Published April 19, 2022
Do you think your music should sound better?
In this episode:
James' background and where he started
Producing different genres, from Metal to acoustic guitar to EDM
The pros and cons of working in collaboration vs working alone
Online collaboration, and how to do it practically
Perfectionism in music production - where to draw the line
MIDI, and how the 'hardware origins' still apply today
Interesting and useful MIDI features (besides Note-On and velocity)
MIDI 2.0 - a glimpse of the future
James' project: 3rdeye:
James' project: Lost Inventions:
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Contact the podcast host Yarn at mixartist.com.au
Podcast artwork by Tom 'Chubbs' Boundy
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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends.
This is the production talk podcast episode 39.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in today. Before we start today's interview, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land that this interview is taking place on, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation. And I would like to pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Today, with me is my dear friend of many years, decades, James Lyall. And I'm very thankful that you found time to meet me today. Thank you for being on board, James.
James Lyall: Thanks. Very much yen pleasure. It's a pleasure to be on the podcast. We've talked about it for awhile and, and here we are.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And to finally, we find some time, you know, we've got a coffee going, we've got the recording system going. So, uh, James, the reason why I really wanted to talk to you is because you are.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: an absolute specialist when it comes to EDM production, which in all honesty is a field that I do not consider myself a specialist in any way.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So really hope that you bring some interesting things to the table today is. At the same time, you're also, uh, extremely knowledgeable in All kinds of other genres. So now you've recorded yourself, acoustically, vocals, and guitar. You you've produced metal and you play metal and EDM it's the entire spectrum.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you cover a range that I don't. So first maybe just tell us about your musical projects, what they are like, and you know, your, your musical story and your, your musical career highlights place.
James Lyall: All right. Where do we begin there? That's a big question. Um, so yeah, I guess, um, diversity. It's always something that I've kind of, um, been very sort of keen on in terms of not only what I produce, but what I listened to as well. So like you mentioned there, my sort of background in production. Um, so this started off in the studio realm, working with metal bands over in Glasgow.
James Lyall: Um, and that's really all my, sort of what my main focus was when I first started getting into music production. That's all I really wanted to do was, was metal and, and work with hardcore bands, um, all different sort of sub genres of metal grind, core death metal. Glasgow had a burgeoning scene at the time that I was sort of getting into, uh, into music production.
James Lyall: So a lot of my friends used to come in and use the record in the studio is in STD Glasgow. And that's kind of where I really sort of fell in love with, with just the, the environment of the studio and obviously the, the process of capturing music and, and, and that sort of thing. And then over time, um, I guess a reflection of my musical tastes, uh, I've always been into stuff like drawing bass, um, sort of my earliest sort of musical tastes, I guess, were centered around.
James Lyall: Old school rave music as well. Um, when I was at, in my early to. That's when I sort of became aware of things like eight men breaks and, uh, three or three baselines and 8 0 8 kick drums, obviously not really knowing what they were called, but having this, this very, very sort of, um, sort of, uh, emotion in, in that, in that realm as a kid, um, as, at the same time as still listening to stuff like rock and metal.
James Lyall: Pop music back then as well. Um, Michael, Jackson's always been one of my favorite artists since back in the day.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Jackson fan as a teenager,
James Lyall: Yeah. And I guess, I guess Michael Jackson, that's where my awareness of music production started was actually age five. Uh, when my mum bought me a copy of thriller, um, and I remember listening to it, I'm old little personal stereo that my sister got me and just being aware of things like panning and, and even things like sampling.
James Lyall: I was, I was just immediately sort of drawn into this Sonic world on the head. When I had that first song on thriller, which is, want to be starting something, um, and hearing all the little voices and these little over double layers, I was like, what is this stuff? You know, so
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well Quincy's production is just ridiculously fantastic.
James Lyall: Uh,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it doesn't get any.
James Lyall: It doesn't.
James Lyall: Yeah. So I think that's maybe where I first was, was I suppose, aware of production, uh, was, was hearing these little details in the music that, that I could, I'd only really picked up on headphones. Um, so I had that sort of pop upbringing and rock upbringing as well. But again, it skill, um, all my mates in class were like handing out copies of rape tapes that their big brothers were, um, I suppose, getting from who were a little bit.
James Lyall: We're sort of circulating to there we brothers and we'd, we'd copy cassettes of all these different DJ mixes and all this kind stuff. And, and that's the thing where I, where I sort of really to started to get involved. Um, obviously I was a little bit too young to go clubbing and this kinda stuff, but the dance music, culture of the UK definitely started to permeate.
James Lyall: A lot of my sort of musical tastes when I was probably 13 and 14. Um, so a few years later when I started being able to afford to actually go out and buy music and stuff, I started getting into stuff like drama. Um, and I think a lot of the musical features of certain electronic styles and stuff like matte metal are quite similar as well.
James Lyall: So, uh, myself and my friends, we had quite a broad sort of taste in music, but we were definitely sort of into sort of industrial music, you know, metal that you since, um, Pure electronic music as well, and obviously a bit of a fusion of both of those worlds. Um, but yeah, basically that's, that's kind of where I started, I guess, was, was getting sort of into early sort of early forms of jungle drum and bass.
James Lyall: Um, what, what would be called sort of rave, rave music back then? Um, and then. Years later as I started to get into metal production, I will start to salt. Also started to experiment with working with things like hardware, samplers, um, EMU samplers, um, the old archive S two thousands, various different sewn modules, sort of hardware since.
James Lyall: Um, and just started tinkering, I guess, um, with, with some, some very bad, uh, sort of takes on electronic music when I first started producing. But, uh, at that stage it was all about just having fun and experimenting and learning about sampling and, and this kind of.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. And, uh, you also play the guitar
James Lyall: Yes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and, uh, I've seen you slapping a base and you've got a drum set at home. Is
James Lyall: I play drums as well. Yeah. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you're Pretty much an entire production facility sort of in one person.
James Lyall: again, being self. My, my honest at a technical level, my technical musicianship skills are, are possible. Uh, obviously I've learned how to use the studio. Uh,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You too hard on yourself?
James Lyall: Um, well, the thing is a hangout with a lot of pretty elite musicians. So I'm always comparing myself to them, you know, you know, guys that can literally, you know, virtuosos their instruments.
James Lyall: Um, so when I compare myself on instead of musical level, I always am quite self-effacing I guess, in that regard, but I'm definitely serviceable as a musician in Samsung, I've been able to get stuff down and, and, and using production to, to, I guess sort of correct things that need to be corrected. And a little bit of assistance is sometimes required.
James Lyall: Uh, I am definitely getting, getting more confident with, with stuff like that, but yeah, I love it. I'll make love. I love playing bass guitar was, was my sort of second instrument Irish originally start with piano. Uh, when I was a young child, um, gradually sort of got into, into guitar in my late teens.
James Lyall: So that's that's I guess my main instrument is guitar. Um, but I've, I've dabbled with pretty much everything. Um, drums, bass vocals. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: cool. w w when You produce a certain genre, is that the only thing on your mind or do your thoughts and Gina production workflows get sort of. Paul I'm in a, what's the word cross,
James Lyall: Cross pollinates.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: cross, cross pollinated from, from the other Jonah's that you are also very experienced in, you know, is this EDM somewhere in the back of your mind when you produce metal or an advice
James Lyall: It's a great question. Um, not really these days. Um, and I guess that's because I've just got so many different projects on the go that are all quite different aesthetically and in terms of the genre, I feel. It kind of has to be one or the other in terms of what I'm sort of feeling on, on any given day.
James Lyall: Um, so usually, um, I tend to sort of operate in phases, um, and in terms of what I'm producing. So for example, um, about six months ago, I was really, really pushing the, um, the sort of metal stuff. I've got a couple of different solo projects, um, on, on the go there. And that was my real focus at that particular point in time.
James Lyall: And I think that was really a reflection of my head space at that time. And, and that's something I think I've always been acutely. The relationship between how you're feeling mentally and emotionally, and obviously what that can result in on a creative level. So, um, at that particular point in time, I was feeling quite dark.
James Lyall: Um, and I had a lot of stuff that I guess I was trying to process, and of course, metal is a phenomenal genre for catharsis, um, uh, you know, as you know yourself. Um, so, so I tend to go in phases usually. Um, I consider, I consider tale on a given day, like what I'm sort of feeling. In terms of, um, emotional staff or sort of just mindset staff or, or Headspace stuff.
James Lyall: And then obviously find, uh, some sort of musical vibe that, that, that relates to that. Um, so there are days where I definitely don't feel like making metal or listening to metal, the toll, and I want to do something that's very, very relaxing. Um, so those days I tend to work on my dub techno project, um, which goes by the name of lost inventions.
James Lyall: That's pushing much more sort of ambient, um, much sort of deeper, a more meditative, uh, forms of. Um, and that's obviously a massive contrast aesthetically to something like the black metal stuff that I produce, uh, under the name swaves so yeah, very, very different vibes, different flavors. And, and I feel sort of lucky now where I'm able to kind of almost wake up in the morning and kind of feel.
James Lyall: I feel something in my belly, you know, like I can feel like I've got like a drum and bass bass line in there brewing or, or maybe an idea for a riff or something, you know? Um, so usually I can kind of tell what's what's, what's going to be a good, a good use of time, you know, because obviously as you know, time is very precious, um, when you've got other things on the, on the boil.
James Lyall: Um, and yeah, I, I definitely work in phases. So at the moment, I'm going to go in back to my original project, which is the. Um, which is my most established project. Uh, I haven't released anything under that name for a long time though. So I've been, I've been piecing together a bit of a comeback EAP, um, working with w working with some, some former collaborators and some new collaborators that I'm very, very excited about.
James Lyall: Um, so that's sort of taking out my time at the moment, as well as another collaborative project with a very good friend of mine in the UK, which I'm really excited. Uh, we've been working on that for about two or three years now to two years, I'm just working on pre-production and we still haven't got a release out yet.
James Lyall: We've been, we've just been sort of trying things out and trying to find the right representation of our evolving sound, I guess. Um, so yeah, I know, no matter how I'm feeling, I guess the long, the short of it is I've, I've always got some sort of music that reflects that. Um, and I, I guess that's why I'm I'm I, I like, I like to produce so many styles, you know?
James Lyall: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, that gives you huge palette to draw from. And, and I asked you, um, go through all these different productions. You know, some of them, uh, typically done in collaboration, you know, looking at band projects and so on, but some of the EDM work is often Dustin. All by oneself, you know, as a Single person.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: but then you have collaborations going, which one is easier dealing with people and, um, you know, all the pros and cons or sometimes being used by yourself and, and, uh, producing music that way.
James Lyall: That's a great question. Um, yeah, it kind of varies, I guess. Um, Just to cut straight to it. One thing I love about the in collaborations is often not having to mix the tractor into that project. So if I'm working for example, with my good friend Sapphire, uh, who's, who's a very close friend and, and, uh, a producer who I've, I've sort of almost going to grow up with and, and we've, we've worked together on a number of different things.
James Lyall: Like we produced a number of different tracks. He tends to do the mix down. And obviously the fact that. Fantastic. It mixed downs as always means that I often don't have to worry about that final mix, which is great. Um, so that's, that's the lazy answer, I guess. Uh, but obviously sometimes I, I end up doing the final mixes on, on other collaborations.
James Lyall: So it, it does vary. Um, I'm a bit of a, I do tend to work very well in isolation. Um, but I also. Pretty adept at working with other people, both in flesh, in the flesh, and also remotely. Most of my collaborations for the third eye project were done remotely, um, purely because of geography. So working with producers in America, working with producers in Canada, New Zealand, this kind of thing in the UK and the UK.
James Lyall: So there isn't really an option there. A lot of the stuff does have to be done sort of asynchronously and offline, um, which is essentially like working in, in isolation anyway. You know, um, because you, you, you're sort of adding a layer of, of new elements or refining arrangements or mix mixes or whatever, and then sending it back.
James Lyall: So you're only ever sort of working by yourself anyway, even though it is a collaborative process, uh, I tend to feel. Um, I'm, I think I'm more productive when I am in that sort of sense that, that sort of isolated space, um, I have done sort of traditional collaborations with using a sort of hot seat system or use it to take it in turns.
James Lyall: And often I feel that that's maybe not as effective in certain situations, I guess it depends on who you're working with and this kind of stuff. And if I'm working with vocalists, I genuinely prepare to be. Prepare to be in the studio, doing the recording, doing the coaching through the takes and sort of, you know, sort of contributing to the performance aspect as well.
James Lyall: Um, but for things like just producing collaborative tracks, I tend to find that I work better by myself. I think to be honest with you. Um, and there's a number of different reasons why that might be the case. Um, I guess so.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, well, the good news is, you know, we have all the options these days and, uh, you know, working remotely is so much more acceptable than it was, you know, Five years ago. If there's maybe one positive thing we can all draw from COVID is that we all get really good at remote
James Lyall: Uh, remote collaborations. Yeah. Yeah. Which, which, again, I've been doing since probably 2009, I think I did my first online collaboration. So I think for many of us we've always sort of, you know, sort of had that as part of our, our set of schedules. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: When you work remotely with somebody else, do you, what system do you follow? Do you both use the same DAW do exchange session fonts, or do you export way files with the same start point or
James Lyall: Good question. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what's the least painful workflow?
James Lyall: Um, good. It's a really good question. Particularly, if you are thinking about getting into online collaboration as an artist, that that's a really good question to ask is, is what's the best way of actually managing the logistical side of it? For me, it depends on who I'm working with. The majority of producers that I've worked with in the past, don't use the same DW, um, Or, and again, things like plugins, you have to be very careful that everyone's got the same sort of, um, sort of compatibility with certain plugins that you might use that might be part of your signature signed as well.
James Lyall: Uh, and thus are obviously really important as part of that production process. So I've done it in different ways. Most of the collaborations that I've done over the years have been just using stems, um, because most of the producers that I've worked with have been using different data W's and different plugins and things.
James Lyall: So stems basically. It's completely like safeguards that whole passing back and forth process.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. All right. Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the listeners might have a little bit deja VU moment. Now, when you, when you refer to stems today, it's always good to ask what people actually mean by stems, whether it's, you know, the subgroup signals or the individual signals, which one do you refer to them?
James Lyall: A combination of both. Yeah. So certain things like, obviously bass drum, snare, drums, maiden vocals, I will offer. I will always separate those, um, other things that might be, um, Sort of, I suppose, convoluted in the way that they'd been layered, my end up getting stemmed out. Um, I, I can, uh, treat her as, you know, what are the individual entities within the music?
James Lyall: Um, for example, if I've got some sort of ambient section with five or six different parts zones that are all there together on different sense, different channels, for example, um, I, I sort of think about what would the collaborate and want to do with these things and for sort of minor. Gripping stuff together is often a massive time saver.
James Lyall: And, but obviously the sort of main ingredients I will always separate just so that the, the end users got yeah. Kick and snare, that kind of thing. Even down to things like individual high hats, they might want to change the swing on things like high hats. So they need access to those things. So it really depends on, on, on the track.
James Lyall: Each track is, I guess, would be different there. Um, with my collaborative project, with my friend in the UK, that's one that we've sort of standardized our systems. So we actually decided as part of that pre process. On all the tools where we're going to need, uh, in terms of third-party plugins. And we basically standardize our set up so that we've got exactly the same array of, of plugins and stuff to draw from.
James Lyall: And most of the time we're working with Ableton live for that projects. The most of the time, we're just sort of sticky. Um, all the sort of stock Ableton, um, effects and this kind of thing, um, which, which are fantastic. Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: are really
James Lyall: they're really, really good. Um, and, and, um, so with that project, we're actually sending the entire Ableton session back and forth.
James Lyall: Um, but I normally wouldn't do. Um, with, with producers that haven't worked with before, uh, because it can potentially open up a bit of a Pandora's box of problems down the tracks. So, yeah, so, but that was, that was a conversation that we had right at the start. We said, listen, what's, what's the best way to, to give us that flexibility.
James Lyall: And it's, it's just standardizing our set ups, I guess, is the way to go about that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well set. So what we really can take from it is that, you know, the conversation needs to happen. You know, if you collaborate, you need to speak about this ideally early on.
James Lyall: Exactly that needs to be a system a and a framework. Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yep. Yeah, And you know, you need to agree on things like separate and certain aspects need to be. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That makes sense. Cool.
James Lyall: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And look, I would like to steer the conversation towards, um, EDM production, if that's okay. So we really need to speak about. Yes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, um, I think you and I we've been in the industry for a long time. So the typical middy studio has changed a lot, you know, today it can be a USB keyboard and a laptop and headphones while we both remember the times when there was lots of.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Output gear. Uh, when we, when people needed to know about media interfaces, the din connectors, you know, star networks versus a Stacey chaining would immediate out as in comparison to midway through. Is any of this sort of odor knowledge still useful to you these days when you, when you produce
James Lyall: Great question again. Absolutely is, um, particularly within, um, the dub techno production, um, sort of approach that I'm currently working. Which is predominantly driven by hardware. Um, so this project, uh, last inventions was, um, essentially, um, a custom built project that was designed to break my perfectionism, um, which is something that's, it's basically.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you going to explain that.
James Lyall: Yeah. So, um, with, with music production, I, uh, I, uh, I'm sort of, I'm always conflicted when it comes to, um, a lot of sort of production aspects. And the biggest one for me is always things like mixed own quality and it's going to stuff. And as a, as a sort of dubstep producer and a drum and bass producer, because the production standards within those genres have reached such sort of.
James Lyall: Sort of very, very high points, um, particularly within Java base production, uh, you know, sort of early two thousands that really became almost like a competition, um, and in many sort of production aspects and stuff. Um, I definitely find that, you know, who's got the fast snare, the Lotus mixed out and all this kinda stuff and, and, and the, you know, the production quality within drum and bass is, is exceptionally high, similar to something like metal.
James Lyall: Um, you know, the. Drama based producers are really, really, really gifted when it comes to audio engineering and advanced processing and it's going to thing. And it actually turned me into a bit of a nervous wreck it came to sort of producing stuff and mixing things. And, um, I've got a little bit of OCD when it comes to, um, sort of a lot of sort of production stuff.
James Lyall: So I find that I was, I was getting very frustrated with this sort of perfectionistic tendency that I developed just from, from years and years and years of producing stuff that just had very, very high. Production quality. Um, if that makes sense. Uh, so I became,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: can relate to that a lot.
James Lyall: yeah, you've almost become obsessive with, with, with certain
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: then it can really be in your way, you know, then you, you know, that, there's the saying that it goes along the lines of, you know, perfect is the opposite of done.
James Lyall: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So we all need to accept that a production needs to be released at some stage.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And there's always something left that could, could have been done. But does it have to be,
James Lyall: A truck is a truck has never
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's never finished. Yeah. It's only ever abandoned.
James Lyall: yeah, so that, that basically resulted in a, in a, in a, in a situation where actually, we, we sorta talked about this in passing the other day. Didn't we, the fact that actually a lot of the music that I've made, I haven't released. Um, and that is obviously the last thing that.
James Lyall: As a producer, why haven't I released it? Is it related to perfectionism? It definitely is. To an extent, particularly with the drum and bass side of things, particularly with the dubstep side of things. Um, and I've got no reason to feel these things because my work has been released on great labels.
James Lyall: Obviously, if they're happy with the mixed zones, I should be right. Uh, but I never am. And I think this is just a part of my creative, my creative set aside, I guess,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: everybody feels that
James Lyall: they do. It's totally
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: pretty much everybody I speak to on this podcast knows that to some
James Lyall: It's totally normal. It's totally normal. And I think that it's really important to remember that particularly those are those times where you do get a little bit obsessive and pedantic. You do have to be able to let things go and, and, and, and just get it out there. So the lost inventions project was essentially designed to not allow me to be perfectionistic.
James Lyall: And, uh, one of the sort of systems that I designed for that was to sort of base it around light performance. Um, and, and sort of almost adopting a bit of a dub reggae style, kind of rough and ready approach to, uh, the way that it was produced and also the way that it's composed and performed. So that project is actually all built around essentially, um, live performance and what I did, what I did with the live performance that a design I guess, was deliberately removed the computer from the setup, which meant that I had to rely on much less in the way.
James Lyall: Being able to process things, being able to ACU and compress things because in the live set up, I simply don't have the resources to be able to do that. So, uh, the, the whole, the whole live rig was designed to be very, very raw in its design. Um, and, and, and, and, and basically how it's sort of built and that sort of stuff.
James Lyall: And it doesn't really allow me to get. Perfectionistic because it's, it's, it's really not what the project is about. It's all about the vibe and it's all about this sort of, that sort of rawness. And, and, and, and I guess the, the, the minimal, uh, way that it's been produced, it's very much a contrast to the third eye project and the way that it sort of all happens.
James Lyall: So, uh, that project, because it's all sort of hardware focused is absolutely, it's absolutely essential to have an understanding of, of fairly complex sort of hardware. Um, concepts, I guess, you know, um, being able to send program changes from, um, the sort of main hardware sampler to be able to change all the presets for me from track to track within a live set, for example, uh, is very important.
James Lyall: Being able to remote control things, um, being able to sort of really sort of tap into the limitations of various different hardware, samplers and, and sequencers using advanced middy stuff. Um, there's often a lot more that you can actually get out of those devices. If you can sort of figure out how to do it, if that makes sense.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. So you, you basically saying that besides the note on and off command and the velocity, there's entire an entire universe of other possibilities within the MIDI
James Lyall: Abs. Absolutely. And obviously if you're building a set of hardware, focus, live rig, um, everything needs to be synchronized very tightly. You can't have any latency, um, in a, in a live performance situation, you want everything to be stable and, and, and sort of ease easy to work. And unfortunately, a lot of the, the sort of hardware that's designed for producing that style of music is often quite cryptic.
James Lyall: Um, I've got this phenomenal device called an electron digit tax or Diggy tact, um, which is my sort of brain for the hardware setup. Um, and that's a, it's a lovely, um, quite cryptic, quite difficult till sort of late. The, the ropes of when you first get one, but that's, that's the sort of brain that basically controls the entire set.
James Lyall: Uh, it's got eight sample attracts, which means that I can load in my own samples and sort of, you know, build the foundation of the track from there. But it's also got eight mini tracks that I can use to send middy, um, sort of percussion lines or melodies or baselines to the other bits of hardware that I've got in the, in the.
James Lyall: And unfortunately on a sort of, if from a hands-on perspective, um, that little box, the Digitate is, is actually really fiddly to use in a live setup because it's got a tiny little screen and all this, you know, and I'm trying to do things like, you know, Dubbo, you know, sort of percussion using dub delays and stuff.
James Lyall: And I have to obviously dive through menus on the device to actually find the settings. And it's not the most hands-on sort of environment. So.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: no, that's Not
James Lyall: Not very user-friendly, particularly when you're, you're on stage sweating and you can't really see what's going on and you've got an audience in front of you.
James Lyall: The last thing that you want to be doing is diving through menus, trying to find something. So a bunch of research later, and I find out a way of actually being able to control the digital, using just like a standard mini controller with faders and, and. Being able to essentially remote control all of those parameters, just using middy CC changes.
James Lyall: So I've now got a system where I've got this little mini mixer, which basically gives me the ability to control levels filters and delay and revamp sands. And if it wasn't for a bunch of really nerdy, digging through media implementation charts and, and sort of Googling to try and find, um, you know, is, is it possible and what I need to be able to do that?
James Lyall: Uh, yeah, there's a lot of pretty nasty fiddly middy stuff that you do have to get your head around. So I think, I think. He still relevant. If you look at, uh, if you go on YouTube and look at, for example, the facts magazine against the clock series, which shows you sort of, you know, a whole bunch of different purchasers working in their studios, you know, a lot of them are using fairly involved middy rigs, even in their studios.
James Lyall: So, um, so yeah, a lot of producers are still using a fusion of, of of course the immediacy and the, and the, the portability and, and, and, and, and the sort of. Endless possibilities of software based production, but there's still very much a kind of cultural association with, with hardware. Um, and I think to the new generations of producers that miss that, that period, or that sort of transition from, from purely hardware samplers, purely hardware drum machines, you know, having to mix Detroit techno tracks on a, on a.
James Lyall: Channel analog console. You know, I think a lot of the younger generation don't realize that the sort of legacy style production of where everything had to be done, um, using, using hardware, media, um, and, and obviously how long that used to take. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let me just sum that up. So use program change come-ons
James Lyall: Program change commands.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you actually have them at the press of a button using a mini hot red device.
James Lyall: actually coded into the sequence. So, so, so when I change, when I change a bank or a pattern on the hardware sampler to bring in a new element or to transition to a new truck, it actually spits out all the program change messages as part of that sequence.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. So it's like automation in some ways it's, it's all practice. You practice in rehearsal, I guess. Yes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you do practice all of this. You know, the S your system, any system knows when to do that for the next take. And then you also use a MIDI controllers. You mentioned volume and panning and reverb sends and echo sense.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Like, like
James Lyall: Yes. Filter cutoff frequency as well.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: core can add resonance,
James Lyall: Yeah. Residents as well to a
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: fun
James Lyall: Yeah, exactly. To a lesser extent. Things like modulation wheel can be useful for applying modulation
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, absolutely.
James Lyall: Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And what about, uh, temple commands? You know, like a meaty beef club, for example, do you do synchronize devices, like, like echoes that way? Is that something you do as
James Lyall: I do actually. Yeah. I kind of varies on, um, from rig to rig. So I think that the current iteration of my lifestyle is probably like Vashon tan or something like that. Um, and it's always changing. I'm always working out ways of, of sort of, uh, improving it or streamlining it. Um, but, but yeah, yeah, definitely.
James Lyall: Definitely. Yeah. Um, maybe clock is essential. Um, so everything is, is, is sort of synchronized using that. And then obviously that means having to dive into all the sub menus of all the devices and, you know, assigning different media channels and all this sort of stuff. So each thing's receiving its own, um, designated, uh, parameters and this
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: of course many channels
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: is something that today, you know, if you just work on a computer on a laptop, Barely ever come across, you know, hardly ever. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But, uh, uh, Yeah, using multi timbral software or hardware, this becomes highly relevant. Okay. All right. So there are still, you know, some use for, for the, uh, Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: More complex, uh, elements of, of media. So if we just look at this from a moment, you mentioned the early days of, you know, using hardware and now nowadays using software and plaque and set all, it feels like it's a completely different thing.
James Lyall: Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If we just look under the hood, you know, if you update your DAW and you go for the next latest one, they all still use the exact same multiprotocol that was invented at the early eighties.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So the middy protocol Bailey has barely changed at all. Yeah,
James Lyall: They've only just released version 2.0
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. It's is that something, have you looked into that?
James Lyall: I have. Yes. And, and the new standards. So, yeah, as you said, um, the version one, uh, of middy was released in 1983 and, uh, we've been using it all the way through that time until I think 2020 was when they announced Smitty 2.0, which is pretty incredible. I mean, that's really Testament to, um, how well future-proofed the protocol was, um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It might be the most successful music language ever. Well, I guess, you know, uh, except from notation,
James Lyall: yeah. Philly. Yeah, yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: but, uh, you know, uh, other digital standards, you know, what digital standards do we use from the early eighties anymore? Most of them are completely obsolete, but I don't think we have seen the best of media yet.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The best