Benztown Imaging Blog
Sometimes the week goes by faster than expected. Like always we have some sweet plugins for you to check out and a lot more!1.Plugin
Valhalla DSPs infamous Space Modulator is now free for everyone! Check out the possibilities in the video below:
You always wanted to know how the world-famous Capitol studios in LA look like? Then check this out:
One of the top 10 songs of 2020 is „Toosie Slide“ from Drake. Listen to it now:4.Web/Social/Whatever
Have you read our blog that we posted two days ago? Come and check it out!
Sam Wickens first big weekend with trails and imaging is online
BT sent me this fantastic piece of audio. I was stunned and asked for the background story and it is truly amazing. Guys, this is a must read.
No Talk Day is an initiative from Triple M in Partnership with the Beyond Blue Organisation in Australia, where every day 8 people take their life – 8 of those are Men. And it’s primarily because men don’t speak up and talk about their feelings.
So for a full day, Triple M doesn’t talk either. No shows, no ads, no news or traffic – to highlight this fact and give men the space to start a conversation with someone they might be worried about, or if they are troubled themself and having suicidal thoughts.
There is production played throughout the day that is stories of people who have seeked help and came out the other side – messages of support and information on how to recognize the signs within others and yourself.
Last year was the first year we did it and only on our 4 Triple M Metro stations. This year it’s across our entire network of around 45 stations across Australia.
In the lead up to No Talk Day (July 1) stations ran a piece that was a song called ‘Im Doing Fine’ sprinkled with messages from various men to raise awareness to the day.
Triple M Bundaberg took a call from a guy named Tony, who after hearing that piece wanted to share his story in the hope that it might reach out and help someone else and they turned that call into an Instagram post.
Our companies Digital Content Director shared the post with myself and the team of Content Directors and I thought that I could make a promo out of it. So after getting the cold audio of the call and while chopping it up, i started seeing the pictures as Tony explained his story – so i started to paint those pictures with SFX and try to bring the story to life. I had to be careful not to over do it, make it sound comedic with the Fx or too graphic and end up making a joke of or disrespecting his story.
The Song used is from an artist named Noah Kahan and its called ‘Please‘ I found it after spending an hour sifting through Spotify when i started building No Talk Day. I selected ‘Dean Lewis’ and then ‘find similar artists’ and Noah came up in a list of a dozen or so which i sifted thru as that music had the right tone to fit the No Talk Day production.
I had maybe 10 songs just sitting in my Pro Tools session – so while building this piece i listened again through what I had recorded in and found that some of the lyrics in this song were going to help support and enhance Tonys story! So with the combination of the song, the story and the FX, hopefully it has brought it all to life in a way that is respectful to his story… but also highlights what is possible for anyone in his situation.
Suicide and dealing – or in the case of most men – not dealing with emotions is an important topic, so please help spread the word. As men we tend handle our struggles internally, but it often is the right move to speak openly and to get your feelings and emotions off your chest. Emotions and addressing them is one of the main factors in being happy and moving forward, as internal struggles can eat you up. So try to not be scared of talking about your feelings as they’re human nature and nothing to be ashamed about. If you’re having trouble with this, try to write them down in a first approach, since even the act of confirming something to yourself can help tremendously. Take care of yourself, treat yourself right and seek help in case you need it!
Australian Suicide Hotline: 131114
American Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
German Suicide Hotline: 0800 1110 111
Andy’s Fiver Friday #241 – iZotope Stutter Edit, Webinar with Steve Reynolds and wisdom from the best soccer coach in the world!!
Another week is over and we have some amazing topics for you. I hope you guys like it!1.Plugin
The hype is for real! Stutter edit 2 is now available! Check it out!2.Inspiration
Wow, it was a blast. Steve provided so much insight and value – see for yourself! Here is the full webinar.3.Music Summer is here!! Finally! https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWVAArCxuIRGQ?si=MRbvJhwvSBq4HPmFaZyYLA 4.Web/Social/Whatever
This is how you communicate in the hour of your biggest personal victory. An example of leadership by being real, humble, yourself and having the ability to form a winning team and acknowledge their hard work.
Great work from Marcel at Radio X!
Scott introduced me to Royce a couple weeks ago, we had been fb friends before, but not really talked. I really fell in love with some of his productions and thought it would be awesome to chat a bit about imaging and…here we are! Enter Royce!
1. Can you give me a bit background on yourself, your career, achievements? I am sure a lot of the readers will know you or of you, but it puts a lot of the below in context I assume.
I have worked in radio since 2006. I started at KSJM-FM 107.9 Jamz, which was an urban station in Wichita, Kansas. I started off working one hour a week running board for a teen talk show. Within a year I was doing nights and making mixes for the station. While I was working at KSJM-FM I was also going to Butler County Community College. I wanted to get into radio, and they had a program there, but more importantly, you could have your own two-hour show on the college radio station.
I have always loved radio and wanted to work with audio, and I took all the radio production classes I could while I was there. We were able to make our own promos for our radio show and that is where I started learning about radio imaging. I told one of my classmates to show me how to record my voice. I knew if I could figure out that I could figure out the program. I had a Saturday show, and afterward I took the manual for the DAW (I believe it was called Sessions), and read through it and sat in the production studio all afternoon until I could work the program. While at KSJM-FM I helped with production and one day they needed a promo done so I told them I could put it together. After that, they started letting me do some imaging and producing the drops for my mixes. I worked there for two years until the station got sold. I then went to work for KDGS-FM, a rhythmic in Wichita, Kansas. I have been working there since January 2008. I started off doing mid-days and helping with production.
I became the music director of KDGS-FM in 2011 and moved from mid-days to pm drive. When I became APD/MD I also started handling all the imaging for the station. Since 2017 I have been handling the imaging for another station in the cluster, KEYN-FM which is classic hits.
2. Who have been mentors of yours and how did they support you?
Wow, I have had a lot of mentors. Lance Hayes at Butler Community College was a huge mentor. He had worked in TV and radio and really gave all his students real-world examples of what it is like to work in radio. He only had two rules, no profanity and no vulgarity. Other than that, he let us be creative as we wanted which was huge! We could produce whatever we wanted to in the way of promos and audio. AT KSJM-FM there were a couple of people who helped me a great deal with my production.
Chris Stimpson (Playmaker) who now is on air at KPRS as well as Todd Reynolds and J-Smooth. They gave me opportunities to produce imaging and it really helped me grow. When I got to KDGS, Deuce who now does mornings at KPTT-FM in Denver showed me a bunch of tricks and gave me a chance to produce audio for the station. On the commercial side while I was assistant production director BJ Stewart was there to help guide me and fine-tune my audio skills. Each of those people listed helped my knowledge of radio production grow and gave me a chance to show it.
3. How does a typical day in your life look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine?
I usually get to work around 8am or 8:30. The first thing I do is check emails and do any admin paperwork I have to do station wise. That doesn’t take more than an hour. After that, I begin to work on imaging. If there isn’t anything pressing, I try and work on things to freshen up. Sweepers and stations promos. If there is a promotion or event, I knock that out as soon as I can. In between all this, I might voice a spot that comes in from another market that needs my voice or record a client that needs a commercial produced for the cluster.
Every now and then there might be a day when I don’t produce anything. If there are a lot of remotes or station events going on, but that rarely happens. Maybe only once or twice a month if that. Most of the meetings a before 10:30am, which there are a couple a week that I attend. They aren’t long, just a recap of what is going on for the week. Around 2pm I do a bit more of the APD admin if anything comes in. I go on air at 3pm-7pm. If there is still imaging that needs to be done (especially on Fridays) I will voicetrack the 3pm hour to get what I need done.
4. What is your “baby” ? Most fun project?
The project that I had the most fun doing was the opening for our Powerhouse Jam concert. It was the first time I had done the audio opening for a huge arena show. It was amazing to sit in an empty arena and watch it on the screen for the first time during soundcheck because it was the first time, I saw the audio I produced with the visuals. When the concert started, I stood in the back by the mixing console and watched it while it played. That is still one of the highlights of my career so far.
5. How important is politics, if you work in an organization that size?
Interesting question. It is important to a certain degree. I play my role and when I am asked something, I give my two cents. I think in some ways there are politics in every workplace no matter the size. It is important to be seen. Out of sight, out of mind.
6. What DAW do you guys use?
We have Adobe Audition 3 as the DAW that everyone uses in the cluster, which I use to record VO and to produce spots that have a music bed and that is it. All the imaging I produce is on Pro Tools 12. I have it on my laptop that I bring to work and on my iMac at home. Around 2012 I bought Pro Tools when version 9 came out. It took me awhile to use it, but once I got the hang of it, I never looked back. It is all I use.
7. What are your favorite plugins?
The Waves SSL Channel strip is a must-have for me.
You can’t go wrong with the AIR Vintage Filter and Filter Gate. For free plugins that come with Pro Tools they can do so much!
Native Instruments The Mouth I use quite a bit.
Love the L2 Ultramaximizer
8. What are new learnings? Ideas you work on? Inspirations?
I get inspired daily. I always try and listen to what other producers are doing or new plugin videos to give me some inspiration. Lately I have been trying to build beats using kicks, snares, etc. I see that being done quite a bit lately and have been trying to incorporate that a bit more.
9. Any new tools you discovered lately?
I was recently listening to the Earshot creative podcast and the Waves morphoder was mentioned. I grabbed it and love some of the vocoder sounds it has. I never used it too much, but I am using Waves Tune more and more. It’s one of those plugins that (for me) took a while, but once I got what I was doing I love using it. I have also been trying to use little alter boy from Soundtoys a bit more lately. The promo below I use both the morhphoder and little alter boy.
Another week is over and we have some amazing topics for you. I hope you guys like it!1.Plugin
Have you seen the Soundtoys 5 already? It includes all 21 plug-ins they sell and makes it into a powerful collection that everyone needs.
Check it out now! https://www.soundtoys.com/product/soundtoys-5/
Next one in the making. This will be fantastic.
Steve will be overdelivering. Learn from the best morning show coach out there! Join us next Thursday, June 25th, for the next webinar in our Global Radio Ideas webinar series: Why Great Talent is Needed Now More Than Ever!
My fav french Hip Hop song of all time!!4.Web/Social/Whatever
Ken Benson from P1 Media (linken) shared this article with me. Quiet interesting, when so many companies want something non melodic and non key related these days. Food for thought.
Some very different work from Denzil Lacey for SiriusXM Calm Channel!
After a stressful week we can now look forward to the weekend. Therefore we have some amazing news for you!1.Plugin
Melodyne just published the melodyne 5! It is one of the best pitching und correction softwares on the market for instruments and vocals – Check it out now!2.Inspiration If you want to feel bad about your home studio situation. Here are the top 10 recoding studios in the world. https://blog.sonicbids.com/most-beautiful-recording-studios-in-the-world 3.Music My favorite Aretha song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmjHMUZQ8s0 4.Web/Social/Whatever It was a pleasure do to the webinar with Ken and Mike. In case you missed it, here is the link for you guys to learn from the legends. Ken, Mike, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, findings with the audience. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwmC0QJvv9M&feature=youtu.be 5.Imaging
We produced a Composite in reaction to the events that happened in the last few weeks. Check it out!
Andy’s Fiver Friday #238 -Webinar with Ken Benson, Mike McVay and THE WATERBOY (Me) And Alliance Plugin Sale!
Hope your week went well and you can’t wait for the weekend to arrive! Let’s get right into this week’s highlights:1.Plugin
Plugin Alliance is selling a mega bundle where you can get all of their plugins! Check it out!2.Inspiration
From my time in isolation comes the feelgood Mashup banger of the summer/winter…
Robbo has been a long time friend and also partner in crime on some benztown custom projects in the past. He is in the game for long time and one of the early adapters in many directions, you could call him a gear head as well. The list of stations and people he worked with in his career is massive and to this day he images some of the biggest radio brands in SEA. He personally does and hosts several podcast and i was lucky enough to be invited before. So much to talk! Thanks for your time Robbe!
Overall question…where does our name come from?
Hey Andy, and firstly thanks for inviting me onto your blog. It’s humbling to be included along with some of the great names you have featured here.
Well “Robbo” has hung around since my days at Triple M here in OZ. It came from shortening my surname (Robertson) a very Aussie thing to do. But at the same time, everyone seemed to have a nickname. There was my boss, the great Jeff Thomas (Thommo), Wayne Fox (Foxy), Simon Hicks (Slash) and Michael (Sideshow) Anderson.
As for my company name, Voodoo Sound, I have to tip my hat to the Great Rolling Stones and their “Voodoo Lounge” Tour for that one…
1.Give me a bit background on yourself, your career, achievements – I am sure a lot of the readers will know you or of you, but it puts a lot of the below in context I assume.
Wow, I’m not sure I can remember that far back… lol!
I started at an AM station here in Sydney called 2SM as the “cart boy” back in the late 80s. It had been the number one station in town for years, but the introduction of FM had seen it loose numbers to the FM band. It was a shame, because there were some amazing names in Australian radio who’d been through the doors there, and it’s heritage was amazing. In fact in my first few weeks there I found some archives of AC/DC doing some station jingles for them. It’s also where I first met Duncan Cambell (now the Group PD at iHeart’s stations here in Australia), a name that would pop up a number of times through my career.
By the time I left SM, I had worked my way out of the cart room and into the commercial production studio, and I went to my first (and Sydney’s 2nd) FM station 2DAY FM. In my time there, the station became the first in history to Cume over 1 000 000 people. And (for one survey at least) we managed to topple Triple M from their number 1 position. There were so many talented people there at the time who feature heavily in Australian Radio.
After leaving 2DAY I went to Newcastle to work with a bunch of Radio buddies who were launching a station called X13 that soon got an FM licence and became X107. It was my first experience working with some American consultants, and I really learned a lot about imaging a CHR station.
And from Newcastle I started my 13 year run with the Triple M network around the country. Jeff Thomas (KIIS, Capitol, Killer Hertz) gave me my shot, and I started in Brisbane, and by the time I Landed back in Sydney, I had worked in every market besides Melbourne. It was a great time in my career. The network was spending money on massive promotions (we even sent one listener into space) and I was working with Jeff, and the rest of the guys I mentioned above. Creativly and personally I learned so much from all of the, but to work with and learn from the great Jeff Thomas was easily a career highlight. I still keep in touch with most of them and treasure my time at (what was then at least) the greatest network in Australia.
I left radio for a while, and got a gig at one of Australia’s largest Advertising Agencies. Working on campaigns for some reasonably large clients was an eye opener, and then spent some time with the title of “Senior Sound Designer” at one of Sydney’s best known Post Production Facilities.
When my first son was born in 2005 (I have 5 kids) I wanted to spend more time with them than a job in a Sound House would allow (I was working 8am till 10pm) and I had recently invested in a Pro Tools rig, so I quit and took a mix of Radio and Post Production clients on working from home, and along with going back to Triple M to fill in when Michael (sideshow) Andersen was on leave I carved out a living and managed to spend much more time with my growing brood. And that’s where Voodoo Sound got its start. I’ve never looked back.
2. How is it to work for some of the biggest radio stations in OZ and SEA? How do the task differ between the different stations / brands? What is the stylistic approaches and how difficult is it to change hats between podcast and radio imaging?
I have always enjoyed a challenge, and after setting up Voodoo Sound, found I actually loved the different tasks that being a Freelance Imaging producer provides. The roles I take on at each station also varies. For some clients I work side by side with their own imaging guy (or Gals), at others I AM the Imaging Guy, and at others I actually take on the role of creative director. Conceptualising imaging, writing scripts and liaising with the Promotions team and PD to come up with competitions and survey promotions.
I love all of that for a number of reasons. Firstly because by default I get exposed to a bunch of really talented people, and get the opportunity to learn from their experience and talents. Plus I get to push myself in new ways and I find both my actual work behind the DAW and my creativity in general get a great kick along because of that.
3. How are your days look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine ?
I never used to have a routine, until I read a book by Daniel Pink called “when”. In it he talks about different personality types and how your body’s natural clock can effect what type of tasks you should be doing and when. Turns out that (as I was probably already aware) I work best at the back end of the day in terms of creativity and energy. So I start my day with the mundane tasks of email, social media posts, and editing Podcasts etc. Just stuff that doesn’t need a great deal of creativity and cognitive input.
Then after lunch is the time that I really get into my Imaging work, music composition and the sort of work that really requires me to be 100% in the game and at my creative best.
The last hour of my day (whatever time that may be) is spent preparing for the next day. Sourcing work parts I might be able to use in projects I need to work on, and setting up the sessions I will need. I also do my podcast prep here too, watching videos or listening to the work of guests that we have coming up or just preparing questions etc.
I even have dedicated times to check email and phone messages. I do that 4 times a day. First thing whilst Pro Tolls is booting up, then at lunchtime, mid-afternoon and at the end of my day. I answer the simple stuff straight away, but anything that requires some thought or time (and can wait) gets prioritised for the following morning. This way I find I’m not being distracted by all those things that can so easily suck up hours of your day. Oh, and the other great tip… Turn off your Socials during the day. And I don’t mean shut them down, I mean find a way to stop yourself accessing them without some hassle, that way you’re less inclined to spend three hours of your day watching some guy train his cats to jump over a high jump bar he made in his garage yesterday…
One other thing I do that I find helpful is to schedule an hour or two in my week (usually on the weekends) to just sit and listen to other peoples work. If I hear stuff I like and I can download it, I keep it in a folder called “Idea Starters”. Then when I’m stuck for an Idea or just not getting a vibe on something I open up that folder and listen through until something sparks an idea in my own head and I can get started.
None of this works however without copious amounts of coffee to keep me suitably motivated!! lol
4. What is your baby? Most fun project?
To be honest I’ve become a bit of a Podcasting nerd. I am involved in 3 that are my Babies. The 1st, The Mojo Radio Show is in its 7th season and is hugely popular. It focuses on personal development, Creativity, Time Management, and business skills in general. As you can imagine it’s not your regular sounding Podcast.
The other two are Audio centric. There’s The Pro Audio Suite, where we talk about everything Home Studio (pro setups only, not mum’s with a Voice Booth under the stairs).
And the other is a new one that I’ve just started with some Imaging buddies called The Imaging Hangout. Each week we invite a couple of Imaging Producers from around the world to “hangout” with us and chat about… well… everything. It’s not your deep, in-depth sort of technical show, but more just an exchange of ideas and thought starters. So far we’ve had Staxx (Z100), Brendan Tacey (Yep the BT Iron Imager), and a bunch of other really talented guys. It’s a whole lot of fun…
I love working on all these shows for different reasons, but the theme that runs through all those reasons is it makes me better. Better as a Producer, Audio Engineer, Imager, and in the case of the Mojo Show, a better Parent (I have 5 kids), person and business owner (and Footy Coach.. lol).
5. How important is staying current with new stuff, trends and creative for you?
It’s vital. Because I work from a Project Studio I built in my home you can end up in a creative bubble being so isolated (a concept I’m sure many of your readers are currently familiar with). If you don’t keep up to date with trends, and spend time just chatting with people in the industry over a Coffee or Beer you can quickly get left behind. That’s partly the reason for my time investment in the Podcasts, but I also have a network of mates in the Industry in similar positions, and we catch up regularly to chew the fat and bounce around ideas and just flex those muscles that need some work.
One of those is the great Andrew Peters. AP lives outside Melbourne and has an amazing home studio, together we are 2 of the 4 clowns on the Pro Audio Suite, but we also chat pretty much daily, just talking gear, and work life in general… He’s a great mate who I’ve known since the mid 90s, we just don’t get to drink enough beer together!!!
6. What DAW do you guy use?
I’ve been on Pro Tools since 1999, for Imaging (and Post Production in general) it’s by far the standout player. I have Audition on my Mac and use it occasionally for various reasons, but I always come back to Pro Tools. It’s just where I’m comfortable, I don’t want to have to be thinking about what button I push or how I do what needs to be doe mechanically, I’d rather focus on the Creativity of my work.
7. What are your favorite plugins?
Now you’re opening a can of worms… My most frequently used would be Pitch n Time and Auto tune. But my favourite ones to get really creative with would be just about anything from the “Sound Toys” collection. I love the flexibility of them, and when you stick a few on a track one after the other you can always come up with something interesting and new.
For voiceover, my new go to is Nectar from iZotope. I had resisted the “all in one” plugin for a long time, thinking “I bet the compression is great but the eq sucks or something like that”, but after interviewing Dan Gonzalez from Izotope on the Pro Audio Suite last year I downloaded Nectar and after a bit of mucking around fell in love with it! It’s so versatile and sounds good on just about any voice you stick through it.
8. What are new learnings? Ideas you work on? Inspirations?
This probably mostly shows in my CHR imaging right now, but I’m really concentrating on my music editing within the imaging I’m producing. Both “What” I’m using and “How” I’m doing it. I’m loving really challenging myself to find (or create) the perfect piece of music and pairing it with a great vocal grab from a contemporary artist that fits both musically and within the context of what the piece is all about.
9. Any new tools you discovered lately?
I’ve been working on streamlining my Pro Tools templates to be honest. One of the best things that I learned over the years (and something Thommo was always preaching to us about) was to save everything. So I’m always doing mix outs of Promos and work parts that I make to use again and again. So recently a came up with a template that lets me record all my different passes in one go.
To explain a little further, I have created audio tracks that are fed by busses from the main session. They include Bed and FX, FX only, VO only, Music only and the Full Mix.. Then rather than “bounce” the audio, I record enable all those tracks and hit record, and all my mixes are done in the one pass. Then I just label them and export them to different folders on my work parts drive to be use again somewhere or other!!!
10. Your favorite piece of imaging / production ever?
God I wish I had a copy of it, but back in the early 90s when I was working at Triple M, we sent a listener into space (The Stratosphere anyway) in a Russian MIG jet fighter. They went to somewhere near Russia and went through basic pilot training before taking off and flying to where the Earth’s Atmosphere meets space.
We called it “Red Angel” and Thommo (Jeff Thomas) made the promo. It was just mind blowing. It was made at a time before Pro Tools (on a 24 Track Analogue multi) and just kicked Butt. Not so much in terms of amazing FX and crazy drops and montages, but in terms of theatre of the mind (the thing that radio and Thommo does best in my opinion) and creating excitement/vibe around an already awesome prize.
The music cane from a piece called Amin Bahtia and Thommo’s work (as usual) was mind blowing.
11. What would be your career advice for a youngster your twenty year old self?
Be yourself, but at the same time challenge yourself. It’s something I try to do constantly these days but for a while, early in my career I was probably guilty of just getting into a comfortable space and staying there. These days I’m working on all sorts of formats from Talk, to CHR to Rock (my spiritual place) and Country, plus the Podcasts. I find challenging myself and pushing myself also brings out my best work. But the nice thing is, just when you think you have pushed yourself as far as you can go, you push a bit harder and all of a sudden you’ve achieved something even greater. The nice thing about this is that it’s a lesson that not only works in relation to imaging, but to getting better at anything! And it’s something I definitely try to teach MY kids… Get uncomfortable, it’s a great place to be!!
Check out the demo Robbo produced for the Benztown Blog!http://blog.benztown.com/imaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Benztown-Blog-Demo.mp3
Time for another episode of fiver friday! Long week, but great findings, let’s get right into it:1.Plugin
Valhalla DSP just released a brand new reverb for lush sounds and huge spaces and it’s entirely free! Grab your download here:
Beat Academy just released a production breakdown on the latest single by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, Rain on Me – great insight into production, check it out here:3.Music
The latest release from german upcoming artist Majan featuring electronic music producers Tujamo and VIZE – entirely produced on 3 different setups due to corona, check it out:4.Web/Social/Whatever
From the creators of “The Office” – Space Force looks like loads of fun! First episode is out just now!5.Imaging
The latest from our friend Dom Evans – What the Fox going on!
I already had the pleasure to interview Vish for the benztown blog some years ago! He’s seriously one of the most profound imaging heads and one of the best in the game. Check out how he handled the Covid-19 crisis by expanding his home setup and his latest findings. Enter Vish!
1. How has Covid 19 changed the work situation for you? New workflows?
To be honest, not surprisingly work has really dried up, but the good thing is it’s forcing my to diversify my skill set, It’s definitely led me on the path of more experimentation. I’ve been dabbling with sound design particularly and also trying to improve my music production chops as well. I enjoy producing beats and playing around with samples and a lot of my imaging ideas come from music itself. I try add some of that musical experimentation workflow into imaging as well. It’s been a lot of fun honestly, I’ve spent loads of time learning new software too and also getting a deeper understanding of some of the existing tools I have like my NI Maschine and Komplete controllers and, some synths and plugins
2. What’s new since we talked last time? what stations do you currently working on?
Well honestly, Covid’s dried up a lot of the work so it’s been fairly quiet. I’ve worked on some IDs for a station in the Cayman Islands called Z99 such as a Top of Hour and some Alexa IDs. Was hard to find some apt Alexa drops cos there isn’t a text to speech emulation I found so went with a generic one just to add some color to the IDs in the hope that listeners won’t be able to tell the difference
Hope your week went well and you’re slowly but surely getting ready for the weekend! Let’s get right into this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Check out iZotope’s Spring Flash Sale, with up to 50% off their best plugins, even Ozone 9!
Grab your deals here!2.Inspiration
For all the Hip Hop heads out there, this looks real promising!3.Music
Already 2 months old, but great sound, good bounce and sweet vocals
Time for another edition of fiver friday! Hope you had a great week and get smoothly into your well deserved weekend – here are this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Soundtoys has yet another sale to offer and its huge! Up to 75% off of their best productions, check it out here!2.Inspiration
A good friend send that to me this week and after seeing Tony live a couple of years ago at the inc5000 and in this special times I think it is a great narrative to stay positive and level headed:
Some smooth Drake vibes for the weekend!4.Web/Social/Whatever
Check out the latest addition to the Benztown Universe, the Benztown Coloring Book!
Get it here for free – would love to see some submissions!5.Imaging
The latest Power Intros from our friend Staxx!
Lindsay and I go back quite a while. Even if I never met the dude in person I feel we know each other so well. Crazy what the internet can do :).. Finally we sat down to chat and Lindsay brought some really interesting stuff to the table I wanted to share with you.Side Note : Jan was so lucky to go to SA for RadioDays two times and has covered a lot about the scene there.
Overall question. How has Covid 19 and the self isolation changed your world, routines?
Hey Andy, thanks for having me on the blog. It’s a huge honor! COVID19 lockdown regulations haven’t necessarily changed the way I work. The workload may have slowed down a bit, but as far as working in isolation goes I’ve been producing from my studio in Cape Town for the last 4 years and have worked remotely for the majority of the time. So I’m quite used to it already. A lot of commercial radio production in SA has come to a halt though, as would be expected, with most businesses freezing their marketing and advertising campaigns. So the industry has taken quite a knock on that front.
My routine has changed though. I have 2 kids and with all our schools being closed during lockdown we have to tackle the school work first thing in the morning. That is quite a challenge, but it needs to be done. If there are urgent recordings that I need to do in the morning then we re-arrange the diary, as we need to.
1. Can you give me a bit of background about yourself, your career and achievements.
I’ve worked in commercial radio for quite a while. Probably, around 15-16 years. My production path has always been a mixture of radio imaging, sound design and final mix for post-production. I was never satisfied with just the one. I started working in radio around 2002 for KFM 94.5. In addition to production, that role involved a lot of the technical aspects of broadcasting too – outside broadcasts, marketing events etc. A few years later KFM was taken over by Primedia Broadcasting, which already owned 3 other stations – 947 and Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg and Cape Talk in Cape Town. After a number of years at Primedia I left radio to join a post-production house where I was doing sound design and final mix for TV shows, commercials and documentaries. When I left the post-house I relocated to Johannesburg and got back into radio again with Primedia. In Johannesburg I focussed primarily on 947 and Talk Radio 702, and helped out on the Cape Town stations when needed. During my 5-year period Johannesburg I took on the role of Sound Production Manager, which encapsulated production and the on air sound, so I had one foot in production and another firmly in the technical department. The technical side of things involved everything relating to the transmission path – the most fun part of that for me was being responsible for the overall On Air sound quality for the Johannesburg stations. I spent quite a bit of time tweaking their Optimods and trying to improve their signal chain over the years. Eventually I moved back to Cape Town for family reasons where I joined their Cape Town office again.
A couple months later a new commercial FM broadcast license was awarded in the Cape Town metropole area and I jumped at the opportunity to become part of the start up team – Smile 90.4FM. That’s where you and I had our first interaction, I think? We signed the Benztown Hot AC package at the time. The FM frequency spectrum in South Africa is very limited and It’s not everyday that you get to launch a brand new radio station from the ground up. So it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up on. My role at Smile 90.4FM was to develop a new AC sound and set it apart from the competitors who had been entrenched in the market for at least 15-20 years already. Of course, the technical tasks weren’t far behind either. While taking care of the imaging and production, I was also responsible for the technical and IT operation for the station. It was quite a lot, but it was a lot of fun too.
After 4 years in that role I left Smile 90.4FM to start my own business called Crossfade Studio and built my studio. I’ve been focussed on the business for the last 4 years. I still focus quite a lot of my time on radio imaging as a freelancer and produce multi-station campaigns for commercial brands that advertise on all the major commercial stations across the country. The other half of my time I spend working on audio post-production.
Most recently I’ve jumped on board with Benztown in their custom-imaging division and I’ve been having heaps of fun working with Matt Anderson. He’s a guy great and super helpful!
2. How is it to work for some of the biggest radio brands in SA and now with Benztown world wide? How do the task differ between the different stations / brands? What is the stylistic approaches and how difficult is it to change hats?
It’s always great hearing your production on air and having the opportunity to be able to influence a part of the station sound, especially since I’m not employed directly by any radio station. In South Africa there isn’t a lot of outsourcing happening in the imaging and production departments. They mainly keep those tasks for the in-house crew, so I consider myself lucky in that regard to still be able to contribute to the On Air sound. I never take it for granted, no matter what station it’s on. The multi-station campaigns I work on for example, all have to reflect the advertising brand, while maintaining the respective station’s sound. Some stations are ‘hotter’ than other’s, so to find that groove in the middle and adapt what you need to for each of the stations is all part of the creative fun and making the campaign work. I like working on a variety of formats, even though I’m better at some and not others. That’s why I’m enjoying producing for Benztown right now. There are various formats, so it keeps me challenged. But for me, less is always more. I think there’s a fine line between producing for you and producing for a listener. So you have to strike a good balance between production wizardry and the message to the listener.
3. What do your days look like? Is there a blueprint? A routine?
No blueprint at all, other than the daily school work during the COVID pandemic! Because I’m self-employed and work on all types of audio production, it can be anything on any day. There’s a good balance between radio and post-production. I take it as it comes. And well yes, there are days when I’m not doing any production. On those days I try and get the admin work done and I sneak in a cold beer when I can. The sun on the African continent is hot, you need to quench that thirst!
4. What is your most memorable project?
I have 2. The first one was launching Smile 90.4FM. It was great to be part of something new that reached a wide range of audiences and be able to influence their sound. The other was starting my business and building the studio. It was a long-term plan that I always kept my eye on and I’m really grateful that I got to follow through with it. I don’t regret a single moment of it.
5. How is the SA radio market different from others?
My answer to this question would probably be quite different to when I actively worked at a radio station. But I think I’m back down to consuming radio as a listener again. Enjoying the medium as a whole and not trying to dissect every hour, which is what most of us do, I think. I prefer it this way to be honest. I think it informs my production approach… and that is to get out of the way of the message, but still be creative and draw their attention. Even though I have my favorite station, I still flip through the frequency band regularly to hear what’s going on. I think it would be fair to say that the SA radio market is relatively conservative. It’s dominated by a lot of AC and Hot AC format stations, so their music playlists are more or less the same in whatever province you happen to be in. I’m sure there’ll be people who would disagree, but that’s just my opinion. There are a few unique sounding stations to the SA market though, these stations usually give a lot of focus to the local music market. The vernacular stations in South Africa probably have the most listenership figures – easily a good couple of million and those are not necessarily your mainstream AC/HotAc stations.
You and I have had this discussion before, but as far as writing copy is concerned, the imaging team very seldom writes the copy too. Most stations have a dedicated writing team to handle copy and sometimes you can find a slight disconnect between the production and the writing. That’s the one thing I’ve noticed about the setup of production departments elsewhere around the world…the imaging person is also the creative writer. I prefer that approach. I think it lends itself to being more creative in your imaging.
6. What DAW do you use?
It’s always been Pro Tools. I know it has it’s glitches, but it works me. I’ll use NI’s Maschine and the Maschine Studio controller when I need to cook up sound design or if I’m working on a beat or music cue. I like that it’s all integrated with the hardware controller so I can keep my eyes and ears focused on the sound I’m producing and drop the mouse for a bit. I’m not a big fan of setting up MIDI maps and assigning parameters to controllers and all that – it takes up too much time. I like to get onto the task immediately.
7. What are your favorite plugins?
I think monitoring your levels are very important from start to finish, so you’re going to find Waves’ VU meter plugin on every Aux Bus and Master Fader.
I can’t live without PSP’s micro warmer on vocal channels. It gives it a nice boost and presence.
ProQ2 – the user interface makes it super easy and straight forward to carve out a sound.
SSL Channel Strip – I think the character and colour it adds. Sometimes just adding some of it’s top-end is enough.
H-Reverb or Eventide’s Ultraverb
SoundToys’ Alter Boy and Echoboy
And recently I’m quite enjoying NI’s Raum reverb plugin.
8. What are new learnings? Inspirations?
I started going for formal piano lessons close to 2 years ago. So I’ve been focusing a lot of my spare time on getting ahead in that. I’ve made excuses for years not to, but eventually just got my ass into gear and got on with it. I know a lot of people would probably say you don’t need music theory to get ahead, but it’s a personal goal and achievement of mine.
I also love watching the Masterclass videos online. I watch a range of topics and I think you can learn quite a lot from those professionals. The Masterclass on Space Exploration was really inspirational in some way, in that hard work, dedication and focus will yield results.
9. Any new tools you discovered lately?
I love the Native Instruments and Heavyocity products. None of it is overly new, but I just love the sounds and textures those companies produce.
10. Your favorite piece of imaging / production ever?
Many years ago in an edition of RAP Mag they featured a piece by Jerry Rohira. I think he was working at Sirius XM at the time, based in New York. It was a 4min40 imaging piece describing what radio imaging is to a ‘normal’ person without all the radio jargon. It was really well written and superbly produced by Jerry. I still find it valid today. It really paints a picture for the listener and demonstrates how you’re able to tell a story and be creative using audio production. I still have that audio all these years later. It’s a great piece!
11. Who have been mentors of yours and how did they support you?
There have been a few over the years. The first and most important is my wife! She’s really the voice of reason in my life. Always being objective about things and giving me alternatives to think about. The next one I’d have to say is the guy who first employed me at KFM – Jaco Viljoen. He’s given me tons of advice and guidance over the years. Nearly 20 years on we still remain great friends! The other guy who really had a great influence on my imaging is Brendan Taylor, who is now at the Nova Group in Sydney. At the time Brendan was part of the consulting team for KFM and made a few trips over to Cape Town over the years. We had a lot of group production sessions with the programming and creative departments. Chris Thorpe in London, who was also part of the consulting team and Mitch Callendine too. The common thread with Brendan, Chris and Mitch is that I made them all drink the worst rum shooter you can find in Cape Town when they visited I’d do the same to you too if you were to visit Cape Town! I also have to add a very good friend and client of mine – Cameron Naidoo. He runs a successful creative agency and he’s given me tons of business and entrepreneurial advise over the years.
Some additonal questions:
- The best tech purchase under a hundred dollars?
I have to say it’s probably Izotope’s Music Maker Bundle for a sale price of $49. I’m not overly crazy about the Izotope plugins (except for RX), but you can’t beat what you’re getting in that bundle. I picked it up myself!
- If you had to pick five plugins….
Waves H-Reverb / EchoBoy / PSP Micro Warmer / C6 Multiband / L2 Ultramaximizer
- Gear: your dream studio would have…
Avid S3 or S4 + Avid Dock and Dolby Atmos with Adam Audio monitoring in a theatre-sized mix room
- Who or what inspires you?
I love being outdoors. Getting away for a weekend always resets the brain and outlook on life. We’re very spoilt for choice in Cape Town with getaway options. I love information too. I’m not a big reader of novels, but I always try and soak up new and varied information – hence me spending a lot of time on the Internet. But the big inspiration is always music. I really try and be open to all genres of music. In some way I’m sure it influences my style of production.
- Best advice you have ever gotten?
Never burn your bridges. It’s a small world and an even smaller industry. Most of the people I work with on a regular basis are folks who I have a long relationship with. We’ve built up a lot of trust over the years. Word of mouth recommendations are priceless.
Andy’s Fiver Friday #234 – iZotope Music Maker’s Bundle, Music Theory And the latest from Benztown CHR!
As you’re getting ready for the weekend check out my latest findings, got some great stuff for you! Especially in the plugin section
Time for another episode of fiver friday – we hope you’re still healthy and slowly but surely getting back to your normal day to day life! Here are this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Arturia offers all of its software effects for 50% off! Time to check their website and get some new sweet plugins!2.Inspiration
Inspiring Documentary on former first Lady Michelle Obama – worth a watch!3.Music
The accompanying soundtrack to the new Michael Jordan documentary – sweet!4.Web/Social/Whatever
If you ever wondered how to roughly produce a The Weeknd track – here’s how!5.Imaging
A complilation of highlights from our man Harry Legg – the voice for the Benztown CHR library!
The world is still on hold because of corona virus, but we keep going! Hopefully all of you are still healthy and safe, we will get through this together. Here are this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Check out this collection of free plugins by mixmag to keep you occupied trough the corona madness!
This man is a true inspiration…you can’t handle that situation any better.
Something to groove to through the weekend
Andy’s Fiver Friday #232 – Free Ableton Live Production Suite, Corona News Themes And Chachi Loves Everybody
The world is still on hold because of corona virus but we keep going! Hopefully all of you are healthy and safe, we will get through this together – here are this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Ableton offers its Live Production Suite (Full Version) for 90 Days free!
Simply create an account, download and start your trial version
Andy’s Fiver Friday #231 – Prodcast or finally I was able to reconnect with Dom, Quarantine Deals And Benztown Highlights
Once again, hopefully you guys are still healthy and safe! Check out this week’s findings and have happy Easter!1.Plugin
Check out our post from Thursday, a collection of the best quarantine plugin deals and offers right now!
I was on with Dom this week for his prodcast, talking about persistence and perspective in these tough times – check it out here:
The latest release from german producer team Kölsch! Some sweet electronic music to vibe to
Since most of us are stuck at home, some plugin suppliers came up with discounts and ideas to support producers at home. Here are some of the best offers and links to push your productivity while being quarantined – enjoy!
Soundtoys offers you a free version of their Effect Rack Plugin through June 30th, with full usage of Echoboy, Decapitator and more! Check it out here!
Universal Audio comes up with a 50% discount on ALL plugins! This works the whole month of April, so you have plenty of time to check everything out
Andy’s Fiver Friday #230 – HitWest Power Intros, The Story Of AirMax and the latest from Jan Brückner!
Hopefully you guys are still healthy and safe! We’re trying our best to work through the corona madness, so here are this week’s findings:1.Plugin
Check out this free preamp emulation by Shattered Glass Audio:
Super chill new Drake Song, watch out for some viral dance videos