New Freakin’ Website!

While I love WordPress with all my heart, it drains that very same heart to announce that I will be switching platforms to my personal website very soon.

I’ll keep everyone up to date on all of my social media, but the switch will be happening November 1, 2016. Again, links will be easily available.

I’ve decided to combine all of my projects into one resource so that I’m not asking people to check out five or six different websites just to see what I’m working on. So, that being said, on the new website you will be able to find:

Music (recorded by the transcendental Spencer Myers)

Podcasts (The Green Room and a brand-new podcast called the Fuzz Factory)

Photos

Events and Gigs

Links to YouTube and SoundCloud

and much, much, more.

Thanks for hangin’ in there, I’m very excited to get the website out to the public and share some of my work!

In the meantime, I implore you to check out one of my podcasts called The Fuzz Factory Podcast with my co-host Savannah Kelly. We’re available on iTunes or on WordPress at the link below.

https://thefuzzfactoryblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/episode-5-the-doors/

 

Where ya been Spenny?

Today’s the first blog post that I’ve wrote in a long time. I’m rusty, it’s early, and you just want to go back to sleep so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

My main focus for the last two months has been writing and recording my debut EP, set to release in January of 2017. On the record you can hear eight (maybe nine, maybe 10) tracks of me playing guitar, drums, bass, keys, and vocals. I’ve recorded a few collaborations with some very talented singers named Nicholas Wytinck and Bailee Woods.

I’m very excited about the project, I hope you guys are too!

If you’re bored or have a few spare minutes through the day, check out my SoundCloud page or my band Jump The Clutch’s single “Day Worth Livin’ For” on iTunes.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/day-worth-livin-for/id964894071?i=964894076

To Shame, Or Not To Shame

Note: Political/Social post, not a music-inspired piece.

In my Public Relations class last week, we were discussing public shaming and using the internet or social media for this purpose. We watched an interesting TED Talk featuring Monica Lewinsky, and it sparked the idea for this post. Here’s the link to the TED Talk if you’re interested. TED Talk: Monica Lewinsky (YouTube)


In the era of the Internet and global information, teenagers and young users of social media are growing up in a shame-filled world that can ruin reputations and lives with a simple tweet.

It seems that as of late, your private life isn’t so private. My question is, are we leaning towards a world filled with more honesty, or a world filled with more anger and distrust? Today I’m going to discuss my thoughts on public shaming and the damages that our online comments can do.

Context and background information are important when it comes to issues like public shaming. Finding out that a world leader is taking money from a KKK member would be a big deal that people should know about. (That example is completely fabricated to make a point.)

Compare that with the true story of an 18-year-old boy, who was illegally video recorded having a private moment with another male. The webcam video was released and the online shaming became so bad that this 18-year-old kid took his own life.

Now your witty comments and rude jokes don’t feel so good, do they? My point is that our words are very powerful, whether they come from a keyboard or from our lips.

As an avid user of social media and this new fad known as the Internet, I feel torn on the issue of shaming and the transparency of people’s private information. On one hand, I really believe that certain people’s information, not all of it, should be public.

If I’m going to vote for certain person, I’d like to know where their funds come from and what motivates their decisions. I think there are some benefits to our ability to quickly spread information if we find out something important. Let me finish before you think I’m some online assassin waiting to jump at anything controversial.

Having politicians’ or corrupt people’s bullshit put into the public’s eye is a good thing.

For example, here’s a quote from Stephen Harper during last year’s election. Incase you forgot, the legalization of cannabis was a major issue in Canada’s recent federal election.

“Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage. Marijuana is infinitely worse and it’s something that we do not want to encourage,” Harper said.

Many highly educated people in the country know that this statement is completely false, and Harper wasn’t “shamed” for these comments. However, after a quick Google search and some online investigating, people could quickly find that Harper has previously invested large funds into the tobacco industry, which could suffer dramatically as we see cannabis legalized.

That’s an example of when knowledge of someone’s “private” dealings is a good asset for the public to have. It showed me that my previous prime minister wasn’t up to date with current science, and that his own agenda was influencing actions that cause hundreds of Canadians to be arrested for using a plant that makes them happy.

I know that there are some benefits to having a person’s secrets revealed, but I can’t help but see “shaming” as a negative tool overall. Instead of having to dig for information and shame our politicians or celebrities, maybe everyone will simply be more honest. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Now, to the TED Talk that featured Monica Lewinsky. If you’re thinking of Bill Clinton, you’re thinking of the right girl.

Although we all know her story, or claim to know her story, the talk was really eye opening. She didn’t preach for forgiveness, and she didn’t preach for apologies. One thing she did stress was compassion. She urged the audience to think about what you click before you hit the mouse, and take a second before you post that harsh comment.

She advocated that we steer away from this shaming culture, and instead promote compassion and empathy for the people that we live our lives with, and I agree.

When I was sitting down to listen to a TED Talk from Monica Lewinsky, I’ll be honest to say I was a bit sceptical at first. But my scepticism only proves that shaming someone, although sometimes fun and good at getting dirty details out fast, doesn’t mean I know anything about that person.

Yes, I know that Lewinsky and Clinton may or may not have had a few late-night meetings in the Oval Office. But that doesn’t mean I know her as a person, and it doesn’t mean that I know what was going through her head at the age of 22 when her story was made public.

That was the message that I took away. Yes, that person made a mistake and now the world knows about it. But that person is still a person.

I totally understand that every case of public shaming or information leaking is different, and I’m not trying to generalize the topic. That being said, I think Lewinsky’s key points could be true for about 99 per cent of these cases we see.

As users of the Internet, we have free speech and access to all kinds of wonderful things that we wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. With the privilege of having social media and the Internet also comes the responsibility to use these tools respectfully.

It sounds redundant and lame, saying that everyone should respect each other’s privacy and secrets, but it’s true!

I’ve explored both sides of shaming, the “good” and the bad aspects, to hopefully show you that although it’s nice to know exactly who these public figures are, it isn’t nice to ruin people’s lives over one silly mistake that we’ve probably made ourselves at one point.

As we go forward, I think by being more honest and compassionate with one another will eliminate this culture of shaming and public humiliation.

There will always be jokes made about people and comments to be posted, and if all you want to do with that comment is get a few laughs then that’s okay. I definitely don’t want people to stop making memes when a celebrity does something silly, and I don’t want everyone’s dirty secrets in the dark if they affect my life.

Don’t stop the comedy, and don’t stop commenting, but think before you type and try to understand that behind the wrong decision or mistake was a person.It’s hard to put our anger or jealousy aside when a celebrity does something scandalous, but before you comment and think it won’t affect the reader, think again.

Social Media and Politics

Note: another non-music post. I wrote this as part of my Advertising class, but the content is super-duper.

In today’s blog I’m going to share my thoughts on the relationship between social media use and politics. Has the use of technology helped the public interact with our government or has it made things even more complicated?

trudeau

photo courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen.

‘Merica:

Recently there have been a lot, and I mean A LOT of talks about politics and the American election in particular. We’ve seen candidates resign over four-year-old tweets, and we’ve seen GOP candidates have a playground-style battle about penis sizes and ex-wives over the Internet. The frenzy that’s going on down-south has made many people, including myself, question what benefits social media is providing in a world full of ads, shady-journalism, and selective coverage from the media outlets.

The Good:

With all of this pure insanity floating around right now, I started to think about the “transparency” that technology is supposed to be building between the public and our governing figures. In the year of 1916, there’s no way you could sit in your underwear and tweet to a world leader. But it’s not 1916, it’s 2016. What a time to live.

Now if Donald Trump says something absurd, I don’t even need to leave my couch if I want to tell him directly to go build a wall around himself. Things like this, being able to directly contact your MP or government representative is a great thing. I think it’s incredible that I can follow Justin Trudeau on Twitter, who by the way, is one of the best examples of politicians using social media effectively.

The Bad:

One thing to remember though, is that with the ability to ask questions and shame our politicians’ unfavourable moments, also comes the ability for people to rapidly spread misinformation or false campaign promises to their individual audiences. If “Tronald Dump”, according to Ricky from Trailer Park Boys, has millions of people supporting and retweeting his ridiculous claims, is social media being still playing positive role?

In the age of information, the golden days of the Internet, we’re facing a seemingly endless battle of having to filter all of our online information for what’s factual and what’s not. Memes and tweets are often thought of as facts and are shared before the user bothers to Google what their beloved neo-Hitler is promising.

To bring things back into perspective, I think the use of social media is complicating the political process. That being said, the waters were already pretty muddy to begin with. I think it’s fantastic that people can share political views or ideas and interact with the government with the press of a touch screen. I think in many ways that social media is helping to bridge some gaps and settle some of the trust issues that the public is having.

The Impact:

We need to be extremely careful with HOW we use social media. I don’t think it would be a smart idea for governments to reverse the trends and go back to secret meetings and classified documents.

However, I think the public needs to understand that social media, although it’s free and easy to use for the simplest of primates, can carry a lot of decision making power, especially if the messages are coming from people with massive social standing or political power. I’ve talked a lot about Twitter because it seems to be the easiest and most common way that people are using social media to talk about politics, but that doesn’t mean that the message isn’t the same when using Facebook and other platforms.

What Needs to Happen:

In the current age I think that politicians will need a squeaky-clean social media presence and a smart approach to how their messages are being conveyed through the medium. As time goes on and more of the dinosaurs are replaced, I think that having a perfect account will be less of an issue, but currently supporters are seeing one controversial tweet and switching teams immediately.

On the other side, members of the public who are using social media and discussing politics need to learn a few things:

1) Just because it’s a tweet, doesn’t make it a fact.

2) Just because you can comment, doesn’t mean you have to.

3) RESEARCH! Don’t just unconsciously spew your favourite politicians verbal vomit onto your neighbour’s Twitter feed without doing some research. Google is wonderful, so use it.

The End:

That’s my rant on the use of social media and how it’s affecting politics. I’ll be back this week with more music content, but until then I urge you to follow some of your local politicians. Think before you get mad and retweet a questionable Trump quote or share a Facebook photo saying how “Stephen Harper was Canada’s greatest prime minister.” (That’s a real post by the way, and the un-friending happened immediately after seeing that on my feed.)

Reservations

Note: This post doesn’t relate to music or the guitar.

On Tuesday March 15, the first-year class of CreComm students from Red River College went to Reservations, a play being produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba in The Rachel Browne Theatre. *SPOILER ALERT*. I’m going to roughly break down what my perception of the play was, and then how going to the play affected me.

Reservations was written by Steven Ratzlaff who also acted in the production. This was a two-act play that was made up of two individual, one-act plays with a common theme.

The first act, Pete’s Reserve, opened with a view of the open prairie sky and joined by the sounds of traditional throat singing. Three performers emerged from behind hanging screens, and the audience was soon introduced to an old farmer named Pete (played by writer Steven Ratzlaff), his indigenous wife Esther, and his daughter Anna who resembled both a middle aged woman and a screaming toddler. The setting of a farm-house kitchen was soon established.The play starts with Pete and Esther in their kitchen, being joined by Pete’s daughter Anna who is visiting her father in Alberta.

Anna is a struggling Toronto actress who blames her lack of income on her father instead of on her lack of acting talent. Pete, an Alberta grain farmer with land valued at over $3 Million, is deciding to give a large portion of his land back to a local indigenous tribe that used to live on the land he currently farms. The play escalates to Anna throwing a tantrum and getting mad at her dad for giving away a portion of her inheritance, even though he is still going to be giving her 80 acres of land.

To me, this act was showing a greed and sense of entitlement that I’ve seen in many people throughout my life. There are too many people, especially white people, who think that because their parents worked hard or did something that they’re somehow entitled to money or privilege. But when the idea of giving land back or making amends to the people who were here working and living before us, the idea is ridiculous and “won’t make a difference.” This act of the play left me confused, but the anger that I was feeling showed me that the writing had an effect on me.

From there we dove into the second act, where we see the writer play a different character, but with similar traits. Instead of an aging farmer, Ratzlaff portrays Mike, an accomplished professor from the University of Manitoba. He and his wife Jenny are in a battle with CFS regarding the three indigenous children that they foster. His wife struggles to see the viewpoint from an indigenous social worker Denise, who we later see as Dr. Denise Spence giving a speech at the university.

The play escalates to an intense confrontation between the enraged wife of the professor and Denise, who was the CFS worker that “took away” the professor’s children. Jenny interrupts Dr. Spence’s public speech with personal accusations and insults.

The second act wasn’t as engaging as the first, and the meaning of the play was blurred by the feeling that we were at a university lecture instead of a play. They constantly threw references of the German philosopher Heidegger, which could be seen going right over the heads of the audience. Many people in the audience felt a sense of “preachiness” and ignorance to what the characters were talking about. If you’re trying to inform me about indigenous issues, maybe leave the German philosophy for another day.

Overall, the message of Reservations seemed to be the on-going discussion of making amends to Canada’s indigenous populations and connecting our very separated cultures, but the showiness and blurry messaging took away from my overall impression. I understand that the play was meant to highlight a certain issue, but it felt like I was watching arguments between two sides of an issue, rather than an argument between characters. I think the parts written by Steven Ratzlaff meant to inform, and they did, but as a play it failed to entertain me. At the end of the day, the message was clear but the entertainment was vacant.

I’ve never attended a Manitoba play or a talkback session, so this was a very new experience to me. It was different than what I expected by how professional it seemed. Although it was definitely an amateur production, it felt like I was watching a small play in New York or something like that. It encouraged me to want to go to more plays, but I think I’m going to want a better idea of what a play is about before I spend money and three hours watching.

Attending this play affected me because it provoked some thoughts that I don’t think I’d be having if I wouldn’t have seen the play. It made me think a lot about my experience growing up on a family farm, and feeling a lot of pride for a piece of land that my ancestors didn’t really have the rights to. It made me feel uneasy, but also happy to see that topics like this are being brought to the public in different mediums than journalism.

Attending the talkback was…interesting. It was informative to see the full experience of a play and talkback, but a combination of the writer’s quiet attitude mixed with long-winded audience questions, the talkback felt awkward. Many people were telling the writer how he wrote the play, rather than asking for reasons on why he chose certain elements.

I enjoyed attending the play, despite my initial hesitation. Part of my reluctance to go to the play was my own ignorance on the subject, but I think that’s part of the reason why Ratzlaff could have chosen to write such a play. The play had an important message, but could have been conveyed in a better way without the philosophy lecture.

 

The Art of Production

Music is all around us, whether you’re an avid consumer or not. Whether you’re listening to your iPod on your morning bus ride or ignoring the Celine Dion that’s playing in the elevator, we are constantly surrounded by music that’s presented in many different forms.

As a guitarist, and a particularly stubborn individual, I was very quick to judge electronic musicians and producers as true artists. I would look at my idols like the guys from Led Zeppelin or Stevie Ray Vaughn and think, “That’s how you create art.”My shallow-minded approach to what is art and what isn’t has changed thankfully, and today I’m going to share my thoughts on the beautiful and infinite world of producing.

As I’ve started to create my own songs, I’ve become more curious as to the actual methods of song writing. Meaning, what equipment do they use, what instruments make what sounds, and what type of sounds I’m capable of making with the equipment I already own. The science and art of creating a funky beat or a hot track is much more involved than I had thought.

For example, think of a classic rock song. Usually there’s a guitarist, maybe a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitarist, drummer, and a singer. That’s five instruments, and to me that meant five tracks. But in fact, a classic song can contain anywhere from four or five different layers up to around twenty. If you don’t believe me, listen to The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin and try to count how many instruments are layering together.

The most prominent place that I’ve noticed great producing is in the Hip-Hop genre. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Action Bronson, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few. All of these guys are amazing rappers but they also work with some of the best producers in the American music industry. Sledren, Swiss Beats, P. Diddy or Diddy, and Pharrell Williams are some of my favourite producers. These guys aren’t just pressing buttons or adding drum beats. It takes an amazing ear and knowledge of music to master some of these songs. Adding songs together and making remixes are some of the most challenging skills to gain as a musician. A lot of producers say that their ear for music came naturally at a young age.

Kevin Parker from Tame Impala is also one of my favourite producers. He plays all the instruments and produces the albums for his Australian psychedelic rock band. He recently remixed a new song called Waves by Miguel, and I’ve included the link because you need to experience this.

Waves Remix by Tame Impala

Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a musician just because they work on a computer instead of a guitar. All music comes from a place of creativity and inspiration, and some of these producers in the game today are the most creative and inspiring musicians that I’ve been fortunate to find.

Learn the rules, then you can break them.

I was going to write about a song I’ve been writing that has been giving me some trouble. I’ve been trying to create a solo for a slow blues song and lately I haven’t been able to write down what I want. I remembered a conversation from a few weeks ago, so instead today’s post is about learning the basics of something before you break the rules.

The other day I was struggling to hit a certain pitch on the high E string, 15th fret. I kept messing up so I decided to just work on some scales and get a feel for the key I was playing in. As I started repeating the scales that I’ve played over and over, I remembered something interesting that my Journalism professor said a few weeks back. We were talking about writing techniques, and knowing I’m a musician, he put the reference into terms I could better understand. As he was telling me about a form of writing, he said “It’s just like Hendrix playing the blues. You have to learn the rules, then you can break them.”

I left class that day hungry and tired, not really thinking about the conversation I just had. It must have stuck somewhere in my brain, because as I kept messing up and I started to get frustrated, I remembered what my professor had said.

In so many hobbies or skills that we try to build, it’s easy to look at idols like famous musicians or athletes and become frustrated when we can’t copy the amazing things they’re doing. Why can’t I play that song? Why can’t I jump that high? Why can’t I move my hands that fast? These are all things I’ve wondered about myself while comparing myself to my idols. But as I’ve kept playing the guitar and continued to practice, time has shown me that the only way to improve at something is to try, mess up, learn, and try again.

Music is a hobby where I started off wanting to sound like other people. After a decade of playing I’ve finally found my own sound, but that took a very long time. I’m a particularly impatient person sometimes, and learning the guitar has majorly influenced my patience and work ethic over the years. Learning the chords and scales, how to change keys or play in different tunings, and how to begin improvising are all skills that I learned by first mastering the basics of guitar.

The point of this rant is to tell you musicians that you NEED to learn the basics of your instrument before you can attempt to master it. You need to learn the chords on your guitar. You need to learn the basic C-scale. You need to learn how to play a pentatonic scale. You need to learn the rules before you can break them.

I’ve been playing guitar for a while now, and performing at gigs around Winnipeg for roughly three years. Until recently I wasn’t confident in my soloing or improvising while on stage. I would have to only play the studio-version or a boring solo because I wasn’t confident enough to go wild and just play.

However, all of the times that I messed up a note or didn’t hit the solo the way I wanted, I’d go home that night and play my entire setlist again before I went to sleep. I’d go through each song, and play all of the guitar layers until they were exactly how I wanted to sound. The backing rhythm, the acoustic layer, and my basic lead guitar would all have to be PERFECT before I tried playing the solo again.

On nights like this, where I was unhappy with a performance, I’d stay up playing until 4a.m. I noticed something interesting about these angry, late night jam sessions. I would suck at a solo, which would force me to stay up and break the song down and perfect it. Every time that I would do this, I would try to play the solo, and it would be better than ever before.

This happened more often than I would like to admit. I would completely re-learn the chords and rhythm of a song, which would in turn make my soloing significantly smoother and overall better. Looking back, this is kind of common sense, but I thought I would share these thoughts before you get trapped into the black-hole that I did some nights.

When you’re learning a song, learn every layer, and learn every part. Not just the lead section. And when you’re not learning a specific song, go back and practice your scales and chord changes. I guarantee you’ll find that soloing and jamming will come easier once you’re basic skills are in better shape.

Cheers.

Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge

Note: this post has nothing to do with guitars or blues music, so if you don’t feel like reading about the Festival du Voyageur, I’ll have more of my regular content next week!


 

On February 20, the Centre culturel franco-manitoban (CCFM) was home to the annual Jigging Contest as part of the Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Over 100 people came to the Jean-Paul-Aubrey Hall in the CCFM on Saturday to celebrate Winnipeg’s francophone culture and watch the annual Jigging Contest. The contest had four age categories including nine and under, ages 10 to 13, ages 60 and over, and an open category. Our host for the afternoon was the very entertaining Marc Rémillard, who says unfortunately this is his last year as the master of ceremonies. He introduced the dancers of all ages with a short sentence about where they were from and a joke or two.

The main contest saw with a total of 20 performers, and as the judges left to make their decision the crowd was entertained by L’ensemble folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge. The group includes Simon Reimer, a fiddler of 17 years who performed for the entire afternoon.

The 45th annual Jigging Contest ended with an award presentation for each category. Ryan Richard won the open category for his 15th time, and left the building beaming with a gold medal around his neck and a 200 dollar check in his pocket.


 

  1. Simon Reimer, Fiddling Extraordinaire Photo 1.jpg

Simon Reimer (left) looks into the crowd as the host Marc Rémillard introduces the experienced fiddler. /SPENCER MYERS.

2. Jean-Paul-Aubrey Hall

Photo 2.jpg

Over 100 people came out to enjoy this year’s Jigging Contest at the Festival du Voyageur. It was held in the beautifully decorated Jean-Paul-Aubrey Hall in the CCFM. /SPENCER MYERS

3. Front and Centre

Photo 3.jpg

The contest’s host Marc Rémillard embraces the camera before he introduces the next performer. He plans to move south and sadly this is his last year hosting the contest./ SPENCER MYERS

4. Stompin’ Sixties

Photo 4.jpg

Dancing in the 60+ category, Brian Beach jigs to the “Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge” played on the fiddle by Simon Reimer (left). /SPENCER MYERS

5. Half-Time Show

Photo 5.jpg

L’Ensemble folkorique de la Rivière-Rouge gave an amazing performance as the judges left to decide the winners for each category./ SPENCER MYERS

6. Le Voyageur Official

Photo 6.jpg

Marcel Sorin is this one of this year’s official voyageurs, along with his wife and children. He was greeting community members and helping to hand out medals to the contest winners. /SPENCER MYERS

7. Grand Champion

Photo 7.jpg

The winners of the open category line up beside host Marc Rémillard (far left). Ryan Richard (left of centre) won the gold medal and says this is his 15th time as champion of the Jigging Contest./ SPENCER MYERS

Treat Yo-Self: Your 5 Must-Have Songs for Reading Week

If you’re a university or college student you might be trying to enjoy your reading week. I’m working on assignments all week but I’m also making sure I take some time to relax.

Normally my blog is guitar themed, but today I’m going to be suggesting a few tracks and albums to check out while you’re on a break from school.

Even while I’m busy doing homework or trying to write an article, I always have music in the background. For me, music is a motivator and inspiration every day. It helps me get out of bed, it helps me deal with stress, and it helps me have fun. So with that, here are my top picks for the reading week of 2016.

1.You Could Be My Lover by Diddy, ft. Ty Dolla $ign and Gizzle.

That’s right, I said Diddy. He’s back with a brand new album called MMM that came out at the beginning of 2016. It’s full of funky beats and heavy bass hits, not to mention a crazy range of features including Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Khalifa, and more. My friend Drizzy showed me this song a few weeks ago and I’ve been blasting it on repeat.

2. Mind Mischief by Tame Impala.

This is off of their “Lonerism” album released in 2012. This is a very wavy, very psychedelic song that bleeds the amazingness that is Tame Impala. Kevin Parker is one of my favourite artists at the moment and I can’t stop listening to Tame Impala. I’ve previously reviewed their newest album “Currents” a few months ago.

3. Call Waiting by Wiz Khalifa.

One of my favourite rappers released an album very recently and I’ve listened to it front to back literally five times already. Wiz Khalifa dropped his newest project titled “Khalifa” last Friday, February 5. The album has him rapping about his love for Mary Jane, showing off his singing voice, and it features a spot by his son Sebastian. Cute.

4. Swim Good by Frank Ocean.

In terms of modern R&B and Rap, Frankie has it down. He’s an amazing singer and one of the many members of the famous Odd Future group, created by the mastermind Tyler the Creator. Frank Ocean is a rapper but he’s got an incredible voice. This song is off the mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra from 2011. Swim Good is one of the songs I throw on to relax after a long day.

5. Lover Man by Jimi Hendrix.

It wouldn’t be right unless I led you to some blues for the final track of my Reading Week Top 5. This song has been a challenge for me lately on the guitar and I think that’s why I’ve been so obsessed with it. It’s a fast-paced, heavy-hitting tune that really shows what Jimi could do with the guitar. This song wasn’t on any of his studio albums, but was released after his death on the Valleys of Neptune album that included many unreleased tracks from Hendrix. There’s tons of live covers, one of the best I’ve seen is a video at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, which was also the last performance of Hendrix’s before he died later that year in September.

There you go, Spenny’s Top 5 Tracks for the reading week. Try to rest up and hopefully these tracks can help!

Cheers.

 

How To Make Your In-Home Studio

If you’ve played guitar for long enough, you’re going to reach a point where you want to hear your own music and start recording your jam sessions. Today I’ll walk you through my set up that I use to record my guitar tracks in my apartment. With every piece of equipment that I talk about I’ll include the URL incase you want more info.

First, you need a guitar. Once you’ve completed that step, you gotta learn how to play. After mastering your favourite songs, you’ll want an amplifier to make yourself louder. Especially in your beginner stages, the size or quality of amp is a minor detail. I learned how to use an amp with a small 10 watt Peavey. It was crackly, sounded terrible, and it was perfect for learning on.

However, it’s probably safe to say that when you’re advanced enough to want to record, you’ll probably want a better amp than a Peavey anyways. I use a Vox AC30, a combination tube amp that’s incredibly durable and loud. If you play blues or rock you can’t go wrong with a Vox. Vox AC30 VR amplifier

So now that you have your guitar and your amp, you’re wondering “What next?” 

I recommend establishing a room in your house or apartment for use strictly as your studio. Keeping your gear and the set up in one place makes starting every recording session that much easier. When you’ve got a idea in your head that you want to record before it disappears from your mind forever, the last thing you want to do is untangle your cables or have to set up your amp.

Take your guitar and your amp, find a comfy chair WITHOUT arms, and place them wherever you want in the studio. If you’re like me and have the urge to record for hours on end, you want to be comfy.

The next step is finding a desk or table. There’s no specific purpose, but trust me you need a table with as many pens and notebooks as you can afford.

Now it’s time for you to buy some gear and start recording! I do not claim to be an expert in producing, so these are just my recommendations. If you’re already working with other gear or you like other brands than me, please don’t think that you need this exact set up.

Similar to the amp, if you’re advanced enough to want to record, you’ve probably already become a proud owner of a laptop. You’ll need some recording software and unfortunately this isn’t cheap. If you’re a Mac user I recommend messing around in GarageBand until you’re completely comfortable, before you spend $200 on software.

My first purchase for the studio was a USB microphone. I bought the Blue Yeti, and it retails for about $150 in-store. I bought this microphone because of the amount of stuff you can do with it. The Yeti is very affordable for beginners, and with it you can record vocals, acoustic guitar, podcasts, and a lot more. To really test this piece, I had some friends over to record. We had a piano, two guitars, and two singers all jamming, and my Blue Yeti, one single microphone in the middle of the studio, was able to pick up everything. Mind you, it wasn’t crystal clear, but what do you expect with one microphone with five musicians in an apartment bedroom. All in all, for the simple acoustic and vocal work that I do, it’s amazing and super easy to use with any program. I use Adobe Audition or LOGIX PRO. Blue Yeti USB microphone

The microphone is great, but what about if I’m recording electric guitar? I’m glad you asked. There’s a few different things that I’ve tried, so I’ll lay them all out and then tell you which one I prefer.

There’s a great cable called the iRig that connects your electric guitar directly to an Apple smart device (iPad, iPhone, Macbook Pro). It’s about $100 online and it’s really easy to use. The iRig HD has gain control, volume control and a sleek, compact design that doesn’t get in the way whether your on stage with it or in studio. iRig HD guitar cable

I recently bought an interface and I’ve been in love with it since first touch. While the iRig is a great and cheaper option for starting your recording, you’ll get a much better sound using an interface. I use the Focusrite 2-in/2-out USB Audio Interface. This has spots for instruments and microphones. I bought it from Long & McQuade in Winnipeg for around $150. So far it’s working great with all of my software and the guitar sounds great. Focusrite 2-in/2-out @ Long & McQuade I’ve noticed a huge boost in the quality of recording using my actual interface vs. the iRig. A really neat feature was the external headphone output directly from the interface. If this means nothing to you, just think in terms of latency or “lag” in the recording. I’ve found that when I’m recording and I’m using my headphones from my laptop to monitor, sometimes theres a lag or latency between what I’m strumming on the guitar, and what I’m hearing in my headphones. The Focusrite eliminates this problem by simply allowing you to monitor your recordings directly from the interface, rather than going through the computer and into the headphones. This feature gives you zero latency between the recording and monitoring, which is a major advantage for an interface at such a reasonable price.

You really have everything you need once you have the guitar, amp, laptop, and some way to connect the guitar and the laptop. From here, you can add effects to your sound using programs on the computer or foot pedals. I use an Ibanez Tube Screamer distortion pedal. I like a really loud, grungy, and heavy overdrive and this does exactly what I want. They cost just over $100 online and in-store. I’ve linked their entire line of Tube Screamers so you can check out the whole selection from Ibanez. Ibanez Tube Screamer – overdrive pedal

I haven’t made this purchase yet, but I’ve used it and I’m very, very tempted. I’d love to buy a full effects board and pedal board but unfortunately my less-than-student income doesn’t have enough flex for that quite yet. However, if you want effects with your guitar there are many options that are cost free or very cheap (compared to a $1000 pedal board). I don’t know much about this, but the Hotone Ravo Guitar Multi FX Pedal has me very interested lately. It has 100 different channels/effects you can use, it has a tuner, and a volume/foot switch attached. I use most of my gear both in studio and on the stage, so having an FX pedal like this that’s easy to use seems like I would really benefit from having it in my set up. This is a video from two of my favourite guitar-gurus from Britain. They do an extensive review of the FX pedal and show you some of the cool tones that are built-in. Hotone Ravo FX Pedal

So that’s my set up. It’s not perfect but it’s doing an amazing job at turning a boring apartment bedroom into my recording studio. Like I said, these products aren’t the only products out there but for me they’re doing exactly what I want. I’ve been playing for about ten years and started dabbling into the recording process in 2014. It’s alot of fun, so if your a musician writing songs I strongly suggest you try to get into a studio or record yourself. Recording and layering tracks opened up a creative window for me that was never possible to access by just sitting with a guitar in my hands and playing.