Friday, September 4, 2015

A broken toe, Youtube piracy, two new albums and a studio.

In a tragic twist of fate, three days before the start of my two weeks off of work that I had designated for finishing at least one, possibly two, new Luxe Canyon albums, I break my toe.

Doc says it will be two weeks before I'm mobile, 6 weeks til fully healed...

In other news, I've discovered that there are, courtesy of CD Baby, monetized Youtube videos (that means, with advertisements) of all of the Luxe Canyon debut LP songs. Now, I did not authorize this at any time unless it was hidden in some fine print of the CD Baby contract. I have signed up for ASCAP and look forward to seeing if any ad revenue (however minute) is directed my way... I'm skeptical. Just thought it was interesting.

The so-called "free" streaming/social media format is dying out, suffocated by ads. Facebook filtering-out of posts by our friends, local bands and businesses has increased dramatically recently. This has been the trend since they went public, resulting in more "So-and-so likes Nike" or featured videos from Comedy Central, . Youtube is a constant barrage of sales pitches, as is Spotify, Pandora, etc. At least Pandora has variety built into it rather than this instant gratification consumption of "borrowed" intellectual property. You can literally get anything for free now, if you know where to look.

Why can we not have more of the Bandcamp style model (or even Netflix)? Bandcamp is fully customizable, the artist creates their own page, with their own URL, and decides how much they want to give way for free. And it gives you the option to let the buyer name their price.

The two models are:

1) you pay a tiny upfront or monthly fee for unlimited access and the artist is paid a fair and appropriate portion per play

2) the consumer can audition full songs and videos for free that are chock full of ads, with the option of paying a tiny amount for an ad-free download, to take with them elsewhere, share with their friends, but not the entire world via Youtube or the like, otherwise they would be fined (seriously, they should be handing out copyright infringement fines left and right like parking tickets and using the revenue to pay for music education in public schools).

In the end, the idea is that the artist gets paid a little something. And everyone still has access to the infinite free shit that we all now need.

Rant complete. Anyway, back to business.

Since the departure of members Matt Nielsen, Thom Collins and Brian Joyce (see Matt's parting words here), Luxe Canyon has been in a state of readjustment. Three major projects are still on the horizon.

The second Luxe Canyon release, the Waverunner EP, will be the soonest to come to fruition. As was detailed in last year's posts, the four of us visited Bear Creek recording studio and recorded 4 unreleased songs: Waverunner, Max Heat, Gutter Creep and Primordials. Some of you may recognize a few of these songs our past live shows. The mixing process is picking back up now and the Waverunner EP should be out by Christmas 2015.

The next of these projects, the third Luxe Canyon release currently with the working title of Gradience, dives deeper into the electronic landscape. The plan is to release the songs one at a time, every 2 weeks, making them available for free listening on Soundcloud. Once the last song is up on Soundcloud, the entire album will be available for purchase on Bandcamp (and possibly iTunes).

The third of these projects is Falcon Studio. This is my personal home base of recording as well as a professional recording studio, open to the public, offering all forms of music production, from tracking to mixing, songwriting collaborations to gear training. I'll be creating a website for Falcon Studio but for now it's mostly word of mouth. If you or someone you know have any questions or are interested in recording at Falcon Studio, don't hesitate to send me an email.

Here's the rough specs:

8 channels simultaneous 48k/24-bit analog in/out
High quality reference monitors
2 live rooms (for acoustic drums, guitar amps, vocals, etc.)
Several instruments, keyboards, guitar amps, guitars, mics, effects, processing, preamps

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More vlogs!

Vlogs 2 and 3 are up!

For vlog 3, I did a lot more editing of the footage and the voiceover than in the previous vlogs. I did this in hopes of making it more succinct and therefore more demonstrative. Vlog 3 also has much improved video and audio quality. Let me know if you any suggestions on how to improve these videos. Enjoy!

Vlog 2:

Vlog 3:

Friday, May 22, 2015


I have decided to start vlogging my studio sessions. This is an attempt to give you guys a better look at my song writing and recording process. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recording at Bear Creek = New EP!

Well, we've just had a very fun and productive week. On Monday, August 18th, we went in to Bear Creek recording studio with a plan to record four songs in two days.

Day one, we laid down basic tracks: drums, bass, guitar and vocals. The idea was to get really solid bass and drum tracks, while the guitar and vocals were scratch tracks and served mainly as placeholders. We were able to get great drum sounds thanks to house engineers Taylor Mann and Jerry Streeter. Switching to the Superphonic snare was the ticket to the great snare sound we ended up with. The kick was dialed in using three microphones placed at different distances and positions. All of the other instruments were well isolated in their own booths or rooms. We even amped up and miked the keyboard!

Day two was for comping and overdubs (look it up). We started by laying down some Wurlitzer electric piano, played by Thom Collins, to replace the temporary synth version. After that we added some percussion including shakers, cowbells and hand claps. Meanwhile, Kyle honed his guitar tone and managed an even creepier vocal for "Gutter Creep." The coup de gras was the Hammond B3 organ through the Leslie cabinet... Ahh, what a beautiful instrument. Turning up the speed on the spinning speaker in the middle of a playing a riff while attempting to muffle and mask the loud CLICK sound from the pedal is a technique in and of itself. All in all, we managed to get in all the tracks we needed for four songs in about 24 hours. I'd say we did pretty good. Now it's time to mix. Keep your eyes and ears open for the Waverunner EP! Coming Soon!

Photo: Andy Snyder

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 schedule announced!

We've got our first live performances of 2014 starting this week! We have a new lineup, featuring Thom Collins on keyboards and Matt Nielsen on electric bass, as well as new, unreleased songs to share with you. Check out our shows section for details!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Back At It

It seems to be a recurring theme for Luxe Canyon to drastically alter our live shows every couple of months, but we think we've got it figured out now.

First off, we ditched the backing tracks. After playing a few shows as a three-piece, supplemented by pre-recorded tracks, we realized that we had lost the freedom and organic element of live performance that comes so naturally when musicians play to each other. When playing to backing tracks, the songs become rigid, unwavering from the strictly regimented tempo of the metronome. In addition, the actual performances had become less interesting and did not connect as well with audiences, since a portion of the music came from an unseen source. These factors became obvious negatives very quickly, so we began the search for a bassist yet again.

We found Thom Collins through craigslist, but we have actually known him for some time. Thom works at the college Kyle and I took audio engineering classes from, so we were fortunate to skip the whole "getting acquainted" process and jump right into playing. The original thought was that Thom would play bass, but after hearing what he could do on a piano, we started to rethink things. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but we moved people around a bit to find the best combination. We ended up with me, Matt, playing bass, Thom on keys, Kyle on vocals, guitar, and percussion, and Brian on drums. After lots of practice in a relatively short amount of time, things started to feel solid. 

We just played our first show with this lineup last night at Bob's Java Jive in Tacoma and I must say, it went really well. We felt confident and tight as a band, which allowed us to let go and just have fun on stage. Having a good crowd and other supportive bands on the bill also helped (check out The Echo Echo Echoes and Seacats).

Next on the agenda, we'll be playing the Triple Door Musiquarium tonight with our friends ViaSound. The show starts at 8PM and won't cost you a dime to get in! Hope to have another great turnout tonight!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Methods in Live Performance

As we reported in early June, our bassist Hank has moved on to other walks of life. As much as we disliked seeing him go, we took it as an opportunity to dive into an area of live performance we have been talking about for a while now. This involved essentially reformulating our live show entirely, which also allowed us to organize and streamline our live setup.

Our former setup involved all parts and instruments being performed live. Of course, this is the ideal method, but it also is somewhat limiting; four people can only cover so much ground. Since most of the tracks from our debut record involve more layers than we had performers, we had to simplify them for live performance. This often meant cutting out entire parts, which is something we did with reluctance. Now, since we are minus a bassist, we decided to rely on pre-recorded backing tracks to cover the low end. That being the case, we also have the opportunity to include some of the other song elements that were previously excluded. This is very exciting as we can now play any song we desire to, including new ones.

Preparing the backing tracks, however, proved to be a laborious task. First, we had to decide what element each person would actually perform live. In theory, we wanted each person to always be doing something, whether that be playing guitar, keyboards, percussion, etc. To decide how we would go about this, we looked at each song and identified the key elements. Obviously, vocals take precedence. Lead riffs and percussion tended to be next in importance. Background elements, such as pads and bass, didn't seem as critical, nor would they be as interesting visually, so those were left for playback. At the end of this process, each person had one or two parts to play for each song.

Since we were also trying to streamline our setup, we really focused on limiting the amount of gear we would need for each show. To do so, we translated many of the keyboard parts into guitar parts. This way Kyle could focus more on vocals, with his only other responsibilities being guitar and cueing the backing tracks. I would play all of the necessary keyboard parts, as well as an electronic drum pad and backing vocals. After minimizing our gear as much as possible, it was time to actually create all of the backing tracks.

Recently, we have been working with Ableton Live, which is an amazing program and perfect for this type of live performance. However, a lot of the older songs were created with Logic or Pro Tools, so we had to open up each of those sessions and make bounces for each song before bringing them into Live. This process started by muting all of the parts that would be performed by us. Next, we looked at what kind of processing was applied to the master output, such as limiting and multi-band compression. Since most venues already apply a bit of compression and limiting, we were careful not to add even more, in hopes of retaining dynamic range. Therefore, we scrapped the limiter and only kept the multi-band compression if it was significantly changing the tone of the backing tracks. Once we had gone through this process for each song, we began creating instrument tracks.

All of the keyboard tracks were to be controlled via USB, so we had to find new patches in Live that would work for the Logic and Pro Tools songs. Some of these new patches even sound better than the originals! We also had to figure out an easy way to switch keyboard sounds from song to song. After racking his brain for days, Kyle found the solution: dummy clips. Dummy clips are basically audio or MIDI clips that don't actually play back any audio, but control and automate effects and settings within the track. Using dummy clips, the keyboard patches would automatically change as the each song begins. Taking this a step further, we also automated the vocal effects, i.e. reverb and delay, to match the desired sound for each song.

At that point, the only thing left for us to do was rehearse and make minor adjustments to levels and effects. Since we have backing tracks to stay in sync with, Brian and I are now playing to a click track. This took a bit of getting used to, but we got into the flow of it pretty quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to debut our new set.

We played our first show in almost three months on August 29th at the High Dive in Fremont. Despite a bit of confusion during setup, the show went very well. We brought an above-average amount of people for a Thursday, our fans enjoyed the new material, and we learned a lot about this new live format. The very next day, we honed in our setup and performance even further and played one of our best shows to date at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, OR.

With our momentum building, we plan to play shows at a more consistent and frequent rate, while continuing to add songs to our set. Many of these will be new songs that we have been writing for our next album.

See you out there!