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studio11 on 02/21/2017 at 12:53AM

KILYO - The Recording Of Harpoon

By Dan Zorn

I remember when “KILYO” (Jared Bradley) first contacted Studio 11. He had moved to Chicago from Ohio early in 2016, and was eager to start recording his debut album, Harpoon. After sharing a recorded demo via out studio website chat, I was immediately impressed by the sound of his voice, even on my laptop speakers. One month later, KILYO recorded his first single,“Tetris,” at Studio 11. It wasn't very far in the session when I realized KILYO is a rare talent - and that this is only the beginning of an exciting career as an artist.  Since recording “Tetris,” KILYO has spent months with Studio 11 creating his awaited album, Harpoon, expected to be released on December 16th.

Impressions

What strikes me most about KILYO is his humbleness toward his craft -never once boasting the fact that he really is a one person band . While KILYO has nearly perfect  (and I mean perfect) pitch, singing harmonies rivaling R. Kelly’s vocal coach, he is an equally talented producer.  After I asked him what DAW he uses for music production, he told me, “Oh, I don’t have one”. At first, I was confused, but he then  mentioned he uses a website called Soundation.com. I had never heard of the DAW website before. Intrigued, I began to ask him more questions:

“So, is it a drag-and-drop, loop-based program…(thinking how flexible can a website DAW really be)?”

KILYO explained,

“No, it's actually quite the opposite!” adding how he only uses stock sounds on the website, manually inserting each drum hit, and penciling in every note (including highly-syncopated , often times quite complex poly-rhythmic patterns). Interestingly enough, KILYO’s compositions are also created with little experience of music theory, primarily done by the training he’s taught himself.

As intricate as his chord progressions and composition skills are, what impresses me most is KILYO’s sonic palette and keen ear for creating unique, original sounds. As a music producer myself, it’s one thing to pencil in notes for a technically good song on paper, but choosing and designing the sounds is a whole other ball park. Many artists lack this creative element. However, KILYO has an in-depth understanding of utilizing exciting sounds:  instruments pan around your head exponentially increasing in speed, distorted synth lines dance within the stereo field and shimmer throughout, percussion hits are constantly hand pitched up and down in various ways: all creating quite a dense wall of sound without ever feeling overproduced. The distinct array of timbre lies on top of heavily saturated, analog-sounding chords that one quickly realizes only  KILYO could  (and would!) compose.

The Voice

Coming from a background in theater, KILYO is no novice to projecting and manipulating his voice. His vocal range is especially vast,  from rumbling lows to ear-piercing high frequencies and everything in between. During one session, Jared was recording ad-libs for the background of a chorus, and he literally glided from a low rumble all the way up to the what sounded like the highest octave possible for the male voice.  After recording, me and my assistant started laughing - because it was truly strange to hear this come from a humans voice.

Listening closer, another feature of KILYO’s music is the fact that nearly everything - verses, choruses, and bridges - are sung in harmonized chords. There are very few moments on Harpoon which do not feature four to six harmonies stacked on the lead. In the vocal booth, KILYO would simply sing an initial root note, then hum to figure out  what we be the most interesting harmony for that particular part - sometimes a 3rd, 5th or 7th, but often times harmonies for very dissonant chords.

But I know some artists that can do that,” you may be saying. Well, sure, there are a lot of great artists that can. Yet, KILYO’s  harmonies aren’t perfect transposed mirrors of the root note. Many of his harmonies dance around notes nearby (above or below the root note), creating interesting often times jazzy chord textures. Considering KILYO’S limited background in music theory, it’s evident that his effortless chord construction is a natural talent. Undoubtedly, the skill separates his music, bringing it to another level of quality that most artist seem to lack without the help of a vocal coach or additional producer.

Harpoon

Upon listening to the album all together, it's clear that KILYO’s Harpoon has a deliberate mood and purpose. The album embodies an original sound, complimenting well-developed themes and motifs based on the content of the songs themselves. With regard to the title, “Harpoon,” the content highlights various symbols and metaphors of the sea. Pieces entitled “Bermuda,” “Fisherman,” and “Submarine” embark on a voyage through emotional waves. Songs embracing water themes tend to sound more underwater with delays and reverb, in aim to emphasize a deeper, submerged meaning. However as “sea themed” as the album is, it’s not intend to admire the actual sea. KILYO’s Harpoon is full of free-spirited stories, personal hardships, moving on, and self-actualizing. Point being, one learns a lot about himself while lost at sea.

All in all it becomes apparent that no genre can apply to Kilyo. Harpoon encourages an introspective, personal examination for listeners… so dive in!

Behind the Scenes: Recording, Mixing and Mastering Harpoon at Studio 11

We recorded all of Jared’s vocals using an Audio Technica AT 4060 vacuum tube microphone into a Manley VoxBox preamp, which was channeled into Pro tools HD. After initial tracking, I went through a couple session recordings to determine the best overall settings for vocals on the album, and after some experimentation, I finally settled on a plug-in chain that suited KILYO’s voice best. The primary ingredients that really made Harpoon’s vocals pop were the Waves Renaissance Axe, the Waves Lo-Fi saturation plug-in, and the Waves Kramer Tape (yes a lot of saturation and distortion!). I found these all added nice fullness to the vocals, and the Kramer Tape sculpted a smooth, rounded high end.  Harpoon’s mastering was done in the box, using plug-ins from Waves.

 

 

 

 


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studio11 on 01/22/2014 at 02:01AM

Steve Anderson - Late Night Girl

Steve Anderson - Late Night Girl (Studio 11 Classics)

As a major contributor to the Studio 11 music engineering team, Steve Anderson has also found time to produce his own collection of top notch tunes. Not only does Steve have a fabulous voice, he is a consumate musical producer as well. Of the innovative collections that Steve has produced, his album "Late Night Girl" best sums up his vocal abilities and production skills.

We caught up with Steve for a brief interview covering music life and music making in the same


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studio11 on 02/18/2011 at 05:30PM

James Curd - Greenskeepers - Ziggy Franklin - An International House D.J. Shares The Secrets Of The Chicago Swing House Sound

James Curd - Chicago To Australia

For their inaugural Free Music Archive release, Studio 11 founders Alex Gross and Dan Scalpone caught up with James Curd, international house D.J. and creator of Greenskeepers Music. Alex comments,

The history of Studio 11 and Greenskeepers dates back over a decade. As young pioneers on the Chicago music scene, Studio 11 founder Dan Scalpone and I would find ourselves at bars and pickup jams with the likes of original GK members Coban Rudish and Mark Share. So naturally, when the band needed some work on their 2005 release “Pleetch”(OM Records), Studio 11 was an obvious choice. The album was completed in Chicago and New York, and off the band went to tour the world.  It wasn’t until 2006 that I caught back up with the guys. Having completed their 2006 release “Polo Club”(OM Records), the band invited me out to New York for their album release party at Love nightclub in Greenwich Village. The performance was a showstopper, highlighted by classy costume wear and righteous onstage swagger. Of notable memory was Nick Maurer’s Sgt. Pepperesque stage coat, sunglasses, and sarcastic antics.

James Curd And Alex Gross In The Studio
James Curd And Alex Gross In The Studio

Following this, time and difference reinvented the Greenskeepers. In recent years GK founder James Curd hashed out a new sound, lineup, and workflow with a majority of the material being completed in Chicago at Studio 11. Additionally, James aggressively expanded his D.J. career, completing releases and remixes for the likes of D.F.A, Drop U.K., Groove Armada, Hercules And Love Affair, Mos Def and Lenny Kravitz, Colette, Derrick Carter, Gene Farris, Om Records, and more. I can’t say enough good things about working with James in the studio. Not only is he one of Chicago’s most innovative musicians, he is astoundingly prolific – with releases totaling in the hundreds.

Dan caught up with James for an interview:


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