Behind the Scenes with Peroxide

This is a blog about the making of my cover of Peroxide by Nina Nesbitt, found here:

DISCALIMER: I am in no way pretending I know exactly what I’m doing or am some kind of expert in this! I am completely self-taught and am merely sharing my process with those who are interested. If you get some ideas from it then that’s wonderful, and if anyone actually knows about this stuff and wants to give me some constructive feedback, that is also very welcome 🙂

1) Drum beat (Hydrogen)

For this cover I used Hydrogen Drum Machine to create a drum track. I first exported it with the metronome clicks as a guide for recording, then later mixed and exported it to fit in the final track.

Hydrogen

2) Recording (Ardour)

I set up the mic and camera suitably for each part and record each one live. The audio goes directly into Ardour and the video is just recorded to the camera. All audio- with the exception of some midi tracks which I’ve connected to the computer via USB midi to power YoshimiZynAddSubFX or Qsynth– are recorded via preamp (see the tech timeline post here for more about the equipment and software I use/have used over the years- COMING SOON).

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In this video I recorded the electric guitar and bass by mic-ing up their respective amps, whereas before I’d use direct input with guitarix. I’ve found mic-ing the amps does give a better result, but before this cover I didn’t have access to a bass amp and I had been having some earthing problems with my normal amp.

I generally start with the acoustic guitars, then vocals, followed by electric guitar, bass, piano and finally other bits and pieces like synths and sound effects. Other instruments like clarinet, sax, mandolin, ukulele, flute etc. would probably be recorded after piano, but it depends on the song. Sometimes I just record some scratch vocals as a guide for the next instruments and record the actual vocals last so that I have the advantage of the whole instrumental behind it. I didn’t do that for this cover.

I usually add in temporary plugins- especially reverb and compression on the vocals- while I record over the top so that I have more of a feel of how the final track will sound.

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3) Mixing (Ardour)

I mute every track and start mixing in the same order as recording, adding them in one by one.

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This is the final mix for this video:

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FinalMix

I like to have the acoustic guitar doubled (two separate recordings) and then panned left and right, as I did here. I’ll generally add a bit of reverb to the guitars and vocals, and a small amount to some other tracks too.

Here is just a bit about the plugins I use:

Reverb: on my first videos I used the ‘plate reverb’ by Steve Harris, but I am now a big fan of the ‘C* plate- versatile plate reverb’ by Tim Goetze. I find I can get a very echo-y, mysterious sound with it but also if I only want a hint of reverb it’s good for that too.

Compression: The ‘Dyson Compressor’ by Steve Harris was always my go-to compressor, I found it did a good job with minimal tweaking, however more recently I’ve found that it tends to cause tracks to clip and does not have the flexibility I find I sometimes need. I am now fond of the ‘Calf Compressor’ (Thor Harald Johansen) which has a nice graphical interface and a graph showing the compressor curve, which is helpful.

EQ: I didn’t use any EQ in this video, but that is unusual! I will normally use the ‘C* EQ’ (Tim Goetze) although in the past I’ve used the ‘multiband EQ’ by Steve Harris.

Highpass: on the occasions when I want a highpass filter I’ll use the ‘GLAME highpass filter’.

4) Mastering (Jamin)

I route the master bus of Ardour through to the inputs of Jamin and then add some gain in the built in limiter. Normally I would not add this much gain because it tends to clip before this much can be added, but in this case it actually sounded OK, at least to my ears. I generally don’t fiddle with the compression much, I might adjust a few things by small amounts but this is really where my skills start to wear thin! I tend to roll off the very high and very low frequencies, and add a small amount gain at about 14 kHz. This particular song I found needed very little EQ, often I will make some more adjustments around the 100 Hz- 1 kHz part of the spectrum.

Jamin

I then route the output of Jamin back to a stereo track in Ardour and record it back before exporting and going on the video editing.

5) Video editing (OpenShot)

Firstly I line up all the videos to sync with the audio track and then slice them up, adding masks and transitions where I think will fit. I make the white dividers in the GIMP and import them into the OpenShot session.

Here are the tracks lined up:

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Here is the final edit:

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And that’s it, we have a finished video 🙂

If you have any more questions about my recording process, the software I use or just any comments or feedback, feel free to comment here, on any of my videos or message me on facebook or email. I enjoy talking about this stuff and am always up for learning some more!

E.

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Behind ‘Made in Heaven’

I thought I’d give a little insight on the meanings behind my songs. Some have a basis in personal experiences, but most are just from the imaginations of my mind… (note: this was written shortly after the album was released, don’t ask me why I left it so long to publish!)

The Game

Umm, this is not a great start, but I honestly have no clue as to what this one is about! I just played around with the chords and sang the words that came out. I suppose, what it evolved into was a song about not living in denial and accepting what’s happening in the present rather than living in the past.

Obvious (Better Off Now)

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory really. It was originally about someone who quite obviously wants to be with another person but won’t admit it, although the ‘better off now’ idea evolved it into a song more about two people who used to be together and now, one of them won’t let go, even though it ended for the best.

This Way

This was one my early songs, pretty self-explanatory really… it’s about someone who is wondering why the person they love has left them.

11:49

The inspiration for this one came when my alarm clock stopped at 11:49 and it started me thinking about a scenario in which someone is effectively stuck at a time in the past when a particularly life changing event happened, perhaps with or to a person who was important to them. They’ve realised that they need to move on, but that they can still ‘honour the memory’; moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.

Mirror

This one was written as an encouragement to any girl who feels worthless or struggles with self-image. I definitely think it’s a sad thing that so many people think they have to look a certain way to be beautiful when it’s just not true.

The devil will use it to get to you but you gotta be strong, don’t let him through, ‘cause you’re strong girl, you’re stronger”.

Deep End

The very start of this song came to me on the way back from a school trip when we’d gone to hear poetry read for our English GCSE (no laughing please…) If I remember correctly, I felt inspired to write some poetry and something like the first verse of Deep End came out of it. Sometime later, I was traveling back from school and listening to a new CD I’d got and thinking how nice it was just to be able to listen to the music and not have to worry about anything else (I think there was some work I was particularly stressed about at school). Hence, the rest of the song was born.

P.S. That CD was Illuminated by Ally Rhodes, and I cannot recommend her music enough. Get it here (at time of posting she’s having a HUGE sale and you can get her physical albums for just $3.50- DO IT!): http://store.allyrhodes.net/

Come in Time

This song is about someone who’s going through a rough time, and it’s just saying don’t worry about what you can’t change. Live in hope with the knowledge that things will get better and you’ll find your place in the world without having to change who you are.

Made In Heaven

This one is along the same lines as ‘mirror’ really; no one should doubt who they are because they were made with a set design and purpose in mind by a God who cares. Everyone was made for good things and the times when we go the wrong way aren’t the end of the road; we can turn back and rediscover that.

Open Door

I actually wrote this one at a songwriting workshop, and originally didn’t really like it very much, but recording the album version has made me appreciate it much more! I’d recently read a book in which everyone could hear people’s thoughts and I was wondering what it would be like if life were actually like that; all the secrets that would be revealed, the inability to be alone with private thoughts living with a constant invasion of privacy. The series of books I was reading is called the ‘Chaos Walking’ series and the first one is called ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ by Patrick Ness. (Highly recommended by the way!)

Alive with the Fire

This one is about someone who used to be so carefree who allowed bad decisions to lead their life to somewhere it shouldn’t be. The song focuses around them making a full recovery to their real self and leaving behind those things which were controlling their life and stopping the smiles.

Free Society

So this is probably one of the most political songs I’ve written! It kinda got to me that everyone’s always going on about equality, yet as a product of this, the equality of some people seems to be more important than that of others. People don’t seem to be allowed opinions, and are even in some cases discriminated against, if they appear to have an alternative belief that contradicts what society wants. Equality does not mean everything has to be exactly the same, equality means treating everyone with the same respect and assigning everyone an equal worth. To my mind, it seems that we’ve lost focus on this ultimate end goal, and instead focused on little matters that just confuse matters and limit peoples’ freedoms.

E.