'Mutations' in Production!
Big announcement: I'll be releasing my second record on September 2nd. It's been in the writing phase for a long time and the quarantine finally gave me some time to push it through to production. I wrote a Project proposal for this which I'll share below in redacted form. Stay tuned for tutorials, opinion pieces, and journal entries as I embark on this process. I'll do a separate post for each song in the album as well. Without further adieu:
‘Mutations’ will be my 2nd Extended Play record under the ‘IDDQD’ Moniker. Originally founded in 2011 in Istanbul as a collaborative improvisational project, the project has changed shape and style along with my life. These days it’s mostly where I publish solo non-film works or internet-based collaborations with musician friends around the world. Check out my Souncloud here!
The EP will showcase 5 tracks and clock in at just under 25 minutes, mostly material that I’ve composed in between my film gigs in the past year. The style could be loosely described as ‘Indie/Psychedelic’ but the musical style and instrumentation differs drastically from song to song.
In my first record ‘The Last Year on Earth’ (available on my Soundcloud), finding a solid concept proved to be extremely inspirational, and informed a lot of my decisions, from lyric-writing, to the artwork, and even mixing style. The story was set in the future where humans were forced to leave earth to find habitat in other planets, and the moral qualms the last few humans faced about spreading the disease of humanity beyond the planet we’ve destroyed.
With this record, I was struggling to find a concept, because the music itself is so diverse in style. In the past few years I’ve developed interest in many musical styles and lost the ability to nail down a single style, let alone a singular concept. Recently, it dawned on me that the diversity in styles can be a concept in and of itself!
In this record I wanted to explore nature as a concept, and all that we do to destroy it, and all it has done to outlast us. I found it appropriate to take inspiration from how nature experiments with different lifeforms, and thus the concept of ‘Mutations’ was born. All songs are mutations of my musical taste, and each track has been named after an animal on the verge of extinction, mutations in DNA to put it in convoluted terms!
Create an industry-quality record showcasing my composition, recording, mixing, and sound design chops.
Create a video component to the music with focus on being educational for other bedroom artists. This may potentially happen after the album is done due to time restrictions.
Collaborate with a diverse network of musicians, as well as visual artists to bring the record to life.
Garner interest in the album by targeting professional and aspiring audiophiles.
Experiment with various recording, tracking, mixing, and sound design techniques to carve a signature sound that binds the somewhat irrelevant tracks together.
It has become almost mandatory for new artists to present a video component alongside their music. Even if it is a simple video of a performance, a video is a sure-fire way of keeping the audience engaged in our ADHD culture, where constant stimuli are attacking the listener’s brain from every direction. A video serves as a great tool to focus that attention for a few minutes onto your music.
Top: Jacob Collier’s unparalleled, yet possibly inaccessible musical genius has risen to global fame partially thanks to his creative use of video editing. Bottom: A Recent Video by Vulfpeck showing musicians performing in isolation.
At the same time, I always thought a simple video of a performance, other than being potentially boring, paints a rather unrealistic and oversimplified picture of how music is made. The average listener may not realize how much work truly goes into the creation of a piece of music. Far beyond a simple performance, an industry-standard piece of music requires multiple performances, hours of editing, tuning, re-amping, mixing and sound design to realize, and it would be very interesting to feature some of those aspects in videos too. Furthermore, it can be educational to other aspiring bedroom artists to share details of some of that process as well!
Demographic & Promotional Material
From the beginning of my journey as a solo artist, I’ve simply failed to break out of the mold of a “musician’s musician”. My work has always been well-liked by a small community of my fellow musicians and producers, but has never seemed to tilt a lot of heads from the average listener, and this hasn’t been by design or due to a lack of trying. Rather than make attempts at making music I don’t like just to get plays, however, I feel like I’ve finally discovered a way to embrace and accept this fact, and focus on what my music has shown to be my demographic: Other musicians and producers!
I’ve also always made my music available free of charge, asking fans to simply help me in non-monetary ways by sharing my work, with mixed results in the past, forcing me to revisit the overall philosophy of IDDQD. There’s only so much you expect of folks before realizing you’d rather have a couple of bucks than broken promises of exposure...
With this in mind, I will be looking into ways of engaging that demographic through the aforementioned video component, as well as extra promotional material geared towards audiophiles.
Some such ideas include:
-The Videos will show the musician performing, with text also outlining the mic type used, audio signal chain, mic’ing technique, as well as periodically cut to shots of the DAW, and the mixing and editing process, which also has accompanying text. This will hopefully make the videos more entertaining as well as educational. I’m essentially trying to bridge the gap between boring music video and boring tutorial, and create a whole new monster: A boring confusing music video tutorial!
Pictured: My first video will focus on how I run very tight sessions with my own Mixing template. It’ll be interspersed with shots of performers playing the music. It would hopefully double as my demo reel to attract more freelance work as well. Listeners can also download and use my template by donating and/or sharing my work.
-In the past, I’ve offered a lot of intensives for listeners who engage with the music by commenting, sharing and subscribing, from free downloads of my music to free admission into my shows. I thought it’s a cool idea to offer promotional material geared towards audiophiles. As an example, Donating $5 to my Paypal, or sharing my music alongside a written review, will win you my ‘Freak Cymbals’ libraries, a collection of cymbal sounds enhanced using different tools and items, a la John Cage’s ‘Prepared Piano’ concept.
Pictured: GoGo Penguin's Rob Turner is a master of this stuff and someone who influences both the album and the way I prepared this library.
-Donors and active listeners could also win tutorial sessions and extra workshops where I go deeper into recording techniques and other concepts mentioned in the music videos.
Pictured: I started my YouTube Channel where I share tutorials on Music, Post-Production, and Game Audio Design workflow, as well as tips and tricks, and occasionally share my video work. I also run online classes using Twitch, and hopefully as I grow, will also start hosting Q&A and Feedback sessions, which listeners will get special access to. In my videos, I always try to skip past the “Hey Guys so today…” Nonsense, and present the material quickly and efficiently!
Inspirations & Influences
Stylistically, this album is a mixed bag of Funk, Jazz, Progressive Rock and Indie, with elements of Lo-Fi, Motown, and even film music. As such, it’s hard to enumerate my many influences in the scope of this proposal. A short list of my influences are as follows: King Crimson, The Mars Volta, Snarky Puppy, GoGo Penguin, Vulfpeck, Jacob Collier, Black Pumas, Radiohead, Bill Wurtz, Jonny Greenwood, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Gevende, and many more. In the video realm, I’ll be drawing inspiration from a number of YouTube musicians and Tutorial makers whose work I admire and find informative.
My wonderful friend, colleague, and collaborator Yusuke Konishi, with whom I worked on FROG, turned me on to making Gantt Charts, which has since become one my favourite ways of managing my time. The picture below was as much of the chart as I could fit in a screenshot, but truly deserves its own post! I'm honestly more proud of this than whatever the final project will turn out being.
It's needless to say that once you set a deadline for yourself, time management becomes paramount to the success of your project and for you to maintain your sanity. The more I write about this, the more I want to do a whole post on it, so while that's coming, check out this bitchin' screenshot!