Friday, April 29, 2016

Joe Omundson

Music recording budget

Self Observing Universe · Post music budget Posting as Joe Omundson Some people might not think they have enough money to create and record an album. It’s understandable to feel that way because it’s expensive to buy nice gear, record in a professional studio, pay someone else to master the album, etc. But if you are careful and thrifty, and if you don’t require the absolute best sound quality, you can do it yourself for pretty cheap. Here is a run down of how I was able to record my album on a budget.

Drums: I bought a DW drum set for $200 from a friend, used PDP double-kick pedals for $50, and spent maybe $20 on some products to reduce overtones on the snare and toms. (I never played drums before recording this album.)

Bass: I used a cheap Ibanez bass that I got as a gift when I was 15. I paid $100 for the Fender amp a number of years ago. I used an MXR distortion pedal which I got for $50. I didn’t bother to replace the strings or anything like that. I didn’t use a guitar for this album, only bass.

Electronic: I only used free samples that I found online, and ones that came with my DAW. I was able to get some useful software for free.

Recording: I borrowed a 6-channel audio interface from the manager of the studio. I bought used entry-level CAD drum mics for $130 (including mic cables), and used them to record drums, bass, and vocals. The ambient samples (thunder, footsteps, birds, creeks, fire, rain, etc.) were all recorded using a handheld Roland digital recorder while I was hiking the PCT and I paid probably $200-$250 for that unit. The rain at the end of the 3rd track was recorded from inside my car. I paid probably $80 for mic stands and about $50 more for various connectors, cables, and the like.

Mixing and mastering: I used a pair of Polk speakers which I got at Goodwill for $20, and powered them with an old JVC receiver that I got at the same place for $15. I got lucky with the speakers because they sound great in my opinion and have a fairly flat frequency response. It took a few tries to find a pair that sounded decent, so the actual cost was maybe a bit more; but if you are diligent about returning for store credit when an item doesn’t work out, you’re not really out anything.

Lifestyle: I saved money by sleeping in my car for 7 months while I worked on this project. Fortunately that is my preferred lifestyle anyway. The rehearsal space was used not only for writing and recording music, but as a “home base” where I could use a bathroom reliably and store some of my possessions. It cost $240/month to rent. I found an excellent street to park my car and I slept just a couple blocks away from the studio most nights. My artist photo shows my car and the entrance to the building where I rented my room.

So my music budget over 7 months was about $1680 for the room, plus $940 for gear. I might be forgetting some things but it comes in comfortably under $3000 (more like $2300 if you don’t count the gear I already owned). Not having a kitchen meant I was eating out a lot, so food was actually my biggest expense over that period, costing me probably $10-15/day, so maybe in the range of $2000-$3000.

Overall, I spent roughly $5000 to live for 7 months and record this album. After learning what I did from this attempt, I believe next time I could do the same amount of work in about 2 months, or I could spend half a year and create something more masterful.

My advice is that if you want to try something, just go for it. I learned something about every step of the creative process, and though my first release was definitely amateur level work, next time I will know how to fit more self-expression into all the stages of music creation. Post settings Labels Published on 4/29/16, 12:36 PM Mountain Daylight Time Permalink Location Options
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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Joe Omundson

Laws of Nature - Footpath

Today I am happy to announce the release of my short album which I have created to commemorate my PCT hike. You can listen to it here:

https://lawsofnature.bandcamp.com/album/footpath
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Joe Omundson

Darkness & metal

Self Observing Universe · Post darkness Posting as Joe Omundson Sometimes I feel a weight of sadness that seems to come from nowhere. Despite all the beauty and mystery in my life, there are times when I set aside my distractions and a feeling of sorrow continues to resonate long after the other sensations have faded. It is longing for a love which I have not yet known, and grief over painful memories. It's concern for people who are hurting and bitterness toward unjust social structures. It's the awareness that life is short and uncertain. It's hopelessness that our species will take responsibility for its ecological disaster. It's rage toward the systems of insidious brainwashing that influence so many of our perceptions of life.

I learned long ago that these depressions are inevitable, at least for me. I can attempt to deny them, cover them up, and bypass them. But avoiding them forever is not sustainable, because reality is simply unpleasant sometimes, and if I want to live in the real world and learn the true laws of nature I have to become comfortable with discomfort. The trick is to have good coping mechanisms. As someone who feels a need to accept and integrate everything that I perceive as real, my best tools for dealing with sadness are the ones that help me accept those emotions rather than try to push them away.

You know what has helped me cope with life more than just about anything? It's something that has reflected, verified, and validated my feelings of sorrow and anger. It has shown me that other people feel the same way I do, and they feel it so strongly that they will invest a lot of energy into a form of expression that is not appreciated by most people but resonates with a few. It has given me a practical way to experience my anger in a cathartic way, which then allows it to subside. It transforms my hopelessness into a creative flow. The thing I am talking about is metal music. I first got into death metal when I was 15, in the months after my open heart surgery, when I'd gone through something lifechanging and felt like nobody could relate. Listening to death, black, and doom metal gave me permission to start down the path of accepting my own experiences. I have come to enjoy other kinds of music just as much as metal but it has always held a special place in my life.

Today has been one of those melancholic kind of days. I have some stuff on my mind, feelings of sadness and desire, loss. Overall it was actually a good day. The weather was beautiful and I spent most of the day at the park, and I've just been relaxing and listening to music and having a couple beers and getting high, going for walks and eating food, and generally doing whatever I pleased. But it was all sort of done as a conscious meditation in awareness of the weight in my heart. I was thinking about doing some writing and I couldn't seem to focus, and then this song came up on shuffle:

Dead Congregation - Only Ashes Remain

I encourage you to give it a listen. If you are not familiar with this type of music, check out how intricate, precise, and powerful the drumming is. Feel the discordance in the guitars and don't worry about understanding the lyrics, because the texture of the vocals is what's important.
As soon as that blastbeat started playing, and the roiling guitar hit my ears, I felt an equalization of pressure. Finally -- I was hearing something outside my ears that matched what was inside. This seemed like it unlocked me, and I started writing this entry right away.

Metal says, "yep, life's crazy. It's THIS intense. This is what violence feels like, and it's everywhere. We don't have answers to the important questions, and death is the only certainty. Everything will eventually be destroyed one way or another. There is no god to save you. Hopelessness is not altogether unreasonable." If you are someone who feels uncomforable with those thoughts then you will probably not like extreme metal. But those thoughts are a part of my complete breakfast. I am reminded to embrace all aspects of what I know to be true. Post settings Labels Published on 4/14/16, 4:00 AM Mountain Daylight Time Permalink Location Options
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