Late Spring News 2018

Yikes, I got busy for a moment and sorely neglected my website. Here is some of what I've been up to these past few months.

Mastering marvelous new albums by The Tins, Israel Nash, Occurrence, Matthew McNealProfessor Rhythm (Awesome Tapes From Africa) and many, many more, including a few knockouts that I can't talk about yet.

Celebrating the release of Barbara Dane's career-spanning boxset Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs, in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways, with her live performance at the Freight & Salvage.

Writing, researching, writing, revising an essay on The Sonics of Historic Recording Media, included in the new book Music Preservation and Archiving Today (Rowman & Littlefield), edited by Norie Guthrie and Scott Carlson.

Interviewing fellow mastering & restoration engineers Maria Rice, Josh Bonati, and Michael Graves for an article on The Aesthetics of Remastering Reissues for Tape Op Magazine.

 

Teaching the students at SAE/Expression in Emeryville about the making of Pet Sounds, about Ralph Peer and the Bristol Sessions, about phonautographs, magnetic tape, distortion as aesthetic texture, Max Martin's songwriting prowess, and so much more.

Plotting conference panels and talks for the AES Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration, happening at the LOC in Culpeper, Virginia this June. (And chairing the restoration track for the fall AES Convention in NYC - hit me up with ideas!)

Serving as a Governor and, now, newly elected Secretary of the SF Chapter of the Recording Academy.

And riding my bike, drinking coffee, planting a garden and eating radishes harvested from that garden, so even though sometimes it seems like it (and happily so), life is not all about my work.

But I love my work. 

Archival or mastering projects? Let me know! 

Winter News

It's 6am. It's dark and cold outside. Perfect time to update the website!

Well, autumn of 2017 has nearly passed, and I can look behind me at a beautiful mountain of work. I mastered songs/EPs/albums by French artist Julia PalombeThe Tins, Professor Rhythm, Benjamin Lee / Bass Pair, and a new recording by Ethiopian synth genius Hailu Mergia, plus a stack of others I can't quite talk about yet.

I started teaching History of Music Production at SAE/Expression College, and love the intellectual and creative challenge of speaking with authority on everything from acoustical recording onto wax cylinder to the invention of the DAW, from the mania of Phil Spector productions to how Grimes makes a record, from Nashville in the 1950s to a house party on Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx in 1973. 

In October, I traveled to NYC for the AES Convention. It was my first time back in my former hometown since I moved West in 2015. Oh, the heartstrings! I fell right back into the rhythm of the city and experienced intense sonic flashbacks - the sounds of stepping on cellar grates, the melodic whine of the subway rounding particular corners, the thrum of jackhammers, traffic, music seeping out of stores and restaurants. I walked along Crosby Street, now nearly unrecognizable to me, past the graffiti-covered heavy metal door to the Magic Shop, flashbacks of trying to lift that grate in the grips of winter, flashbacks of all the music made in that place. 

I was so happy to reunite with my former boss, the Magic Shop's Steve Rosenthal, and get a tour of his new studios, MARS, in Dumbo. I got to hear Wally de Backer / Gotye perform the music of Jean-Jacques Perrey on a meticulously restored Ondioline, hang with my dear friend and mentor Sarah Register at the Tape Op booth, and record a pilot podcast episode with another good friend, Arbo Radiko's Jocelyn Arem. 

And when the conference and social hangs ended, I slipped into the Union Square cinema and watched Blade Runner 2049 by myself, then retreated to the time capsule of a Tribeca loft where I was crashing and slept a few hours before my early morning flight back to California.

Ah, I miss you, New York City, but I'm a Californian now.

Up next, I actually spend a little time thinking about the musical moments that moved me most in 2017.

(Almost) Fall News 2017

It's September! I've been working on records all summer! Here are some new releases to pass through my mastering suite...

Lou Reed.... I have a history with Lou's music. I'll write about it someday. Out this month from the Bottom Line Archive series, hear Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson tell stories about the art of songwriting and play intimate acoustic versions of their songs. There are some incredible stories in this one! The moment that got me though: Lou singing "Tracks of My Tears." Check out these kind words about the album from Rolling Stone.

Ron Pope released his latest album Work last month. It's intimate and raucous and solid top to bottom, and I am thrilled I got to work with Ron and with engineer Ted Young on this release. He's about to embark on a massive tour, so catch him at a venue near you! Here's the video for one of my faves from his record:

Divining Rod (the project of multi-instrumentalist Miyuki Furtado) released Hemlock Blues in July. I love the combination of songwriting, performing, production and all around great energy in this record.

I adored working with Irish-born / LA-based singer-songwriter Mairéad MacMullen on the mastering of her new release, Burn For Love. This is a lovely, passionate record, fiery collection of songs. I can't wait to catch a live show soon.

Outside the studio, I had the pleasure of jumping in to teach History of Music Production at SAE / Expression this summer, and I'll be teaching a pop culture class this fall. I relish the opportunity to think more academically about the music I listen to for work and for pleasure. Which is to say, it is utterly awesome to lecture on Brian Wilson, George Martin, Joe Meek, Black Flag, Kool Herc, Grimes... Who would you want to learn more about in a history of music production class? Drop me a line and let me know.

Summer News

I started this post analog-style while camping over the July 4th weekend. Woke up at 6am, and the whole campground was still sound asleep, so I had coffee and blueberries and wrote while the birds chirped and the sun slipped through the leaves.

Two upcoming events:

On Friday, July 7th, I join Jonathan Wyner (M-Works Mastering, iZotope) to talk about audio restoration and repair. Our discussion will be moderated by Coast Mastering's Michael Romanowski and takes place at Fantasy Recording Studios and is sponsored by the San Francisco Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society. There will be excellent examples of noises and demos about how to remove them, moderate them, love them, but mostly remove them.

On Saturday, July 8th, Jonathan, Michael and I will do our best to Demystify Mastering in two intimate sessions at Coast. We promise not to dwell on loudness but, rather, to cover preparing mixes for mastering, the art and craft of sonic sculpting, deliverables and more.

A few choice mastering & restoration projects:

Umoja's 707 is sure to liven your summer dance parties! This classic 1988 South African bubblegum pop record is out now on Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Ron Pope's Work drops next month. Truly a pleasure to work with this talented musician and with prolific engineer Ted Young. (Seriously, check out this guy's discography!) These songs are moving, intimate, fun, warm. Catch Ron on his Dancing Days world tour this fall.

Congratulations to Philly's Man About a Horse, whose self-titled album debuted at #11 on the BIllboard bluegrass charts! (You may remember their excellent and timely cover of Radiohead's Electioneering.) Exciting to work again with Matt Werden on this one. (We also worked together on Michael Daves's Orchids and Violence).

The Container's Self-Contained is a collection of early demos from James A. Smith of the Beach Bullies. These songs are hooky, swaggery and sweet, and I especially fell for "Rita's Legs." So glad these tapes were found, restored and remastered (by me), and released by Manufactured Recordings.

Rabasi Joss recently released her debut Heliotrope, a collection of jazz/soul/folk/genre-spanning songs produced by Baba Israel and featuring Soul Inscribed. I take full credit for convincing her to record a cover of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic"!

In case you missed it, I also published this zine - Save Your Stuff! Beginner's Archiving For Musicians - with illustrator/graphic designer/musician/mother of two Kelley Vaughn-Kauffman. I used it in a workshop I led for Women's Audio Mission in June and (hopefully) inspired a room full of women to adopt file naming conventions and back up their hard drives. The first printing was gone in a matter of days but we printed a second batch. If you would like a hard copy, please donate $4 (to cover printing and shipping) and we'll send you one! Digital version coming soon...