YouTube

So I’ve got my YouTube channel up. Right now it’s just hosting the songs from Permanent Press. But this will be the main hub for long form content, behind the scenes videos, and just random shorts and ideas I’ve been coming up with. I’m working on a welcome video today and figuring out an upload schedule that I can adhere to. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on my releases. Thanks! (Video should go live @ 12 PM EST)

Suicide Sunday

I put this track first because of its importance to me. I’ve had my own struggles with depression and I know many others do too. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our lives. Routine, stress, let downs, and negativity. They’re all normal parts of life. Yet, somehow they always manage to capture our attention the best.

So I tried to draw a contrast between these warring states of mind between the verses and the chorus. To illustrate the melancholy of daily life being fought by the truth that we so blindly ignore. The world around us is amazing. Life is something to be cherished. Something to be celebrated. Yet our very society has constructed our prison of thought. What we have is somehow never enough.

We live in a world that is constantly telling us we aren’t good enough. That we don’t have enough. Idolizing celebrities and painting this picture of lives that we will never have. Yet we chase them, day in day out. It’s hubris. We never accept things as they are. We have this internal bias to fixate on what we don’t have. Setting conditions for our own happiness.

It’s a choice though. Every day you can either see the world full of obstacles you may never overcome or choose to see it for what it is. An endless expanse. Full of opportunity. Full of wonder. Sometimes we just need a change of perspective. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes.

Prayer

O’ Muse

May I prove worthy of your inspiration

As I write, Let your song sustain me

And my passion flow

Let me see beyond myself

Grant me freedom from fear and apathy

Above all let me find purpose in my pain

So that I might create something worthy of your favor

And give meaning to my sacrifice

So, I’ve always been a big fan of mythology and fantasy. Ironic I name my band A World Without Gods and begin my first album with a prayer. But I’ve always enjoyed the idea of the muses. They are considered the source of knowledge in all art. It makes me think of Homer’s The Odyssey. It was common practice to invoke the muses before poetry, hymns, or epics. So I figured, if I’m going to make it big, I better ask some goddesses for help. In all seriousness, I think of it more as a mantra to guide me through my journey as an artist.

Once I had the words together I put down some nice atmospheric synth chords. Then I copied those same chords to a cello section and noodled around with the violins ending on a tense fifth into my wall of sound guitars. Honestly probably could have taken that tension right into starting Suicide Sunday, but I decided on a guitar solo instead. Because, well… I was having fun and that’s how it ended up.

I figured it would be interesting to give some insight in to my thinking for the songs I’ve written. So this is the first of many posts about the songs on Permanent Press.

The Walk

So that was my first winter walk of the season. It’s here early this year. I’d best describe it as an enlightening experience. I’m the highest I’ve been in years. Wandering and pondering. It’s primordial in a way. Mankind has always traveled and thought.

But it’s an Ypsi suburb and it’s 30 out. Lots of traffic for whatever reason. It’s still early enough that leaves are still around. But we’re already getting snow every night. Anyways, stage is set. You never really think about the cold until you’re in it. You can feel your body acclimate to the climate.

Walks always get me thinking about the journey. Life. I’ve been in Michigan for a few years now. Got depressed, got meds. Eventually felt stable again. But it’s been formative. You learn to love yourself after a while. At least, as best as possible. I find great peace in creating. Music is something I refuse to let go of. Passion. Purpose. That’s the good shit.

So, a good friend of mine told me everyone needs to fight for something. Got me thinking about history. Mankind has fought for generations. We always find something. It’s necessary to evolve our way of thought. Even this day an age we have people with some very archaic worldviews. Racism, violence, crime. Those are only symptoms of greater problems. We’re oppressed. The millennial generation knows it and a lot of us are getting sick of the way things are.

We have to make that difference. It is the legacy of our people. The message we will pass on to futures ahead. But we will never share that unless we fight. Now I’m not sitting here calling for all out anarchy. Though I can see why one would feel that way. We have to spread the ideas. We are the greatest creators of human kind. We are the bleeding edge. In this digital age, we are the majority.

I’m not here to vilify the 1% but let’s be honest. Corporations have done plenty of fucked up shit. We don’t have to stand for that. But if nobody spreads that message, it’s lost in the chaff. Painted over by advertisements and porn. Our lives are comfortable. Fighting is hard. But spreading ideas? That’s easy mode right there. We do it daily. Just memes and whatever other internet content we consume. It’s modern civilization’s TV.

I digress. Sharing thought is what matters to me. So, that’s what I’ll spend my life doing. I expect it’s going to be a grind just like anything else. But the internet is an amazing place to exist these days. There’s a lot of means for creators to engage with people. I prefer writing. So that’s why I do this. I think of it like shouting into the void. Eventually the void should shout back or something. I don’t know. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Myself included. But, I’ll be damned if I don’t spend my time doing what I love.

Optimistic Nihilism. I dig it. Let’s have fun.

Thanks,

Landon

Edit: Oh and for the love of uh… anything, subscribe, repost, follow me on social media. Help me do my thing and I’ll help you do yours. This is a community. Let’s talk. Thanks again.

PS: #awwgods is kind of adorable. I like it. Have to have a hashtag for shit right?

Inspiration Pt. 4

To start things off I’ll talk about an idea I had going forward. I’ll start curating playlists. Post what I’m listening to, talk about it. I’ll call it Now Listening. Catchy right? I’m hoping at some point people will realize that I don’t take myself very seriously. I don’t really care to staple emojis and LOLs everywhere though.

So, for many years I worked a dead end job at a dying retailer selling office supplies. Luckily I lived with many awesome people through those years. Our living room was like sanctuary. We had all our computers set up there. We’d sit around, do shots, smoke weed, and just have fun. You know, living the dream. I’ve always been the most musical of my friends. Towards the end of that I had actually started making music. My older work is still up on Soundcloud. I’ve come a long way as an artist.

Anyways, I really settled into the assorted metal, post-hardcore, and prog sort of stuff. I’d like to give a shout out to Between the Buried and Me. They are seriously talented guys. Their music has come a long way throughout the years. I’m not really sure when it happened. But I slowly started moving more into the pop-punk realm of things.

I’d actually say I blame A Day to Remember. Common Courtesy is one of my favorite albums. It’s a pop-punk gem for sure. Also a big fan of Periphery. As of writing this they’re working on a new album (P4) and I am stoked. Saw them live in Dallas with Protest the Hero. Worth noting, their album Kezia is another one of my all-time favorites. It’s a concept album that follows a woman’s execution from multiple perspectives.

Of course, I listened to a lot of other stuff as well Lamb of God, Coheed & Cambria, Baroness, Opeth, Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, Slipknot. All great artists in their own ways. During these years I also listened to a lot of electronic music. We had a favorite Pandora station called “Chill Wubs” built around Ronald Jenkees. Also, The Glitch Mob, Yellow Claw, Purity Ring, Pendulum, and last but certainly not least Girl Talk. Those are the few that come to mind immediately. I also really like the band Destroyer. Sounds intimidating right? Super chill. I haven’t heard most of their discography, I started on Kaputt (2011) when I had discovered them.

That puts us basically up to date. I’ll talk more about what I’m listening to currently and over the past couple years in some following updates. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this.

Thanks,

Landon

Inspiration Pt. 3

High school was great. Sexual tension and social anxiety. Ah, the formative years. I’ve always been kinda nerdy and weird. I used to have really long hair, wore mostly black, and didn’t give a single fuck. Played tons of video games. Started on console at a young age, but eventually evolved to the PC Master Race. Took a year of piano before getting uprooted from my friends at the end of my junior year. Got to graduate in the great state of Oklahoma. Took music theory in school there. I didn’t really appreciate that knowledge until I got older. But it helped immensely in my understanding of music.

It was in these years where I really delved into metal. Iron Maiden has always been a favorite of mine. Followed by System of a Down and Nine Inch Nails. I listened to Disturbed, Bullet for my Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, and My Chemical Romance. Oh yeah, all that scene music really. I was just talking to a friend recently about Paramore. Hayley Williams was bae for sure. Around that time I really started getting into metalcore, deathcore, hardcore punk. If it had a core, I probably loved it.

I remember seeing iwrestledabearonce live. That show was nuts. It was before their original singer departed. I think she got pregnant or something? I always loved their wacky energy though. Went to an Oceano show once. It was pretty crazy. There’s something about moshing that’s just cathartic. It’s like everyone is both simultaneously trying to kill each other, but also keep everyone alive. It’s fun if you’re not afraid of injury. Thinking back, I didn’t really start going to shows until I had moved out though.

I also went through an explorative period. Listened to a lot of indie. Then went through a trance phase. Parents loved that one. Constant four on the floor kick at all hours. Eventually moved on to drum and bass, then at some point dubstep and trap. The techno kind, not the rap kind. Never been huge on Hip-Hop/R&B. Not that I dislike it, I’m just not really called to it. Though I do think it’d be fun to write some rap verses. Might give that a go sometime.

I’ve been more and more interested in adding synths in to my work. I’ll probably test the waters with that on this next album. That’s all for this post. Up next I’ll get into my adulthood and more of the music I’m listening to these days.

Inspiration Pt. 1

The other day I thought I’d sit down and talk about all the music I’ve listened to or appreciated throughout the years. I know it’s a long list, so we’ll just start from the beginning and go from there. The first song I can remember ever liking was “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Segar. I remember dancing around the house to it when I was like probably 5 or so.

I grew up when cassettes still existed and CDs were just getting popular. It still blows my mind to think I live to see the advent of the iPod. More on that later. I remember my dad had a cassette of Metallica’s black album that I listened to a lot when I was younger. My mom listened to a lot of 80’s pop and arena rock sort of stuff. So I was always around stuff like Prince, Madonna, Journey, and Whitesnake. My dad was a Motley Crue fan too. So plenty of “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood” growing up.

I didn’t really explore a lot of the classics until I was older. But I still have a spot in my heart for Black Sabbath, Boston, Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Guns and Roses. To name a few. Every once in a while when I’m feeling particularly nostalgic I go back and listen to some of the top hits. But I typically stick to newer artists when I’m listening these days.

Of course, being born in 1992, there was tons of great stuff getting radio play through my childhood too. One that stands out the most is Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind. It’s my favorite song about crystal meth. I always picture some studio executive with that look of, “Wait, what?” when he heard the lyrics. But I remember a lot of other good stuff from these times, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead. The list goes on and I know there are tons that I haven’t mentioned. But all of that stuff, I grew up with it, of course I love it.

I’m realizing now how much I will probably write about all of this. I may even dedicate an entire post to the 90’s alone. So I’m going to turn this into a short series. I know nobody has the attention span to read more than 140 characters these days. I like writing since I can just sit and listen to music while I type. Feels natural. Anyways, until next time.

Workflow – Recording

In my last post, I gave my thoughts on the songwriting process and what I think about while I’m arranging. In this post I’m going to talk about recording parts. Also known as tracking.

Recording:

So, as I mentioned before, I work directly in Ableton, everything is DI into my audio interface. Early in the process I’m mainly just trying to get ideas down. Even if I’m not at my DAW I’ll pull out my phone and record whatever ideas I’ve come up with at the time. It’s good to capture the ideas whenever you have them, because there’s no guarantee you’ll remember anything. You’ll lose a badass idea one time before realizing that it’s just easier to get things down asap.

During the arranging process you’ll want to create a scratch track of everything. Just to capture the ideas in their natural form. Once you have that together, you’re ready to start tracking. This is the point where you want to be sure you’ve practiced the parts. Especially if they’re particularly challenging. You want to get the best possible takes. If necessary you can comp them together or punch in and out to fix any errors or blunders. I also make a habit out of listening to the parts in solo to make sure they’re clean before committing them to the final project.

I tend to break this up by instrument. Guitar is my native language, so I typically start there when I’m recording. It’s worth noting, right now I’ve been using programmed drums since I don’t exactly have the environment to set up and mic my acoustic kit. I start with simple parts then will come back and detail them with fills and variation later into the recording process.

An Important Note: Change your strings before tracking! Seriously fresh strings are absolutely necessary for good tone. This is partly why the bass sounds so bad on Permanent Press. I was admittedly pretty lazy when tracking bass throughout.

Once the guitar is tracked, I’ll make some basic timing edits to make sure everything sounds good. If you don’t know how to play to a metronome you should probably start there. It’s essentially mandatory. Otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time just cleaning up your timing. It’s easier to just get it right to begin with.

Once the rhythm guitar is tracked, I’ll track any overdubs or lead parts. I usually save any solos for last since they tend to take more care and attention to detail than other parts throughout. It’s also important to conserve your energy throughout this process. If you’re feeling drained take a break, do something else for a while and come back. You don’t want music to feel like a chore, it’ll show in your playing. Once guitar is all sorted out, I’ll come back in and record bass parts. You don’t have to follow this order either. Do whatever feels best to you.

Once the instrumental arrangement is done, I come back and record vocals. Make sure you know how many takes you’ll need. It’s pretty common practice to double track vocals, even sometimes triple or quad tracking them, in addition to backing vocals and harmonies. Make sure you or your vocalist is in the right mindset for tracking vocals. You want to have a good energy going into it more than anything else, because the vocal is usually the star of the mix, you want it full of life. So be ready to capture an amazing performance. I’ll usually start with just a full run through of the song and then go back over it as needed.

Make sure everyone is comfortable. At this point you’ll want to be sure you’ve worked out the microphone you’ll be using as well as position. These are all important factors to getting a great vocal sound. I didn’t pay good regard to this when tracking Permanent Press, but I learned a lot about it. There are great guides out there. Factors are proximity between the mic and singer, height in relation to the singer’s mouth, and axis (left or right) of the singer. It recommend using a pop-filter. They’re relatively inexpensive, and really help reducing plosives, though they won’t eliminate them entirely. That also has a lot to do with vocal technique as well as the factors mentioned above.

What’s Next

As of right now I am trying to start building a community. I’m not exactly sure what that even entails at this point. But I’ll just keep talking and hopefully at some point people will start to listen. I really enjoy writing either way. So it’s not much of a concern. Once I released Permanent Press I made my next goal to develop a presence on social media and start networking over the course of the next few years.

Musically I’m always coming up with stuff. I’ll probably start making some smaller videos with some of them. But a lot have been piling up for ideas on my next album. I’m thinking I’ll call it Hidden Sunrise. I like the ring of that. It should be a full length record. I would also like to find myself some other band members so I can tour with my music.

I’m also in the process of figuring out the overall image or “brand” if you will for my musical venture. I’ve got some thoughts in mind for a new website header and should carry over a lot of that to the social media realm as well. I plan on getting a YouTube channel up at some point that I’ll use for video blogs, behind the scenes, and just general nonsense probably, knowing me.

Beyond that, I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a live music stream for a while now. I really think it would be a great way to collaborate with other musicians both locally and abroad. But at this point it’s one thing at a time. I’m still working a day job to pay my bills at this point. Should probably set up a Patreon at some point too…

I’ve got all sorts of ideas. But at this point I’m just taking it one day at a time. There’s so much work to do. But I’m pretty happy to do it.

Workflow – Songwriting

Hello! In this post I’ll be breaking down my current workflow and providing some perspective into my process. I don’t expect it to be a comprehensive guide to music production, there are a lot of great resources out on the internet as it is, but it should provide some insight on songwriting and how to approach home production.

Songwriting:

Every song is a bit different, but the key starting place is familiar throughout. Inspiration. This can be different to everyone since it manifests in so many ways. Sometimes it’s just a matter of capturing an emotion or energy. Other times it begins with a lyric or theme. Then there are the more musical options either beginning with a melody, riff, rhythm or chord structure. It doesn’t so much matter where you begin, they’re all valid options.

It’s important to work with a vision of what you’re trying to achieve with the music. Once you have that in mind, start with what you’ve got and slowly work outward. I tend to build the overall structure pretty early in my process. It’s important to understand the context of each section. Bad arrangement will hurt a song throughout the entire process.

Verses should be “smaller” than your choruses. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Just playing softer, maybe using a different texture, even removing instruments entirely, or just stripping them down. You do this so that the chorus has a pay off when it arrives. It sounds bigger, which gives more weight to the idea you’re trying to convey. You should also try to keep an even pulse alive throughout the song. You don’t want to jar the listener too much. Unless that’s what you’re going for of course. It doesn’t hurt to sit down with a structure guide for reference. It’s often referred to as the addiction formula and for good reason.

Intro (4) Verse 1 (16) Pre-Chorus (4) Chorus (8) Verse 2 (8) Chorus (8) Bridge (8) Chorus (8 (x2))

This is of course just a guide, not a hard rule that must be followed. Ultimately do what you feel is right for your song. It’s also important to differentiate your final chorus a bit as well. Maybe add another instrument, or change the vocal a bit. Just add that extra kick of life into it to really drive the idea home. And of course, repeat it. Songs often end on the chorus so it sticks with the listener. That’s the theory at least.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, there a number of different resources on the internet. I really enjoy Holistic Songwriting on YouTube. It’s ran by a guy named Friedemann Findeisen. He does lots of interesting breakdowns of different artists and things that influence their sound. I also really recommend just listening to music. Both your favorite artists and things outside of your comfort zone. Listen to what they do with their arrangements and mixing.

Ideally you want to have your arrangement together before you start tracking. I personally work straight from my DAW even when I’m just jamming or messing around. So it’s pretty easy for me to go right into recording scratch tracks when I come across something I like. That being said, try to keep some degree of flexibility in mind when you’re further along in the process. Sometimes an arrangement change is just what’s needed to breathe life into a song if you’re not happy with it. But having it all together going into it is definitely more efficient.

I will likely write another article about music theory and its role in writing music. Up next is my recording process.