a more folk orientated route. The first day was a huge success and I look forward to continuing the project with him later next month.
  • I mixed a track for Scrum as a tester for their next upcoming record. 

Other Stuff
  • We started work on this years Creative Scotland YMI Demo and Rehearsal Project. This is my third year running the program so we are getting very good at delivering an outstanding experience. Keep an eye out for more.
  • Plans are unwinding for the next series of Mashup Sessions. I am sure it will be bigger and sillier than ever.
  • Other projects down at the studio that Craig has been working on include a mixture projects with Wee See Lights, The Little Kicks and Jack Rowbery. He has also been a busy bee.

Techy Geek Corner
The last 6 months have seen some very serious investment and upgrades to the studio at The Depot. For the tech heads these new additions are:
  • A new Avid OMNI and HD Native system. This thing sounds amazing and has upped the studios channel count along side the 96io.
  • Brauner Phantom Vocal Mic. This is stunning. The focus and clarity make this out favorite mic.
  • A vintage Neumann KM84i from 1974
  • A stunning DW Collectors Series Birch drum kit with matching maple snare. Considered to be the flagship DW line, this kick is free to use at the studio on your next session.
  • A Vintech 573 Mic amp. That classic Neve sound.

So, as you can tell we are not standing still. The studio is busier than it has ever been and the consistently high standard of work is the most important thing to us. 

Onwards and upwards!

              Monday, 28 November 2011

              October Update. In December.

              I think the title says it all really. October and November came an went and no blog update so I guess this is a bit of a round up of the last couple months for me. It has been a little bit mental.

              • The Banana Sessions released the first track and video from the upcoming MIXTAPE album. Check it out, it is brilliant:

              • I did 5 days at the brand new Gorbals Sound in Glasgow working with Neil Primrose (of Travis fame) on his new unnamed project. We did 4 tracks over the 5 days in the lovely studio 2. A top bunch of guys in an outstanding studio and some killer music. Happy Garry.

              • 5 days working on the new Precious and Grace EP down at our studio at The Depot. These guys have really upped their game an progressed a lot since their last EP in June.
              • I started work on the upcoming Horndog Brass Band Album at Castlesound and The Depot. This one is shaping up really nicely. If you were at any decent music festival this summer I am sure you will have seen these guys. I also just recently received an amazing guest vocal for one of the tracks from the states. Very exciting! Top secret still though.
              •  On location for a few days with the George Watson Pipe Band. These things are always really interesting as you never know quite what space you are gonna get. We ended up in a great, well treated rehearsal space in Redford Army Barracks.

              The Mashup Session

              If you have not heard about this then where have you been the last few months!? This project was up until last month a bit of a pipe dream for me but now it exists!

              The idea is simple. Two bands collaborate in the studio to produce one track which is recorded, mixed and released in 24 hours for free. The emphasis being the song, by one of the two acts, gets reworked in the style of the other. So far we have done two of them which are available FOR FREE from here:

              Donna Maciocia V The Mike Kearney Ka-Tet
              Stanley Odd V The Banana Sessions

              Check out the project on Facebook, Twitter and check out the video diary from the sessions at our YouTube.

              November / December

              Rogass and myself spend the last week of November working on the new HOMEwork recordings. After the release of their last record the band wanted to take a slightly different route with this new project with the emphasis being on playing live together to capture the energy of the stage show. Check out my techy geek corner for more info on the drum sound!

              I was on the panel for Born to be Wide last week on their 'In the Studio' seminar. It was a good turnout and great fun being put on the spot and having to give my opinion on matters regarding studio life. You should really check out these superb networking events. Olaf, Michael and the team really put a lot of effort into making them a quality evening.

              This week I am working in Castlesound on a Salsa project whist Stuart is away then from Friday I am doing a folk record with Modhan down at the Depot. Before Christmas I also need to have the Project: DSB album mixed, Kat Healy's album done and dusted and the first round of HOMEwork mixes in the bag. Busy but all in all, a very nice way to wind down until the New Year.

              Techy Geek Corner

              So, the HOMEwork drum sound. This is a wee trick I have been messing about with on and off over the last few years which, in essence, is simply re-amping a drum sound in the room with the kit. This time last year I used a PA system to push some thicker frequencies into the room for the Stanley Odd 'Antihero' EP drum sound (as in more bass and low mid frequencies) as I tend to find room mics only really capture the upper high mids and cymbals of a kit. So, using a PA you I would re-amp the kick and snare into the room making the kit much larger than life. With HOMEwork I reworked this idea and faced all the speakers into the drum kit (rather than a room) and, again, pushed the kick and snare back into the kit mics. The sound I ended up with was a super thick kick drum which bled into all the mics. This gave the kit some real solidity around the 60-70hz zone and, in keeping with the live feel of the session, made the kit sound more 'amplified' as it would be in a venue. Good fun and a wicked trick!

              Over and out!
              Garry Boyle -

              Monday, 26 September 2011

              Quick Update. Sept 2011

              Just a short blog today, there are loads of cool thing happening just now down at the studio but for the most part it is still a little to early to detail them. The studio work is still going well and the ceiling in the second room is just about all done. The space is sounding quite radically different now and we are excited to be getting on with the bigger space before the end of the year.

              Work wise things have been really good recently with the Kat Healy record and Project: DSB both really taking shape. The Banana Sessions album is getting mastered next week as well so it is all go!

              The end of October and all November is looking super busy with a few really exciting projects but, again, more about them when the time comes. Last week I was in St Giles recording their Organ. Every time I get the opportunity to record this MONSTER I am reminded of what real Sub frequencies and power are. Here is a quick video:

              The Studio is also launching a new project in the next few weeks. I'll again keep the details out just now but we are all REALLY excited about it. Post MWTM France I have a real drive to get some things off the ground and already am seeing massive changes in both my work and my attitude to it. It is a good feeling and long may it last.

              Before I sign off, be sure to check out Michael MacLennan's new Single 'To The Fire' out today on iTunes. Check it here.

              Next Blog will reveal all. Promise.

              Garry Boyle - CP Productions

              Friday, 16 September 2011

              A Coolshzer Voolshzer. MWTM 2011.

              As I am sure you are likely to know (I have been going on about it enough...) I am just back from the Mix With the Masters Michael Brauer masterclass at La Fabrique Studio (South France) and what an amazing time it was!

              The course was split up into a series of seminars, practical (hands on) projects, observation (Michael doing his thing) and one to one time where we got to play some of  our own mixes to not only Michael but the rest of the group. The group was made up of 13 young professionals from all over the world and had participants from Brazil, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, England, Germany and other places.

              A good place to start would be to discuss what I hoped to get out of this week with Michael and the other participants. One thing I want to be clear about is that I didn’t expect any quick fixes or shortcuts to better mixes. In all my time as an engineer I have had the pleasure of assisting some great people but in particular, one engineer and one producer have taught me more in the few days a year I work with them than I would otherwise learn in a year on my own. This is what initially attracted me to this sort of masterclass and, as such, it is safe to say I expected to a lot out of it. This expectation was exceeded effortlessly by the end of the second day.

              So, what did I feel I got out of it? Well, this has been one of the most inspirational things I have every done in my own little journey I call a career. Spending the time working with such like minded people in such stunning surroundings, hanging out and chatting with Michael (who is one of the friendliest guys you will ever meet), listening to his never ending supply of jokes, industry stories, experience and wisdom in what was simply one of the best weeks of my life. Even after 35 years Michael's love and passion for the music is still brutally evident every time he stands between the speakers and listening to this passion translate through his mixes is something that will be with me forever. I have returned from France with a much better understanding of what I am trying to do and hundreds (and hundreds) of new tricks, ideas and concepts that I will myself need to properly explore and integrate into my working. In fact, I don't think I could even go back to 'the old way' now.

              Thank you very much to Victor, Max and Stan (the man!) at La Fabrique and MWTM, the other 12 guys and, of course, Michael. It will take me the next few years to fully digest everything you shared with us but already I feel better connected with the music and am loving what is coming out of my speakers. I have met some great new friends from all over the world and I look forward to progressing through this cruel and brutal industry along side you all.

              So, what coming up? 
              Well, I am right back to it. This month will see the conclusion of a few big projects I have been working on this year. In particular Kat Healy’s album is creeping closer to completion. It’s in great shape and Kat and Graeme have been spending a lot time this year making sure it is totally right for her first release. The Project: DSB record is also getting mixed this week. This one is pure prog rock and I can’s wait till people start hearing it. Also, the Das Contras record is picking up again with some of the final guitar and vocals being done this week before the horns later in the month. All of this is super exciting and I will detail further about it all soon.

              In the meantime, have you checked out The Island by Michael MacLennan? If not, do so now and keep an eye out for his debut single ‘To The Fire’ out later this month. 

              Garry Boyle – CP Productions

              Ps - Coolshzer Voolshzer is how Manuel (from Spain) pronounces Culture Vulture. It is the second funniest thing I have ever heard in my life. The funniest was him trying to say John Mayer.

              Friday, 5 August 2011

              Groundhog Day

              This time next month exactly I will be in France on the Michael Brauer masterclass. To say I am excited is an understatement. A big understatement. I am literally counting the days (28). But before that, its that time of year again when the Edinburgh Festival rolls into town. This year I will be doing sound for a new show The Kist at venue 7 on George Street. Last night was the first show and it went well. I will be doing the next 17 nights then a few in Aberdeen. New challenges and all that.

              Sidelock were in the studio last month recording their new EP. It is all done and dusted, sounding great and released here. The guys worked very hard on this one and deserve some love for it. Give it a listen!

              In other news, Craig Ross and myself are doing some work in our studio down at The Depot. I am calling this 'Operation: Get-that-carpet-to-f*ck'. It will be a slow burner over the coming months but in short the studio is being all re-floored, the old carpet we have all grown to love is being tossed and we are dropping all the ceilings. I will upload some photo's as we go along to the studio's facebook.

              Techy Geek Corner.
              I want to share a resource I found months ago that I am getting a lot of mileage out of. Meet Dave Pensado, an A-List mix engineer based in the states. He set up an online tv show called Pensados Place where he invites equally A-List engineers, mixers and producers on for chats and an insight into their work methods. For me the stand out shows have been Michael Brauer, Jack Joseph Puig, Bruce Swedien and Ron Fair. Check them out.

              Sunday, 10 July 2011

              Fun in the Sun! A holiday of sorts...

              So, last blog is posted this picture of where I am off to on my erm.... holiday... of sorts.... this year:

              I am delighted to reveal I will be spending a week in the south of France on a mixing masterclass with one of my absolute idols, Michael H Brauer. For those who don't know Michael is an A-List New York based mix engineer who's credits include:

              - 'Parachutes', 'X&Y' and 'Viva La Vida' by Coldplay.
              - 'Continuum' and 'Battle Studies' by John Mayer.
              - 'Octavarium' by Dream Theater.
              - plus Regina Spector, Ben Folds, Aritha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, KT Tunstall and the list goes on and on.....

              Michael's mixes always sound phenomenal in terms of both pure sonics but also how the song just seems to sing out of speakers. He always manages to capture the absolute essence of what the song is about and make the whole lot just project the most beautiful way. I am so excited about this it is unreal. Like every Christmas rolled into one. And then some. When I applied for it (and submitted examples of my work - GULP!) I never thought I would get selected but I did.

              The elite masterclasses will focus on a load of cool stuff including a bunch of techniques quite unique to Mr Brauer as well as time for him to work on my mixes with me (GULP! Again)!

              So, what am I hoping to get out of this experience? Well, I hope that this opportunity gives me insight into another way of doing what I do from one of the absolute best in the world. I don't expect it to be a shortcut or quick fix to the top but I intend to spend as long as it takes internalizing everything I learn.

              I am investing in what is ultimately the most important thing in my industry; my own skill set. I want to take what I do to the next level and beyond and become better at what is quite honestly the coolest job in the world.

              Mr Brauer, looking forward (more than this blog can ever express) to meeting and working with you in September!

              Garry Boyle - CP Productions