Category Archives: Recording

Recording a new Sliotar album

I’m feeling a little bit rough around the edges this morning. We had an NDRC end of summer cohort dinner last night, which continued into the small hours of Saturday morning. But nothing that an avocado and egg sandwich and a cup of coffee would not fix. Tonight I’ll be playing with Sliotar in the Porterhouse, which by the way was recognised as “The best global craft beer experience.” Then tomorrow morning we’ll be flying over to Denmark where we are going to be recording a new Sliotar album. Exciting times.

It has been a crazy year so far, but at the same time very exciting. I suppose with age you start to figure out better what you really want to do and accomplish. Some of you know I have been working with Melosity, which is a Dublin based music startup company. Even though it is taking a lot of my time, I am still a musician in my heart.

This new Sliotar album has me particularly excited. We are not the best band at churning out albums regularly. I’ve been with the band for 17 years and in that time we recorded four albums… Not the greatest achievement I must say, but as always life has a habit of getting in on the way. At the same time when we get around to it, making the album is something we really look forward to.

So why Denmark? A good friend of ours Tomas Somr live in Denmark. We got to know Tomas through the wonderful Keltska Noc Celtic festival in the Czech Republic. Over the years Tomas has been booking us shows in the Czech Republic and Denmark. He has always been close to the band. So when we thought about recording the new album, it was obvious that we wanted him to engineer and help us produce it. this connection is going to go even further. I am hoping to pass on most of the tour booking to Tomas as well.

Our partnership is going to go even further. I am hoping to pass on most of the tour booking to Tomas as well. Booking the tours requires a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend every band and artist to do their own bookings as far as possible. Nobody cares about your band as much as you do. Having said that, Sliotar has had a long enough relationship with Tomas that he is almost as invested in the band at this stage than the rest of the band.

So why am I writing this blog post? Well, I suppose I wanted to assure those of you who know me as a musician, that the music is not going anywhere. And at the same time, for those of you who got to know me through Melosity, one of the reasons I am passing on the tour booking to Tomas is to allow me to dedicate more time for Melosity as well.

I will try to document this journey as much as possible along the way on all my social media channels, so stay tuned.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer-songwriter
To get eight of his free songs go HERE and click Download

Cloud-based recording is here to stay

Save it in the cloud

It is not too long ago when we were all scratching our head trying to understand the purpose of Dropbox. Cloud-based storage has become part of our everyday life by now. We store and share files in so many ways that often we don’t even notice it ourselves. For example, when you send a picture to your friend through Whatsapp, that picture gets stored in a server, where your friend can then download it from. We don’t feel like it is saved anywhere because Whatsapp makes the experience seamless, but in fact, you are using a cloud based transfer service.

When the cloud-based storage first came into the market, many of us were worried about losing files, or data getting in the wrong hands. So instead we stored our files on the hard disc of our computer, or on a portable hard drive. The fact is, our personal computers are probably one of the easier things for the hackers to break into. The pure human error has misplaced more than few portable hard drives and laptops. Even more so, the cloud-based service providers have backups and backups of backups, whereas most of us have an experience of a hard drive failing.

Cloud-based recording

A cloud-based recording is not a new thing anymore. Companies like Melosity, Soundtrap and Bandlab have all build their own versions of online DAW’s. Still many of us prefer to use our trusty old DAW’s. Moving from what we know to a new technology is always going to be a scary step. However, if you look at the principles and the theory behind cloud-based recording software, it is pretty obvious that it is where the technology is heading. Not having to save your audio tracks on your computer eating away valuable hard drive space just makes sense. And not to mention the space your DAW with all of its plugins take.

Sure it is new technology and there is still a way to go before it can compete to the level of the existing DAW’s. But have no doubt this is only matter of time, and I am not talking about a decade here. Remember the first time you made a facetime call on your mobile phone? iPhone only introduced facetime calls in iPhone 4 back in 2010. Today it is used by people all around the world. There is no doubt in my mind that technology is moving at an accelerated speed. And because of this I strongly believe that by the end of this decade some of the albums in the top 20 will be recorded completely with a cloud-based recording software.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer-songwriter
To get eight of his free songs go HERE and click Download

Vlog 164 My best tip for recording acoustic guitar

Once again the Wednesday vlog is a Studio vlog. But before I get to the usual stuff I talk about the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and share with you guys my memories of that scary experience. In this weeks studio section I share with you my best tip for recording acoustic guitar. Some of you have been asking for this, so I hope this helps. If you have any additional questions about recording acoustic guitar, I’ll try to help you the best I can in the comments.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Melosity

MelosityOk, so many of the regular readers of my blog have heard about Melosity by now. I asked some of my followers to sing backing vocals on a song of mine through Melosity, which is a new online recording software / collaboration tool. You can read more about the project HERE. I spent several hours in the Melosity office last week talking about the software and how it can be improved on. I think it is important to state that I am not affiliated with Melosity, I just advise them in a hopes that they can build a tool that I will be able to use for years to come.

I see potential in what they do. For me to be able to set up a recording session online, then invite friends to contribute on it, without having to share files through Dropbox every time someone records something new, is just brilliant. The fact that I can hear their take as soon as they have finished recording, no matter where they are in the world just blows me away 🙂

I also see another few big benefits on this system. You see Melosity offer you free storage for all of your recordings. This means you won’t clog up your storage in your computer. In the past having an external hard drive was a must for recording, but now many of us are recording on the go. The design in new computers is moving towards relaying in online storage, rather than massive built-in hard drives.

Sure this requires us to have an internet connection, but this is something that is becoming more and more widely available. And the future is on the way 😉 Elon Musk announced earlier on the year that he is planning a network of satellites to provide global internet access. There are other major tech companies also with plans of using weather balloons and drones to do the same. So it is only matter of time before the whole world has access to internet connection.

I can hear many of you being skeptical, and thinking this will never work. But stranger things have become reality in our life time. And I for one am trying to utilise the new developments to my advantage, rather than fight against them.

So right now I am hoping to test the capabilities of Melostiy as far as I can. And if you want to join me I’d gladly be part of your projects as well. Just set up your own project and send me an invitation through Melosity to jpkallio@hotmail.com with instructions on what you’d like me to do 🙂
So let’s get creating some music 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Make music with me

MelosityI have an idea that I would like to share with you. On the current album there is a song, which is the tittle track of the album. It is a song that is close to my heart. I would even go as far as saying it is a selfish song 😉 I wrote it about my self, I wrote it to release some of my feelings based in self-doubt, guilt and the need to justify my existence. Sound kind of deep, I know… But sometimes us songwriters need to exercise our own demons.

But the more I thought about the song, the more I sang it, the more I realised how universal the subject of the song actually is. I recorded and posted the song itself in a simple acoustic form HERE.

Now for the album I would like to try something I haven’t done before. I would like to get some of my fellow artists to join me singing the chorus. And I would like you to do this from your own computer. How? Let me tell you how 😉

Have you ever heard of Melosity? Melosity is a new Irish startup, that only went live with their website last month. Basically it is an online recording software. And I thought what would be a better way to put it to the test than try to collaborate with as many people as possible. Basically I am looking people to sing backing vocals on the chorus, more the merrier.

And just for the sake of clarity, and I hate that I even need to say this, but I do, you will do this from the goodness of your heart. I will hold the sole rights to the recording. I would love you to collaborate with me, but if it is money you are after, this is not a gig for you. So far my albums barely break even, and for me to make profit out of any of these will take a long time. But even more so, I want this song to be a labour of love, not paid employment. You will be credited for the work on my blog and if I end up printing physical copies of the album, your name will be mentioned in the album notes. I hope you understand what I am trying to say here. If you do and still want to be part of it, read on.

What you need to do is head over to www.melosity.com and register an account with them. Then drop me an Email at jpkallio@hotmail.com and let me know you want to be part of it and I will in get back to you with further instructions 🙂

I am hoping we can make something beautiful together 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Technology and the workflow

tapemachineHere’s a subject I have been holding back on because it’s one of those things us musicians traditionally don’t like. I am talking about technology. And by this I am talking about many of the tools you get with your recording software these days. Things like virtual instruments, auto tune, time stretch, I suppose editing in general…

Yep I know in the ideal world we should all hire the best musicians, record everything on analogue tape machines using great valve pre-amps and vintage microphones, oh and let’s not forget the room! How about the abbey road? Or the Sun studios in Memphis? What did we use before Pro Tools? Pros!

So we get on our high horse, ride to the top of the mountain of egotism and wave of our flag of pure art! Surely we are better than the rest. We know what truly great music is made of.

So, let’s break this down a bit, shall we? I’d like to remind you that your ego does not pay your bills. It is the listeners, the people who buy your music, stream it online and go to your concerts. They are the people who put you in that very privileged situation of being able to make music. And these are the people you need to keep happy! I know you cannot please everybody, but your fans are your lifeline.

So what if there are tools out there that could speed up your process a bit? What if these tools would give you an opportunity to get more music to your fans? I released 52 songs in 2014 and my plan is to do the same this year. Do you think if I didn’t embrace some of the new technology I would have been able to do that? Hell no! D you have any idea how much 52 days in a studio would cost you?

Another thing I have noticed is that my workflow is fast. Every time I get other people involved, things slow down. Obviously this is a natural thing and I need to allow for it. But there are times when if all I need is a kick drum beat on the last chorus of a track just for that extra lift, I do not think there is anything “morally” wrong using a sample (which by the way I have paid for) from Logic Pro’s extensive library. I can do this in a less than an hour. Recording the real drum would easily turn in to a half day ordeal.

What about the all so dreaded auto tune? I do believe you need to be able to deliver a good vocal take that is in tune, if you want to be a professional singer. But there are times when you record a great emotional take that is perfect, apart from that one note… Sure you can drop in just that one note, but what if it does not sit in the mix? What if it stands out? So why would we just use the original take and leave in that one bum note? That is an option I have used many times. But the fact is that pretty much everything you hear on the radio these days is heavily processed with auto tune. It even seems to be the new trend in the mainstream country music… So the listener to certain extent expect this, or should I say the radio station bosses expect the listener to expect this. So if your vocal tracks are not in tune, guess what? Apart from that indie show 11pm on Tuesday night, your tracks will not get any airplay…

Don’t get me wrong, I hate how it has become the norm. And the technology has made it possible to use it live as well. Not sure if this is better or worse than miming… But it is the norm, it is what the major labels use. So should we just not use it on some moral grounds and let the major labels have the advantage? Now let’s say we do. So where do we draw the line then? For example your favourite Ibanez tube screamer pedal is only an emulation of a tube amp driven to distortion… Reverb? It is digitally created illusion of space…

What I love the most is seeing a band get on their high horse about all of the above stuff, but their songs are not up to scratch…

Let’s face it, the technology is here to stay. I’d even go as far as to say, in the future we will not think any of these “new” tools any differently as we now think of those guitar pedals. We all love to hate new technology, until it proves its validity. But lets not forget that electric guitar is less than decade old, same as electric bass. The vinyl record not much older than that. If we had not embraced these technological advancements, surely the music we listen to today would be very different.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Quick tip 7 Recording acoustic guitar

J.P.s Quick tipToday’s quick tip is a small recording tip. This is how I make my acoustic guitar sound big! Use two microphones, one pointed at the neck just about where the neck meets the body, and another pointing at the body just behind the bridge. Now pan them one left and one right. I use hard pan when I record tracks where the acoustic guitar is the main instrument, but for band arrangements I pan it about 35% both ways.

Also if you have a good pick up which sound you like, you can record that as well and leave it right in the middle, but keep it low. It will add different kind of attack. I also boost the bottom end from the pickup, as it is more controllable than from the microphones. And I tend to cut the tops above 5000hrz, as above that most pickups get harsh and quacky. Don’t worry, you will get loads of top frequencies from the microphones.

That should get you started. Once you try the two microphone technique, you never go back to one 😉

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Recording “The Call” Part 1.

J.P. studioAs you know, my fourth album “The Call” was released yesterday. Some of you have been asking about my recording setup, and I thought this would be as good time as any to talk about it a bit. I had an interest in recording music almost as far back as I’ve been playing music. I did few short courses on the subject back in Finland and I also had an access to a small eight track studio run by the local church youth department. It was nothing fancy, but still it was a proper studio with an eight track reel to reel Tascam tape machine, selection of mics, desk, speakers, all the basics to keep you going. But in late 2000 I was recording an album with Sliotar that was produced and recorded by Paul Thomas. Paul’s credits in the music business run long and deep, but one thing I learned long ago from silly friends is not to ride on someone else’s credit, so let’s just say he is a very experienced studio engineer (although no longer in the business). Me and Paul struck a friendship and he was very generous with his time and knowledge of recording. I soaked the information like a sponge.

I’m only stating the above to point out that I have been lucky enough to make a sh*t load of mistakes in the recording and be corrected and guided by some extremely experienced people. I got to ask the silly questions and as a result I would say I know now what I am doing, even though still every recording session is a learning curve. This does not mean you cannot do it, just the opposite. We live in a time where information is at our fingertips. Go online, read up, watch tutorials, make mistakes, learn from them and you will get good at it as well.

Photo 24-06-2014 11 50 05I have had an access to some sort of recording setup pretty much since I got my first computer. But few years when the Zoom R16 came out, I knew what I wanted was out there and I could get my own recording setup for a reasonable price. Zoom R16 is the basis of my setup. It can be used as an interface, controller for your daw and also as an independent recording unit. It has enough inputs (eight) for me to record me and my acoustic guitar live, record drums if I want and pretty much anything between. The Preamps are not anything fancy, but they are silent and do the job. It also has two builtin microphones, which I have found an interesting use, but more on that in a bit. I connect the R16 into my Mac Book Pro, which runs Logic Pro X. I used to use PC and Cubase, which is a very user friendly program as well.

I do not want to turn this into a Mac v PC debate, but let me just say this as even though people hinted at it, no one told me this straight out. Since I moved to Mac, my work flow has sped up dramatically! And I would not go back. I know PC’s are cheaper, but I bought my Mac book second hand for very much the same money I would have spent on a new PC.

Another small side note. What I get asked often is why I don’t use Pro Tools. For years Pro Tools was ahead of the pack, it was the best the money could buy and as became the industry standard in many ways. For me it comes down to two big things, how fast I can work and how comfortable the work on it is. For years the look of Pro Tools was gray and it looked like a piece of software designed for accountants… I found it was very tiring on my eyes during long recording sessions. I found both Cubase and Logic Pro to be much more “musician friendly” and nicer to work with when you put in the 12hour days. Now, the playing field has been levelled dramatically. There are so many softwares out there that all can do amazing things. For me the Logic Pro x ticks all of the boxes between being a professional quality tool, very reasonable price and comfortable to work with. Also as to Pro Tools being the industry standard? Four friends of mine have their own recording studios, all professional studios, all of them run on Logic Pro…

AKG Perception 220Ok, back to my setup. So I had bought few microphones good ten years ago on a trip to Estonia. A matched pair of Octavas MK 012’s. They are small diaphragm condenser microphones that have become my go to tool for acoustic guitar and drum overheads. So I needed a good vocal microphone. After doing my research purchased an AKG Precision 220. Even at the time it was good value, but the current version is genuinely a bargain for the quality you get out of it. Short side note on microphones. Condenser microphones are very detailed and great, but also pick up stuff you might not like. The acoustics of my small studio/office are very tricky as all of the walls are so close. So I am looking into upgrading my vocal microphone possibly to Shure SM7, but we shall see, more research required 😉

I also did my research on the monitors and my winner in the price/ quality winner was M-Audio AV30 Studiophile active speakers. On top of this I use Audio-Technica ATH-M40 headphones and Shure SM57 microphone for when I record Electric guitar.

All of the above equipment is in my opinion brilliant value for money and hard to beat. With the above setup you can make a brilliant recording, in fact many of my recordings done with this setup, stands up proudly against many professional studio recordings. But obviously you need to know how to use it, which I think is one of the best skills for any musician to learn.

Electro-Harmonix 12AY7 Tube Microphone PreampOn top of all this I have one more piece of equipment I’d like to mention. There is a world of microphone pre-amps that can be wonderful, but expensive. There are many budget options, which are not always much better than the built in option in your sound card and in my case in the Zoom R16. I know many people get exited about having a budget valve (tube for my American friends) microphone pre-amp, but more often than not, the valve is nothing more than a nice light in the budget pre-amps… So I advice you to do your research carefully before you spend money on a microphone pre-amp. I have a tricky piece of kit, that has a lot of problems, so I would not recommend it to anyone without knowing the problems with it, but I love it. This is Electro Harmonix 12ay7 mic pre. It has a lovely open sound, but the problem is due to its small voltage power supply it is very prone to electrical interference. In my studio this results in a 100hz hum. But my vocals do not hold much of goodness around the 100hz so I managed to EQ this out of the signal. Apparently there are modifications that can be done with this mic-pre that would turn into very good mic-pre. But as it is, I would recommend you try before you buy, it might not be for you.

OK, this is turning into a long one 😀 So the above is my basic studio setup. I will continue this subject in part 2 with my recording tips and tricks used on my latest album “The Call“.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get three of his free songs go HERE and click Download

“The Call” launch

ThecallshadowToday the 2nd of December, my fourth album “The Call” is out of the traps. I got few cool things here for you, but before we get into that lets check out some lovely quotes we got in already 🙂

“The Call” stretches J.P. Kallio’s songwriting and lyrics farther than he’s gone before. J.P. Kallio has what many other artists don’t have -depth and skill at songwriting.”
– JamSphere

“An ability to write material that has merit outside the trappings of glossy studio production”
– Soundlooks

“J.P. Kallio is back with his unique blend of country folk, and it’s just as inspiring as ever. There’s a real sense of being performed to with confidence by a true master of his craft.”
– Crossradar

“This 11 track album is fantastic and will take you on a ride through heartfelt songs that will draw out your emotions. J.P. has a very distinctive style that is raw and unfiltered. His songwriting is refined and each of the 11 songs will paint rich pictures in your mind.”
– VeryCoolTunes

Click here to download your copy of “The Call” right now!

So I also wanted to give you a new video, this was another late night video session and was a live version of the opening track of the album. Hope you like it and if you do, please leave a comment 🙂

Also I worked hard to make sure the album will be available not only from my website, iTunes, Amazon and all the usual download stores, but also on Spotify as I am fully aware many of you prefer this as your way of listening music. I’ll include here the new album playlist and if you are on Spotify, please follow me there 🙂

Thank you so much for the support, and don’t forget that a simple thing like sharing this page by hitting one of the social media links below really makes a big difference 🙂 And let me know what you think of the album as well.

J.P.

Finding the right studio engineer

Big Sliders Studio engineer is a crafter of a very skilled trade. Choosing a good one sometimes seems like taking the second place over the selection of the studio. Most of us go for a studio we like, can afford, is convenient or other similar reasons. And very often we take the house engineer who comes with the studio price. Often this is the smart move for the artist on a tight budget as the house engineer knows the studio inside out, or at least you would hope so.

I have done a fair bit of studio work over the years, we even had our own studio with Sliotar for a while. I had access to great little eight track analogue studio when I was young and I did a few courses in sound engineering as well. But also was very lucky to work with few great sound engineers over the years, who were willing to share their skills and knowledge with me and for this I am forever grateful.

So now I understand that the basic, studio setup in the right hands can be extremely effective, and all the flashy gear in the world in the wrong hands will not make a great recording. So I would try to find the right engineer over the “right studio”. I would try to find an engineer who is proud of all of their work. Who puts personal investment into every project. An engineer who want’s you to perform your best, as their name will be on the recording as well. A great engineer almost doubles as a producer. So choose wisely.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download