The value of a vision
Over the past few months, dark ambient musician Krzyzis (rhymes with Pisces) and I have been working on a collaboration. We first spoke about the project at the end of 2016 when I began outlining an idea for new music which I knew would benefit from his atmospheric approach. I presented my vision to him at the beginning of this year and was delighted when he announced that he was on board. Once production started, we found that having a clear vision was extremely helpful, especially in making key creative decisions. Not only did it keep the project on course but it also kept us in check: it encouraged Krzyzis (who can be surprisingly feral) to practice a little restraint and me (restrained to a fault) to be a little more adventurous.
Collaboration added an interesting dimension to composing music, especially in the initial stages, because it meant creating an incomplete work. There had to be room for Krzyzis to occupy. Conceiving of music in this way was an intriguing experience. As a solo musician, I compose every aspect of the music but as a collaborator, I had to imagine what my collaborative partner would add to the composition and forecast what arrangement would best compliment that addition. I had to be flexible but clear, true to my ideas but mindful of his. Ultimately, the challenge was to combine the themes that define our individual styles into a cohesive whole and we learnt a lot about ourselves as musicians in pursuit of that goal.
We look forward to announcing our collaborative EP in the weeks to come and in the meantime, I invite you to listen to Krzyzis’ haunting body of work at krzyzis.bandcamp.com
Image by Francesco Gallarotti
In The Mix
I spent the whole of Saturday doing the preliminary mix for “In The Hangar”, the opening track of the Airship album. I say preliminary because, once all the tracks are mixed, one inevitably goes back and adjust or rework all the mixes for greater overall consistency in the final album. I like to keep my mixes simple. The less I fiddle, the better. Usually, this involves nothing more than adjusting volumes and adding fades. But occasionally, it involves going back to the drawing board with one or more tracks.
Bothered By The Bass
This happened on Saturday. For “In The Hangar” and “A Good Day For Flying” (the track that follows) I used a synth bass, which had lost its appeal. I must confess, I was reluctant to change it because I didn’t feel confident about finding the right sound to replace it with in my limited arsenal of synths. Also, it’s unnerving, having to change something as fundamental to the mix as the bass. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the prospect. But, throughout the mixing session, it kept bothering me; I knew I had to change it.
Saved By The Bass
Eventually, I gave in. On the verge of resigning to a bass I didn’t like, I stopped being an idiot and started experimenting. It wasn’t long before edits to stock basses in GarageBand produced just the sound I was looking for. I breathed a sigh of relief and shook my head, thinking about my initial hesitation. Not only did I save my mix, but I learned a lot about creating unique synth sounds, in the process. I realised that it is better to follow my natural intuition about what I’m doing, that no matter how uncomfortable it turns out to be, it’ll lead to better understanding and, I hope, better music.