This year my band Coolooloosh was part of a very groovy night of shows including the ever famous Hadag Nahash, Ramirez brothers and Yossi Fine and the remix. It has been a while since we played live in Israel and this time we prepared a brand new set of songs which are much more hard hitting rock-hip hop in your face kind of vibe.
Coolooloosh live at Yaarot Menashe Festival, May 3rd 2013
Yuvi Gerstein and his Gibson Es-175
The special thing about the show was the collaboration between Coolooloosh and Yossi Fine. Fine is an incredible bass player and producer who has influenced us heavily as a band. His African style of music is infectious and his new group ‘Yossi fine and the remix’ is sounding great on stage.
Yossi Fine and his amazing godin fretless bass
The remix band with a fan dancing on stage
We collaborated with them on a track called Ebae and Soul (Listen) which was originally a remix made by Ori Winokur, combining Cooloolooshs’ ‘mind and soul‘ and the ex-centric song ‘Ebae‘. The crowd at the festival was very supportive, dancing all the way and we felt it was a great come back for us as a band and celebrating our 10th anniversary this year, it was a good kick off.
The song was recorded at Offtape studios in London, as part of as session in which three songs were recorded, to be released later this year. This video was directed by Cristina Picchi and the sound was mixed at rock of london studios by Yuvi Gerstein.
2012 is coming to an end this week. I’ve spent this year mostly in London, UK, working on various projects and keeping busy with loads of music productions and writing but also performing quite a bit and touring in Germany and Israel. Next year I will be mostly in Israel, building a new studio with a great producer and friend Ori Winokur (Asaf Avidan, Mika Karni and more) but for now here’s a round up of the main projects I was involved with in this past year 2012.
Penniless Cove EP – Out on a roof
“what you’re treated to is nothing short of an excellent, innovative and refreshing alt-folk fusion.” Dean Ruxton, MRU Magazine
Penniless cove was originally a duo comprised of Phoebe Osborne on piano and vocals and writing the songs and Luca Nasciuti on cello. I recorded and mixed their beautiful EP this year, recording a grand piano at Goldsmiths University, and then a lot of cello, some melodica, violin and back up vocals. The EP was just recently released and received some great reviews. the duo actually turned into a full band with four musicians (without Luca this time), which is now performing the songs from the EP and many more around the UK. Like them on Facebook.
Alex Jeffery, AKA Hello Hibernator is a singer songwriter I met while studying at Goldsmiths university for my MA in Creative Practice in 2011. being a music producer I was looking for an interesting project to get into as part of my studies. I heard some demos from Jeffery and thought they were awesome. A compelling combination of ballads and more upbeat songs with a great vocal ability, intriguing lyrics and performance. We decided to work on this project together as our final MA project and went off on a journey to complete a full album entitled ‘The leaf world’.
After working on arrangements and picking the songs, we gathered some wonderful musicians and recorded the album at Goldsmiths university EMS (Electronic music studios). The full album was submitted as our joint MA project. In 2012 we chose the four best songs in our opinion from the album and we re-recorded some bits, then I re-mixed them to be released as ‘The leaf world’ EP which was released in May 2012. My favourite song off the EP is called “My name is Jesus”. Read more about the project here, here and here.
Here is the full EP to listen (free) and buy -
Here is a little video of the production process
Working with soul singer Leslie Phillips
One of the best things that happened to me this year was meeting the wonderful soul singer Leslie Phillips. Phillips hails from Paris and based in London, she has a rare soulful voice and writes great songs as well. We had the chance to work together on a few projects, write songs together and perform them in London and in Israel. Phillips also collaborated with my band Coolooloosh, together we recorded our funky version of the famous song “Babe, I’m gonna leave ya”.
We also worked on a sold out performance at the Jerusalem theater in summer 2012. My role was musical director, writing arrangements for 24 songs, some originals and some old school classic soul songs as you can see here.
The highlight of my work with Phillips was a live in the studio video project we recently made at Offtape studios in London. We recorded three original songs live in the studio and it was filmed by a professional film crew and is now in the editing process. The songs recorded are entitled ‘Never enough”, Dans tes bras” and “Spiders”. They are due to be released early 2013.
I made this remix as part of a remix contest for the film “Man with the iron fists”. Have a listen and read more here.
Free guitar sample pack by Yuvi Gerstein
Earlier this year I released a free sample pack of guitar riffs and chords. I use samples a lot in my music and so, decided to make my contribution to the growing community of producers sharing their samples. The pack includes high quality jazzy and quirky guitar and is still a free download here. The free pack received quite a lot of online attention and was featured on blogs and websites all over the world.
Pro tools tutorial popular on Youtube
When I bought the software pro tools 10 I made this simple tutorial about its 10 main features. I don’t like long boring tutorials. I like them short and to the point. That’s how I tried to make this one. It proved to be very popular on Youtube and received over 55K hits since it’s upload.
AfroDJmac inspired 8Bit track
AfroDJmac is a cool DJ from New York, releasing packs for Ableton Live to be used by producers. A few weeks ago he released a Nintendo style pack and I downloaded it and was inspired to make this track with it, which was then featured on AfroDjmac’s blog. It’s a kind of cool weird 8bit style track with some panned guitars. check it out.
Coolooloosh tour in Germany – Mischpoke
In September, 2012, I had a crazy fun time touring Germany with my band Coolooloosh, Along with some other great musicians such as Geva Alon, Sharon Levy and the young rock band Trademark. It was a 16 day tour of the whole of Germany promoting new music and at the same time attempting to improve the image of Israel and to show that great music is being made there and it’s not just war and disasters as people see on the news so often. Here is a little video of Coolooloosh playing live with the wonderful singer songwriter Geva Alon performing the song “Until the day” -
I had a great honor of recording, arranging and performing with this new band flies+flies. The band started out as a production project by Jake Williams, producing the songs of Dan Griffis, but soon developed into a four piece band with Williams on electronics, Dan Griffis on guitar and vocals, Martin Kingston on Cello and myself on electric guitar.
Together we performed around London in several venues such as the Sebright arms, Bedroom bar and Power lunches. The band’s EP is soon to be released and a first song entitled bad crab hand. Join flies+flies on Facebook.
Producing Oded Kafri EP Street life and live performance
Oded Kafri, Street Life EP
For the past year I have been working with a brilliant virtuoso drummer names Oded Kafri. Kafri is based in London and puts on quite an amazing live show, using a massive drum kit and a drum pad connected to a laptop running Ableton Live for the backing tracks.
I produced a lot of tracks for Kafri’s live shows and also produced, recorded and mixed his latest EP Street life. The EP was recorded at Soho Sonic studios and aims to capture Kafri’s live street performance in a studio setting. Here is a video from his last tour of Europe (video which I edited as well).
What is internet anyway?
Some experimentation with video editing in Ableton Live and my fascination with the internet made me make this music video exploring how people viewed the internet when it first emerged. It’s funny looking back at it now.
In the past year I’ve been working with a new band called files+flies. the band started out as a production project of Jake Williams, producing the songs of singer songwriter Dan Griffis. Williams started producing the songs of Dan Griffis, making simple acoustic guitar songs into semi electronic pieces with some quirky beats, found sounds and haunting vocals. I was asked by Jake, whom I knew from my MA studies at Goldsmiths University in 2011, to lay down some guitars for the EP project and was happy to collaborate with the two, I recorded electric guitar with some processing on every track.
Williams also recorded a talented cellist, Martin Kingston. By the end of the recording sessions, which took place at Musicland studios in Dalston, London, an idea of forming a band and performing the material was born. So the band consists of
Psalm is a singer songwriter from the US, based in Israel. The album entitled STORY, is her second studio album and was released on 25 November 2010. I’m not sure why it took me so long to find it online. It has been up on her bandcamp page for quite a while now.
The album was produced by Ori Winokur and I had the honor of playing acoustic guitars on it. We recorded it back in 2009 at Haogen studios in Israel. It was a fun session, I remember playing through the whole album in about two sessions. Psalm songs are beautiful, captivating stories (as the title suggests), memories and quite soft ballads. She has a great voice and her sister accompanies on backing vocals to completes the picture. My favorite songs are There I go again and Songs of angels. Some beautiful cello arrangements were played by the wonderful Hadas Kleinman. I think it’s a great album with subtle beauty and I wish it would get more exposure and reach more people. It’s hard to do that with the overflow of music, which is all competing for our attention these days but do give this one a good listen. This jewel is worth it. Listen to the whole album here, and you could also buy it and support the artist directly.
Inspired by the sounds of the old Nintendo console, which I remember playing quite a bit in the late 80′s, I made this new track called 8Bit Overground. The track was made using a cool free Ableton pack made by AfroDJmac and released on his website a few weeks ago.
For the beat, I used what I call a “Yogi Loop”. That means a loop recorded by Coolooloosh’s amazing drummer Yogev Shetrit. He has his own studio and records ideas and loops straight to his iphone 4. They sound surprisingly well and compressed by the iphone in a very pleasing way. Almost like those old rare groove samples. Another trick I used to give the track some rhythmic variation is an Ableton effect which I call the “on off Panner”. It basically uses the trusted auto pan but with very harsh settings that make it effectively an on off effect. This gives a lot of rhythmic variations and I used it on the bass lines as well as the leads. I also used that effect on guitars, which I recorded for the track. They play around between the left and right of the stereo image. Finally I used a little sample I recorded my self on the London overground train. That’s why it’s called 8bit overground.
This brilliantly simple project uses a heart rate monitor to change the BPM (Beat per minute) of music. The video, which has received nearly 300K views in about 10 days shows the developer Ryan Challinor testing it out to a pop hit CARLY RAE JEPSEN – CALL ME MAYBE. When he starts exercising his heart rate goes up and the music’s speed rises at the same time. when he stops jumping around the music slows down until it becomes annoyingly slow. Check out the video -
Ryan Challinor who is the creator of this project, made it for MIT Hack day 2012 and used the software Max/MSP to write the program. on his Youtube channel he explains:
I got a running watch last Christmas that included a heart rate monitor. I noticed that the range of human heart rates and the range of music tempos are pretty similar, so I thought it would be funny to control the tempo of a song with your heart.
The heart rate monitor communicates wirelessly with the watch. I don’t know how to hack the radio signal that the heart rate monitor sends out, so I decided to approach reading the heart rate in a much more roundabout way. I duct taped a webcam to my running watch, and wrote a program in Max/MSP to do some really hacky OCR to determine the digits. I then take this heart rate, divide it by the original tempo of the song, and use that number to control the rate of song playback.
Max/MSP is a software made by a company called Cycling 74 is a very powerful software and is being used a lot for creative projects such as this. I used Max when I studied at Goldsmiths in 2011 when I created the project Drawing music.
I had an amazing time at the show and found myself literally in tears from laughing so hard. The question is why? What is it about this guy that is so compelling and fascinating? and so damn funny?
Not your normal Beatboxer
Yes, Watts is a beatboxer and pretty good at it, looping himself with a few pieces of simple analog equipment and a mic. But the thing is, his show isn’t about that. He’s not trying to show you what an amazing beatboxer he is or do those corny ‘waka waka’ sounds that everyone is tired of already. He is truly an entertainer. Whatever he does in between his “tracks” is so funny, interesting, thought provoking, that you find yourself not really caring if he’s going to beat box or not. You’re just glued to his act the whole time.
So what are you so good at?
I think Watts has a killer combination of a few great talents and It’s not just one thing. He could very well be a singer (great soulful voice), a stand up comedian with wonderful insights and impeccable comic timing or he could easily be an actor, as his presence is so strong on stage. His stand up style reminded me sometimes of the Flight of the conchords and sometimes a mix of many other stand comedians, from Richard Prior to Eddie Murphy. There’s always something there though, some meaning and some comment on whatever it is he’s on about.
Watts makes everyone in the audience think they could be his best friend, and that’s a big part of the magic of a great performer (somebody said Obama?). The show flew by and the London crowd got exactly what they came for – pure entertainment and music from an intelligent, brilliant performer.
Let’s hope he comes back soon to a venue just like that, before they start booking him into the O2.
We recorded the vocals live with a grand piano at the same time , and I wrote about that process quite a bit here. The songs in this EP are short stories, ballads or just moments in life and when I hear them they always bring some sort of picture to mind. I think Osborne’s writing and piano playing is great and Luca’s cello just adds a great depth to the songs.
Here is String to your bow
I recently heard that the duo has since become a quartet and is playing gigs around London already. Catch them on their Facebook page for some updates. check out more of their music on their Soundcloud
My first experiment with the technique was a Virtual Tennis recording, which I used to pitch my idea to the National Portrait gallery back in 2010. I decided to share it so put your headphone on and have a listen to this tennis player’s experience first hand >>
I learned about binaural recording techniques at Goldsmiths university and was very interested by the phenomenon and it’s amazing effect on our hearing and perspective. Binaural sound is a rather simple concept actually. Using a pair of microphones that look just like a pair of headphones, you place them in each ear and record your surrounding. Once the recording is done, you listen back to it on headphones and you get a sense of the exact surrounding the recording captured, including distance, direction, atmosphere, the whole thing. It’s not such a new technology but I was surprised how little known it is and how little it’s being used. Pearl jam made an album called ‘Binaural‘ which used this recording technique in 2000, but I haven’t heard of any other high profile projects that use it lately.
Virtual Tennis binaural audio recording
The most famous example of binaural recording out there is the virtual barbershop. Pretty intense when listened through headphones.