How I Made My Album “Homesense”

I’d like to share a little insight on how I made my Homesense album that was released in 2014 on my own Blikmuzik label as a limited edition cassette + digital download.

I would like to point out that even though I praise analog hardware so much, I still use computers from time to time.  There are things that can’t be done with hardware alone.

For this album I used Propellerheads Reason 5 and a cassette tape. Most of the tracks I did were not written in a traditional linear way like most of us used to. Instead I have created a little groove of 4 – 8 bars with everything playing simultaneously. I then used my midi controller to control various parameters of the program, like mixer faders, synth filters and effects in real time. This allowed me to have a jam (a live performance) without looking at the computer, something that I would do when using an analog mixing desk.  I recorded everything life in to a cassette tape and captured my life performance in real time. The reason for cassette tape mixdown is simple: I don’t like plain crystal clear sound of digital, especially Reason. Cassette tape gives a little lo-fi sound, making everything sound natural to me, the bass becomes round and hi frequencies gets cut smoothly and become more pleasant.  I then bounce it all from tape back to computer. If my jam is too long, I edit it to a more sensible length. Then I used iZotope RX3 Denoiser to remove the hiss from the tape while still leaving the analog character of a tape. And then I sent it off to mastering.  That’s pretty much it.

Hope you find it interesting and the information is useful to you.

Tell me if you like this kind of “tutorial videos”, do you want me to get more technical in my future blogs / videos? Any particular topics to cover?

Thanks for watching.

 

 

 

In Just Out - Homesense

In Just Out - Homesense

My Sound

I start making music when I was 6 years old. We had a piano at home. My dad gave me this big, old reel to reel tape recorder and a little microphone that came together with it. I start recording what I was playing. Occasionally I would ask my brother or my friends to play some homemade percussion. I would record day after day, until I had the tape full. I would paint some kind of artwork, and would consider I have an album. I would listen to it for about a week and then I would start another one. This is the kind of approach I am having to this day. It’s just the tools that I use have changed. I do like the Do It Yourself approach, where I make music for myself.

Since my early days I was involved in a lot of different projects, couple of bands. When I was around 15, I decided to go solo, and that’s when the IJO thing came in. I didn’t set out too many goals other then be versatile in what I do and express myself through different sounds, different ways and different genres. I love music and I can’t do just one thing forever. It has to be everything.
My very first album came out in 2003 which was kind of a droney dark ambient, followed by the jazzy, melodic EP. After that I have released a lot of experimental electronic music, ranging from some heavy and complicated sounds to some easy listening. It’s what I like to do. I make music for myself first and foremost. And I am still trying to express myself through all these different ways and I hope people can relate to my music.

My inspiration comes from my day to day life, from relationships… Sometimes I am inspired to make music while listening to some other music. I do feel inspired by just listening to my own stuff too. Also the gear that I am using and the environment where I make music is very inspiring. The fact that I have my studio set up in the bedroom plays a big role. I could not work as easily and creatively if I had my studio set up somewhere else. If I had to travel somewhere just to make music – it would feel like having a job, and this isn’t something I want to feel while making music. It’s very comfortable when I can make music whenever I want. I can take a break; I can have a tea or whatever.

When I perform, it usually is a live performance of my own stuff. My live sets are different each time. There are never two same sets. I might play same tracks from time to time, but each time they would be presented differently. It also depends on what kind of gig am I playing at: sometimes my sets are very eclectic, for instance – in a festival I could start very slow and keep going faster and heavier. If it’s just a rave party – I can be straight forward and play some of my jungle material.

It just so happen that I am very experimental. Ordinary music is a little boring to me. It’s who I am. And I always try to show what I can do, inspire other people, surprise them. Not always deliver what I am expected to. I am pretty spontaneous both in music and life. My music is my mirror, it shows of who I am.

Much Love,
IJO

Why I Love Making Music With Analog Gear

Making music with computers may seem easy and affordable option for everyone. I got my first computer back in late 90s and it definitely changed my world. I didn’t pay attention to analogue gear at the time because I couldn’t even think of affording it as I was still a kid. So a computer, with all the early software, digital synths and drum machines was all I could ever need. I didn’t know any engineering tricks back then, so all I did was – write stuff, bounce to audio, set the levels accordingly, add a little effect here and there – done. No compression, no EQ , no hi-pass filter. And I was happy with the process and results. Until years later the market became full of different DAWs, uncountable options for the best synth plugin, best compressor, best everything. Naturally you want to try everything out. So with time computers became biggest distraction when making music on.. well.. computers. It’s so difficult to pick up the best plugin and stay away from hundreds of other best options. I ended up trying to be too technical, wanting to make my digital mixdowns sound analog. Instead of focusing on expressing ideas, I would just spend days and nights on unnecessary stuff and feel guilty for wasting my time afterwards.

I had to come up with a different way I could enjoy making music again. Therefor I have turned into the world of analog hardware. If I’m about to spend some money on legitimate software, I might as well buy real things. This obviously mean, I would have to deal with a lot of cables and all this mess, not being able to fit all my studio in to one laptop bag, but I can live with that. On the other hand, being limited with my instruments and sound palette, I can get more creative, and I like this sort of challenge. The good part is – I don’t have to spend hours and hours on my mixdowns as everything sounds good enough already. A little EQ boost or cut here and there, simple delay or reverb on couple of channels, and it’s done. Need to twist a knob on a synth? Takes only a second. Need to add distortion on those drums? Just turn up that gain knob on a mixer. Computer serves me only as a sequencer to control all my gear via MIDI, and that’s more than enough. It doesn’t even have to be the best computer in the world, it can be something from the past era. All the gear doesn’t cost much either, especially if second hand.

Writing a progressive house track or EDM tune would be impossible the way I have my studio running, meaning I would need 40 to 80 channels of audio. Mixing it all down would be a nightmare and one month’s work at least. But I am not interested in that anyway as this is already commercial music territory that has very little to offer in terms of interesting ideas. Good things are simple things.

The biggest advantage of a hardware based studio is the sonic sound characteristics that I was never able to achieve while working exclusively with software. At the end of the day, it’s all down to a personal taste and workflow. There are many ways you can have a hybrid set up and use both worlds equally. To me it’s all about the joy of a creative process.

I hope you can relate to a degree. How do you feel about computers taking a creative focus out of the way? Perhaps on a contrary, you think all the gear is a waste of space and money? Do you struggle with that? What is your story?