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25‑03‑2016
STUDIO DAY #1 part 2



Half way through the day Nienke arrived in the studio and we started setting up for Video #2. We felt that the atmosphere of the second song was a bit darker so we tried to re-create that vibe in the studio. We set up a wall of amps in front of which we could stand. Then we dimmed all the regular lights and used big old fashioned electric light bulbs to set the mood. You can also see this on a lot of the pictures we’ve done. The light bulbs ended up being an important theme throughout the video. The mic set-up we used was similar to our previous set up with Nina June. I’m playing a Breedlove acoustic fretless bass running through a line 6 auto-volume echo set to the highest threshold. During the bridge in which I loop a small section, I use a home-made tremolo and again the auto volume echo for the dubs. The Breedlove bass I rarely get to use live, but when I do, I always fall In love with how rich the harmonic upper range of the instrument sounds. There is no regular bass that compares to it. I have put D’addiaro phosphor bronze strings on it. The amp set-up is the same as mentioned above. We wrote the song Aiming together as performed by Nienke and me. It’s a fragile arrangement with a very dark undertone. To me that undertone connects to the feeling of loosing someone you love.

It took us quite a while to get this one right. I turned out to be a delicate creature that wasn’t easily captured. In the first three takes we even had added floortom for the last chorus. We decided to take this out because there was too much bleed on the sensitive vocal mic. Moreover this gave Nienke more space to focus on conveying the message at hand. In turn it made the last chorus feel more open. I don’t remember how many takes we’ve done. However at some point everybody in control room was convinced we had captured the magic. In the studio after doing a dozen takes you sometime lose the ability to judge. But even with this knowledge it’s hard to let go if you’re not a hundred percent sure. Thank god we had a great team of people around us to show us when to stop. When I listened back to the mix the next day my uncertainty disappeared and I was proud of what we created together.

I V O

11‑12‑2015
STUDIO DAY #2



For our second studio day we only had one vocalist scheduled: Marlon Penn. I picked up Michiel at home and Marlon from the train station. We passed through Eindhoven to pick up Wouter. With four men in the car the conversation usually stirs into a number of different directions. We ended up having a philosophical discussion about sexual preference and what we consider to be sexually deviant. We wondered how big the influence of society is on these labels and on our own preferences.

Having this ‘just the boys’ vibe, combined with the luxury of having to do one video as opposed to two, made us all very relaxed. We started the day with coffee again whilst debating how we would set up for the last song: “Forsake me”. We soon decided on the both of us sitting down in front of the wall of amps. Having a similar set-up to Yesterdays video’s but using more of a close-up camera approach. This suits the song which develops slowly to epic proportions. Wouter would try to get a camera choreography down so that he would really have one take from his hand held camera. As a basic track. “Forsake me” is probably the most elaborate recording of this session. It’s a song Marlon Penn recorded on his first record Independence.
About five years ago I was visiting the Dutch city Roermond, close to were Moon is located now, and that is where I accidentally stumbled upon the CD release of Marlon Penn’s Independence album.
I already knew Marlon because we were attending the same music school. I was a freshman at the time, he was a senior. I bought the record and listened to it vigorously. When I approached Marlon, “Forsake Me” seemed like a natural pick, because to me It felt like I also shared a history with the song as a listener. To top it all off, the album and the song were recorded at the previous location of Moon Studio, and was actually one of the first albums done by Wouter Bude, but I’m slightly drifting off topic. Once we had settled on a good set-up for the video we started mic-ing everything up again.

The approach was similar to the day before. As a vocal mic we used a Telefunken Elam 251 and for the ambience a Telefunken U47, both vintage. In front of the bass amp we set up a Royer r121 (ribbon mic). The bigger part of the track is an effect pedal extravaganza. After making a basic Loop on my Ditto X2, I overdub god knows how many parts. For the basic track I use my brand new Höfner Club Bass with pyramid flats wounds. It gives a very smooth round low end sound. Rock solid like everything that is German. Here I’m using a 16th rhythmic delay from the Line 6 DL4.
For the overdubs I switch to the Fender Active Jazz Bass from the deluxe series. They are strung with D’addario’s nickel wound XL, giving it that rich high end. For the screaming whale sound that is featured throughout the second part of the song, I’m combining my EHX micro synth with the DL4’s autovolume-echo. For the deep synth bass, I’m using my EBS Octaver and for the percussion parts, I’m opening up the verb of my EHX holy grail nano. At the end of the song, I’m reversing my loop using my Ditto X2 again. In the re-amping process we’ve added some effects for extra emphasis. As I said quite elaborate indeed!

In an very relaxed and natural manner we did about three takes and listened back to it. The only problem we kept facing was that I had too press a lot of pedals during the recording. Even when I tried to hit them a soft as possible the ‘clicks’ were clearly audible on all the microphones. So we decided to make it part of the arrangement. We put another mic right above my pedalboard to make sure we really got all the clicks. Then I challenged myself to put every click on the first count of a beat, so that we could put a rhythmic effect on it afterwards.

Then because we had plenty of time we did about five more. I think we had about three good takes to pick from. We decided to go for the second last one, because Wouter felt like he nailed that one on camera. I feel the song has a natural flow to it, building up to the ultimate ecstasy and realising it all in reverse. Please enjoy “Forsake me” by Marlon Penn and yours truly

I V O

10‑11‑2015
STUDIO DAY #1 part 1



Lord knows I’m not a morning person. I usually perform a well choreograph dance routine with my mobile phone’s alarm clock. Because I always put the phone far away from my bed I have to get up to press snooze. Sometimes I’m capable of doing this for an hour straight. So starting our studio session at 08:30 a.m more than an hour away from my home was a small challenge for me. However I somehow managed to get up at 7 a.m without my usual routine. Maybe feeling responsible for a group of people working with me made all the difference.
After picking up Nienke Paardekoper (Nina June) and Michiel Claessen (Engineer and mixing), we were bound east to Wouter Bude’s Moon Studio in Maasbracht, Holland.
It’s always great to go to a good studio, but it is even better to visit Moon. Next to the fact that you can always have a good laugh with Wouter, the gear is amazing. Ranging from vintages tube mics to old amplifiers, you can find everything you need and more.

First things first, we set about the vital and some what complicated task of mastering the coffee machine before we started setting up for our first recording session with Nina June. Our goal was to make a high quality live video. So we needed to set up at a spot where Wouter van Uden (video production) would be able to get good shots from several angles.

We decided to use one of the studio walls which has a great background with wooden panels. For the recording we used a Telefunken Elam 251 as a lead microphone, two Telefunken U47 (omni) as ambience mics and of course a DI (SPL Gainstation) and a Royer r121 as a mic for the bass guitar. We already decided that we would re-amp the bass afterwards to have extra control over the sound. However we wanted to be able to blend the original and ambience sound to keep that ‘live’ feel. For this song I played a fretless Music Man stingray bass. The neck is an original from one of the first years they were build. However the body is from some unknown manufacturer. It sounds like the real deal and it’s a beast. It’s strung with Dunlop Super Brights: these strings have a brutal low end and sound amazing on a fretless. As a guide effect, I’m using the Line 6 Rhythmic delay. We re-amped this signal using an original space echo. Last but not least, I’m playing my Orange Bass terror through a 1x12 EBS Classic Line Cabinet. I will go into detail about the re-amping process in the next blog post.

After the quickest soundcheck I’ve ever done in a studio, we were good to go. The process turned out to be quick and smooth. We ran about three takes and listened back to the music. It sounded great! After looking back at the camera footage we decided to do some more takes, just to try stuff. We had plenty of time left until my second songwriter of the day was arriving.
Nina June had the idea to add some movement into her performance to make the whole piece a bit more exciting. It turned out to have a very uplifting effect and we decided to do a couple of more takes to be sure we had a good one with video and music. Looking back on the performance, I feel like you can really tell the time and effort we’ve put into this product.

I V O

10‑10‑2015
PREPARATION OF A SONG

To make a song work with just a bass and a vocalist, you’ll need a couple of things:

1. the right song
2. a good arrangement
3. a vocalist with an open mind

Although these things might seem obvious, in practice, they are sometimes a bit more hard to find. I think I took me about a year or so from the birth of this idea to get it to where it is today: an almost finished product. When I decided to partake in this journey which I like to call my own experiment on bass, I approached several songwriters with the idea and told them we could either write a song together or perform an already existing song. I ended up with three songwriters and three very different ideas for a song. I wrote a song with one of them and with the second songwriter I made an arrangement for an existing song which he had written previously.
However with Nina June we decided to play a cover song. I asked her to send me some suggestions of songs she’d like to perform. After receiving a list of option, I picked ”Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. I absolutely love the album Rumours and I think the songwriting on the album is very powerful.
So this naturally felt like a good pick that would fit my ambition to experiment with bass. However it took me ages to set up a good arrangement. To me it felt like there should be a recognition of both the iconic beat played by Mike Fleetwood and the melodic guitar parts that serve as a theme throughout the song by Lindsey Buckingham. However, it turned out to be quite a challenge to make all these parts work with just a bass. I ended up using my Ditto X2 looper and basically adding all the parts that seemed important to me.
I created a first demo version and soon after that I started rehearsing the song with Nina June. She was excited about the demo and liked the way I used the fretless bass to recreate Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar sound. However, after rehearsing it over and over, for some reason the song just didn’t seem to gel. It felt like there were too many parts and the song sadly enough wasn't coming across. So I started taking out parts again trying to find the most minimal core on which it was still the song.
But yet again it did not come together. By taking out the beat the song lost its natural drive and it started to feel repetitive in a negative way. After this rehearsal I felt slightly discombobulated. I was very excited about my demo, so how could the song still feel so far off after such a long rehearsal?
The next day I made another attempt to make the song work, but it did not seem to get closer to a satisfying end result. So I went back to square one and again checked out the songs Nina June initially sent my way. Then it occurred to me that I might have simply picked the wrong song. Looking back on the decision I realised I might have favoured “Dreams” over the other songs because I’ve heard it more often. I went back to listen to all the cover songs. But this times I really focused on the question: can I make this work and make it sound exciting and fresh?




As a result I ended up with the song “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back) by the Eurythmics. This is such a powerful song that has a fantastic rolling groove and that sweet 80’s sound. However, it was Ane Brun’s version that inspired me to create mine on bass.
In her version she is able to strip this song down to its bare essence. This turned out to be a great starting point for a bass part. As soon as I picked up the bass, I realised this was a much better pick than “Dreams”. By just using the changes of the chord progression, a delay pedal and some harmonics, I was able to create a warm atmosphere from which the song could evolve. I only needed to put my bass in a weird open tuning in order to be able to play all the chords with harmonics. By using the delay as a rhythmic tool,
I eliminated the need of using a looper to create additional parts. This in turn left more space for the vocals, making the total arrangement more open. To top it all off, Nina June really seemed to understand what we were doing here. She did not approach the bass as a bass guitar per se. She accepted the sound as a reality and she pushed me to make it work. Her open mind strongly contributed to the end result because it was song focused. Even when you try to break the boundaries of your instrument and also the way you’ve learned to play it, it remains a challenge. Nonetheless I’m very proud of the end result. The process wasn’t linear or easy, but it turned out to be necessary to reach our goal of making the song work. Enjoy: “It’s Allright (Baby’s Coming Back) performed by Nina June and Yours truly.

I V O