While New York’s CMJ Music Marathon has ended until next year, the thousands of fans, musicians, managers and promoters are left with the lingering sounds of new artists entering the world of music.
During my experience bouncing from show to show, I noticed the use of digital equipment was more prominent than ever. I was able to sit down and speak with a few of the musicians about their use of synthesizers, digital recorders and other non-traditional devices to develop their unique sound, and found that many of these artists were also heavily involved in the production side, some to the point that they were their own producer.
Manhattan-based musician and producer Tim White (T.H. White) recently launched his own record label, Sky Council Recordings, and works with his own equipment out of his studio, Sky Council. White also produces his own records and remixes, and recently released his split 12-inch EP “Scene & Modify.”
“My style of music is in the same world as Massive Attack and Portishead. It’s very groove-based and sort of cinematic in nature,” White said. “Electronica is what I naturally gravitate towards.”
While White has been trained in traditional guitar and piano, he enjoys producing a truly unique sound with his collection of microphones, synthesizers and other non-traditional devices. Among his collection are Universal Audio 6176 and Avalon 737SP compressors, an R-Rack 2x and Korg MS2000 synthesizers.
“The word producer has been morphed into more than what people consider a traditional producer,” said White. “It’s more than the turning of knobs. You have to play around with the right instrument and find the right combinations. To me, that’s the same concept as writing a song. In the traditional sense, the producer of an album is the director of the film. But for me, I’m more of a writer, screenplay adapter and the actor too.”
With his new record label, White said he has already signed one artist and hopes to work with more. “These days, I’ve worked with other artists and have been pretty busy,” White said.
Steve Marion, founding member of the five-man rock/indie rock band Delicate Steve, acts as both the band’s guitarist and producer. Working out of his Sussex County home studio, Marion and the band combine guitars drenched in reverb with electronic beats for a new take on a classic sound.
The band has produced two albums through Marion, who utilizes his experience with visiting other recording studios to perfect his work.
“(My interest in production) progressed from when I was a kid and had a tape recorder. I was interested in sound and how to make the sound better and better, which is what got me investing my time and money into learning how to record,” Marion said.
Old Time Machine
While the duo of Yukon, Canada residents Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen aren’t the producers of their self-titled debut album, Old Time Machine attributes much of their sound to their producer, Jordy Walker.
“Kyle and I came from such different ideas, and personally I have no interest in the electronic stuff, but Jordy takes over and makes it work,” commented McNally.
When Old Time Machine got together, it was part of a one-time musical project where two artists with very different sounds collaborated for a show. McNally plays blues and jazz on his guitar, banjo and other stringed instruments, while Cashen contributes a variety of echoes and eerie soundscapes.
“(After that), we were asked to play together a lot more. It all happened by accident, but it turned out well,” said McNally.
When the duo went to work in the studio with Walker, the producer would spend hours setting up the speakers, even hanging some from the ceiling to achieve the perfect sound. “What we were hearing wasn’t what I heard when we played,” McNally said. And because the group relies so heavily on set up, Cashen said whenever they perform live, they have to adjust to the venue. “Every time we set up it’s different,” Cashen said.