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Day For Night

—apple & tofer site theme

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “DAYDREAMS SITE MUSIC (song version)”

wall-e

As I mentioned last week, I have been commissioned to produce some music for a website that my girlfriend Heather Apple and Tofer Moran (of In the Circuit of the Sun) are building. The site isn’t live yet, so I can’t really go into detail on what it is or why the music was designed this way. As soon as the site is up, I will be sure to link to it and discuss it in more detail.

This version is not the one that you will hear on the site, at least, not quite. It is an earlier version that I was very happy with but which Heather and Tofer had some minor problems with. I made the changes they requested, but I want to go ahead and share this version as it is. 

Day For Night

—Daydreams

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “DAYDREAMS”

daydreams

Heather and Tofer are working on a website project and asked me to compose some music for the site. Their request was fairly specific and clear, so naturally I sat down to work and wrote something completely different than what they wanted. I don’t know if all musicians and composers have this experience, but sometimes you start to write something that seems to have popped into existence fully-formed in your brain. I played the two chords here that mostly comprise “Daydreams” and heard everything I needed to hear. I recorded this in about three takes, did some brief editing of the MIDI data, and bounced the track. It can’t have taken more than a couple hours. It’s more cinematic than my work usually is. I could hear it in a film score perhaps. I may continue to work with this song more to build it out a little, but something tells me that maybe I should just leave it alone. It was a daydream, alive for a moment, and then gone, half-forgotten.

UPDATE: I went back into this song and fixed a few notes that were bothering me. I also added some little bits of embellishment to fill some spaces that were a little too big. Maybe the imperfections of the original were what made it special, but I like this version too.

Day For Night

—Slumlord

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “SLUMLORD”

slumlord

It’s been an embarrassingly long time since my last post. I went back to work part-time at a coffee shop in Kensington. It’s been a fairly pleasant, zen-like experience. I work evenings, alone most of the time, and I’m starting to build a rapport with the regulars. I don’t intend to do this forever, but it is a fine way to earn a wage while I’m pursuing a career in commercial music production.

I’m working on a new song right now. It’s already undergone several major revisions, but today I got it into a shape that I’m reasonably satisfied with. I’m having a hard time identifying the strands of influence in it. Definitely the clickhouse kit was inspired by Telefon Tel Aviv, though I haven’t come near to mastering it. That record is one of my all-time favorites. Melodically speaking, the song shares a lot in common with traditional IDM, particularly Aphex Twin or Squarepusher and the core Warp Records roster. It’s a new style for me, a new set of colors on my pallette, and I look forward to further experimentation with it. 

Day For Night

—far from home (vox)

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “FAR FROM HOME”

The holidays are nearly upon us, and all the shopping I’ve been putting off is now weighing heavily on my shoulders. So, naturally, I’ve been ignoring it and instead working ceaselessly in the studio. The last couple days have been productive, and I’ve managed to crank out another new song. Galen and Heather both independently used the word “lovely” to describe this new song, “Far From Home.” I find it interesting because I don’t think it’s a word that should be applied to really any of my previous work in Garageband. What’s with the change? Well, for starters I now have access to some very high quality MIDI samples, and voices that I would have shied away from in the past are now exciting new colors added to my palette. The strings on this song for instance have a breathtaking quality about them. There is one audio recording here though: the acoustic guitar track under the climax.

The title here has some significance, I suppose. This is my first year living in another state from my family, and as Christmas approaches, I am eagerly anticipating returning to them in North Carolina next week. You can hear that yearning in every note of this song. Home is so close, but so far away.

UPDATE 12/19: Galen was in town this weekend and helped me adjust the snare sounds a little bit here. He also experimented with some light, airy vocal takes, and we layered them over the climax of the song here for a nice effect. I’m even happier with the song than I was before. Thanks, Galen!

Day For Night

—winter chill 2

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “WINTER CHILL”

Well I finally did it. I took the plunge, made the investment, and now I’m in my bedroom working with a Pro Tools Mbox system. After getting everything set up on Tuesday, I spent today experimenting, and I wanted to share my results. I’m thrilled with the quality of both the MIDI sounds I’m able to create with Reason and Pro Tools and the recording quality of my AT2020 mic.

For this song, I recorded a few ukulele tracks and applied some thick delay to create a densely textured wash of percussive sound. I also created a bed of cool, minimal synth pads. The goal was to give the listener the sensation of an icy, desolate landscape. It’s been cold here in the city lately, and it’s only going to get worse. I’ll be sure to keep working with this track, and I’ll share pictures soon. 

Day For Night

—sky rider (movember edit-256 kbps)

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - “SKY RIDER”

This song is an old one. I worked it up about a year ago, and it underwent about five or six different revisions before I settled on arrangement I liked. After that, I fiddled with the mix and master for a long time. Eventually I let it be, but I was never really happy with it. Flash forward to now. I’ve been picking up a lot of tips and techniques from the engineers at my internship: Daniel Dzula, Francis Garza, and David Steinberg. These guys have been amazing teachers, and I’ve been trying to absorb as much of their brilliance by osmosis as I can. So when I listen now to the work I did so long ago, I can immediately hear what needs to be improved. I spent the last few days working and came up with a new mix of ‘Sky Rider’ …which was then revised three more times (with a lot of helpful notes from Galen).

Things I changed:

  • Varied the velocity of drum hits in order to ‘liven’ up the synthetic midi sounds.
  • Added an arpeggiated miniMoog to the end of the track (Galen’s idea)
  • Put a Bitcrusher filter on one of the tracks towards the end
  • Doubled various tracks and panned them out for stereo-effect
  • Added more cowbell. Seriously. Just listen.
Day For Night

—sleeping pills

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - ‘SLEEPING PILLS’ 

My good friend Matt Hardigree, Jalopnik News Editor, asked me to contribute a song for a video they will be posting soon. His only direction was that the song should be “dance-y,” so I had a lot of freedom to experiment. I decided that I wanted to work with a sample that could be looped and easily chopped up. I found what I was looking for (as I so often do) in a Radiohead song: ‘Melatonin' from their 1998 EP Airbag/How Am I Driving? This track was worked up very quickly, and despite the rush, I’m very proud of the beat. I may still tinker with this track a bit, but this is the form in which it will be heard on Jalopnik. Thanks for the opportunity, Matt!

Day For Night

—shuffle stomp

ANDREW SHOEMAKER - ‘STUTTER STOMP’

Here’s an early track I made circa spring 2010. You may (or most likely not, depending on your degree of nerditude) notice a similarity between ‘stutter stomp’ and this piece from Yasunori Mitsuda’s classic video game score. Obviously this was unintentional, but when a friend of mine pointed out the connection I realized how immensely I am influenced by game soundtracks. When I was 12, I begged my mother to buy me the three disc soundtrack to Final Fantasy VI by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu from a magazine ad for a Japanese telephone order service. Despite my mother’s befuddlement and the operator’s broken Engrish, the order got through. These days, video game music is hardly distinguishable from the scores of film and TV, but the aesthetic appeal of 8 and 16-bit music continues to find a place in the music of electronic acts like Anamanaguchi and Crystal Castles (among others). It influences just about everything I write, too.