The Making of Belizean Heat: Part 5 – Garifuna Grackle Party

The Garifuna are a people with a fascinating history and culture resulting from the mingling of African and Native Caribs as a result of the slave trade and colonialism. In Belize, Hopkins is known as something of a center of Garifuna culture.

While visiting there, we stumbled into an impromptu drum circle, which served as part of the foundation and inspiration for this fifth song. Most of the origin of this song however, came from the birds. Grackles to be specific.

Grackles are all over Belize; as common as crows in Vancouver. Like crows, they have a wide repertoire of vocalizations and are very social creatures. While walking down the main street in Hopkins, we heard this apocalyptic screeching coming from a large tree. It turned out to be a massive gathering of grackles having a grand old time. Of course I had to record them, and positioned myself right under the tree. One baffled woman passing by exclaimed “Aren’t you afraid they gonna poop on your head?” and if you listen closely you might be able to hear her in the song.

Shortly after I started recording, this loud bass line and reggaeton drum groove dropped from what I assume was a nearby dance studio. I was disappointed that my recording had been ruined, but my wife was excited to hear how I would incorporate it into a song. So, that bass line provided the main melody of my Garifuna Grackle Party, but I sped it up substantially and turned it into more of an old school rave track.

Most of the sounds and processing on this song were done using the Elektron Dark Trinity of Octatrack, Analog Four, and Analog RYTM. There were also a few sounds from Omnisphere and a Yamaha FB01 FM synth.

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The next chapter actually covers two songs, Hideaway and Stowaway.

 

Time To Talk About Jobs!

Back in the spring I came across this video when my friend posted it on his Facebook timeline. My wife and I got a pretty big kick out of the dark cynical sense of humour contained in Russell Holman’s Spoken Word piece. As we’re both artists we’ve often felt the pressure of expectations that we get “Real Jobs” and start a family and such, so the anti-career theme here certainly struck a chord.

Naturally, I thought it would make great material for a remix so I commented, a dialog was started, and this is the result.

Continue reading “Time To Talk About Jobs!”

Maker Faire 2014 and a WCMA Nomination!

Maker Faire SpreadOn June 8th I performed Sonidos de Cuba at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. My wife was also showing off her Drift clothing and accessories (you can check out her stuff here). Previously I had used a laptop running Ableton Live with an Akai APC40, a Korg Electribe ES1mkII and my trumpet. This time I debuted my new live setup focused around the Elektron Octatrack. I’m also using an Arturia MicroBrute, MFB Kraftzwerg, Electo-Lobotomy Sonic Forest, Manastone Hank Drum and Trumpet. Changing my setup has caused the songs to evolve quite dramatically. I’m still playing back stems from each song on the album, but sequencing them on the Octatrack has changed the way they’re configured. The Octatrack is also sequencing the two synthesizers which imparts some great new life into the material. Continue reading “Maker Faire 2014 and a WCMA Nomination!”

Free EP on Bandcamp!

I’ve released a free EP of some of my older work on my Bandcamp store. I discovered and developed my unique style of working with field recordings in these four songs. Sonidos de Cuba was born from these early acoustic explorations. I like to think of them as musical larvae or protozoa, which is why I’ve called the EP Proto-Sonos.

The first song is Rain Down. It rains a lot in Vancouver. Therefore it was a natural choice to use a bed of rain recordings as a foundation for a song. Continue reading “Free EP on Bandcamp!”

CDs and Contests and Gigs and News and Stuff

Hey look what I got!
Hey look what I got!

The CDs of Sonidos de Cuba have arrived! I’ve already given a few out to some of my Rockethub supporters and the rest of you will receive them soon. They look great thanks to Tania Clarke’s wonderful album artwork. Next I’ll send off a few to CD Baby so the physical copies will be available there too.

It’s a little funny. Two of the people I’ve given copies to have commented on how long it’s been since they’ve bought a physical CD. I know the format is definitely waning in use as people move towards digital and cloud based music, but I really wanted to have some physical copies. It just makes the album feel that much more real, complete, and professional. Continue reading “CDs and Contests and Gigs and News and Stuff”