Hi, I'm MiNiMaTiC and I've been making recordings since I was a kid, sampling TV, radio, my friends and trying to make them sound stupider than usual. Space Patrol and Shiva the Destroyer are good examples of this. I once made a 20 minute sample montage masterpiece (3 months of wasting time) that included 3 songs of less than 30 seconds each...more like commercials actually.
Music didn't seem to translate as well due to low budget recording "equipment" lack of talent and/or band. I started to make beat tracks using a dual deck cassette and sample a beat break 4 times, then sample that 4 measures 4 or 8 times to get it long enough to make a song. Took a lot of practice getting the beat timing exactly right. By the time bass and vocals were dubbed in, the track was a low quality hissy mess. The beat was always the first part that I needed to build the rest around, and each time something new was dubbed in the beat quality faded.
Yeah, "get a four track," I know.
This combination of unpolished beat samples and limited additional track dubs shaped my style. I made songs that were short and rather than having many layers of instruments, had lots of beat changes. Less cassette tape signal loss that way.
I made some true beat loops at the music lab at Cal State by recording a Tribe Called Quest sample onto reel to reel. Rock the reels over the playback head to find the beat break beginning and end, mark and cut with a razor, then use splice tape to loop it. Had to use a mic stand and a pencil to keep tension on the loop while I dubbed it onto a cassette. Add some bass, trippy analog electronic beeping and rap vocals and you have my first studio track in 1994, The Man with the Actual Dope. It had a sample of a TV news reporter saying "the man with the actual dope" and the vocals actually had to be finished at my apartment because the music lab class was over. The "B side" to this was Baam! that had beat samples from Stanford Prison Experiment, The Accused, and Led Zeppelin, (same exact beat and tempo, exactly as sampled . . . conspiracy!) I dubbed a bass line and the lyrics included "Here we go in '94."
There was also a reference to smashing my hand in the reel to reel. Don't try to slow the rewind by sticking your fingers in the spinning reel. It is painful and bloody.
I was in a couple of punk bands and I used to record garage practice sessions with a boom box. I would try to set it in the middle of everyone's amps and the drum kit and put the tiny vocal PA right next to it for best recording mix under the circumstance. Poor acoustics, sloppy punk band, crappy recording technique, but so much fun playing and hoping for that one magical...er em, passable take for a demo tape for our friends.
In 12 months we had 5 different drummers and never quite got our shit together. One day before practice the guitar player was showing me his roommate's gun by pointing it at me and accidentally shot through the wall, killing the bathtub in the next room. At least the bullet was lodged in the bathtub and not me.
It does not get more low budget than that. Well, actually it does. My friend gave me his old computer for free (he had like 12 of them in college). I think I paid $29 for my copy of Acoustica 2.25 which is the software I still use for all the editing. It is totally not musician friendly except the price. No multi tracking or simultaneous play/record, so final mixing is insanely hands on. Final Mp3 file is encoded by Audacity (free!).
Most of the recording is plugged directly into the PC mic/line jack, recording bass, guitar, vocals, etc. one at a time and all of my drums are sampled from other songs. I use earphones and playback the beat track on my Creative ZEN mp3 for a monitor track to play to while recording. There seems to be a slight time warp that always occurs during the recording process even with the digital mp3 player. When the tracks are over dubbed they sound fine at first but begin to drift because one track is slightly slower than the other. This is overcome by using shorter samples or the time correction feature in Acoustica (which requires a math degree). On Victim I used a sharp tone at the beginning and end of the beat track. I made sure to catch that on the vocal track and used these to figure out exactly how long the time correction needed to be to sync up. Worked perfectly.
Yeah, "get cakewalk," I know.
My first all digital track was Peace Love Rise Above in 2002 which is included here. The shift to digital has been a huge improvement on all levels: sampling, looping, final track quality and distribution. I think free mp3s are cool. It's like crack man.
All of my mp3s are free. As in liberty.
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