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03/28/16 Two Big Releases

This past month saw the release of two albums that I'm really proud to have been a part of. Evan Freeman's Luna has already made an impact on the local scene and beyond. His release concert at the Arrata Opera Centre was a smash, too. I was fortunate enough to have run the sound for that show and made a recording of it. There's a video of the song "Halo" you can check out here! Two weeks after that show, Lucky Sonne released our latest album Be.So.Bold at Mikey's Juke Joint. The album was actually finished a long time ago, so the release party was extremely overdue. Chalk it up to other life things getting in the way, but it was a great time and the place was totally rammed. Both of these releases received glowing, nay, exuberant write-ups by Mike Bell in the Calgary Herald, which is always nice: Luna Be.So.Bold

02/11/16 Downtime!

For the first time in what seems like months, I have found myself with not a lot of projects on the go. I don't see this as a negative, since this was entirely planned after a somewhat overly-crazy fall and early winter, but it still feels strange. A few good things have gone on here, though. As it turned out, I ended up being the primary mix engineer at OCL for Evan Freeman's album, Luna. It was a great experience to mix in their Studio B and the fellows there are a pleasure to work with. The album is probably the best sounding thing I've been involved with, having been tracked on OCL's mighty Neve console, so hopefully you'll find that the mixes do the material justice. It's a huge-sounding postrock/shoegaze/dream pop sonic journey. In October, I went to Montreal with Theatre Junction for our French language version of Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. From my point of view, it wasn't too different from the English version, but we tightened it up a lot and changed the set substantially, so it felt like a new show to a degree. I had a great two weeks brushing up on my French and absorbing the autumnal colours of La Belle Province. Right before leaving, I finished off the album version of the music I did for that production, which you can check out here. That trip was immediately followed by another stint teaching a class at SAIT on recording and digital audio, which I always enjoy doing. Lately, I've been working with local songwriter Suzanne de Bussac on a project she's doing with a group of underprivileged aboriginal girls, where they're working on a song together and I'm producing a demo for it. So far, it's going great. Tomorrow night I'll be volunteering at the stage of the Ironwood for a new winter music festival put on by the Calgary Folk Music Festival, called Block Heater. It sounds like it will really be a great festival, so here's hoping it will continue. The National Music Centre is in transition between it's old location and the spiffy new digs downtown, so things are quiet there for me, but I hope to get fully involved with it once things are ready.

08/06/15 All Hail

We've had some pretty extreme hail incidents over the past few days, so I apologize for the bad pun. Fountain are a fantastic up-and-coming jaggy rock band from Victoria who sent me their recordings to mix, and it was a huge blast to do. Their album, Fountain 2, is getting all kinds of accolades and they totally killed it at Sled Island this year. The workshop project I did with Theatre Junction was also well received and right now I'm working on putting together an album version of the music I made for it. It's a fun project because I had to keep things restrained in order to make the live solo performance stay afloat above the backing tracks, but for the album version I can go ahead and just put anything in there that I think makes it a better recording. Lately I've been dropping in at the mighty OCL Studios near Calgary to lend some mixing ideas to Evan Freeman's upcoming full-length. He had producer Derek Downham (The Beauties, Kevin Drew, Serena Ryder, etc.) oversee the tracking. The mixes are being done by Josh Rob Gwilliam, and Evan brought me in to provide fresh ears and perspective, which has been very cool.

01/04/15 New year, new entry

Some nice recordings coming down the chute from the ol' Acoustikitty shop. A great band from Victoria, Freak Heat Waves, will come out soon with Bonnie's State of Mind, and it's a mind-bender for sure. The electronic-based half of the album was recorded onto 16-track tape by Scott "Monty" Munro, then mixed here by me, and the live-played half of the songs were recorded by me at Chez Dininno in Medicine Hat, AB. The two kinds of songs are very different from each other, but there's an odd cohesiveness, since they were created and mixed by the same people, all within a few weeks. Also coming soon is an EP from Calgary heavy hitters the Ex-Boyfriends. I've recorded a few albums now for these guys, but this one I would suggest is their most bad-ass sounding. I also worked with Paul Van Kampen (Beija Flor, Magnetic North) on a new song for his new, strings-embued project, North-West Passage. The song is called Lorelei, and it's a real production workout - very cool. A new album from my band, Ship Shape, is being pressed for vinyl as we speak and it will come out in a few months. I put a lot of effort into this one and I think it'’s sounding real, real nice.

In other news, I've been taken on as an instructor at SAIT for their digital audio programme. It was a great experience to teach newcomers to the craft some of the basics of what's going on here at my place, and I'm hoping I'll be doing more of that again soon. Next week I'll be going full-on into working with Theatre Junction on a new theatre piece. I'll be the musical collaborator, working with actors, singers and dancers to create an entire new work for theatre that we'll perform for a two-week run in Calgary starting late February and later in Montreal. Last September I was out in Montreal workshopping some new material with Theatre Junction, and it was a total blast. I've been keeping the Acoustikitty work pretty slim so that I can fully dedicate my efforts into the new theatre piece, titled "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere". I'm a big fan of Uncle Neil, so this is going to be a treat.

08/23/13 2013 etc.

We're finally having a great summer in Calgary. We had a very damp June, which culminated in some incredible and horrendous flooding unlike anything in living memory. The damage is somewhere around $400 million and the city is still putting itself back together. Luckily, my immediate family and studio were not directly impacted by floods. I put in a few days of volunteering to help out and was blown away by the severity of the damage, but also felt really proud to be part of this community where thousands of people worked for days on their own time to help out complete strangers. In a way, it made our city stronger.

Another huge event for me and my wife has been the birth of our daughter, Lenora, our first child. It's strange what effect that has on a person, and no one can help you prepare for it, really. I've been spending countless hours, fully satisfied, just looking at her, and our house has a constant flow of visiting friends and family. So the action around Acoustikitty has been somewhat sparse as of late, but for good reason. I'm excited to start some new projects soon.

I spent a very enjoyable four days as an assistant instructor at SAIT recently. My friend, and excellent sound tech, Doug Frey, asked me to assist him in teaching the live sound segment of the summer Digital Audio Certificate. It reaffirmed that I really enjoy teaching, especially about something as fun as audio and geeking out about gear. I hope to do more of that.

Lately I've been giving more thought to ideas surrounding workflow, specifically the differences between the old analog days and the current digital, in-the-box situations that are extremely common. I do nearly all of my mixing in-the-box. Recall-ability and the amount of digital "gear" within my DAW (plug-ins and routing) are the main reasons for this. But maybe I'm losing out on the intuitive, non-visual experience of mixing on consoles. I used to record on a Tascam 2488 digital recorder that had a very small display, so my time was spent just listening, but now I've got two computer screens in front of me with all the bells and whistles, and I'm concerned that I'm mixing with my eyes and perhaps missing a certain intangible element in the process. I was thinking that the ability to do recalls was the main advantage to mix in-the-box, but an article in (the most excellent, required-reading mag) Tape Op about stem mixing has me thinking that maybe there's a very easy work-around, a compromise that can bring back the console and the "live" feeling of mixing in the moment on analog gear with outboard equipment, while still being able to go back and make adjustments easily. I'm very excited by this prospect, even though it will mean reconfiguring my mixing desk substantially. It will also make my set-up less easy to pick up and go for remote recordings, but it might really be worth it. Of course this opens the door for the need for way more outboard gear than I possess, but the beauty of the idea is that I can still use plug-ins as needed as well, so I can make do with what I've got. This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake while rocking my daughter to sleep at all hours. Exciting!

05/16/13 2013 etc.

Things over here at Acoustikitty are going real swell. Lots of new releases that I haven't had time to add to the website: Woodpigeon, Mark Mills, Ship Shape, Sea Legs, Home. I did a really cool one-off with artist Sarah Nordean where we used field recordings of trains, traffic, footsteps etc. to make a textural loop-based composition. I think this will form some part of a project for her Master's degree in painting. Right now I'm working on mixes for a new Lucky Sonne album (our fourth!), and this time it's a pretty full-on rock/country album - great jams and even guitar solos. We recorded it in a one-room log cabin out near Priddis, with the beds done live to tape, sometimes with lead vocal as well.

I'm also super stoked to be mixing Hook & Eye's album which they recorded at The Hive in Vancouver with Colin Stewart. (Damn, I just found out that The Hive is closing this September. That totally blows, for the record.) Anyway, the new Hook & Eye sounds tremendous and it will be a treat to put on the finishing touches.

It was also a pleasure to record an EP for pianist singer/songwriter Laura Schoenberg a couple weeks ago here at Acoustikitty. Sometimes the sheer talent of people just makes me happy to know them, and this was one of those instances. Watch out for this one, seriously. Arran out.

10/23/12 New Business Ideas . . .

I've decided to start a new venture in my recording business: live recording. The idea is that I will go to a variety of venues and set up a full-channel recording, complete with room mics and drum overhead mic. I'll make a quick mix of the show and send it to the bands. And if the bands want me to mix any of it properly for release, I'd be happy to do that for my usual rate. We'll see if there's any interest in this idea, but I imagine that if a band could get a quality sounding live album produced (including mastering) for around $300, that's not a bad offer at all. If you're in a band in the Calgary area and would like to make a live recording, get in touch! I did my first session like this last week at the Palomino, and it was a great time - I got to see three great bands I wouldn't have otherwise and had good fun making the recordings sound as good as possible.

The debut album by my band, Ship Shape, has been mastered and is ready for production. We've got a release show on December 8 booked, although it won't be officially released until the new year. I'm really happy with how it turned out. It was one of my most effortless and pleasing records to record and mix, where nearly everything was done live off the floor, even lead vocals, and it was all done at my Acoustikitty studio, save for a piano part laid down by Paul VanKampen in his living room.

I also recently mixed an EP for local band HookAndEye, another project by Jeff McLeod (former member of The Cape May). Clinton St. John was the recording engineer on this one, and it shares the sparse and open feel of Clint's "Storied Hearts" album, which I mixed a little while ago. A very enjoyable collection of tunes which feature Jeff on all the instruments, playing songs he wrote right before recording them.

10/03/12 Soundtrack by Ship Shape now available!

You can now hear (and buy!!) the songs that were used in the film "One Night in Seattle", a feature drama by writer-director Shawna Cox. Just click here! The recordings were intended originally to be demos, but Shawna really liked them as they are. I recorded them in Qatar in 2010 and 2011, using only one mic in a spare bedroom of our inner city apartment. There's lots of car horns in the background, which add a real sense of context to the affair. A couple of the songs have since been re-recorded by the full band in Calgary, and will appear on our upcoming full-length. Enjoy!

10/03/12 Hello again.

Before anything else, here is the aforementioned Extra Happy Ghost cover of Minor Threat's "Filler". It's a really cool take.

Ok, so it's been way too long since I posted an update. My apologies to the fans, but things are busy around here. The Magnetic North's Constellations was nominated for Pop Recording of the Year at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards!! It got usurped by some Carly Rae Somethingorother, but whatever.

Lately, my musical focus has returned to playing live more than being in the studio. My new(ish) band Ship Shape is gearing up for an album release, hopefully before the year is out. This band has grown into a force of nature and is something I'm fully proud of. Several Ship Shape songs were featured alongside original music I wrote for the indie film One Night in Seattle, which was directed, produced and edited by Vancouver-based Shawna Cox. We had a screening of the Sundance submission cut of the film, and it went over very well. Folks were really into the music and wanted to know where to get it. With any luck I'll put it up for a download in the next few days.

I've been playing with two other bands in a more supporting role. Lucky Sonne has been going at least since I recorded the first CD in 2006, but recently we enlisted an upright bassist and got things going full tilt into gig mode. Now we're playing at least every couple weeks or more and coming off as a serious live unit. We'll be recording another album in the very near future. When I mixed Clinton St. John's new album, I was really impressed with the feel and textures he was going for, so I had no hesitation joining his new band under his solo moniker. Clint is careful not to overplay to the same audiences in Calgary, so we don't have many shows, but they are definitely something special. His CD is accompanied by a book of his illustrations that are integral to the overall artistic statement, and I highly recommend it.

Another thing I've been getting into lately is work for film. As well as the "One Night in Seattle" soundtrack, I've been doing sound design/mixing for a series of webisodes called "The Protector Chronicles". Two of the episodes were directed by Mitch Barany, who directed the video for The Summerlad's "City of Noise". Seriously, this video is definitely worth your five minutes (and features some great mid-noughts dance rock). On top of that, I'm working on getting approved to work on film sets as a sound recordist and crew member, so we'll see where that stream leads.

I hope to be more diligent in my postings, since I've mostly ditched facebook or any other time-sucking internet activities. I hope you are doing well.

08/15/11 SAIT certification complete, ensuing awesomeness

I just completed the Digital Audio Certificate at our local polytechnic. I can't say it blew my mind, but I learned some good tips and tricks and appreciated getting some one-on-one with folks who know what they're doing when it comes to audio. One of the ramifications is that I'm up to snuff on the mastering process and can now offer that to clients. As usual, I suggest that anything really critical be sent to a proper mastering facility, but for things that are a little more casual (or on a tight budget) I"ve got the software and experience to do a good job of it. I recently mastered an EP for my own project Ship Shape, which, I'm happy to report, sounds really good. Because of the course, my recording output has slowed somewhat, but keep your eyes open for releases from Mt. Royal and The Magnetic North coming your way soon, and we're nearly done tracking the new Woodpigeon full length. And I recorded an 80's punk classic with Matt from Extra Happy Ghost!!! for the Coke Machine Glow blog. I can't find it on their site yet, so watch for it!

ALSO: after now having done the layout for about 10 cd and lp designs, I can confidently add layout and design services to my offerings. Yeah!

05/15/11 Acoustikitty and The New Black

The New Black is a non-profit all-ages venue, band rehearsal space and recording studio in Inglewood which is staffed by some fine dudes who have offered their space for me to use as needed. There are two great things about this space: the fantastic acoustics of the all old wood main area (my favourite so far of any studio in town), and the Amek TAC Scorpion console that's tucked away in the tiny control room. The combination is quite something, and opens up some promising possibilities for tracking full bands, loud drums (getting that kick-ass roomy sound), and blasting guitars. Quiet things will sound really good there too, but we'd be dealing with the odd train rolling by (not necessarily a bad thing!). So far, I've just tracked one band there (the aforementioned Hot Sweet Noise), and the sounds are impressive indeed.

04/20/11 This here website and other greatness

You're looking at a brand new face to Acoustikitty! Much props and thanks to Myke Atkinson and Jessye Cook, who were such good folks to work with and did such a cool job with this site.

I've returned to Calgary indefinitely now, and have spent the past few weeks fixing up the studio, as well as recording a few new things, such as an LP for The Magnetic North and an EP for Hot Sweet Noise. The latter is significant because we tracked nearly everything live off the floor, including lead vocals. The band plays energetic post-punk, so the bleed was fairly significant, but the sound turned out great. I've also relaunched myself back into the local music scene, now playing in three bands: Clinton St. John's new band (bass, guitar, etc.), Lucky Sonne (drums) and my own project, Ship Shape (lead vocal and guitar). I've somehow ended up playing what amounts to roots-based country/folk/rock, which is quite a departure from my time with The Summerlad. I'm having a great time with all these projects - it's such a pleasure to get back into live playing.

04/13/10 Woodpigeon Remix

Check out this link to hear the remix I did here in Doha for the new "Spirehouse" maxi single EP thingy. I'm still very new to the process of remixing etc. All the sounds except the bass and drums (which I played) were sampled directly from the original song.

The idea in this case wasn't to make a 'remix' in the '90s sense, where you take the song and make it into electronica. I was, in a way, re-producing it; giving it a whole new feel, but keeping the main idea behind the song intact. It's not often that I get the chance to revisit a song and approach it a whole new manner, so this was plenty of fun.

It was also my first foray into quantizing (artificiallly making things line up in time to a click track). I know, I know, I'm a little behind the times. It sure made my drums sound a lot more on the beat!! I was feeling a little lazy that day, I guess. And I've discovered the sampler in Logic, which can do some nice stuff, like make a keyboard out of a person's voice.

Anyway, I liked the process and the results, and so I've already done another remix of the same song. It's a really different feel, and I had fun using time-stretching to make the vocal part move much slower. The whole result is really moody and brings out the inherent sadness behind the song. Keep and eye out for that one on some future random Woodpigeon release!

09/25/09 Back in Qatar, for a bit

I've been back in Qatar for over two months now, and it's been a very interesting experience. I spend a lot of my time trying to learn Arabic online with the Rosetta Stone course, and I think I'm making some headway with that, but it's pretty hard to gauge at this point. Musically, I've been dabbling with a few different things, and I'm one song away from being totally caught up on all my duties as a producer, which is the first time this has happened in years - there's always been something to mix or something to record.

That said, there still is another Woodpigeon full-lengh, "Thumbtacks & Glue" which is partially recorded, but there's nothing I can do with that for now.

The one song I have left to work on is from the new album by The Summerlad. We bore down for three days last summer and tracked an entire album (the "Gang Lion" LP (working title)) 90% live, and I've been mixing it here. I don't have a very great monitoring set up here at all, so I'm just getting things 'roughed in', so that when I get back to Calgary, I can get everything sounding good pretty quickly, and all the edits and fancy bits have basically been done.

Earlier in my Qatar stay, I did actually finish off Paul VanKampen's EP, eponymously titled, "The Magnetic North". I hadn't expected these mixes to turn out as well as they did, given my current lack of studio, but, since the arrangements were quite sparse, it worked out just great. I had to check my mixes on every sound system I had at my disposal though, just to make sure it was sounding right. So now that one's being mastered as we speak and Paul will release it mid-winter sometime. This one will be interesting, since it represents the first time I've done sampling and sequencing for a song.

I've spent some time here honing my acoustic guitar skillz and writing some new songs for my solo project, called "Ship Shape". Once I've got some recordings, I'll make a myspace page for that curiosity. So far the synth hasn't come into play, but I've got about three weeks left yet.

08/14/09 Woodpigeon gets Polaris listed!

I almost forgot - a while back, Woodpigeon's Treasury Library Canada made it onto the Polaris Prize nominees list of the 40 best Canadian albums of the year. Hooray for me! Toot toot! Congrats also to pals Women for being on the list, and to Chad VanGaalen for making it into the top ten, two albums in a row, no less.

08/12/09 Back in Calgary, for now...

I've been extremely negligent in updating this site, my apologies . . . I'm back in Calgary this summer after a totally interesting and exhausting three-month trip that took me to Newcastle, London, Qatar, most of England and Ireland, and British Columbia.

Before leaving, I polished off five albums:

  • Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten
  • The Summerlad - Blue-Skinned
  • Lucky Sonne - Downward Ho
  • heat-ray - Love All Over
  • The Ex-Boyfriends - To the Lowest Bidder

The bottom two have been released, while the other three are in the mastering stage right now.

And since being back, I cranked out a 28-minute EP with LA superstar Honeybear (aka Aaron Meyer). This was a super-fun experience. I recorded it using only analog equipment, in this case, a cassette 4-track, a spring reverb, and real tape delay. I'd forgotten how awesome the whole 4-track experience can be. It's inspired me to acquire a reel-to-reel 8-track asap. And the sound was actually totally great. I realised that the crappy thing about 4-tracks is just their noisy and thin sounding pre-amps, but you take those out of the signal chain, and presto, you've got some pretty good sounds. You just have to embrace the (much less than I remembered it being) tape hiss, and keep the levels as high as you can before they distort too much. And you need to relax and not sweat the little imperfections that you can easily fix in digital. It also requires that the performances are solid, because there's no going back and fixing the bass after you've bounced it onto the autoharp track. It had been easily seven years since I've done anything on analog, and it was a pleasure and a suprise. Thanks Aaron!

The Minotaurs album is in the last tweaks 'n' listens stage, and we've booked a session with Ryan Morey of Ryebread Mastering in Montreal (who did Arcade Fire's Funeral and is also finishing up Woodpigeon's latest). I'm very excited for this one to come out.

The end of my summer in Calgary is coming soon. I'm finishing up some songs with Paul from Beija Flor, mainly piano and vocal, with the occasional addition. And today I finished recording two songs with Travis Murphy, who's making some really interesting, slow-moving songs that are as much about atmosphere as melody. He's moving to Toronto really soon, so I'm glad we got the tracking finished. In mid-Sept. I'm going back to be with my love, Jenny, in Qatar, and we'll be home in Calgary for Christmas. While I'm away, I'm bringing with me an 80's analog synth, my computer, and two mics, and I'm not sure what will happen, but something interesting might come of it.

Time for bed!!

About
A

Basics

Acoustikitty is Arran Fisher's recording operation, based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My services include pre-production, production, engineering, mixing, mastering, arrangements and live sound.

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to email me: arran@acoustikitty.ca.

Ideas

Acoustikitty is the recording production company that I started with the idea that it's the people and ideas, not the gear or the location, that make good recordings. I know it's a pretty simple concept, but it's surprising how many musicians and engineers can get so wrapped up in the technical side of things that they lose sight of the fact that they are actually creating works of art that are subject to human tastes and experiences. No amount of flashy gear or time spent polishing and perfecting the takes is going to make a great album. In the end, the most important thing is the emotional experience of the recording. Anyone with a laptop can create reasonably convincing sounds, so, as Brian Eno pointed out, the challenge in making great recordings is not technical, it's largely a matter of judgment. My aim is to work with musicians to help them translate their ideas into recorded form, and I see it as a mostly artistic, not technical endeavour. But this is not to say that I have no enthusiasm for the technical side of engineering, I just make an effort to see that it is in the service of the music.

Logistics

I operate a small studio in my home that is suitable for acoustic instruments, quieter overdubs and mixing. For drums and loud guitars I use a variety of locations that I choose for their acoustic qualities. I've made recordings in art galleries, Aikido dojos, barns, performance halls, museums, houses, garages, churches, jam spaces, stairwells, backyards and roofs. I'm also happy to start a project in a professional studio and take it back to my place for overdubs and mixing. Each location offers new sounds and challenges, and lends each recording I make a unique sound. I keep my set-up minimal to make things flexible and portable.

Background

I wrote my first song when I was three, made my first recordings as a five-year-old, and I have been obsessed with audio and music ever since. When I was 13 I bought myself a drum kit, and taught myself to play guitar from a songbook of 20 Beatles classics. In high school I formed a rock band which was influenced mostly by The Pixies and R.E.M., as well as an improvisational electronic trio called The Octopus. In 1999 I co-founded the psych rock group The Summerlad. We toured several times across Canada and the U.S., released four albums, and received national acclaim for making music that defied easy categorization. In 2010 I was commissioned to create the soundtrack for a promotional film for the State of Qatar, which was shown by the Qatari royal family to the United Nations. Lately I've been focusing on a solo indie/country/rock project called Ship Shape.

I used a four-track cassette machine for a number of years to make some pretty quirky material for the bands I was in, and some friends asked me to record their bands too. In 2002 I took on the project of recording a serious album and upgraded to a digital 8-track workstation. This album ended up being The Summerlad's "Themes: International", which got to the top 40 on the Canadian campus radio charts and was favourably reviewed without anyone noticing that I had recorded it using such limited technology. After that, I was fully hooked on the process of making records and haven't looked back. The gear is more sophisticated now, but my approach hasn't changed. Since the beginning, I've focused on the emotional impact of the music I help people create. In 2007 I went full time with my production company, Acoustikitty, and I've produced dozens of releases for mostly local Calgary artists. Two of my projects have been nominated for awards: Woodpigeon's Treasury Library Canada,for the Polaris Prize in 2009, and the Magnetic North's Constellations,for best pop album at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards.

Aikido

Recordings
R

Now playing:

Choose a selection from the right.

Recent Releases

Ship Shape - A Torch to Feed the Coal

Ship Shape

A Torch to Feed the Coal

Independent

Lucky Sonne - Be.So.Bold

Lucky Sonne

Be.So.Bold

Independent

Freak Heat Waves - Bonnies State of Mind

Freak Heat Waves

Bonnies State of Mind

Hockey Dad Records

The Northwest Passage - Lorelei

The Northwest Passage

Lorelei

Independent

Fountain - Fountain 2

Fountain

Fountain 2

Independent

Hook and Eye - Light Sleeper

Hook and Eye

Light Sleeper

Medicine Records

Sarah Nordean - Walking Loops

Sarah Nordean

Walking Loops

Art Installation

Ship Shape - Please Ask Before Stealing

Ship Shape

Please Ask Before Stealing

Independent

Laura Schoenberg - Shores

Laura Schoenberg

Shores

Independent

Mark Mills - Go Love Yourself

Mark Mills

Go Love Yourself

Independent

Hook and Eye - North St. EP

Hook and Eye

North St. EP

Medicine Records

Young Neighbours - S/T

Young Neighbours

S/T

Independent

Home - S/T Woodpigeon - Thumbtacks and Glue

Woodpigeon

Thumbtacks and Glue

Boompa Records

Not-So-Recent Releases

Extra Happy Ghost!!! - Hippie Depression 7-inch

Extra Happy Ghost!!!

Hippie Depression 7 inch

Independent Release

Lucky Sonne - Trailer

Lucky Sonne

Trailer

Independent Release

Lucky Sonne - R R One

Lucky Sonne

R R One

Independent Release

Ship Shape - Music from One Night in Seattle

Ship Shape

Music from One Night in Seattle

Independent Release

Hot Sweet Noise - S/T

Hot Sweet Noise

S/T

Independent Release

Clinton St. John - Storied Hearts and the Three Assimilations

Clinton St. John

Storied Hearts and the Three Assimilations

Spellbinding Press

Ship Shape - Whisky and Blankets EP

Ship Shape

Whisky and Blankets EP

Independent Release

Ship Shape - Drum at My Door EP

Ship Shape

Drum at My Door EP

Independent Release

Ship Shape - Gravediggers EP

Ship Shape

Gravediggers EP

Independent Release

The Magnetic North - Constellations

The Magnetic North

Constellations

VK Records

Mt. Royal - Mt. Royal

Mt. Royal

Mt. Royal

Fan Club Music Club

Secret Brothers - Secret Brothers Part One

Secret Brothers

Secret Brothers Part One

Self-released

The Ex-Boyfriends - Never Been Happier

The Ex-Boyfriends

Never Been Happier

Self-released

Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten

Woodpigeon

Die Stadt Muzikanten

Boompa/End Of The Road

Minotaurs - Eat Yr Hate

Minotaurs

Eat Yr Hate

Self-released

The Summerlad - Blue Skinned

The Summerlad

Blue Skinned

Self-released

The Magnetic North - The Magnetic North

The Magnetic North

The Magnetic North

VK Records

Savk - Savk Funs - Date Night At Slick's Pizzeria EP

Funs

Date Night At Slick's Pizzeria

Fan Club Music Club

Honeybear - Viral Linguistics EP

Honeybear

Viral Linguistics EP

Self-released

The Ex-Boyfriends - To The Lowest Bidder

The Ex-Boyfriends

To The Lowest Bidder

Self-released

Heat Ray - Loveallover

Heat Ray

Loveallover

Self-released

Kisses Of Fire - Only Mountains EP

Kisses Of Fire

Only Mountains EP

Self-released

Woodpigeon - Treasury Library Canada

Woodpigeon

Treasury Library Canada

Boompa/End Of The Road

Woodpigeon - That Was Good b/w Knock Knock

Woodpigeon

That Was Good b/w Knock Knock

End Of The Road

Mt. Royal - Mad Foxes EP

Mt. Royal

Mad Foxes EP

Self-released

Clinton St. John - Black Forest Levitation

Clinton St. John

Black Forest Levitation

Self-released

The Ex-Boyfriends - Happy Birthday b/w Merry Xmas Baby

The Ex-Boyfriends

Happy Birthday b/w Merry Xmas Baby

Self-released

Günther - Nuclear Stallions

Günther

Nuclear Stallions

Lakesong Press

Lonely Hunters - Let Death Be The Villain

Lonely Hunters

Let Death Be The Villain

Grumpy Cloud

The Tetraktys - Die Brücke

The Tetraktys

Die Brücke

Self-released

Mid Atlantic - The Great War

Mid Atlantic

The Great War

Self-released

The Summerlad - City Of Noise

The Summerlad

City Of Noise

Saved By Radio

The Brenda Vaqueros - The Brenda Vaqueros EP

The Brenda Vaqueros

The Brenda Vaqueros EP

Self-released

Lucky Sonne - Lucky Sonne

Lucky Sonne

Lucky Sonne

Self-released

The Ex-Boyfriends - Coming Before The Next One

The Ex-Boyfriends

Coming Before The Next One

Self-released

Beija Flor - The American

Beija Flor

The American

Self-released

Woodpigeon - Songbook

Woodpigeon

Songbook

End Of The Road

Woodpigeon - Death By Ninja (A Love Song)

Woodpigeon

Death By Ninja (A Love Song)

Self-released

The Summerlad - Carnus Magi b/w Everyone Scolds The Wolf

The Summerlad

Carnus Magi b/w Everyone Scolds The Wolf

Saved By Radio

Martin Fulton Overkill - Tequila Sunrise

Martin Fulton Overkill

Tequila Sunrise

Self-released

Woodpigeon - Sketchbook

Woodpigeon

Sketchbook

Self-released

The Summerlad - Themes: International

The Summerlad

Themes: International

Saved By Radio

Günther - The Greatest Televised Swordsman I've Seen In Years

Günther

The Greatest Televised Swordsman I've Seen In Years

Self-released

The Cape May - Central City May Rise Again

The Cape May

Central City May Rise Again

Flemish Eye

(Mixing & Additional Recording)

Rayovaq - Departure Lounge

Rayovaq

Departure Lounge

Self-released

The Summerlad - Golden Hammers Project

The Summerlad

Golden Hammers Project

Self-released

Press
P

Woodpigeon - Thumbtacks and Glue (2013)

Every record Woodpigeon makes sounds personal, trimmed with little details, pretty elation stained with pain in its paeans. Thumbtacks and Glue is no less nuanced or nourishing, and every song is satisfying. . . . immaculate and endearing music. 8/10

Line of Best Fit

The use of harmony and the band's way of taking a sedate, simple tune and subtly, slowly but oh-so-effectively building it up all contribute to the album's overall sense of intensity. Its profundity and emotional heft is striking.

BBC Music

Extra Happy Ghost!!! - Filler (Minor Threat Cover) (2012)

It may sound more Velvets than Minor Threat, (but) Ian's message still punches you in the fucking mouth.

Herohill Musicblog

Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten (2010)

It's the closest thing I've come to experiencing magic throughout this whole month of reviews. This is the best album to come out of Canada since Funeral.

Artrocker Magazine

What really sold me on this album though, was the skill with which these guys build and build their sound in subtlest of ways. They get you when you're not looking and it?s absolutely lovely!

Groovemine

Woodpigeon - Treasury Library Canada (2008)

Nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.

It's such a cozy, intimate record but also so expansive-sounding, like a world in a snow globe.

Polaris Prize judge Frank Yang

The Cape May - Central City May Rise Again (2005)

The album is phenomenally produced...

Terminal City

Günther - The Greatest Televised Swordsman I've Seen in Years (2005)

(Top 5 local releases of 2005)

This city's next best instrumental rock trio release a nice taster of their tight, progressive alt rock.

Calgary Sun

The Summerlad - Themes: International (2005)

Even if we've heard some of these elements before, The Summerlad always seems to find an original way to present them, which keeps the group's swooning, waiting-for-summer sound from feeling derivative.

The Georgia Straight

Gear
G

Media

  • 16GB Mac
  • Fostex R8 8-track 1/4" tape machine
  • Otari MX5050BIII-2 1/4" tape machine
  • Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

Monitoring

  • ADAM A7X monitors
  • Avantone Mixcube Active monitor
  • AKG K240 headphones (2)
  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones
  • Sennheiser eH 150 headphones (2)

Mixers

  • TL Audio Fat Track
  • Midas Venice 32
  • Soundcraft Spirit F1

Rack Gear

  • RME Fireface 800 interface
  • Focusrite Platinum Octopre interface
  • Ashly CLX-52 compressor/limiter
  • White 4400 20 band EQ
  • JoeMeek VC6Q mic pre, compressor, EQ
  • JoeMeek C2 stereo compressor
  • FMR Audio RNC stereo compressor
  • ART TubeMP mic pre (2)
  • Studio Projects VTB1 mic pre
  • Electrix MOFX multi-effects

Microphones

  • Electo-Voice 635a (2)
  • Electro-Voice 665
  • Heil Pro20 (2)
  • AKG D112
  • Avantone Mondo
  • Avantone CV12 Tube LDC
  • Golden Age Projects R1 Tube Ribbon
  • Sennheiser e609
  • Shure SM7
  • Shure SM57
  • Shure SM58
  • Shure AXS 4 (2)
  • Røde NT-2 (2)
  • Audio Technica AT4040 (2)
  • Audio Technica Pro37(2)
  • Sony M-330 microcassete recorder
    (serious secret weapon!)
  • GE PA mic

Instruments & Amps

  • Fender Deville 4x10 guitar amp
  • Traynor YCV20 II guitar amp
  • Garnet Pro 200 bass amp (1970's)
  • Gallien-Krueger 1x15 bass cabinet
  • Fender Champ amp (reissue)
  • Peavey Audition 20 guitar amp
  • B & E custom guitar/bass double-neck
  • Eastwood P-90 Special electric guitar w/ Bigsby vibrato
  • Hondo Alien bass
  • Washburn archtop electric guitar
  • National lap steel (1940's)
  • Eterna acoustic guitar (1980's)
  • Guild CV-1 acoustic guitar
  • Fender Rhodes Mark I electric piano
  • Korg Poly 800II synthesizer (1983)
  • Stewart 5-piece drum kit (1960's/70's)
  • Selmer clarinet
  • Various percussion pieces

Software

  • Pro Tools
  • Logic Pro
  • iZotope RX
  • Waves Gold bundle
  • Waves SSL bundle
  • Waves REDD
  • Waves CLA-2A
  • Waves dbx 160
  • Waves Masters bundle
  • Waves Manny Marroquin Reverb
  • Waves PuigTec 670
  • Waves PuigChild
  • Waves Real ADT
  • WavesTune
  • Waves Vitamin
  • Soundtoys EchoBoy
  • Soundtoys Decapitator
  • Soundtoys Little Radiator
  • Soundtoys Little AlterBoy
  • Soundtoys DevilLoc
  • Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machines
  • Stillwell Audio Rocket
  • Eventide UltraChannel
  • tritik TKDelay
Images More
  • Images
  • Arran recording bass parts in the Lucky Sonne trailer. (2010)

    Arran recording bass parts in the Lucky Sonne trailer. (2010)

  • Chris and Mark recording Woodpigeon 'Mother' (Pink Floyd cover) for Mojo magazine. (2010)

    Chris and Mark recording Woodpigeon "Mother" (Pink Floyd cover) for Mojo magazine. (2010)

  • Woodpigeon doing vocals for 'Hymn for Two Walks' at Cantos Music Centre. (2005)

    Woodpigeon doing vocals for "Hymn for Two Walks" at Cantos Music Centre. (2005)

  • Lucky Sonne 'Stop Holding On' stomps in the barn. (2007)

    Lucky Sonne "Stop Holding On" stomps in the barn. (2007)

  • Gunther 'Nuclear Stallions' session. (2007)

    Gunther "Nuclear Stallions" session. (2007)

  • At the Acoustikitty studio with Lonely Hunters. (2008)

    At the Acoustikitty studio with Lonely Hunters. (2008)

  • Creating the drum sound for 'Stacey Watson, Stepney Green' by Woodpigeon. (2005)

    Creating the drum sound for "Stacey Watson, Stepney Green" by Woodpigeon. (2005)

FAQs
F

What are your rates?

$30/hr up to $250 daily max.

Rates are a tricky thing these days. The above numbers are a general guide, but give me a shout and we can figure out what we can do within your budget. These rates include me and my gear; rentals and extra expenses (such as gas for long drives, tape, etc.) are on top of that. These rates also apply to time spent working out arrangements and charts, if required. Normally I mix alone and keep track of my hours, since I don't usually mix for more than a few hours at a time.

How long does a typical recording session take?

There's no such thing as a "typical" session over here at Acoustikitty. There are so many variables that come into it, it's difficult even to make a general comment on this. What kind of feel are we going for? Rough and ready or smooth and polished? Where's the threshold for what is considered "a mistake" vs. what gives the song character? How well do the musicians know their stuff? How much time will be spent experimenting? Where will we record? How many tracks are going into each song, and how much will be played live all at once? Recording to tape or digital? I can help you figure out a rough estimate though.

What is mastering? Do you do it? How much does it cost?

Mastering is where the final mixes (pre-masters) are put in sequence, boosted in volume and given a final compression and EQ treatment to make a group of songs sound balanced, cohesive and generally full and good-sounding. I don't master for two reasons: 1. it's largely a technical job that requires really high-end gear in a acoustically uncoloured facility; 2. after recording and mixing an album, it's a great idea to hand the project over to someone who has fresh ears for the final once-over. I've sent projects off to a variety of mastering houses, whose price ranges vary from around $40 - $100 per song.

Here are their websites:

Infinite Wave Mastering

Audiomastering.com

Ryebread Mastering

Golden Mastering

What's your take on digital vs. analog?

I'm fine with both/ either, or a combination of the two. There are some things that you can do in digital that you simply can't do in analog that can open up the creative process to many interesting possibilities. Whereas with analog, there's a certain magic that can happen when the tape is rolling and the performers are put on the spot. I'm a fan of analog tape distortion and use it often as an effect, even on otherwise digital recordings. With analog, fixing mistakes is often impossible, so either the player has to be very skilled or we accept the mistakes as part of the process. I usually don't have a problem with things that make the music sound more human. There are also track limitations with analog (eight in the case of my current gear), so sometimes the digital route is just sensible.

What does an engineer do as opposed to a producer?

I'm not an authority on the subject, but the way I see it is that the role of an engineer is essentially the technical side of making a record. Things that I'm concerned with as an engineer include mic selection and placement, room acoustics, speaker sounds, gear issues, etc. I see the role of a producer as an artistic collaborator and facilitator of the recording process. You want horns and piano on a track, or to record the drums in your uncle's stairwell? I'll arrange the details and find the people. Maybe you're not sure about the bridge in a song, or if there should be a back up vocal section in the chorus, then my role is to help you figure out the arrangements. I've recorded projects where I've basically sat back and let the artist do their thing without any input from my part, and I've worked on albums where I was involved every step of the way, from helping with songwriting and arrangements all the way through to writing horn parts, playing various instruments and singing back up vocals. Every project is different and I'm happy to be involved in whatever capacity seems appropriate.

Will you work on any project?

Not always. The way I approach recording is primarily from an artistic standpoint. I see myself as a musician/ sonic collaborator first and a technician as (a somewhat distant) second. With this in mind, I generally avoid working on projects that I don't find to be artistically satisfying from my own perspective. Since taste is such a subjective thing, when I turn down a project, it's not to say that the music is no good, it's just that I don't personally see a place for myself working within it. And if this is the case, why would you want my collaboration anyway? It's the same as if you are bringing in a guest musician to play on your song - you wouldn't want to bring in someone who doesn't get what you're going for. I'd say my taste is quite broad, however, so I don't turn away very many projects.

Can you play an instrument on my project?

Absolutely, although I'm no virtuoso. I'm reasonably accomplished on bass guitar and can generally get the job done on electric and acoustic guitars. Although I've been playing drums for over twenty years, I don't play regularly anymore, so I keep the beats pretty simple these days, but can certainly give it a shot. I also enjoy playing clarinet and can sing too. I'm not much of a keyboardist, but can fumble around on the odd synth or organ part. Lately I've been getting some experience using samples and sequencing too, which is plenty of fun. Basically, if you put an instrument in front of me I'll find some way of playing it.

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