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So what the heck have you been working on?? (RPM 2013 edition)

Feb 27, 2013

Recording an album in a month for the RPM Challenge isn’t about how much gear you have, sound isolated rooms, or automated mixing consoles. It’s about music. It’s about having fun. It’s an exercise in using what you have and givin’ er. And this month, local RPM participants are givin’ er wherever they can, however they can.

We sent a few questions to this year’s local participants and here’s what they sent us.

If you are participating, feel free to say what you’re up to in the comments below.

 

Chad Pelley

So what the heck have you been working on?
All ten songs on my album will be kind of like folk with teeth. I went with a fast-one, slow-one tracklisting. Some of the songs are loosely based on my new novel coming out in March. If I include it,
“Fever Dream Song for Ryan” is about a crazy dream I had, after writing a drowning scene, where a kid killed himself to be with his mother, who committed suicide at sea, as he thought that’s how people become mermaids. So he went to join his mother, thinking his father hated him. That’s from the dream, not the book! So it’s a song, based on a dream, based on a book.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
Are you kidding? Isn’t the RPM Challenge about self-tortuture? it is for me. I can write an album a month no problem, but it takes me 10 hours minimum to record a song decently, and that doesn’t account for writing the songs, lyrics, or mixing. If the low points were throwing away a songs I spent 15 hours on, the logical high points will be the very second I upload each individual song to bandcamp, and that little, “updated” icon silently applauds the accomplishment of finishing another song. THat’s what I love abotu the RPM. I write a dozen songs a month, but never have a reason to record them. I wish I had more time to add more mood, texture, tracks, and sectiosn to these songs. But at least they’re recorded now.

Meg Harnum

So what the heck have you been working on?
this year i am part of 3 rpm projects! the first one is scrambled meggz and is a pretty fitting follow up to my 2012 rpm. there are a couple of songs on omnichord but primarily i used my baritone uke. i have two songs left to record when i get home from new york city but the other 8 are pretty much done(some need a little tweaking). it is going to be called the people that we used to be which is the name of the opening song as well as the ender(part 2).

the second album i played drums on with parks(ex pap pap!! myself, noah bender and jen king). the entire album was recorded in the span of five or six hours by jake nicoll and only two of the songs were familiar to both me and noah before the day of recording. it was a really bizarre recording experience wherein jen would run through the songs once, then we would play them as a band once or twice and then record immediately.

the third is very rough but will hopefully be finished in time. it is myself and alison corbett and the project is called uHu. we recorded a few songs tonight with a new friend we made in ny earlier today named ben richter. our friend wyatt arranged for a blind friend date and after we went for brunch, he invited ourselves and his friend hannah back to his house and littered the room with instruments for us to use. we recorded a couple of songs and then a couple of improvised jams featuring ben on accordion and al on violin. while we played, hannah painted a beautiful cover of a girl wearing an owl mask(uhu means owl in german). we plan to finish the rest of the album on the 11 hour train ride to montreal tomorrow. i love february!!!

People on Pause

So what the heck have you been working on?
new people on pause record, most of the songs are in a more trip hop style, with me playing drums on most of the songs

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
I had a total moment of clarity and was able to find some sort of executable structure for a song (“Skeleton to Wear”) that I really wanted to sound basically completely structureless and free. I have really wanted to finish it for months and having everything set up and ready to go allowed that moment of fleeting clarity to be captured.

I don’t have a picture of the space but attached is the main fuel for the whole project, along with straight vodka and hot buttered rum (google it). thats an italian poutine.by the way.

Scott Stevenson

So what the heck have you been working on??
I’ve been trying to record a bunch of live electronic tracks without using a computer (my favorite instrument). They’re fairly simple tunes because I only have a couple hands, a couple sequencers and little ability to play the keyboard. Usually I do 90% of my work in a DAW, so this has been fun and refreshing.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
My tunes are written down as lists of instructions on a notepad. I’ve only managed to nail one of them while recording and that was nice. Usually I forget what I’m doing and end up improvising- that can turn out doubly nice.

Alex Walsh

So what the heck have you been working on??
I have been working really hard to keep things different. Variety is the spice of life as the saying goes, and I’m definitely creating a lot of variety in my music and collaborations.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
Receiving feedback from co-workers about my music. I have one track that I’ve been told you can’t listen to and not at least crack a smile (ukulele’s make people smile)

The Glendas

So what the heck have you been working on??
The Glendas have been working on 10 tracks over the month, ranging from old to new but all unreleased in recorded form. It’s a rock/punk/alternative duo that started up a few summers ago and been going well ever since. Lots of dirty jams and catchy riffs.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
The most exciting moment for me so far was heading back to St. John’s from our recording space in Harbour Grace and finally getting to listen to some of the mixes on a car stereo. I couldn’t believe that we managed to put something together that I think sounds really great quality-wise, given the short amount of time and limited resources. RPM really makes you think resourcefully!

Ragged Harbor (Josh Abbott)

So what the heck have you been working on??
Solo album, recording as ‘Ragged Harbor.’ Some rock/blues/folk stuff, primarily electric guitar and drumbeats made with my computer or phone.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
Noodling for several minutes without hitting an especially bad note. I have very limited time so absolutely everything is done in one take. It’s not perfect, but that’s where the ‘ragged’ comes in.

Los Beatniko

So what the heck have you been working on??
I’ve mostly been working on a solo record of ‘experimental club’ music that I’m calling “Blue Demo Lichen One”. Using a brand spanking new audio interface for recording, and getting many ideas from my new Kaossilator 2. Also doing plenty of work with my project, Robot Scout, that will hopefully form the basis of an RPM disc, if not a later release.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
The best moment would be realizing that I have an optimal setup to work with, at least for now! Being able to generate and capture musical ideas quickly and efficiently, routing effects and sound-making devices as I wish, is absolutely great! Getting more acquainted with some features of Ableton Live in the process has been satisfying for me, too.

am/fm dreams

So what the heck have you been working on??
A weird mix of everything this year – folk, grunge, calypso, country tearjerkers, synth stuff etc… we had very little time to work on our album this year so there was no labouring over making it sound perfect — just slapped together with many of the songs being written just before they were recorded…which come to think of it, is our usual way of doing things anyway.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
breaking into an impromptu cover of “Hey Jude” with some friends who dropped by while practicing the last song on the record

Thom Coombes

So what the heck have you been working on??
I’ve been recording using a broken 4 track cassette recorder. It was working fine on february 1st. It’s been getting progressively worse since I started recording this month. It is now a 2 track recorder. Things have been getting more and more minimalistic since starting.

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
best moment = completing my first song. I was pleased with how everything sounded on tape, and it felt nostalgic to record the same way I used to do so often. This moment is also the best by default, because everything quickly became kinda stressful after that, which is when my 4 track became a 3 track recorder.

Rozalind MacPhail

So what the heck have you been working on??
I’ve been working on SCRATCH TRACKS, a bunch of rough musical sketches for my upcoming recording project, HEAD FIRST. I’ve been using Ableton Live to lay out my tracks in my home studio, playing loads of flute drenched in sound effects as well as other fun instruments I have laying around the studio. All of the parts on SCRATCH TRACKS will be re-recorded in Krisjan Leslie’s studio next month and will be used as a template to work from for the album. Once my tracks are complete, we’ll be sending out the songs to various musicians all over Canada, having them record their parts in their studios. Once everyone’s music files have been uploaded, Krisjan and I will have the fun task of editing them back here in St. John’s before they get sent to the filmmakers from all over Canada to create their magic during the summer. And when that’s all done, it will be mixed into 5.1 (surround sound) by 5.1 specialist, Josh Tidsbury (Toronto). The HEAD FIRST 5.1 DVD project will be released at the end of 2013. Tiny little steps will get me there! Oh yeah, and lots of coffee! : )

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
Being given an Alesis SR-16 during a recent tour of Central Newfoundland, inspiring even more new sounds for SCRATCH TRACKS.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come. This is track #1 of SCRATCH TRACKS, “Dempster Highway”, just finished up last night: https://soundcloud.com/flutegirl/dempster-highway-on-scratch

Steve Abbott

So what the heck have you been working on??
I have been writing new music for a band im calling King Corpsy. Its just myself and my buddy Chris Brown right now.

We are also Improv jamming in my studio and releasing the 2nd Call Off Your Masters RPM. All the latest versions of my King Corpsy and COYM rpm demos are up on my Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/stivbrigggs

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far?
Best moments are the little that sometimes come from nowhere. Whether its the radio interfernce coming though an amp at the right time during a recording, or showing your idea to a friend and seeing it morph, it’s the litte gifts that make it matter.

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