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27 July 2021

"Having that one good preamp really simplified the process. Not trying to use the mixer or the external soundcard [...] That one good preamp just does all that" - Jesse Morris

About the 


Jesse Morris of the Jesse Morris Band shares how his 3rd album was produced in 2020. Jesse shares how he overcame the challenges COVID19 caused for the production, he talks about his production flow and shares tips and tricks.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • Which signals to record in a studio, and which to record at home

  • How Jesse recorded professional-sounding vocals under less than ideal circumstances

  • Jesse's production philosophy, tips and tricks


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Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


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Yarn This is the production talk podcast, Episode Five. Thanks for joining in again to the production talk podcast. It's great to have you on board again. Today I'm taking you for a little drive out into the Byron hinterland deep down into the rain forest where I met up with my dear friend Jesse Morris of the Jesse Morris band. For a really exciting interview that I've been looking forward to very much. Jesse is the singer and bandleader of the Jesse Morris band, and they're just working on their third record, which is a very exciting time to speak to him. And hopefully, we'll hear more about the upcoming release and all the details about the recording process and how we got there. So let's jump straight into my interview with Jesse Morris. So today, we're now at my friends, Jesse Morris house. Welcome to the podcast. Welcome, Jesse. Jesse Thanks. Yeah, I think you picked a good time and my two magic children have gone out to a swimming lesson. And it's a rare moment of nice silence around the house and Yarn quiet. Fantastic. Well, Jesse, thank you for making time for us. Would you mind to just tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background and your musical career. Jesse I mean, I've been living in the Northern Rivers for nearly eight years now. But before that, I'm from the inner west of Sydney, where I grew up. I grew up in eastern suburbs in mascot, and then did my high school in a new town Performing Arts in the West. And my dad's a Sydney blues musician. So I grew up in a house that had a recording studio, and he was a guitar teacher. So there's lots of guitars around, and I'm left handed, but I play right handed guitar because there's lots of right handed instruments in the house. And so yeah, right. That's probably a budget decision there too. Okay to teach me that way. And I think Have you ever tried to try left handed guitar? Yeah, yeah, it doesn't make sense. Now. Okay. Yeah. It's nice muscle memory for you. Yeah, exactly. Yes, Sydney was my, my first gigs. You know, when I my first band there and you know, spent 10 years playing with some, some of my dearest friends, we still do some musical projects together still. But then I had a long travel in the middle of that and ended up up here and found some wonderful musicians to play without pay that have become some of the best friends in my life also, now for the last, you know, seven or eight years. Fantastic. Yeah. Well, Yarn the Northern Rivers is definitely musical breeding ground, isn't it? You know, there's so much creativity and so many. It's like a hub like a musical hub where everything just connects. Can you tell us about your your band at the Jesse Morris band? How long have you been together? And now How did it all start? Jesse Yeah, well, when I was first forming a band up here, I formed it with my one of my musical brothers Rob Damascene. And Rob damascena. We're doing some QA gigs and looking for looking for a bass player to sort of grow that and Tom Kelly found us via a friend connection, saying that we were looking for a musician and and Tom has been playing now. With me for about six years, we're pretty sure we've done over 1000 gigs together. And even in amongst COVID, we we started to get some gigs again recently, we just did three the last in the last 24 hours. So we've done a lot of gigs together termini. Rob played with us for a couple of years, but he's travelled on across the world. And he's now Danny Melbourne. And, you know, I've had heard a lot about Hugh Jones as a drummer and seen Tom and who played together and they're a real rhythm section to be reckoned with. You know, they're the they're the powerhouse and so yet we got he was a drummer maybe four or five years ago. And the magic sisters Chelsea and Elena. Local horn players we met along that journey. And market power news owl. Live dubs? Mad scientist's I made in federal. Yarn Yeah, right. That is where I live and we just had Maki on the podcast. Yeah. So he's an absolute legend. Yeah, part of the bigger musical family here. Okay, so Have you always been into reggae? Or have you experimented with other genres as well? Jesse Yeah, I played lots of different genres, mostly in the in the roots, music space, my dad's, you know, blues player, that sort of 1920s finger style stuff is really his area. And so there's been times in my life when I've really focused on some finger picking old timey blues stuff, which I really love. And some of that's come out in in some of the music I've released. But I think you know, my mom listened to soul and you know, she had all the all the cool disco and soul albums and probably introduced me more to that side and funk and things and dad more had blues and rock and roll stuff in his record collection. And I think, you know, when I first heard reggae music when I was, you know, 12 or 13 some good stuff, and um, you know, that sort of married those genres together for me and made sense, you know, the messages to, to all people and, and it's, you know, powerful positive messages I never been 13 and playing in high school band and you know, we had a little repertoire Bob Marley songs that we used to froth on then that's probably the thing how reggae found my life. Yarn That's where do I started? And and how would you describe the the Jesse Morris band today? You know, what, what's unique about your, your music? Sure. Jesse Well, you know, I mean, I think every bit of music is unique in itself. You know, I don't think of us as a reggae band. I just think of them as songs. You know, and, um, I think that the songs with derivatives of African and Caribbean influence is probably the strongest influence on on my music, and a lot of the guys that I play with their music rooted in African and Caribbean roots, but there's Yarn any artists names you could drop at the stage. Any, any of your personal heroes. Oh, Jesse I mean, I think I think that, you know, I really, this last couple years, listened to midnight a lot, you know, and I love midnight, and that sort of, you know, something that I've only had snippets of in my life, but now it's like, I'm converted, you know, just the rhythms as hypnotic rhythms, you know, but records. I love listening to probably more like, you know, Fela Kuti. Yeah, it's probably stuff that I found in dad's collection early and still have on my record collection now. And you know, the African influenced stuff is probably the stuff I really froth on. Beautiful. Yarn And you're the singer and guitar player and the bandleader and of the Jesse Morris band, and just tell us about your instruments. What guitar do you play? And have you got a selection? Which ones do you prefer? Jesse Well, mostly in them depends on the shows as to what the guitars are that I'm using below. I've got a pretty magic locally made, we've electric guitar, which is claim, which is made from some some camphor and some scrap timbers and I really, really love that guitar. What's become part of my life now and it took a while for really gel. But now I love that guitar. And I probably use that more than anything else. And it's sort of a sort of a tele copy with, with a with a humbucker on the front pickup and a nice and a bigsby on the back. And yeah, starting to love that guitar, and acoustic guitars probably would have played the most, you know, over the years, and there's a wonderful Australian guitar maker could Roger lay, I've got a couple that have come out of his space. But they come via Dad, you know, one of them's sitting there, which is the Sasha Miko pembury, which is one of the guitar makers a drudge lays place and it was handmade in 1983. And, um, and I've got a July sort of bigger body guitar that was was 91 and made, and I've had that for about 20 years now. Well, they're probably the two special acoustic guitars, we've got a magic Japanese guitar, a URI that was handmade the year I was born in 1981. And it's a phenomenon I've just had all three of these repaired this year, sort of brought back to how they sound and they just feel so good about them now. Yarn Thanks, Glenn. Fantastic, fantastic. That's great to hear. Good. So you've got a couple of records out. And I think you are now in the middle of the war and the finishing on the finishing stretch for your third album, is that right? Yeah. Just Just tell us about how this album came together. And you know, then came COVID. And I'm sure that's that threw a spanner in the works. Yeah. What What happened? Jesse Yeah, we spoke about, at the time of us sort of starting this record, we had the material written, we're just sort of looking for the space and time, I was doing some work for the local legends, one vision, a local, not for profit, who, who's make hip hop music and music videos with them at risk youth at schools and a bunch of local legends as helping them out in their office a few days a week, couple days a week, um, I traded some time for some studio time. And so sort of made a decision for the next thing we're going to release that we wanted to work with Paulie be up at yamanouchi for the mix, but that we would track locally with them with our local crew. And then opportunity for the studio came up for me to trade some time for that. And so a couple of weeks free during school holidays, when nobody was going to be in there. We could use that time. And then we just needed someone to come in and check the drums with us and we rang you Johann and you're in Sydney Ray Nathan stanbro and a couple other brothers locally Eric, big shout out to Nathan. Yeah, legend, capital, legends, and Eric as well. And luckily our friend Jarrod Kurth was free. He was a wonderful drummer for the band sons. Luke plays drums with us sometimes. So we got Jarrod to come and check those drums with us. In one vision, rhythm section there got some really good takes, you know, we spent a few days solidly on it. Yarn How many songs Did you record there? Six, six songs. And how many days in the studio did you spend? Jesse We did four days on drums and bass. You know, one day for setup. And then another three days of tracking basically means two songs a day. Yeah, yeah. I'm not full days more like, you know, full days can be a bit trying. We try not to do that anymore. More that sort of six hours, six to seven hours. Yeah, that Yarn makes perfect sense. Yeah. Okay. And what are the other segments recorded? No, we just had a listen together and obviously had guitars and keys and bloods of percussion and horns and backings and vocals. And yeah, probably a few things I missed abs, of course, was all that produced. Yeah, well, we Jesse still got the horns in the big studio just before COVID. And most of them nearly all the lines in and we used some specific gear that was in there. And then COVID kicked in, and we had to think about recording the rest of the horns, vocal parts, dubs, keys, guitars, and you know, all of a sudden, we're all in our home spaces. And so we moved into into home recording spaces for all those from our various studios from all of us as players, I managed to borrow some of the gear that I was using in one vision to make up for some of that time because they weren't using the studio. And so I had access to a focus, right, I say one FF one of these, it's like a single channel out of it in epic discs. In the one unit, which I think was, was just becoming a real highlight on the recording. So I'm very lucky that we've got to use that one. Lovely preamp. Yeah. So from here at home, we were using four one fours mostly. And I've got a 214. But um, which we're using right now, by the way, and it's a lovely Sony microphone. Yeah. I mean, they're great, especially for that price range. It's you know, if you're only doing things that are going to be fairly close and 180 degrees, I think it's it's a good mic, but I was able to borrow the 414 from there as well because nobody was using it. So I had access to the to the Focusrite I say and, and the 414 for a few weeks. And so I just got straight into recording pretty much when I was at home, literally right here where we are now and this year, and you recorded all the vocals there. Yeah, vocals were done here. I guess your guitars as well. guitars, we're done here. I forgot to mention earlier which MTG play for this album. I've got supro Singh under that bag there that's I've been really loving the last couple of years. It's just super bright, strong, plenty of headroom clean, no noise, but halfway through recording here that actually started to play out. And I replaced all the tubes waited for the slow, mild to happen, you know. And it wasn't a bird, some bird some of TK and waited for more to turn up. And that didn't fix the problem. So I know that anyway, I'm going to send that out to get fixed, it's going to be a couple of months away and during COVID probably even longer. So I ended up I ended up borrowing a Fender Princeton and trying that out. Lovely. And then I ended up buying one to finish the guitar. I liked it so much that I knew I was gonna be able to borrow it for the, you know, for a month or so. So I've got a Fender Princeton now that I really like fantastic. Good for recording. Yeah, small size, and it's got that beautiful Fender reverb. So most of the skanks on the album are done on the Supra. And a lot of the sounds are done on the on the fender Princeton Yarn fantastic. And and we were the horns recorded at your place as well or at Chelsea's house, or Yeah, Jesse the fishing of horns was done at at Chelsea and Tom's place. And they've got some nice mics, and yet some good production gear. I'm assuming they're gonna be on one of these podcasts. Yarn Yeah, I haven't asked him yet. But sooner or later, hopefully, if I get them in front of a microphone, there's probably a lot of this guess. Nice one. Good. And we just you know how to listen, just before we started this podcast, and it sounds phenomenal. So whatever you did there, you nailed that in our in every aspect. So I really can't wait for for the album to be out. Is there a release date or write at least a rough idea? Have you got a rough idea Jesse is a rough idea. But I mean, it's difficult to make those release date plans at the moment because for us the release date, we want to we want it to be that you know, and so I think we're going to hold out till to probably midway through next year, towards the end. We'll release a couple of tunes in the new year. Okay. So there's at least a single or two and we'll start working on on other aspects like you know, some film clips and some remixes. And I think we'll hold out dropping the album until midway through the year so we can go and play some places where people can dance. When people that had to dance again. Absolutely, it's Yarn very danceable music definitely. Say, can you tell us a little bit more about your your home studio? How would you describe now the gear and there's room to the listeners? Jesse Yeah, well, I mean, this is just a room in my house. It's the spare bedroom. That's always my music space, and my little office space where I would practice or playing gigs, or hang out with the kids and play music. And, yeah, and since it's a room, my house right in the middle of the house, in between all the rooms everywhere. And the beautiful thing about it is that the window opens up and I can see outside into the rain forests. And that's quite magic, and definitely where I am, there is no roads nearby, it's a kilometre down to my driveway. So that does help. I think that sound the obstacle of having to magic young children from my partner and eyes That house is often not so quiet. So I do a lot of the music work here through the night. Okay, now, um, and you know, and that's, that's sort of workable, because my family or sleep a few rooms away in the house. Yarn Yeah. Right. So you need to constantly balance the noise levels. And Jesse yeah, that's probably an obstacle, but, but a lot of good creative things come to me at night so that we're okay. So there's not a bad workflow for me. And the space itself. I mean, after I borrowed that I say, one for from the one vision crew, I just fell in love with that as a as a tool. And for me, I'm mostly going to be recording one thing here, I think I'll only be recording one thing. So I think that's, I ended up buying one, you know, to finish the album, because there's still more things to do. And I wanted it to match up. And I thought that's a piece of gear I'll probably have for 20 years. And so I've got a Focusrite iaasa, which goes out into my PreSonus ar 12 desk that sort of does the digital conversion, and then straight into a math book with, with Pro Tools on it. That's, that's my process, pretty simple, you know, Yarn which means that you actually have to be the musician and the creative and the songwriter and the producer, and also the engineer all at the same time. So you're probably wearing quite a few little different hats. Is that right? Yeah. Well, Jesse I think I think I wouldn't say that. I would say that I was the one of the tracking engineers, you know, that's probably what my credit could be. Definitely making sure that it gets into the hands of of, of producers with your level of skill Yan to finish the album's because I know that I can track some things. But I still think that even in all this process, it's still worth honouring those that have spent their time with those instruments a bit longer to you know, to take those things that attract, I think getting a good sound through a good mic and a good preamp is achievable. You know, I think some of the rest of the stuff that comes in with producing takes time, Yarn I couldn't agree more look, in my books, it's all about getting it right at the source. And you know, it all comes down to the performance. So now once you've got this magical moment where the performance is just spot on, it almost doesn't matter what microphone it is almost almost. I usually find that most things you can fix later with plugins and software. The only thing you can fix is performance. And you know, once you've captured the performance, that's just where the money is. So have you been just looking around here it looks like this room is almost cube shape, and no acoustic treatment. If you go buy the books is the worst sounding room possible. And you still managed to produce a fantastic sounding record in this room. Jesse Yeah, I think that the vocals are a little vocal screen. That's, you know, it's tiny. I mean, that'd be what, 40 centimetres by 30. High, and it's a cheap one. But that does enough of a job to be able to sing into. And I put that in the corner there in the corner of the room. That little vocal screen and for the guitars Actually, I like that the bit of the room reverb that's on there, you can hear it, you know, and I actually really enjoy that. So I'm okay with recording those things. I think if we tried to do horns in here or saying that was you know, super bright, we'd have to we'd have to put a little wall up or something. That'd be tricky. But yeah, work for vocals and guitar Yarn are fantastic. That's really good. And do you remember what microphone you use for the guitar cabinet? Jesse Yeah, I use the 214 on our guitar cabinet. Yeah, yeah. Okay for all of the takes and then also for the vocals the vocals are used I had that for one for borrowed. So I continued using the four and four except for a few harmonies at the you know, that I added in later when I no longer had that I used the 214 did you sing all the harmonies yourself? No harmonies were majority. Tom and Chelsea and Elena. Yeah, Tom and Chelsea. Recorded They're parts from the home, they live together during lockdown. And then once they were allowed to have visitors legally again and Elena came around and recorded hers there to actually, because Elena doesn't have she's in the middle of moving and she doesn't have a studio space at her place at the moment. So basically one studio at one vision, which is a fairly basic studio for remember correctly is the writer. Yeah, they've got a couple of really nice pieces of gear. And and an A treated room and a control room. So it's sort of a two room studio. Small and size. Yeah, you just fit the drum kit in there in the tracking room. And so yeah, we did bass and in the control room and guitars I did in the kitchen, just outside the studio. Okay. And then the rest was literally recorded either here, or at Tom's place. Yeah. In two other home stories, and also down in coffs Harbour. Marquis. Yeah, added some depths. Yes. So Marquis had live dubs on on all vocals, snares and horns, and amazing Emerald beach, down on the cliffs coast. They're Yarn lovely place. Good in say, there are probably a lot of musicians out there who are in the same boat. Have you got any advice for them to know when they're struggling to produce at home? Any suggestions and advice to share? Jesse Yeah, so I think for me, you know, having that having one good preamp, you know, really simplified the process, you know, and you're not trying to use the, you know, the mixer or the external soundcard and then using the gear that's in there later, that one good preamp just does all that, you know, straight from the signal in that's a good tool to have. And I you know, I've always been a believer in you know, in just having one good mic that yeah, that's that's why the use of consistent across all those things. You know, one good mic one good. preamp is really all you need. Yarn Definitely, definitely. You track it all without any additional gear like compressor so so was just literally microphone preamp. Then now through your mixer converted and straight over to Pro Tools. Okay, and say, Please don't take any offence, but how old is the computer? Did? Did it run through okay? Or did it play up? You know, it looks like it's an older model. Jesse I've got a MacBook Air. Actually, I've got a Mac tower behind you. That's, Unknown Speaker that's it, I Jesse love that computer. But I'm, I'm gonna be talking to you about it after the podcast about where where we can get it fixed. Yeah, definitely hated my life. And we can do that we can definitely do that. But that's, that's, that's 2015 at the tower, but I know that's fairly recent. I want to get that back. Back working the MacBook Air is it's not that old actually. I think it's 2016 Okay. But it probably looks like it's a bit older because it's often sits in the bag travelling around for competitors you know, the rule of thumb is you don't use mountain applicators to record with their right and um, and I actually have had little to no problems using it. You proved everybody wrong, but you put it off, but I am aware that you know, as soon as I started dropping some plugins into Pro Tools, things can change quite quickly. But again, it goes back to my method of I prefer let other people mix my tracks you know, I come up with ideas here i can i can track them and you know, comfortable with that. But you know, I leave I leave the mixing to to an engineer Okay, Unknown Speaker that's definitely Why is it here can be very frustrating to to mix if you don't have that experience yet. Unknown Speaker Yeah, the experience and I think also from my own process is also you know, having another set of ears away from you know, someone that's written the songs and also then track them all and and had the same listening is that whole time through that it's good for somebody else to say yes depart their not only their knowledge and wisdom, but also a fresh Listen, you know, okay, Unknown Speaker and say was was poorly involved early on in the project, or did you just, you know, record all the songs start to finish and dumped all the fires on him? Or did he give you some input on the arrangements and you know, whether there were any verses to be dropped or anything like that. Jesse Now, we had reached out a couple of times, over the last couple of years and just been around poorly at festivals and things and it said, you know, we need to do super keen to do some tracks with you. And, you know, he was came and said, to find the space and the time and so we just connected that, that we wanted to track ourselves. You know, they're written finish songs, and then and that we're looking for him to do the mixes of our of our tracking and whether it'd be happy to work like that, because, you know, wanted to make sure that we also, you know, honour a process that he was comfortable with, you know, and he said he was going to be happy to, because he, you know, heard the songs and knew that they were finished songs, you know, ones that we'd written, performed and played and, and ones that people knew that, that he was happy to take them like that, you know, us to track and he would, he would then work with them from there. He's made some some nice calls and adjustments and drop outs in places we didn't have a drop out in and, um, and has done that sort of additional production that, you know, that also wasn't expecting that's really made things a little bit more special that we've already adopted into our live show. Now, fantastic. Yeah, I think the decision to work with Paulie B was also just, you know, he's worked on a lot of albums that I really, like really dig, you know, things like Kingfisher and magic Bobby or Lou album, that's, you know, that I'm frosting on at the moment really like his his work. And he's playing, you know, he's good player. Yarn Amazing. Say, and do you mind sharing whether the songs were recorded on a click or not? Yeah, we Jesse record with the click. Yeah, I think partly, it's because all of us are just used to that, you know, and that's the thing that we've done a lot of, but also, we want to be able to use these tracks in the environment of sharing with our electronic music producing friends. And we want them to be able to be remixed and, and different versions and stems. And so I think if you've got plans to do other things with them, and and there's also other opportunities that come in, you know, to do with, you know, people that create other content and being able to use some of that material in those spaces. If you want to do that, it is a lot easier if it's recorded to a click, but it also we've done a lot of recording that way. So the process feels a bit more comfortable to us. And a big thing from listening to someone midnight the last couple of years is I just went out that's a big thing for me, is it really nice, precise timing. Yarn I listened to only two songs earlier today, and they sounded really tight. Now the rhythm section is perfectly locked in and that she can't help herself but Bob your head, you know, there's no stopping that career. Fantastic. So where would people be able to find out more about your your band? Where can they go to to listen to your music? And where can they buy the upcoming album. So yeah, Jesse we normally direct people to band camp. You look up the Jesse Morris band on there, our last album that we made with you yarn. Thank you, brother, my pleasure made. And we we've got that available on all the places you can go just about anywhere to find that. But we prefer people to go to band camp because the money gets more direct to us. And you get it on Spotify and all those other places, being able to Spotify isn't always the best place to support local bands. Yeah, I Yarn fully agree with that. And Spotify is also not the best sounding place to go online. They're definitely better places to go. And a couple of months ago went to see a friend in studio in Sydney. And they had a title on that computer. So we just wanted to listen to some music and I just open up one of the songs from the Shakedown which is your previous record and was just really amazed to see how under you know critical studio conditions so that actually sounded exactly how I expected it to sound and you don't necessarily get that from from Spotify unfortunately I wish they would improve the the quality the playback quantity a little Oh, Untitled does that. It title is definitely the winner for me. Between those. Yeah, amazon prime is definitely very nice. But there are also a lot of players online streaming services that actually sound really shocking. And SoundCloud is one of the interesting how how widely SoundCloud gets used? Of course, yeah, of course. Yeah, the quality is, is low. What was the studio that you're visiting? That was Fourth Street studio. They are associated with universal, and they do a lot of hip hop and pop productions. They're nice space. It's a lovely studio. It's phenomenal. absolutely phenomenal. We recorded some videos there. So there's actually videos on YouTube maybe I could put my I've seen your show some of your your series. Yeah, yeah, I think it was just mumbling about compression or something like this. And that studio. Yeah, I remember seeing this space. Yeah, there was a phenomenal studio. So great space to be in and Yep, your record sounded great on those speakers. So that's really good to see if you choose the right player. Title, okay. Yeah, title is not the most popular one. Definitely not. It's a bit of an underdog but to my ears. It definitely sounds better than Spotify buy Long, long one. Good. m Have you got a website where people could buy or buy merchandise directly from you? Jesse Yeah, yeah. Jc Morris And you can link to that from social media. You can find some of our current stuff t shirts and CDs and things. You know? Yep, that's probably the new album will be bandcamp. And it'll be via our website. Yeah. Yarn Fantastic. Okay. Well, Jesse, thank you so much for for your time today. pleasure to talk to you. And I wish you all the best for the upcoming album. It's an exciting time. So you know, you've already sold a copy to me. I'm gonna buy it though. No matter what, that's for sure. And you know, I've listened so far, you know, to two songs and they just blew my socks off. So I can't wait to hear that. And I would definitely make another announcement once it's out to our listeners. So everybody knows. Thank you for your time today, Jesse. Jesse Thanks, brother. Always a pleasure to hang out with you bless up lessons to the family. Cheers. Yarn So that means we have reached the end of this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. That means the world to me. Also, thank you very much to narrow enough alchemy audio, who helped out with the editing of this podcast episode you rock man. Just before you move on, just make sure to please subscribe to this podcast. And if you believe I deserve so I would love to read your five star review that would really mean the world to me. Thank you so much for considering that. And I'll speak to you again in two weeks time. Thank you, everybody, and bye for now.
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