Online Percussion Tracks and the One Woman Percussion section!

24 Aug

As the title of my blog cunningly suggests, a lot of the sessions I record are online. It’s not all about drums though, I’ve been recording a lot of percussion tracks recently too. I love they way they can add colour and feel to a song. Whether it’s in addition to drum kit or instead of, the different sounds available offer so many options.

Recent percussion tracks I’ve recorded include muted floor tom and tambourine for a U2-esque track, shakers for an acoustic track and guiro and congas to go alongside some drums in a shuffle track. Choosing the right instrument/s for each song is part of the fun and I own a couple of boxes and shelves full!

I wanted to record a video to show some examples of the different percussion instruments I commonly use so decided to become a One Woman Latin percussion section! Here it is:

Enjoy and see you soon. x

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Why losing customers is sometimes a good thing!

12 Mar

You’d think that for someone running a small, one woman business, losing customers would be a bad thing. Well, from a financial point of view, that’s the case, but when you look at the bigger picture, sometimes it’s a good thing.

The reason some people need my recording help in the first place is because they’re having trouble finding a good drummer to join their band.
Recently I’ve heard from a few of my past drum track customers saying they’re really pleased because they’ve finally found a good, reliable local drummer to be in their band. And it seems that having good quality drums on their recordings has helped them find this drummer (their words, not mine!). They’re finding more interest in their music from drummers because the drums on their recordings sound so much better and more interesting than dodgy, repetitive midi stuff, and so their music is much more able to stand out from the crowd of “drummer wanted” ads.

A lot of people I record for are looking for a session drummer not a permanent drummer, so will come back again as and when they need more drum tracks, but for those who are having me record their drum tracks because they can’t find the right drummer locally and would ideally like a permanent drummer to be part of their band for rehearsing, recording and gigging, then I’ve ultimately helped them achieve what they wanted.

Basically it means that I’m losing some customers because I’ve done a good job, and that’s why it’s ok. They may need drum tracks again at some point in the future, and in the meantime I can continue finding some more shiny new customers with new music and new ideas from all over the world. It’s one of the things that makes what I do enjoyable.

I’ll write again soon, but in the meantime why not have a quick peek at my latest video, a little upbeat number with brushes. Thanks Caro Emerald!

What’s new for 2013? Drum tracks, Gear, a Book and more….

18 Jan

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year with copious amounts of food and drink! 2013 has started with a bang and I’ve got loads of things in the pipeline, but first let’s have a quick look back at how 2012 was for me and OnlineSessionDrums.

It begun with the small matter of buying our first house, followed by the sizeable yet enjoyable task of building my drum studio, which if you’ve read this blog in the past you’ll know all about (if not check out the studio build blog entries complete with pics). Having my kit set-up and miked 24/7 in my own house has been amazing. It’s meant I can record a lot more drum tracks and do it without having to leave home and lug all my gear around. The last few months of 2012 saw me record more drum tracks than ever before, so things have really taken off.

If 2012 was good, I intend for 2013 to be even better! In the next couple of days my new Audix i5 mic will arrive so I’ll be able to offer 8 separate tracks as standard (Snare top, Snare bottom, Bass, 2 toms, 2 overheads, hi-hat). By the end of this month I’ll also have my new imac so life’ll get much easier. The bigger screen will be great for mixing etc and I’m also intending to get Logic. Some of the stuff I recorded at the end of last year is being released in the next couple of months, I’ll keep you informed.

Aside from the online sessions I’ve also started doing a few drum lesson videos which I intend to do a lot more of this year.


Plus, I’m writing a drum related book (sshh, apart from my family and friends, I’ve been keeping this under wraps!). More to be revealed in a couple of months……

2013 is proving busy already!

Ta for reading, I’m off to impatiently wait for some snow to fall in the fashion only an English person can!

How I became an Online Session Drummer plus gigging on a chair!

4 Dec

I get a lot of people asking me how I got into doing online sessions, so I thought I’d tell you how it came about.

There I am in 2010, a drummer whose CV included playing for Robyn (Island Records), Ex-‘Sneaker Pimp’ Kelli Ali (One Little Indian) and American Blues Guitarist Carvin Jones (check him out on youtube, he does crazy stuff like playing the guitar with his feet!!). Then I did something really clever….. I was abroad staying with family for Christmas and it was lovely and snowy. It turned out not to be such a good idea to go sledging (big sledge, sanded metal runners!) down a big hill on Christmas day. I managed to break my right ankle (bass drum foot), clever for someone who earns their living playing the drums. Plus, it REALLY hurt.

Forced to sit at home with my leg up for weeks, I had time to do some thinking, dangerous! As a drummer, I was very reliant on other people to get me work (bandleaders, agents etc.). I was always one step removed from the client/ customer/person with the money. I wanted to be in control of my work more directly and was prepared to work hard in order to be doing the things that musically I really enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed the creative process, sharing ideas with other people and I love being in the studio. Then I saw something online (thanks Tim) about Online Session drumming and everything clicked. Something where I didn’t have to rely on others (my success/failure was entirely in my own hands), could be creative, collaborate with people and spend lots of time in the studio, perfick 😉

I started out by buying a few mics and an audio interface. I set up my website (luckily discovered I like SEO and website building, although I’ll admit my first site was a bit basic) and recorded a drum cover of Star Wars to show my wares!

What started as a steady flow of customers in early 2011 (and my basic knowledge of recording remembered from my Uni days) has grown rapidly in 2012. I’m finding myself busy recording/mixing drum tracks most days and I can feel myself slipping dangerously into the murky waters of studio geekery!

Along the way I’ve accumulated lots more gear and there’s been the small matter of building my own studio. Equally importantly I’ve found out how much I enjoy finding out about other people’s music/projects, the ideas they have and becoming friends with many of them. Early on I realised from my clients that everyone’s different so they have different needs, so I try to make my service as bespoke and personal as possible and go the extra mile. For me it’s not about settling for average results and doing it just for the money, I really enjoy helping people make their song the best it can be. It’s really worth it when someone sends you a glowing testimonial saying how delighted they are and how I’ve helped improve their music – always brightens up your day!

In fact I’ve even got my own band that I record remotely with. We used to all live in London and had released stuff through a couple of small labels, but then our singer/piano player moved to Canada. Instead of stopping, we now all record and collaborate via email/file sharing from our own studios across the world. Far from holding us back, we’ve found this way of working really productive and enjoyable. It works a treat and we’re currently writing our next album. My clients appreciate having a creative person to bounce ideas off and opening their emails in the evening to find the latest drum tracks recorded, and I enjoy contributing to loads of different musical projects and different players all over the world.

So in short: break ankle, decide to start Online Session drumming, move house, build my own studio, record lots of drum tracks, enjoy life!

The incident with the chair!

Thought this might amuse you to finish with. Through no fault of my own, I ended up playing a snare on a chair for the first few numbers of a recent gig (lots of brush work!). It’s funny now, but wasn’t at the time!!!

Chair doubles as drum stand...

Decisions, Additions and The 2nd Law

15 Oct

Things have been pretty busy since my last blog post. Studio-wise there’s been good and bad. My computer died :x, but I’ve got some great new monitors :). I’ve recorded loads of drum tracks and have been listening to some new music.

So the PC in my studio developed a black “Screen of Death” and is completely defunct (in a way that the guy who looked at it has never seen before!). My laptop’s been tiding me over for the last week or so, but I definitely need to invest in a new computer asap. Which brought me to the PC or Mac decision. The problem with asking other people’s advice on this matter is that you inevitably get into a PC vs Mac thing and it ends up a bit like Coca-Cola vs Pepsi – people tend to love one and hate the other so you can’t always have a helpful discussion. Anyway, after MUCH deliberation, I’ve decided to go the Mac route. I’m hoping they bring out a new iMac in the next few weeks so I can get one with better specs. So while a dead computer’s bad, it’ll end up good, because a new computer is always a good thing!

Here’s the last thing I recorded on the old computer (sadly I had to edit the video on the laptop though – seriously painful, but we won’t go into that!):


Dead computer aside, it’s all been going in the right direction. My new monitors have just arrived and they sound excellent – everything’s so crisp. They’re making mixing a real joy, so once I get the Mac, the studio’s gonna be well kitted out.

KRK Rokit RP5 G2’s, they look good and sound great!

I’ve had a really busy couple of months recording drum tracks (on course for my second record breaking month for numbers sold in a row!). There’s been plenty of really good rock and blues tracks and a very well crafted Velvet Underground style song that I got the brushes and tambourine out for. I got a couple of lovely testimonials too, which really bought a smile to my face.

Finally, I did squeeze in some time to have my birthday (lots of eating and drinking) and one of my presents was the new Muse album “The 2nd Law”. The first track’s great and should totally be the new Bond theme. After that, there’s some really good songs where they’re on form, but I wish they’d have avoided the dubstep influence in a couple of the songs. They’ve got the potential to be good songs, but are just crying out for some proper Dom Howard Rock drums!

Cheers for reading, I’m off to check for new imac release date rumours!

“This is gonna be MY studio” and other drum studio build pics.

19 Aug

The Olympics is over, gutted :-(.  To cheer me up though, I’ve been really busy recording drum tracks and loving having my own studio. I thought it was about time I put up all my photos of the drum studio build so you can see the transformation for yourselves. Also, I’ve had a few people ask me various questions about how to do it, so this might be helpful.

So, let’s see the journey of a wall! I’ve always wanted to have my own house and be able to write on the walls. Silly, I’ll grant you, but there you go. So, I wrote “This is gonna be MY studio” in chunky black pen on the wall and took pictures of it throughout the build to follow it’s own little journey!

This is gonna be MY studio

I know, the colour of the walls is well stylish…. and NO, I didn’t choose it!

 

Online Session drumming studio build

A special version for those of you who need glasses but are too proud!

 

Drum recording studio wall pic 2

Studwork timber goes up

 

Getting covered up by rockwool. Well you won’t be able to see it anymore, but at least it’ll be snug!

 

Just to the left of the ladder, now with added plasterboard.

And finally……

Finished wall of my drum track studio

Somewhere in the middle! Plus lining paper, paint and some acoustic foam.

 

To see a whole load more pictures of the studio build, I’ve put a whole album up on facebook so you can have a good old look there.

Right, it’s seriously scorchio in London right now, so I’m off for a refreshing glass of verdejo!

Drum studio build #10. Drum roll please….

17 Jul

Oh yes, I’m delighted to say that the drum studio is finished and good to go!

There was a minor mishap that involved me having to shoulder barge one of the doors down (the less said about that the better, I may find it funny one day……) but otherwise, all’s gone great :-). We had to play around a bit to find the right door seals, but finally arrived at the best solution on the 3rd try. I can honestly say they’ve made a massive difference to the amount of sound coming through the double doors.

Studio door seals

Well fitting seals on both doors have made a big difference to the soundproofing.

Since then it’s been working on sound absorption to sort out some of the high frequencies that were a bit excitable! Some thick wool serge stage curtains and acoustic foam tiles strategically placed have done the trick.

Most excitingly, enquiries about drum tracks have been coming thick and fast over the last couple of weeks and I’ve put the studio to use right away. It’s made the recording process so much more enjoyable being able to do it from home, and the results are excellent (I’ll record a new video soon so you can hear). I’m also getting sent some really good songs to play on too which makes it musically rewarding.

And finally…….

Online Session Drums studio build

Before

 Before and after pics, it’s soundproofed AND looks better!

After

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the studio build over the last few months. Hopefully you’ll read about how everything’s going with my online session drumming over the coming months too. I’ve really appreciated people’s feedback, encouragement and interest. The process took longer than I’d imagined and was more stressful, but I can already see that it was worth all the effort and then some! It’s worked every bit as well as I could’ve imagined.

Look out over the next couple of weeks as I’ll be putting up a whole album of studio build pics on my facebook page.

Huge thanks to SB, RB, VIMB and PG for their not inconsiderable help.

Drum studio build #9. Drums in!!!

12 Jun

I’m very happy (and somewhat releived!!) to say that the studio’s very nearly finished.

I set my drums up in there for the first time last week. I was actually a little apprehensive as this was the moment when I’d find out if the time, money and effort spent over the last couple of months had been worth it. Overall, it’s turned out to be a big success 🙂

Drum kit in new studio for the first time, almost ready to record drum tracks.

Starting to set stuff up, yippee!

LOWDOWN ON THE SOUND:

Outside the house, you can barely hear the drums playing (and even then, only in the back garden), it sounds a bit like a rather distant, quiet radio (and in fact you can’t hear them at all when it’s raining, as it does a lot in England…). Inside the studio, you can hear no sound whatsoever from outside (good, ‘cos I don’t want any unwanted noise on the drum tracks). The only area that needs some improvement is the double doors. I’ve not yet had chance to add the seals I’ve bought for the doors, so I knew there’d be some leakage, but as well as those, I’ve decided to add some soundproofing mat to one of the doors (I happen to have the perfect amount left over!). These measures should help with both noise through the doors themselves and round the perimeter (which is the biggest issue).

The only other thing needed is some acoustic treatment. I knew I’d have to do something as far as this was concerned, but couldn’t know how much until the room was finished and I played the drums in there. It’s actually not too bad, but some of the high frequencies are a bit excitable, so I’ve ordered some acoustic foam tiles. I’ve also decided to make a bass trap myself from the leftover Rockwool.

The transformation of the studio over the last couple of weeks has been huge. Having to build a bespoke door frame wasn’t something I’d imagined having to do when starting all this, but you know, old houses will throw up some entertainment just to stress you out…… Plus painting, adding the window cover (mdf with a layer of Soundproofing mat, the whole thing bolts into place so it can be removed as/when needed), putting in shelves and setting up the computer and drum kit. It’s looking great and it’s just starting to dawn on me how cool it’s going to be to be able to record and mix whenever I want.

Red Painted studio wall

Pleased with how the red wall looks!

Fingers crossed, next week will see my last Studio Build blog entry, and it’ll be completely finished 🙂 (if watching all the Euros football doesn’t get in the way…….).

New OnlineSessionDrums website LIVE!

30 May

I’ve completely redesigned my website (with a little help from Christian and Abeer).

It’s just gone live, so check it out at: www.OnlineSessionDrums.com

It’s got a funky new logo and more info for people who are interested in online drum tracks.

Online Session Drums drum tracks logo

New logo for Online Session Drums

 

In drum studio related news, keep an eye out in the next week, it should be finished, yay!!

Drum studio build #8. The Home Stretch!

16 May

I feel like I’m finally reaching the home stretch with the drum studio 🙂

I’ve decided to use lining paper on the walls before painting to give a better finish (doesn’t hurt for it to look nice after all the effort)! Half the room is now lined and am gonna be finishing the rest on Friday.

Lining the drum studio

Doing the lining paper, so far, not as bad as I thought!

 

Have chosen the paint – white for the ceiling and 3 of the walls and a slightly dark red called “Redcurrant Glory” for the remaining wall, la-de-dah! Should look good in my drum videos.

Made the decision to get someone else to do the doors, was difficult as I’ve done everything else myself, but I think it’s a time consuming job that needs to be done properly as doors are such a big issue with soundproofing. A mate of mine hangs doors, so he’s started today.

Drum studio first door

Door #1 (we didn’t choose the wall colour!)

In others news, I have a seriously random weekend of gigs! Thursday night is going to be a German oompah band for a Beer Festival….. dare say that’ll be a fun one 😉 Friday’s a rock gig doing mainly 70’s stuff, then playing my monthly residency at Nightjar with swing band Pinstripe Suit on Saturday. Sunday’s a day off, but I’m thinking that’ll be painting day. Busy, we like!

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