eArth Jones / Liminal

Two projects I took part in were released today. 

I have never participated in the making of rap record before. I love the genre; I listen to rap fairly often. The process of making this record was not what I expected. When there is so much rhythm already in the music, what do you do with the drums? I learned a lot about how to serve the rhythm that's already in the song rather than being the main source of the rhythm. I ended up playing OP-1 as much or more than drums. Electronic / programmed drums and acoustic drums serve very different roles. They can be mixed together with a lot of care! This was a great experience with wonderful souls in Cincinnati. 

 

I met Tom Crouch in the U.K. on a Gungor gig. He moved to L.A. and I got to help contribute to this gem together with him and Jon Joseph. I love how powerful the choruses turned out. The lesson of "less is more" on repeat, I continue to further realize that the biggest and most powerful parts are often the simplest. The art lies in making the painfully simple stuff have character, feel intentional, and be cohesive in context. Even with the simplest rhythm imaginable: 

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150 OP-1 Videos

I just made my 150th Instagram OP-1 video. Here are some things I have learned from that journey: 

-Try new things, regardless of whether or not its apparently practical. If your brain bothered to have the thought/idea, maybe that means its worth trying. You really can’t know what’s practical / useful until you have moved beyond the ideation stage and spent time actually doing whatever the thing is. 

-We fool ourselves in to thinking that our future is like a preexisting road that we’re just driving down. I think it’s actually more like a reactionary silly putty; new opportunities and directions come when we work the putty, try something, work on an idea, learn something new. That doesn’t mean you can control what happens in the future, but you can enable new possibilities. 

-Staying informed / learning from other people’s work is important, but so is ignoring what others are doing. I am not a DJ or an EDM or hiphop producer, and I’m not trying to be. I just like electronic instruments and electronic sounds. Staying true to my artistic self allows me to sail in a unique direction. 

-Seemingly unrelated skills are great! These days, having unrelated skill sets is an exciting opportunity for more creativity. 

-Stay true for the long haul (not saying I’ve been doing this for “the long haul” yet! Still have a lot of life to go…). It’s far too tempting to cave and conform. Eventually the haters will go away and people that really catch your vision will join forces with you. Together you can start a movement which is way cooler than what ever you’d do by yourself. 

 

You can find all the videos on my instagram, most of the videos in addition to longer videos and tutorials on my youtube page. 

Phases

Being a freelance musician is a wild ride. I love what I do; it's drastically different every day. About a month ago I was in between wrapping up writing music for a short film and a fast paced time of traveling to Calgary, the midwest, San Francisco, South Carolina, and Florida (in that order... naturally). In the transition time I found it fitting to write some phase music. 

If you don't know what phase music is, imagine two record players playing the same song at the same time. Then imagine somebody pressing down (just a little bit) on the vinyl on one of the players through the entire song. The resistance would slow down that record player just a little bit; it wouldn't be noticeable at first. Then it would start sounding like an echo. Then before long it would be completely off and sound like a mess. 

Now imagine if the records were actually just really short loops on repeat. If you repeated the above scenario with these loops, they would divert in the same way, but after a little while they would actually return to playing in unison! This is the idea behind phase music, and the compositional approach I took to writing this EP. Every song features a short loop that is duplicated and the duplicate is slowed subtly to incur a complete phase. 

I had a lot of fun figuring out ways to perform phase music with the tools I have. I hope you have fun listening to them too. 

Here's an article with more info on phase music. Here's a link to download my Phases EP.  

24HR Records

Today a really cool documentary I was a part of with Aaron Krause, Matt Odmark, and Corey Oxendine was released. The concept was simply to put the four of us in a studio for 24 hours straight, write and record 3 songs, and make a movie about it. You can watch it here.

I had my reservations about being a part of this simply because I did not think I could stay awake for 24 hours. But I must say, this was a blast to be a part of and the crew I got to collaborate with was stellar. 

The OP-1 was all over this; it's a great tool for sparking ideas. The third song, Seeing Stars took shape from a simple piano phrase I came up with. 

Somehow it came up that it would be really cool to reverse this phrase so we could incorporate the lovely texture of a reverse piano. Simple enough to do right? I recorded it into the OP-1 tape and reversed it. Here's what it sounded like (once forwards, twice backwards). 

It sounds really nice. The only problem is that playing this audio clip backwards actually changes the rhythm of the melody and it muddied up the original melody. We wanted it to sound like the original melody only with a reverse piano sound. This is not as simple...

I believe it was around 5 AM by this point, and I do not do so well when I am sleep deprived. This problem was boggling my mind for a hot minute... I should have wrote it out on paper. What I actually needed was a retrograde of the original phrase. 

Seeing Stars Phrase Retrograde

This retrograde reversed audio clip ended up just being used at the very end of the track, so perhaps the headache wasn't necessary, but I'm glad we figured it out anyway. I never thought concepts of serialism would actually make their way into my career...

Caleb Groh - Ocelot

A few years ago Caleb Groh, Chad Wahlbrink, and I did the bulk of drum tracking for Ocelot. We tracked most of it in our living room (Chad and I were roommates at the time), and the operation was very relaxed. We tried all kinds of things that were very strange; I recorded a voice memo on my phone while sitting on it during a drum take for "Smokey Mountain Angel (of Doom)" and we mixed that in with the other drum mics, I set up my toms backwards, we set up ASC tube traps around the kit (that was actually a really good idea). I really love it when the environment / vibe / mood in a recording setting is very open. We were not efficient at all, but we had a ton of fun, and our playful approach led to some really creative ideas that I'm proud of. I know Caleb approached the entire record that way, and teamed up with Chad - the great encourager - they are a dynamite duo for creativity in the studio. 

Ocelot just came out today and I love it. I don't listen to things I record on very often, but this will probably be spinning in my car for a while. 

Tracking drums with / for the one and only @calebgroh wizard

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Normal day at the #pinkmailbox

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Making crazy music with crazy friends. Loving this.

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Step / Fall : Canvas

I recently made an EP entitled Step / Fall : Canvas. I took video of myself recording it. 

I think all artists have mixed motives. Here's my mix of motivation for making Step / Fall : Canvas:

  • I wanted to take my idea for "live recording" electronic music further. On Jan 1, 2016 I released Bridgeanother EP of mine which came together in the excitement of my figuring out how to record clips into Ableton, sample them into the OP-1, and record those samples all in real time without a break in the music. It was exciting to be able to make an entire song at once (not counting the drum recordings) even incorporating the sampling tricks I've been obsessed with for the past year or so. I liked how that allowed me to record video of the entire recording process fairly easily and share that so people can see how what they hear was made. Since releasing Bridge I learned even more ways to capture cool electronic tricks in real time, particularly sequenced gates, and I couldn't wait to make more live recordings.
  • It was a great outlet for compositional experimentation. I write a lot of music. Most of what I write these days is not for me; it's for a client that expects music that fits certain criteria. It's very functional and I do enjoy the work. I love that I get to work on my production and composition chops every day. But I am an experimenter. I rarely followed the directions with my legos when I was a kid. Whenever I get the chance I try and do something new, follow some curiosity. This live recording concept is a great way to make something using unusual methods, with enough context to keep creative traction and come up with a finished product. 
  • Life is a canvas. I'm particularly fond of thinking of things in terms of painting. It's a great analogy for most things. Recently I've been thinking about how life is a canvas and we paint it according to how we live our lives. It's obvious to think of the steps you take in life as being paint strokes, but recently I've been thinking that it's more about the combination of steps and falls that we take through life that really create our painting. The falls might be as important as the steps, causing us to dig our heels in deeper to our ideas, our motives, and to figure out who we really are. 

You can download Step / Fall : Canvas here.