Night Time Car Passes

Night time car passes

Night time car passes

I recently made the hard decision to finally get rid of my trusty old M-Audio MicroTrack. I bought it yonks ago at the end of my first year of uni to replace my then aging mini-disk player/recorder (remember those?! No? Me neither…). I’ve got a lot of good memories of this little device – I always took  it everywhere with me, recording as much of anything any everything that I could. Fortunately it was small enough to fit snuggly in a little pocket in my rucksack so it was always at hand when I heard a sound worth grabbing.

Like all techno-geeks I eventually started to feel the longing for a newer, better, more shiny toy. Fortunately this seemed to roughly coincide with the opportunity to flog my MicroTrack to a friend who needs something to record audio onto whilst on an Australian adventure. Unfortunately this also coincided with me starting work on a short film (called ‘In t’Vic’ – more on this later) that I would definitely need to record some sounds for. Conundrum. In the end I bit the bullet and passed the MicroTrack onto my Australian-bound buddy and started searching for the next thing. I know quite a few sound chaps who swear by the Zoom H4n handy recorder, so this seemed like a good place to start. It turns out that my fellow audio runner at Molinare also has a H4n that he’s very happy to lend me whilst I make my purchasing decision. It’s good to have friends!

The first audio element I turned my attention to for In t’Vic on were the atmospheres (ambient sounds that detail the location of each scene – these really ‘set’ the scene from an audio perspective) so from the first day I borrowed the Zoom I’ve mostly been capturing different atmospheres and ambient spaces. There are quite a few scenes that are set outside in a roughly suburban residential area at night, so I spent a portion of an evening with the Zoom sat outside my flat capturing various night ambiences. Listening back to one of those recordings afterwards I realised that the short wall that seperates my flat’s boundary from the road actually blocked out a lot of the tyre noise from passing cars. But when the cars pass a gap in the wall where the paths lead onto the road (shown in the photo above) you get a sudden burst of extra sound, which makes the recording sound like the cars are going super fast for a brief second. Have a listen below:

CabGrab Mobile App Promo

A couple of months before Christmas, I was approached by my good friend Adam Kelly to help out with the soundtrack for a quick promo video for a mobile app called CabGrab.

The application lets choose your preferred taxis company and, using your phone’s GPS location, will send a taxis right to you, as well as generally making the whole process faster and easier. You can download it from Apple’s ‘App Store’, or from Android’s ‘Play Store’, or you can get it from their website here:

This was a quick and simple job that required some simple music and a voice over. I whipped up some ‘happy-feel-good’ fokly music together in a couple of hours, drawing on the power of the acoustic guitar, hand claps and a good old melatrone (it’s an instrument, not a character from Transformers). Next came the Voice Over, which was supplied by a friend of mine called Steve. This was Steve’s first time recording a voice over, but he was a natural behind the microphone and really rose to the challenge to crack out a great recording that we were both chuffed with.

However, despite our efforts the client decided to go with an original voice over guide recording that Adam had done early on when he was putting the animation together. Even though I might not have agreed with that call, this was a good reminder of the unerring rule that the client is always right, and they get what they pay for. Sadly this meant Steve’s wonderful voice over would never make it onto the final animation. Also, logistics couldn’t allow me to re-record Adam in a studio, so I had to try and make the original recording from Adam’s laptop’s internal microphone sound like it wasn’t recorded on a laptop’s internal microphone. C’est la vie. I was never going to be able to get rid of all the room sound from the recording, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out all the same. Check out the finished article below:

Psalm 46:10 Soundscape


Lee preaching it

Another couple have months have gone by with a woeful lack of blogging. As my wonderful wife aptly pointed out to me earlier in the week, the less I actually make use of this blog and post things up here, the less I actually get motivated to exercise my God given creative muscles and do audio things. It’s annoying cyclic, but very true, and probably makes for a dull and boring James.

The truth is there is a fair bit of musical and sound related thingumabobs that I’ve been tinkering with in the shadows recently. Just for some reason I’ve not really considered to bring said thingumabobs out into the light for other people to see (well…hear really…).

So, in an attempt to drag myself into a creative mindset, here’s one of my latest audio thingumabob with as little preamble as is possible for me.

Sometime last week I got a call from the lovely Lee Layton-Matthews telling me about an idea he’d had for his coming preach that Sunday at Kerith (which you can listen to here – do it, it’s great). He was speaking on being still, or keeping quiet before God, drawing from Psalm 46: 10. Lee’s idea was to harness the awesome power of sound (cue thunder rolls) to give an impression of how hard it can be to have a quiet moment nowadays with so many things clambering for our attention. To do that he asked me to effectively create a sort of soundscape built up of noisy sounds that continually build and crescendo until a sudden ‘stop’ moment, which creates a sense of stillness and relief. I loved the idea and was massively excited to see what I could come up with.

I’ve not made a soundscape since I was at uni, so this was a lot of fun and a great challenge. A couple of interesting challenges that arose;

  1. Is there meant to be a story, or could it work with just a random collection of sounds?
  2. How to mix it in such a way that all of the sounds are distinctly heard, whilst still creating a sense of overwhelming noise.

For challenge one I opted for a bit of both story and random sounds. The sounds at the beginning are all things you’d hear indoors, but as it crescendos things from the outside start to be heard more (traffic and pneumatic drills etc) – but that’s about it in terms of linear story idea. In order to increase the sense of crescendo and progression some white noise that builds throughout; I figured what’s more noisy than white noise, right? Everything else was placed because it sounded good to me – one of my regular enigmatic methods. For challenge two – well, hopefully you’ll be able to tell me if that challenge was overcome. Can you pick out distinct sounds and events?

Music Collab – Warner Leisure Hotels

It’s probably safe to say it’s been a little while since my last post. Ok, more than a little while: 8 months in fact. 8 FLIPPING MONTHS! <insert groan>. However I can honestly say that the long period of silence has been due to how hectic and full-on the last 8 months have been, both at work and at home, and although it has unavoidably shunted blogging quite a way down my priority list, it has given me quite an arsenal of stuff post up here. So without further ado, here’s the first of some:

Several months ago I was asked to compose a set of library music for Warner Leisure Hotels . For various time related reasons, I opted to do something I’ve not done before; to join forces with a handful of very talented and wonderful creatives to make the music together in a collaborative effort. This was definitely new ground for me, and quite daunting in many ways. I’ve lost count of the number of projects and bits of work that I’ve collaborated with others on, but this was quite a different prospect because instead of being a contributor, in this instance I’d actually be the initiator and person responsible for the whole collaborative output. Eek.

So, I gathered a band of merry composer-friends and we got to work making a series of music. The friends in question are Andrew Hosker (cool brother), Dave Betts, David Cottee (cool friends from Kerith) and Stu Read (cool friend from work). I passed on the brief to each music-maker, and divvyed out the work according to what each person wanted and had the time to make. The brief was to create a library of 8 original music tracks that could be broken down into three sub-catagories, with each catagory expressing a different mood and tempo. For workings title we dubbed these as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ tracks – A’s would be as uptempo and as energetic as suits the Warner brand; B would be something slightly more chilled, and C would be even more chilled.

Once everyone had gone away and made their music it was up to me to develop each track, to evolve it, and then mix and master them so that by the end of the process all the tracks sound like they would sit well together as a group together. I have to say I really relished this part of the project. I’ve recently come to realisation that I much prefer to play the role of ‘producer’ rather than composer. There’s something about the challenge of being in charge of the whole sound; bringing all the musical elements together and developing them, evolving them and turning them into a final ‘thing’ that is immensly rewarding.

Anyway, that’s enough jibbering from me. Listen to the selection of tracks we made and let me know what you think, or even better let the person who made them know what you think. I’ve really loved this collaboration, and I’m dead proud of what we’ve achieved together. Could this be the start of a new season of collaboration, and a step towards Therefore Audio becoming a collective, rather than a lone-wolf? I hope so.



Methods Promo Videos

I’ve recently had another opportunity to collaborate on a project with my good friend Jonathan Smith. Jonathan is an extremely talented designer of all things graphical and moving, and there are many reasons that I love working with him; his passion for quality design, his enthusiasm for a great idea that you can’t help but get swept along by, and his cracking sense of humour through the whole process. One of the main reasons I’m always excited about working with J though is because I know that he always comes up with something that looks, and is, fantastic, which makes my job as a sound designer/composer/audio-whatever so much more enjoyable and simple.

That’s probably enough gushing. Anyway, this project is a promotional video for a company called Methods. Check them out at their website **here** – another thing that Jonathan designed (isn’t he clever?!). The brief was to create a video that simply explains and promote who Methods are and what they’re about as a company. The video above is what we came up with. Jonathan made everything you see, I made everything you hear.

One thing everyone was keen to include was a case study of Methods’ largest client – the NHS. This was originally going to be part of the same video, but we soon realised that it would end up being too long, so we split the two apart. Check it out:

I love projects where I get to create the entire soundtrack, rather than just a single element like the dialogue or music. Its a heck of a lot more work for sure, but it means I’m in control of sculpting the whole direction, feel, and emotion of the soundtrack and I  get to put my own creative stamp across it all, which is pretty rewarding. For me, one of the most enjoyable parts for this particular process was recording the voice over.

The voice belongs to a lovely chap called Paul, who works at Methods. As well as having a silky voice, he also has the patience of a saint – which is just as well, because the recording location I selected to record said silky voice from was a broom cupboard. I wish I was exaggerating, but due to some fairly tight time constraints and lack of a portable vocal booth that I can fit in my man-bag, I had to choose between recording in a selection of big, noisey, air conditioned and spacious boardrooms, or a small, cramped but acoustically absorbent space (or ‘dead space’ as I termed it, to the amusement of the office folk). I went with the later, and although it was cramped we made the best of it. It definitely helped that Paul was so natural in front of the microphone.

As far as the music goes, all I have to say is that I’ve obviously been listening to a lot of the Tron Legacy: Reconfigured album. The music needed to be quite a bit more positive and happy sounding than that, but I couldn’t resist layering up lots of yummy synths and chucking in a healthy amount of distortion and bit crushing to make them sound nice and low-fi. A friend I showed it to commented that it reminded him of old video game consoles, which wasn’t what I was going for but I’m definitely happy to take it as two thumbs up.

The sound design is fairly straightforward and serves mainly to reinforce any obvious visual movements and sound events – neither Jonathan nor myself felt a particularly strong need to go ‘Star Wars’ all over it, so I kept it to some nice whooshes and swhishes. Style wise it made sense for everything to sound fairly sythentic and hyper-real, seeing as the visual world Jonathan had created was entirely sythesized and vector based. We soon discovered that putting too many obviously real life sounds in there just didn’t work, so it gave me a fairly good excuse to unleash mucho whooshes and swhishes.

Simon’s Song – I Have Hidden Your Word In My Heart (REMIX!!)

…The title says it all really!

This is a remix I’ve done of the song our Senior Pastor Simon Benham sang to us (very beautifully I might add) last Sunday at the Kerith. Simon, in advance….sorry, I couldn’t help myself! You can also blame/thank Neil Taylor for getting me a copy of the Podcast.

Kerith Community Church have started a new sermon series last week titled ‘Texts For Life’. The idea is that each week for 12 weeks we focus on a particular verse from the bible so that over the course of the series we as a church get God’s Word firmly rooted in everything we do. Simon kicked off the series by thinking over Psalm 119 verse 11. It’s a great talk, and you can listen to it here.

Simon commented that ‘It’s often good to memorise things by saying them, but it’s often very good to memorise things by singing them.’ I couldn’t agree more, so I took it to heart. In all seriousness I’ve had this going round my head ever since Sunday, so I’m going to chalk this up as a creative tool for memorising the Psalm in my own special way – a mashup of Bossanova, Techno, and Dubstep.

Feel free to share this around facebook, twitter, wordpress and whatever else – purely for the purposes of memorising the verse, mind…

**For those of you trying to listen to this on an iPhone or iPad, or any device that doesn’t like flash player, you should be able to listen via the link below**

Worship Loop – I’m Not Ashamed Intro

Back in the day with Kingdom Culture

Here’s another intro I made for a worship set we did at Kerith Community Church a little while ago. The worship set started with Hillsong London’s upbeat version of ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ – which you can listen to **here** – so it’s based around that. The wonderful Andy White also created a snazzy little video for this.

There are two different versions because I came up with two drafts: the one that we ended up using for the worship set which fits in more closely with the minor tonality of the London Hillsong riff, and another that follows the chord structure of the pre-chorus from the original version. As a bit of stand alone music I actually prefer the second version that we didn’t use, but as an intro the first one definitely worked better.

Version one (the one we used):

Version two (the one we didn’t):


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