ZalakaWala - Electric Jams Vol. 1
The main objective on this project was that making it should be mostly fun, not that much of a struggle. As a result, many of the songs were born with just an electric guitar and a looper pedal. The song structures stayed quite repetitious as I did not have ambition to create more complex stuff. Mostly just jams.
Quit Standard Orbit
My job as a producer is also to take into consideration other people, in trying to please “the audience”. That means listening to every detail with “somebody else’s pair of ears”, always thinking of how one would perceive the final production. Here I could abandon that particular filter and do whatever pleases me. Take it or leave it. It’s not pop music. I quit my standard orbit.
Curse of a “multi-talent”? I’m not a great guitar player. I’m pretty bad at playing keyboards. At drums I suck. I’m no super-engineer or über-producer. I’m pretty good at some things and adequate on other stuff. And I did everything by myself (except a few loops & samples). Playing, recording, mixing, mastering, photos, videos, website etc.
For example, I’ve never done videos before, but I felt they would be better than a static album cover pic on every song on YouTube. So an iPhone and some simple ideas got me adequate results ($5 investment in some apps).
I would have loved to have great musicians play on the album and get a talented cover designer and video director. Then I would have had to write proper tunes. But that would have been too close to my real job. And this is just my hobby. So DIY.
My first album was Led Zeppelin ”II”. The moment I realized I’ll have to work in a recording studio was when I heard the mid part of “Whole Lotta Love”. What an amazing adventure in sound. And that interest in studio mysticism led me to the great early 70’s albums by Zappa, Rundgren and Tomita.
I was also deeply affected by two movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a trip I’ve never returned from. Also, the drum solo in Woodstock by Michael Shrieve, made an everlasting impression on me. I desperately wanted to become a drummer. Like many, I was hitting pots, pans and furniture for a couple of months. But in reality, drumming would just have caused too much noise. And I would have become a mediocre drummer anyway.
I have collected vintage synths and keyboards, electric guitars, effect pedals and studio gear for decades. After years of reluctantly going to piano lessons, I found my late brother’s Bjärton semi-acoustic guitar, at the age of 12 again. As I started recording sound on a Tandberg reel-to-reel tape machine, I then wanted a synthesizer. One that would make fun noises like on those Zappa / Rundgren / Tomita records. And later, for many years my production work was greatly based on programming and playing synths. Well, still is.
So I have a respectable collection of old analog keyboards and modules. But more and more switches and buttons do not work properly anymore, so I kinda lost interest in them. Plug-ins are getting pretty good, although I still have not heard a soft synth with a soul of an old analog one. They lack the ever-changing tiny random variation and errors. And you can’t beat the instant user interface of an analog synth or a mixing console.
Some years ago I fell in love with electric guitars again. I can sometimes get a tone out of one, and I do try to concentrate on the sound of all individual notes.
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most beautiful and perfect human designs (another one: Jaguar E-type). And still I have periods when I crave for all the fun one can have with a Strat. I’m not fanatic, but most of my guitars are Gibson or Fender. The ones with an ageless design. The Classics.
You can find an almost complete list of my sound toys at the studio website.
I have a studio with some pretty heavy gear - SSL console, 24-track tape recorder, huge monitors and tons of instruments and outboard gear. It’s an analog dinosaur. But it is amazing what you can do on a laptop. Most of the recording and editing for this project I did on a MacBook Pro. All the loud stuff, like guitar amps, drums, percussion and Hammond, was naturally recorded in the studio. And the mixing had to be done there, too.
I’ve never really been that interested in mainstream pop music. Only if it had some extra production value. More into progressive, more adventurous sounds and notes.
A perfect example is Godley & Creme. They made brilliant pop songs with 10cc. But their duo albums are the ones with wild sounds and production gimmicks. Every track must have had a brand new approach or method to have been justified for production (and Godley is one my favorite singers). Their albums are full of interesting production ideas. Like the aforementioned Zappa / Rundgren / Tomita albums.
I pretty much find one perfect new album a year (if even that) which I tend to listen to over and over again. Be it the first two albums by Norah Jones (not a great fan of country music, but her vocal tracks I could listen to forever - the sweetest sound), the latest Melody Gardot or Donald Fagen, or Steven Wilson’s “The Raven…”.
And then there’s always lots of brilliant stuff to be found from the 70’s, the golden era of rock sound. And wonderful jazz/exotica albums from the 50’s and 60’s with amazing sounds (Progress in aesthetics? In the 50's one microphone used to create a more 3D sound than all the technology available in music today) .
There is one exceptional live rock album which I listen to regularly, since I discovered it again after a few decades. It’s one of those “will it sound as good as when I heard it as a kid?”. No, it sounds even better. It’s an amazing collection of live performances where all the guys, including the recording engineer, are simultaneously “in the flow”. It’s magic. Deep Purple - Made In Japan.
After years and years of not touring, one thing is perfectly clear - I’m not a performer.
I've always been a Nintendo fan. Let's face it - I'm an old kid, and their games are mostly for adult kids. Other platforms tend to take themselves too seriously. Nintendo sticks with fun cartoon aesthetics. And the Zelda series is my absolute favorite.
Love it. And like many other things, I’m pretty good at it, but not great…