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Jul 4, 2017
Beanstalk is an annual festival thrown by local band and KMG friends The Magic Beans. This festival has been steadily growing over the past few years and this years certainly delivered on what patrons have come to expect from this small mountain festival. Held up at Rancho Del Rio in Bond, CO, the intimate settings gives you the opportunity to perhaps meet some of the artists performing and get to know them. It's great fun to get a more personal experience than some of the larger festivals.
This years festival boasted a great lineup complete with 3 sets from The Magic Beans as well as sets from Tenth Mountain Division, Fruition, Reed Mathis and Electric Beethoven, The Funky Knuckles, Mamma Magnolia, The Malai Llama, and more!
Check out the festival next year if you're looking for a quick weekend getaway complete with great music and great hangs!
Band Feature | Intergalactic Peace Jelly
We are so happy to introduce one of our new favorite bands around: Intergalactic Peace Jelly!
You may have seen this Boulder, CO based band ripping it up at the fox or down at the lazy dog for a show or a jam beginning in 2014, but these guys bring a real interesting blend to the scene. Influenced by the Grateful Dead, Metallica, and many more. We love the interesting journey their music takes you own with the organic feel of the music.
The band personnel consists of JD Rodgers (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Andrew Schuster (guitar, vocals); Max Gilbraith (bass, vocals); Evan DePuy (percussion); Gordon Lindley (drums); and Erique Johson (keys, synth) and all members contribute something unique to the sound that is I.P.J.
They have been featured in venues such as The Lazy Dog, Fiske Planetarium, Cervantes Masterpiece, Agave, and Slow Groovin' BBQ; and has opened for Marco Benevento, Amoramora, Metafonics, and a variety of other prominent local acts.
We are most excited that they have recently joined us in the studio for their next project and things are going great. Stay tuned to what's new with I.P.J on facebook!
July 11, 2017
Shout Out to the July Class | WELCOME!!
We would like to give a warm KMG welcome to the new July class of 2017! We hope that you find everything you're looking for in our school and take advantage of all it has to offer you. We've got a lot of great, knowledgeable people here who are looking forward to helping you grow in your own personal musical journey and career!
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." - Albert Einstein
The KMG Team Does Summer NAMM In Nashville
The KMG team and students head to this year's addition of summer NAMM. The National Association of Music Merchants throws two events a year, one in winter and one in summer, and the summer NAMM event is taking place in the iconic musical city of Nashville, Tennessee.
NAMM has a vision of being the type of event where aspiring musical companies come to share their products in a marketplace designed just for them. It houses some of the most advanced technologies and equipment in the rapidly expanding industry of recording audio within a digital space.
It is an especially great place for our students to visit in order to see what all of the high-tech gear is like, learn how it works, as well as make great connections within the music world. These connections may come in handy in the future or at the very least, expose them to some of what a career in music has to offer.
BlindDog Smokin' Returns to KMGLife Inc.
KMG's favorite grammy nominated band returns to KMGLife Inc. to record some more music, bringing the same cast of zany musicians that we had the pleasure of hosting about a year ago. They're bringing back our favorite producer and engineer Tony Shepperd and they're also bringing a couple new faces, Bobby Rush and Anne Harris.
Anne Harris is a Chicago based violinist and owns her own record label entitled "Rugged Road Records" and has released 5 albums that she produced herself entitled "Anne Harris," "Open Your Doors," "Wine and Poetry,"Gravity and Faith," and "Come Hither." Her music can be described as traditional Celtic music, american folk-rock, Afrobeat, soul, and chamber music, and we're excited to see what type of flare she adds to the group.
Bobby Rush is a Grammy-Award winner for "Best Traditional Blues Album" and winner of the prestigious "Best Male Blues Artist" at the Blues Music Awards; one of his 17 blues accolades include his induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. He's been recording since 1967 and his music is simply amazing!
Keep an eye out for what they cook up in the studio with this amazing cast of musicians.
Artist Feature | Focus
What’s your background in music? Do you play any instruments?
When I was a little kid my dad would always play a huge collection of rock, classic eighties, and smooth love songs. I fell in love with all of it and started singing at a super young age. I wish I played instruments haha I don't have the attention span to stick to learning an instrument.
What brought you into the world of rap?
I saw 8 Mile and I've been hooked ever since.
Are you familiar with the 4 elements of hip hop and if so how have they shaped your journey?
Breakdancing, DJ-ing, graffiti, and MC-ing, right? I'm really familiar with all of them but can't say I have any talent for them other than the MC part haha. My dad used to be a pretty bad ass breakdancer at one point in the 80's though.
Do you produce?
Ohhhh yeah I do! I make some terrible beats but I love doing it. I hope to start rapping over my own beats one day.
What is the value you see in collaboration? How have you grown from it?
I really only do collaborations with my friends. They force me to try out different styles and it's always fun to make music with your homies.
What are the origins of Focus?
They call me Focus cause I have ADHD. For real though I went by a different name for 5 years and in that time span I dropped 6 projects and countless singles. I decided to rebrand about a year ago and have been going by Focus ever since.
Where do you hope to take sail and how do you plan to get there?
I hope to set sail to Jamaica one day on a boat. Really though I plan on being one of the biggest artists in the game and to make a couple million dollars, and to eventually retire in jamaica. And hopefully I can inspire others on my way there. I plan on getting there through a lot of long nights filled with hard work.
As an artist, what do you hope to contribute to the music scene? How do you plan to leave your mark?
I just hope to make the best music I can.
Any big long term goals in the making that you’d like fans to keep an eye out for?
2 projects and countless singles/music videos are to come.
Jul 18, 2017
Artist Feature | Treyy G
We would like to give a warm shout out to our KMG Fam and artist, Treyy G. He has been with us for quite some time and recorded amazing music throughout the years. As an artist he has also helped train and educate our students on beginning to track hip-hop sessions as lead engineers!
Treyy G is a hip-hop artist from San Jose, California and has been in the game for a while now. He has dropped a number of great tracks that has landed him placement at disco:wax and Sony Music. Check out some of his tracks below.
Open Mic Night Changes
We would like to take this opportunity to inform everyone that the open mic nights held at KMGLife Inc. in the Creative Cafe will be changing from a weekly event to a monthly event but will remain on Monday nights. KMG Open Mic Night will be held on the first Monday of every month and will be hosted in the KMG Event Center in order to provide more space for additional acts!
KMG Website Makeover!!
Keep an eye out for the brand new KMG website to be unveiled in the next week!! Check out a sneak peak below!
Ableton Lab Up and Running!
We are happy to announce that the Ableton Lab is now operational with complete setups including Ableton Push! Zaak Kerstetter is excited for his first lecture style class and the KMG Ableton Music Production Program is ready to help teach you the skills to be dual-wielding Ableton live set ups like Bassnectar in no time!
Summer NAMM 2017 Recap
This past weekend, KMG faculty and administrators Robert Gedelian, Chase Thompson, Greg Kimble, Cayla Kimble, had the distinct pleasure of accompanying KMG Academy students William Kertzman, Daniel Higgins, Felix DeHaro, Ryan Sapena, Jay Cisneros, Isiah Cisneros, Spencer Sikes, Payton Harmon, Dylan Vilona, Conner Bradley, Valfred Mendoza and Ben Webster to visit this year's edition of Summer NAMM. Lots of great gear was seen and demonstrated while amazing knowledge was gained and shared!
The Summer NAMM trip took place in Nashville, TN from July 13-17 and featured many local attractions such as Music City Center, B.B. Kings Nashville, Lonnie's Western Room, Guitar Center, Vintage King Audio (Nashville Location), as well as a great master class with none other than Bob Bullock at Sound Kitchen Studios!
Bob Bullock has been gracing the music industry for over 40 years, getting his start in Los Angeles while working under such heavy names as Humberto Gatica, Reggie Dozier, Barney Perkins, Roy Haley and Roger Nichols. His passion for the profession allowed him to quickly make a name for himself working with acts such as The Tubes, Art Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, Crazy Horse, Chic Corea and REO Speedwagon. He went on to win critical acclaim and more than 50 gold and platinum records working with Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Patty Loveless, George Jones, John Anderson, Hank Williams Jr., Jimmy Buffet and Steve Wariner after relocating to Nashville. During his time in Nashville, he shifted his focus from engineering to producing and co-producing receiving credits on albums with such artists as Kenny Chesney, Loretta Lynn and Keith Urban.
The KMG squad had the pleasure of staying in a luxurious mansion called "Buddha Mansion", located just outside of the city which was quite a treat. Some of the students are in their early phases of the KMG RAAB Program, so this was an ample opportunity for them to become acquainted and the older, more seasoned students helped them to begin their KMG and pro-audio journey on the right foot. The time spent at Summer NAMM was quite enriching for students as they perused vendor stands and made new connections while others attended song-writing seminars to strengthen their skills and arsenal of tricks for writing excellent songs. A great skill to bring back to the academy and implement as they continue down the road to musical success! We are most proud of them.
Check out more photos and videos on KMG media pages on facebook, instagram, and youtube to see first hand just how exciting this experience was while we here at KMG get amped to implement these experiences into the program and prepare for the upcoming Winter NAMM!
Jul 25, 2017
Ableton Live User Group Meet-Up
We were delighted to get to host the Boulder Ableton Live User Group Meeting yesterday in our event center! This month's edition was lead by Zaak Kerstetter who focused on Ableton mondules Collision, Tension, and Electric. These are Ableton's physical modeling modules and among the most unknown modules in Ableton's arsenal.
Shout out to Coambient for Their New Release, "Mojo Radio"
We are delighted for our KMG friends Coambient and their new release "Mojo Radio." It was a pleasure to work with these talented music makers and watch them fluidly move through their very first studio experience with an exuberant joy and excitement at their new music experience.
The album is characterized by a creative use of tonal space while keeping the music engaging and your body moving. Check more of their music out on soundcloud and be sure to like their page on facebook as well!
Great Opportunity For Some Legal Advice
We are grateful to KMG friend and general council, Robert Keating, for agreeing to provide his excellent services to our students in the form of a forum!
Robert is an accomplished lawyer in the business world and founded his own firm Robert Keating Law, P.C. before it eventually morphed into what is now known as Keating & Lyden, LLC attorneys at law. They specialize in corporate and business law, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), private securities, intellectual property, corporate, partnership and individual taxation, estate planning, real estate and entertainment. He is a great resource for the students and we couldn't be more excited. Rob is also an accomplished guitar player, a fan of music and musicians alike and was a major factor in getting our school approved by the state!
The forums will take place every last Thursday of the month and the first one is this Thursday, July 27th, so if our students have any questions about how to protect themselves in the music industry or how to protect their intellectual property, this is a must attend event!
Aug 1, 2017
New Thursday Morning Structure!
The KMG team has gotten together to devise a new structure for the Thursday morning Group Training. From now on, every last Thursday will be the usual structure of longer, lecture styles classes, master classes, food and fun! Every other Thursday will remain open office hours to be used for the purpose of booking make up time for tests as well as to get extra help. Sign up for this time will be conducted similarly to booking private sessions with instructors.
Students, be sure to take advantage of these great opportunities!
Shout out to our Head of Faculty Mr. Jim Naron for turning 40 recently and having a bash that involved some of our students getting the opportunity to DJ and run live sound! Jim has been working diligently to complete the new structure of the curriculum and he's got a lot of excellent audio in store and ready to share coming soon!
KMG Head of Faculty Turns 40!
Shoutout to Jamie Charoen!
Some of the KMG executives had the distinct pleasure of spending some time with Jamie Charoen not long ago! She is a fantastic vocalist storming the pop scene and has already made a substantial name for herself on social media platforms like facebook, instagram, and youtube where she begun her rise to stardom! We hope to be seeing more of her as we are great fans of her music.
Check out one of her music videos below and be sure to follow her on all her social media platforms. This rising star is a much watch!
Fabian Chavez Speaks!
This week, we had the pleasure of stealing Fabian Chavez away from the BlindDog Smokin' crew for a short interview that we've been looking forward to doing for sometime now. He is a young saxophonist from LA killing the scene with his own mixture of soul and smooth Jazz stylings that always delight and amaze. Check out what he had to tell us about his beginnings and the amazing things he's been up including an incredible experience touring with Sheléa!
Why Did you Choose Saxophone?
In middle school I wanted to play the drums because I had been playing drums my whole life before that but when it came time to choose instruments, everybody chose drums so the instructor had to choose out of a hat and I didn’t get chosen...long story short I chose the sax.
What drew you specifically to perform?
The feeling I get when I see people enjoying the music and what I’m playing. When I was younger I played at this place called the waffle factory in south central, with these super old dudes, when I was 15 or 14, and this old lady came up to me and said ‘you know young man I’ve had one of the worst weeks in my entire life, but listening to you play tonight made me forget all about it.’
Tell us a little bit about how you became affiliated with BlindDog Smokin'.
My parents would sneak me into bars and clubs and stuff, so I actually met Chuck, the drummer, when I was 15 years old. I went to this place called Steve’s BBQ in Whittier (California), it was a restaurant early and turned into a bar/club thing, so my parents just sat me between them and didn’t say anything, and another guy was like, ‘you gotta check out this band, you gotta meet this drummer.’ I had been in a band with him so we went and Jerry talked to Chuck and said, you ‘you gotta let Fabian play’ so I sat in with another band that Chuck was playing in at the time and he said ‘oh man you sound great do you wanna come on tour’ and I was 15 so I said ‘well I kinda gotta go to high school’ and my parents were like ‘yeah sorry.’ We kept in touch the whole time and when I graduated Chuck asked if I wanted to go on tour, but I couldn’t because I had a scholarship, so I gotta do that. Every year he’d kinda check up on me to see how was doing, and I graduated high school and he was like “alright man, are you ready to go now”....at the time I had a business partner that I was going to start a specialty coffee shop by our school. It was months of preperation, we had bought a bunch of supplies, meeting with brokers and real estate agents, putting offers on commercial building and stuff, so I told Chuck “sorry, I really wanna try this coffee thing so I’m gonna have to pass this time,” and between that time when I said no initially and a day or two later, my business partner told me ‘everything has fallen through, everything is done so,...call that band back and see if you can go with them,’ so I was like ‘hey, uh, I know you gusy probably got someone else, but if there’s still room I’d love to do it.’ I think I talked to Chalo, the guitar player, and he was like ‘oh hadn’t even told Carl you couldn’t do it yet, so you’re good.”
What are some of the challenges you face as an independent instrumentalist in an industry that’s more and more focused on production based music?
People can make saxophones with midi instruments and it’s cheaper to do it yourself or pay someone almost nothing, but you know your rate and it is what it is, and people will say ‘well I can just get someone else to do it for cheaper, or I can get someone to do the whole track for what you’re charging me,’ but I’m just like okay well sorry.
What was it like touring with Sheléa?
It was 2 months, and we did a few more days in Florida, we were supposed to go to Jordan as well but that hasn’t really panned out. We stayed for two months at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, we played at Quincy Jones’ place, it’s called Q’s Bar, we played 5 nights a week there with 2 days off. It was awesome. We stayed in the residential suites so it was an entire house, I had my own bedroom, it had a jacuzzi in it, balcony, private pool, it was just...on another level. It was one of the nicer hotels in Dubai and that’s really saying a lot.
What were your influences on saxophone, and how did you make them into your own?
Initially it was smooth jazz. I got my degree in Jazz studies, and I went and studied all the greats, Sonny Stit, Charlie Parker, Coltrane was a huge influence for me, but I think what made the switch, there’s always gonna be...where you grew up is always kind of in you, so even though I, you know, did all the homework for the straight ahead stuff, there was always the smooth jazz part of me or the soul part of me, so for me that’s what resonates with me; playing from the heart; like the story I told you earlier about the old lady who forgot her terrible week from listening to me play. That stuck with me, and it will always stick with me, you know, because if I can bring happiness to someone for a little bit that’s ultimately what I wanna do. Or if I can just create emotion in people whether it be happy, sad, melancholy, peace, excitement, or...whatever, that’s ultimately what I wanna do; I wanna speak to people on an emotional level.
On a more technical level, I kind of adopted the idea of intervallic playing instead of lines playing. I know this really douchey comment that this guy said, and this guy was like the top guy, and my buddy asked him ‘dude that lick you played was super sick, what like was that? What did you play?’ And the guy said…’I don’t play licks, I play shapes’ and walked away. And I was like ‘oh my god that was the douchiest comment ever’ but the idea is rad! When I’m practicing and where I wanted develope my sound and my vocab is really intervallic. Someone, actually yesterday, who’s not really a jazz aficionado, not a sax player, but they're a musician, and the whole family all plays, and he told yesterday ‘hey man I love your playing...your use of intervals is crazy...the whole family was talking about it after and you don’t play a lot of lines, you play very interesting, you play a lot of big intervals.’ That made me feel good because that’s what I work on. That’s what I want my sound to be. This very, you know, just intervallic playing, I really dig that. Coltrane was all about that, and that whole school of players that came after him...and then the smooth jazz stuff. A hybrid between those two.
We would like to give a big warm thank you to Fabian for taking the time to meet with us and we are most excited to hear the new album he just recorded with BlindDog Smokin' at the studio as well as see where he will be in the future! Check out a dope video of him slaying the horn live with BlindDog Smokin' below!
Industry Feature | Tony Shepperd
What first got you interested in music?
I knew I wanted to be a recording engineer when I was 12 or 13 years old. I’ve always known what I wanted to be so it was really about finding a way to it. I used to read the back of albums all the time when I was little, and was always fascinated about how they sounded and who was recording them and where they were recorded...the various places. At one point they used to put a time frame ‘this was recorded July 7th to July 29th...at the record plant. And you’re like ‘wow all of this history was created’ nowadays you have albums that are 2, 3 years in the making. It was fascinating to me because it allowed me a window into what I wanted to do and I’ve always pursued that window. Trying to make it a little bit of mine every time.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the famous John Coltrane Johnny Hartman album they recorded down in Jersey, but they recorded everything in one take except for a second take they had to do because of a dropped drumstick. It’s always been interesting to me how things used to be very in and out at the studio where as now it can take a lot longer?
Well there were arguably better recordings, and, not only recordings, but musicians. You know...you look back at some of the greatest recordings of all time, and those are probably recordings that were done in very short periods of time. I won’t say all in one take, but very short periods of time. One of my favorite albums in the world is a James Taylor/JT album and I think they recorded that whole album top to bottom in three weeks. And they were limited, they didn’t have endless tracks to work with. There wasn’t the possibility of having 250 something tracks. I did a mix the other day that had 64 for tracks of background vocals.
Did you use all 64 tracks?
Yeah I mean that’s what they gave me so that’s what we mixed. The whole thing was 128 tracks. And you start looking at it and you’re thinking ‘does this sound better than the classic stuff that only had 24 tracks, or 16 tracks on it, or 4 tracks, or 8 tracks, ya know? Or you look at some of the Nat King Cole stuff that is probably some of the best stuff you’ll ever hear, and it was like, 3 tracks. They had orchestra, and everybody else on stereo, and they had Nat in the middle on the mono track. It’s like...one take here we go.So have we gotten better in terms of technology...no doubt. Have we gotten any better at making records...no.
Do you think technology has made us lazy?
Oh no doubt. Yeah, and it’s made people artists who should not be artists. You have people who really should not be even venturing into making a record, and yet they are.
Do you think the changes are positive or negative?
It’s definitely negative. I mean there’s barely an industry left to have.
Yeah I mean, Quincy Jones recently did an interview with Fortune magazine where he said “we have no music industry,” which was pretty important to me because Quincy is an influential guy for me because the first album I ever bought myself was Thriller.
There has to be a way to monetize what you do. If you can’t monetize what you do, if you can’t make money at what you do, then you might as well go down to Burger King and get a job. So you have a situation where the music business used to be able to make money. I mean you used to be able to make good money in the music business. There were traveling musicians who made good money on tour. There were traveling musicians who were making great money in the studio. There were special payment checks, engineers were making good money.The internet, for better or for worse, has destroyed a lot of it.So now you’ve got a situation where you put out an album, and you can’t even sell the album anymore. So...how do you monetize it?
With the dawn of the digital age, what I’ve noticed, with the introduction of home studios and being able to do so much in your house, it’s created this disconnect, in my opinion, between professionals and hobbyist, where hobbyist think their professionals now?
That’s true, and that’s part of the problem.
Yeah, and I think that’s killed the industry in a way where people like you who have been doing it so long and have the experience are a little discredited by that belief?
Yeah...the whole ‘I make beats’ generation is like...do you know what key you're in? Do you have a melody that you can hold on to? Everything is about making beats. ‘I do beats, I make beats’ I don’t give a f*** what you do. It really doesn’t matter to me...and I’m sick of the whole ‘I make beats’ generation, cuz it’s like...first of all, they don’t understand anything beyond a beat. And you could have the worlds sickest, illest beat, but if there’s not a melody that’s attached to it, it’s like ‘okay...it’s just a beat.’ What melody are you putting on top of this to make it memorable? I think there’s a disconnect between what people have an understanding of, you know, some how there was a time when you could do this and you had this stuff; they disconnected from it completely now, where it’s just like ‘all I have to do is come up with a beat.’Nooooo….it takes much more than that to make it memorable. It takes much more than that for it to last and to build on.Whatever happened to great songwriting? Those are lost arts now.
I agree. it’s an interesting relationship between the tradition of music and the industry because, to look back at what you mentioned earlier in terms of being able to monetize what you do, people who kind took over the music industry don’t really know what goes into making music. They just know how to sell stuff.
They don’t...and they don’t even know to sell stuff because they can’t sell it right now. First of all, it’s hard to sell junk, and a lot of the stuff from the ‘I make beats’ generation is junk. It will not stand the test of time. I mean the last good album that I can think of...I mean, its a thing of the past. A lot of people just don’t care about albums anymore. There used to be a time when you could have a cohesive thought from an artist like ‘this is what number 1 is and it’s going all the way to song 10’ and there’s a cohesive thought, ‘I’ve got something to say, and here’s what I have to say.’ Now you’ve got artists who just don’t have anything to say and they’re just gonna put out a single; and they didn’t write the single; and they barely sang the single; and they didn’t do any backgrounds on the single; and they don’t know the melody to the single; I mean you just start going down the line and you’re just like ‘okay so why are you an artist? I’m just at a loss about why you’re an artist.’And there’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, I applaud hobbyists, but when you enter there realm, there’s a disconnect in their brains...it’s like if you can make stuff sound good as a hobbyist, they think that’s pro-level stuff. What they don’t get is, not only is that stuff; it’s a demo, it’s a demo at best; you gotta turn into a master, you gotta turn it into something that’s gonna be edible. So, I don’t know, I get to the point where I’m don’t know that there’s any hope left because the music that is coming out today is just deplorable, it’s just horrible. It’s bad.
Yeah I stopped listening to the radio about 10 years ago, if I’m listening to the radio it’s NPR?
Sure, because there’s nothing on radio and there’s nothing driving good music.Not only, Jonathan, is there a problem with the fact that nothing is being created like this. The consumers of this material are gone.
Oh yeah...the bar is super low?
The bar is super low...because now you have a situation where the consumers where it used to be where people would listen to music...I had someone say to me the other day that they streamed Tidal, they ripped it, and they were sending it to all their friends...for people who didn’t have Tidal for Jay-Z’s album. And I thought this notion, somehow, that you don’t pay for music, it’s one of the reasons why this industry is in the shape that it’s in today.
Absolutely, I think it’s this idea that music is for everybody, and what’s missed is ‘okay...but this is my profession.’
Not only is it my profession, but the quality...you can’t keep asking the lowest common denominator to come up with the best solutions. And so you have people who are putting out trash and you’re asking them to come out with more trash. It just doesn’t work that way.
So Based on what we were just talking about, what were the biggest challenges that you faced starting out versus what you’re faced with today?
Umm...challenged when I started, well, you know, I was an unknown. I didn’t work for anybody else, I was never a second engineer for anybody else, so I had to learn from the ground up, I was self taught. I read a lot, and I recorded a lot. Even 10 or 15 years ago, even 5 or so years ago, I would record even if there was no money involved...so I could stay sharp on my skills. I was never a second engineer for anybody else which was good and bad. I’ve got a friend who was a second engineer for a lot of really big projects and I was like ‘dude that’s a blessing to be able to be on that project as an engineer. You got to work with some of the greatest guys.’ He said ‘yeah but the downside is, I learned their skills, whereas you’ve had to develope your own skills, and for you it’s a completely different thing. You have your own unique sound BECAUSE you’ve had to develop. I picked up this guy’s habits and this guy’s habits.’ and I said ‘yeah but you’ve made it your own,’ and he said ‘yeah that’s true, but there a thing where I listen to your mixes and they don’t sound like anybody else because you didn’t copy anybody else’s style.’ I was like ‘wow...didn’t think about it that way.’ But that was the downside because, no one told me what a compressor was. I had to read and try and experiment, and I had to hear what over compression was. So to me there was a difference between a Neve, and SSL, and an API. What were those difference? I had to hear them first. I couldn’t go into a big tracking room and be someone’s second and go ‘okay we’re gonna track over here, and we’re gonna mix over here, and we’re gonna overdub….’ that wasn’t heard of. There’s a notion that, yes, you do learn a lot of things by becoming someone’s second engineer, but by the same token, if you’re really hungry and you’re good at what you do, you’ll find a way.
When you started Breath of Life Records was it something you started because you needed to do something that was your own, that you had a level of control over, or did you start it kind of out of frustration…?
I think it was a partly both. I got tired of making hits for everybody else, and I wanted to create something that was a legacy of music. I didn’t like where music was going, I wanted to do something that was a little more retro where we signed artists that actually had songs.We’ve got six artists signed to the label. One of them has her masters in pedagogy...it’s not really about being cerebral. It’s about being musically gifted. Even if these guys didn’t have the degrees behind their name, they knew, musically, where they’re going with stuff.
Well you have people like Lil’ Yachty...didn’t even know what a Cello was.
Oh yeah I mean...the thing about Lil’ Yachty is, not only is he lazy and ignorant, he’s blatantly disrespectful?
Yes! Mumble rap...It’s worse than the fast food of a generation. It’s beyond bad. And if you grow up on it...it’s just not gonna be good for you.
Yeah I know plenty of people who are good at producing but don’t know the classics.
I agree with that. How do you not know who the predecessors were? You’re not building on anything. You’re just standing on the shoulders of….yeah.
Well we’re coming to the end of this 5 year, electronic dance music bubble (EDM), what I’ve noticed is that even fans are kinda getting over this whole one-guy-on-a-stage-behind-a-table model of performance and we’re seeing more live acts; but for me as an acoustic instrumentalist I’m still feeling like ‘but it’s still not acoustic music...but at least something is happening on stage now.'
Right. And if you can blend those two worlds; even better. If you can say ‘we’re gonna do x,y, and z in the EDM world, but then we’re gonna cross over’ one of my friends, good friend of mine, did some big songs with David Guetta. But Chris can sing his ass off. There’s one song that they did with Fergie and LMFAO. And Chris is another guy who can...guy can sing the phonebook. But Chris was one of those guys who came up at a time when you HAD to be able to sing.
Do you think there’s hope for the industry or do you think it’s just the people and professionals who are refusing to submit to the way things are now?
I think that there has to be a reckoning. A realization in the upcoming generation that they don’t have it all. That they don’t have what they think they have. That something beyond a beat is necessary. There’s an old saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and I think that this generation doesn’t know what they don’t know. They think they know everything, every generation thinks they know everything. It’s like ‘well I can do this’ and it’s like well yeah you can but the generation before you did this, so, what the f*** do you think you’re doing? Not to say there’s horrible music….EVERYWHERE, there are bright sunshine music where there’s a ray of hope that’s like ‘oh wow that’s some cool stuff that so and so is doing,’ but its usually, as a general rule, that 90% of all recorded music these days is just disposable crap. So until we start changing that, yeah it’s pretty much going downhill.
Well you have people like Lil’ Yachty...didn’t even know what a Cello was.
A resounding thank you to Tony for taking the time to meet with our interviewer Jonathan to discuss the current state of the music industry as well as provide some honest insight to some of the history of the recording world and his thoughts on the future. It was great to be able to talk to a professional working in the industry who is actively trying to prop it up on the traditions of music as well as the industry.
We've written on this man a few times, but this was the first time we've actually gotten a chance to sit down with him to discuss his thoughts on the current state of the music industry as well as learn from him some of his experiences and how he got to where he is today. Take a second to read our interview below!
Aug 8, 2017
Welcome the New KMG Academy Class!
Please give a warm welcome to the KMG Academy August 2017 Class! William Alex Mowdy, Scott Kennedy, Victor Morales, Jared Dupre, Michael Adams, and Jordyn Conrad! They're excited to join our merry band and begin their journey keeping the music going!
"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."
New Thursday Field Day | KMG Games
KMG launched their brand new Field Day set up last Thursday! In the past, it's been filled with a day of workshops but we've decided to flip the script and begin a new format for the Field Day called the "KMG Games!"
The KMG Games consist of a series of trials prepared by the KMG staff in an effort to test the abilities of the students and all they've learned during their time at KMG. Trials consist of decoding audio, doing a quick band set up, setting up a pro-tools setting, tracking, dealing with a difficult client, and other challenges to help them get a sense of just what being an audio engineer in the music industry can truly entail. Most importantly, it shows them how important it is for students to always be on their toes and be able to adjust to difficult situations quickly. Check out some of the photos below!
Shout Out to KMG Fam Millz!
Shout out to one of KMG's favorite artists Millz on his new release entitled "Ride." Millz has been in the game for awhile, previously as a member of the group BYZ, and has now set out on his own to pursue a full-time career recording his own material. Keep an eye out for the full release of his project coming later this month, but in the mean time, take a peak at his soundcloud page for more great tunes like the one above!
Master Class with Bob Bullock
Check out this quick glimpse of the KMG Academy Master Class with Bob Bullock shot by KMG media guru, Chase Thompson a.k.a Paper Chase. KMG staff and students got to take part in this class while in Nashville for the Summer NAMM Show. Bullock has been involved in the recording industry for years, recording with renowned artists such as Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, and Reba McEntire.
Here, he shares some wisdom with the next generation
Aug 15, 2017
KMG Top Tracks of the Week
KMG Featured Gear | The Mix Factory Summing Box
For our first piece of featured gear, we are pleased to introduce The Mix Factory Summing Box!
The Mix Factory is the brain child of Tony Shepperd who we recently were lucky enough to interview for the blog. The Mix Factory is where he works his audio magic and runs his own record label, "Breath of Life Records," and the summing box was named after the studio. Shepperd conceived the Mix Factory, designed by Paul Wolff (top audio designers in the business), and manufactured by A Designs Audio, Inc.
Shepperd believes that everything can be done "in the box" when it comes to mixing but does acknowledge that the warmth and width of audio recorded on analog gear is difficult to emulate digitally. This style of mixing is what can be considered "hybrid" mixing.
The Mix Factory has 16 channels connected via D-SUB inputs summing into two XLR outputs, with continuous gain knobs and a mute button that acts as an indicator with audio sensitive LED technology. The channels are grouped in eights, each with an insert for a compressor or EQ including one final insert for the master channel.
To check out more information on the Mix Factory such as pricing, click here!
Artist Feature | Sera Tonin
We wanted to introduce everyone to a very cool student who's joined us recently at KMG Academy and she goes by the name Sera Tonin!
Based in Denver, CO, she has played notable venues such as Beta Nightclub. She spins everything from bass heavy music, to tech house, to more atmospheric music. We were able to catch up with her for a quick interview so check it out below!
What got you into music, specifically Djing?
That’s kind of hard to answer as I don’t think it was one thing specifically, but the combination of different events that pushed me in that direction. I have always been a lover off of music but growing up I never saw my art as a real career option. I am still blown away that I can make a living off of my art and facilitating a community space now. When I was 18 I moved to Denver from the UK. The first event I went to here was at Red Rocks and I was completely blown away. I was already into electronic music, but this was different. That show was all consuming and opened my eyes to the impact electronic music could have on people in a way that brought us together in a world that is constantly trying to separate us. This feeling of oneness is what first got my attention. Over the years I followed that sound and vibe all over the world and made as many friends as I could in the industry. I saw these DJ's and Producers as sort of new age guru's of love and togetherness. But it was my introduction to breakbeats that would change it all and take me from the spectator side to on the stage. I grew up in the 90's on hip hop so there was just something about this genre that really resonated with me. It's crazy how once you want something, if you're asking for it in the right way the universe will just start to give you these little pieces. Before I knew it I found myself joining jam sessions with guys who had been in the game for years. I tried and still do to soak up as much as I could every time I found myself in a situation like this. So in that way my becoming a DJ and my success is a product of the openness of the people around me who were willing to share their knowledge with me.
What's brought you to spin the types of music that you do?
I try to be as diverse as I possibly can as a DJ. From the very beginning I was Djing a variety of gigs from yoga classes to nightclubs so I needed to be able to play all ends of the spectrum. That being said, I definitely have some favorites!!!! Breaks and Breakbeats are at the top. I really enjoy the short phrasing and hip hop roots of this genre. I also really enjoy mixing House and Tech House with Breaks. I really like the way they sound together giving lots of bounce to my sets! I know I have mentioned Breaks a lot already but I have so many favorites beyond that. I love Trip Hop, Techno, older Dubstep (not so much loving the newer stuff, in my opinion it was better when it still had some of its roots showing), as well as all of the Houses and the list goes on and on….. It might be shorter to tell you what, at least for the time being, you won't hear from me…. And that’s Trance. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good Trance set I just don't vibe with it in a way that makes me want to spin it.
What drove you to learn to produce?
This is an interesting question for me to answer. There were a few reasons that I really wanted to take what I was doing to the next level. From the very beginning it was very clear that I was looked at differently because I was a female. I had been a model before but I was determined that I was not going to be just another "girl DJ with looks but no skills" I refused to accept anything less than true respect for my craft, but to do this I would need to master it. I have spent countless hours alone pushing myself to always be learning something new as a DJ, but I wanted more, I wanted to make something with my bare hands that would make people feel something and gain the respect I desperately wanted. I first tried teaching myself Ableton, but unlike DJ software, this stuff wasn't easy and it became clear I would need to search out a mentor. I tried learning with a few different people only to have the situation come crashing down in my face. Yup once again being a female in the industry would prove to close as many doors as it opened. I won't go into to much detail here and let you fill in the blanks, but at this point I was a tad discouraged and decided to let things be for the time being. Its funny because it was less than a month later that I happened come across KMG's Ableton Program and BAM there it was… all of the knowledge I wanted at a price I was willing to pay!!!! Now I am just focused on absorbing everything I can in my time here!
When you construct a set, do you pick on the fly, do you plan a soundscape of sorts, or do you use a set list? If you use set lists, what type of journey do you hope to create?
Honestly it depends on what the gig is and sometimes how much time I have to prepare. If I am playing the sort of gig that I have a lot of freedom to play what I want, I like planning a soundscape. I build large playlists by dumping any track of mine that fits in with a particular vibe I have in mind. Taking into consideration the venue, crowd, time, event and theme. I often refine this list more than once, reducing its size as it becomes more intentional. This process is mostly removing tracks but I will also pay attention to the harmonic flow of the set and add tracks if needed. I find a few good places to start within the playlist that vary in energy levels so I can flow from the previous DJ well. I like to run through the playlist a few different ways when I am lucky enough to have the time to do so. Then I pick my tracks on the fly. I like the flexibility of being able to play more specifically for the crowd's vibe. This is the sort of stuff its impossible to predict so I like having the room to move and customize. There is also a certain added adrenaline rush from not knowing for sure if this perfect drop will be as good as it is in my head! Sometimes though for Yoga I make set lists song by song, I want to be very specific with the flow of energy. For those really big gigs, where I am being pushed and find myself nervous, I have even set myself up with both a set list and a soundscape! I think this helps set me up for success by giving myself a safety net in case I feel overwhelmed. Last time I did this I started with the set list and then veered off into the soundscape. It ended up being one of my best sets to date in my opinion.
Tell us a little about your idea and goals involving Release Studio?
Release Studio is really a place to grow and facilitate growth and connections. The open deck jam sessions and DJ 101 were born out of the need for a space to congregate and rub off on one another as artists in a way a party couldn't. I kept hearing people talk about new DJ's lack of knowledge and the ease of Djing now and out of frustration with hearing this complaint constantly, paired with my being exposed to a wealth of knowledge by other people in the same industry, it became clear to me that we just needed a place to be a community. Once my eyes had been opened to this I saw it everywhere, these little holes in our connection that all had the same solution. My best friend and business partner Chinchilla Roo is a yoga instructor and very passionate human being. Equally taken aback by this observation, she suggested we be the solution that we had been seeking. Before I knew it, Release Studio was born! A community space where we could all get together and express ourselves. We offer a wide variety of things from music infused yoga to DJ classes so our goals are just as diverse and plentiful. Our Tuesday O.D. Session Live streams are really taking off and I am excited to continue working on that project because I see some really big things coming from it! We are pretty new so my main goal is to grow our community!
What do you hope to bring to the music community as a whole?
I hope to bring people together. I see an opportunity here to really affect people both in and out of the music community. We are living in a time of hyperconsumerism and technology. Everything constantly distracting and disconnecting us from what really makes us human! If I wake that up in just one person, even just for an instant, they feel at one with the universe. That to me would be a success!
Did SoundCloud Take a Chance? | Streaming Service on the Brink
Earlier this summer, streaming powerhouse Soundcloud first informed the world of it's financial struggles by way of announcing that the website would be shutting down in approximately 45 days. This came as quite a shock to the music industry due to the fact that Soundcloud has become on of the largest free streaming services in the business. None were more taken aback by this news than do-it-yourself musicians everywhere.
In July, Grammy Award winning hip hop artist "Chance the Rapper" was rumored to have had planned or was in talks with Soundcloud for possibly helping them out of this jam. It comes as no surprise due to the fact that Soundcloud was a major contributor to Chance's grammy award. Chance's third mixtape, "Coloring Book," was the first ever to make the Top 10 on Billboard 200 based solely on streaming. This shows just how important and powerful of a site Soundcloud has really become. However, Soundcloud never confirmed these rumors and we've yet to see any exact monetary figures regarding the topic.
On the week of August 7th, 2017, Soundcloud announced that Alex Ljung would be stepping down as CEO as former VEMEO CEO Kerry Trainor takes over. All other officers will remain in their place while Raine Group and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek investment banks bail out Soundcloud for $169.5 million, well under their last appraisal at $700 million. They will be installing their own partner and former industry attorney Fred Davis and head of music investment Joe Puthenveetil as they are allowed 2 seats on the board. Regardless, this money comes at a crucial time as the world watched Soundcloud jettison 40% of their staff last month.
A few benefits to the consumer in the light of this crisis are sure to be a couple things: some changes regarding all the ads, and some of our favorite features may return as greater incentives to make their products more appealing to the public and the independent music world. Hopefully, in light of the need to keep over head low and usership up, we might see some lower monthly rates as well!
Shout Out to KMG Team Member Chase Thompson for Crushin' Media!
We'd like to take a moment to recognize the KMG team member affectionately known as "PaperChase" for his outstanding job having taken over KMG Media. His eye for details and fervent pursuit of creative ways to capture them make him stand out as a multi-media extraordinaire, audio engineer, and instructor. We know one thing for sure...his video shorts always get a laugh, and he's certainly made our Instagram pop!
KMG Featured Gear: Burl B32 Vancouver
Aug 22, 2017
To continue on last weeks point about hybrid mixing conducting most work "in the box" but implementing a summing mixer, or mix bus, into the work flow to return a level of analogue character to the mix. The power, versatility, and convenience of mixing in a DAW still takes productivity and efficiency while mixing to an unprecedented level, there really is no substitute for the analogue warmth of circuitry.
The Burl B32 Vancouver mix bus has 32 channels, 24 stereo and 8 mono, which sums down to one dual stereo output. It also has a gain switch of +6db and some added circuitry for additional warmth (which adds some nice saturation to the sound) in addition to it's class A analogue signal path.
KMG Top Tracks of the Week
Artist Feature | Gypsy Whiskey
We'd like to give a warm KMG shout out to one of our recent graduate's band, Ryan Sapena, Gypsy Whiskey! They are a blues, folk, rock & roll group based in Boulder, Colorado made up of band members Tanner MartinelliRyan SapenaGreg FuruyaJake Brunner.
They have been hard at work on their new album which is slotted for release in the coming months, but in the meantime, check out their new single below, follow them on facebook, and check out more music, present and future, on their soundcloud!
Ed Sheeran Breaks the Internet...Again
Despite the UK based pop artist's poorly received cameo on the season 7 premier of Game of Thrones, the artist has come back from a whirlwind of terrible social media banter and entertainment media coverage to be one of the most popular streaming artist in the business as he sets up Warner Music Group's streaming revenue to cross $1 billion.
On of the largest music organizations in the world, Warner made $360 million in the 2nd quarter this year, up 58% from last years reports, all largely do to Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Clean Bandit, Dua Lipa, and Gorillaz.
Ed Sheeran's "Divide" blew up the streaming service, Spotify, crushing all previous release records on the service. It shows an interesting breath of hope for the music industry after over a decade of piracy and declining CD sales due to the explosion of the digital age and the industry's slow adaptive response. We're excited to see what this may mean for music professionals everywhere as streaming services slowly start to revive the recording industry.
Op-Ed | Social Media, Music, and the Digital Age
Since the wildly expansive age of the internet, the launch of Facebook in 2004, and the launch of soundcloud four years later, many professional industries have struggled to stay afloat, lost total control of their industry, and the people that ran it, being post-digital, have struggled to adapt; none more so than the music industry.
For several years now, I've heard murmurs from musicians and audio professionals carrying the general overtones of uncertainty about what they should do with their craft. The golden age of the music industry, at least in my lifetime, is ostensibly long gone. While we still have incredible singers like Joss Stone, they don't experience the same type of popularity their counterparts did a mere 2 decades ago. Why? Because of a consistently lowering of the bar due to the digital age and social media.
In an interview recently conducted with friend and award winning audio engineer Tony Sheppard, he eluded to many of the problems stemming from the broad reaching benefits of the internet. While they are hugely beneficial from a marketing standpoint utilizing professional or do-it-yourself techniques, it has created a dangerous social mindset not only in music, but in media, politics, science, digital design (web, graphic) and more. That ideology is that because you read something on Google or elsewhere on the internet, you're an expert. This ideology isn't substantiated by anything other than an ignorant belief that information on the internet is correct 100% of the time, and simply reading it is just as valuable as experience. I call it Hunting Syndrome paying homage to Sean Maguire who said "You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are...because I read Oliver Twist?"
The point here is that while we have access to more information that we can easily pull up on our phones than ever before in documented history. However, it has likewise created an unparalleled social arrogance that we somehow know more than people who have been utilizing the information and in more ways than we have. Logically, that is an impossibility because knowledge is understanding, interpretation, utilization over a period of time. Google, as great a company as it is, has yet to figure out how to Matrix download data into our long term memories.
To bring the point back around, social media is outstandingly powerful for reaching a large audience at the click of a button as well as sharing our collective opinions about many topics such as music. However it does come at a cost. I love to mention Taylor Swifts album "1989" because it was the only album to go platinum in approximately the last decade. My opinion on how that happened: she has a brilliant marketing team who figured out that she was famous enough to take all her music off the internet and people would still go buy a hard copy. In short, that album went platinum because a brilliantly conceived and executed marketing ploy.
The opinion based knowledge found on social media is what is slowly killing the music industry. The idea that people who are unqualified to decide what good music is; because of this benevolent idea that "music is for everyone and is open to interpretation;" which totally insults musicians who have spent decades on their craft or perhaps in school learning the tradition of music over centuries and across the world; have ultimately running the industry from a consumer standpoint thanks to record executives who were more interested in making money than promoting quality music. Everyone is very protective of their musical opinions, but unfortunately fail to recognize there's a reason why Joe Schmoe off facebook isn't performing your open heart surgery...unless of course he's Joe Schmoe PH.D. - heart surgeon.