Local Band Republic Of Lights Has What It Takes

Republic of Lights is a local rock band from chicago that appears to have the ingredients to jump into the mainstream.

Catchy and driving pop rock.

Download their  album free of charge!


and check out their bandcamp!

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Common Mistakes Artists Make in the Recording Studio w/ Eric Yoder


I sat down with platinum engineer and producer Eric Yoder of Horse-Drawn Productions to discuss the common mistakes artists make during the recording process. Eric also shares some great stories about his times with Lauren Hill, R. Kelly and others. Accomplished producer Lambert “Stereo” Waldrip sits in on this very informative and entertaining podcast. Check it out.

Steve “FunkWorm” Butler


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6 Tips for submitting songs for mix (at any studio)

Due to the high volume (pun intended) of mixes coming in remotely, I  thought I would share some helpful information to those submitting material to be mixed by a professional recording engineer, such as myself.  There are some things that are helpful, and other things that may take a lot of time to correct.

Here are some tips to avoid spending extra cash on studio mix sessions ahead of time:

1 – Talk to the engineer or studio manager ahead of time to make sure software versions are compatible.  If the studio doesn’t offer a particular type of program or software, be sure they help you with the conversion process.  Individual WAV or AIF files bounced in your session from bar 1, beat 1 is always a good backup, although the engineer won’t have access to your plug-in chains or effects.

2 – Label your tracks – we are not mind readers, and taking the time to figure out what is what only takes up time we could be spending on dialing in equalizers and compressors.

3 – Remove automation – In most cases it takes more time to move around or bypass the existing automation.  Many engineers do things a certain way which keeps things moving quickly and sounding groovy.  Engineers will always add their own automation anyway, so unless you have some specific effect you want, take it off.

4 – Don’t duplicate any tracks – believe it or not, but adding 14 copies of the same  audio track  does not make a “huge stereo image” and it takes longer for us to figure out which is the actual audio file, and which are duplicates.

5 – Make a note if you want something effected, duplicated, tuned or  anything else.  Most programs offer an area to make notes or comments on tracks or  the project.  Referencing this in email correspondence is helpful, too.

6 – Leave alone specific effects you have, and be sure to bounce them (or render them) so no plug-ins are needed to hear this effect.  If you have something unique that you want, it may only take more time trying to replicate that  unusual sound.

- Eric “YO.M.G!” Nelson Yoder

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Tilly and the Wall

I had the opportunity to mix Tilly & the Wall at Echoplex sans soundcheck. A hell of a tall order to mix on the fly. I didn’t know what to expect, I only knew that there was tap dancing and in-ear monitors to go along with their extensive and modular input list. The band was apparently held up in Vegas with van trouble (likely story). I have been tied up in Vegas a few times myself so I know how hard it is to get out of there. Anyways, somehow they made it back to L.A. in time for the headlining spot on the Echoplex stage and these kids really brought it. So there I am standing over a 40 channel Soundcraft monitor desk with 2 beautiful rock chicks staring at me along with a full band behind them pointing at each other with their thumbs in the air in the internationally recognized hand signal for, “I need more of that in my monitors!” It felt like I squashed 6 hours of work into a 6 minute line check with a packed house.

You ‘up and comers’ would do well to follow the example of Tilly and the Wall by providing the venue at which you are playing with a detailed input list, stage plot and monitor mix requirements well ahead of time. That way your fearless audio engineers can stay ahead of the curve and make your live performance as effortless and captive as possible.

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6 Things you need to know to make a great pop song


Here are the 6 things you need to know to make a great pop song:

Ok, so I am  not a famous musician nor do i aspire to be.  I am not a super-producer.  I do not have plaques on the walls of my studio or even a studio for that matter.  What I do have is years of experience in music and a great passion for it.  What does this mean???  Not much really, I am just like you.  I wanna hear good music.  People have different tastes in music you say???  True.  The thing that I think separates me from others is that I can explain why I think a song is good or not.  Most people are quick to shoot out a “THIS RULES!” or “THIS SUCKS”, but few can actually explain why.

So I know that I can explain why music is good or not, but I can’t focus on all music  at once, I have to choose a style.  Being as it’s the most popular style (hence the name), I will break pop music down for you.  Again, you may not agree with my observations about pop music but here we go anyway:

1.  Good hook.  It is important to not fall into a formula when writing a hook.  Many songwriters think that a legato vocal line is best for a hook because it sounds big.  This is not always the case.  you must add a certain cadence in order to set it apart from other hooks.  Also, work with the voice you are given.  If you are writing for an Usher Type, Legato is great.  Working with someone with a smaller range like Nelly you would have to write a more staccato and rhythmic vocal line.

2.  Don’t neglect the Verses!!!  Verses are easy to lose focus on once a good hook is in place.  Many people fall in the bad habit of writing a verse that moves stepwise up and down a scale.  They stay with in a three note range and never change the rhythm, C-D-E-D-D-C type stuff.  Try writing a verse that skips a few notes in the scale and use other intervals rather than 2nds.  Also, try and use arpeggios when you can, but be mindful not to overdo it or you’re song will verse like a fancy ringtone rather than a good verse that has you anticipating a hook.  Pre-hooks are good for this because you can end them on the 7th of a scale to leave them anticipating the resolve.  A pre-hook is the part of the song that goes in between the verse and the hook.  There doesn’t even have to be lyrics in this one, it could simply consist of a groove with a melody or actual doo-wop type oohs and ahhs.

3.  Everybody loves a melody.  Having a catchy melody that is peppered throughout the song is vital.  Think of Huge pop songs such as “Girls Just wanna have fun” , “Funkytown” or “Walk like an Egyptian”.  These songs had infectious melodies that would take a chainsaw to get out of our heads.

4. Ooh’s and Ahh’s are great.  Scat style notes without words are great material for Pop music.  think Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”  or Glenn Fray’s “The heat is on”.  ”Ohh-oo-O-oOH, Ohh-oo-O-Ohh Caught up in the action-I’ve been looking out for you.”

5.  Try and have a signature “stamp”.  All of the great performers have a signature “Stamp” in their music.  For example, Ice Cube has “YAY YAYYY!”  Young Geezy has “YEAAAAAHHHHHH…”  and of course Michael Jackson has an arsenal of them including but not limited to “HEE- HEE, SHAMONE, WOOO HOOO!!!” and so on.  Having a signature stamp will set you apart from others and make it so people can identify your music immediately.

6.  Great Music.  I just listed this one in case there is someone out there that doesn’t know that without a good beat, you most likely wont get far.

Listed above are a few of the qualities I search for in pop music.  Granted, I am just another critic, but I can explain why I like what I like and chances are, many others like these things too, they just never thought of why.  How do I know???  Cause I am not special…I am just like you.

- Leo Ferrer, Jr.

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Electric White – Berwyn RockS!


Electric White is a rock band from Berwyn with Lou Daniel on Guitar/Vocals, Nestor Perez on Bass, and Michael Prado on Drums/Percussion.

I like the energy Electric White delivers – Great guitar riffs, tough drumming – smooth vocals – I’m hoping to get to push some faders up and down for these guys in the future.  I’d really like to hear them coming off the analog tape machine.  Check em out!

As the rest of us, they too are on Facebook.


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The Noise FM – Chicago Indie Rock at its finest!

tnfPhoto by: CarolinaRodriguez

The Noise Fm is an indie rock band that you can find on any site you want; check them out!


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Logic Pro X – Here’s the info you NEED to know.

Logic Pro X has just hit the app store this past Tuesday, and @ The Horse, we have to stay on top of the newest technology, and this certainly qualifies.  It has been more than 3 years since Apple rolled out a full update for Logic Pro – and this one is a biggie!

The first thing you will notice about Logic Pro X is the graphic design – it looks completely different. Most of the basic menu items are in the same place, but many preferences have been moved to more accessible menu locations.  If you have an existing install of Logic 9, it will not only read your preference files and adapt these, but it will also leave Logic 9 on the same machine – meaning you can run them both at the same time!

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 11.54.25 AM     This is big for Logic Pro X because the reality is that many of your plug-ins will not work – [OUCH] it only supports 64-bit plug-ins, and there is no sign of a wrapper or bridge for this, as Apple seems to be pushing software developers to move to 64-bit, which is big deal for programmers.  Up to this point I see all sorts of complaints about the 32 bit bridge – how it crashes, the windows are separate apps, blah blah blah.  Well now you really have something to complain about because it’s gone!  This will force all the last minute 32-bit plug-in developers to move quickly or be left behind.

Ableton Live chose to make separate versions of their software, with 32-bit and then 64-bit support.  Logic is doing the same basic thing by leaving the existing Logic 9 application alone.  Then you can slowly put your toe into the cold water, instead of diving head first into the 64-bit arctic waters.Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 11.53.50 AM

With 3rd party plug-ins aside, Logic Pro X does a great job of adding new sounds to their line up.  I haven’t even gone through all of them, but what I have seen so far is pretty darn cool.  They re-designed the B3 and Clav, which now sound a bit richer with more detail.  The basics are the same, such as the EXS24, ES2, and the others, but they did add a new retro synth, trying to Kompete with Massive.  It’s pretty cool, but its no real competition to the popular synth from NI, although some of the other MIDI based plug-ins are massively cool.  They give you several performance insert points for adding things such as delay, arpeggiator, and transpose.  This was always present in the environment, but no one ever seemed to use it, except for nerds such as myself.  Now it is right in the channel strip.

The thing I am most excited about is the new flex tool, which now does not only manipulate audio like “liquid,” but now it does the same for pitch!  So basically, Logic Pro X now has Melodyne built right in to it!  Holy Crapola, Batman!  Yep, this is pretty awesome news.  They have done a great job at improving the workflow all around.  The library is now more organized, and the same windows that were there before are still present.

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 11.54.05 AMMy recommendation, even for Logic newbies, is to take a ride to the preferences, and click on advanced.  This is enabled by default, but there are many other features below that can be checked as well.  I really don’t see the need to uncheck any of these.  If you are a new user to Logic Pro X, then you may not even notice the subtle menu changes they offer.  You might as well get used to the full monty, as it won’t take most users long to conquer it, especially if they are studying with me @ The Horse.  ;-)

Another sweet feature, which I have honestly not explored much, is the new stack tracks.  From the Apple website:  ”Keep your sessions better organized by consolidating multiple related tracks — for example, all the drums or vocals — into a new track format called a Track Stack. Choose to have your Track Stack routed to a new auxiliary for quick and convenient submixing. Or use Track Stacks to create rich, layered, or split instruments that are easy to manage, save, and reuse. And your Track Stack can be collapsed for simplicity or expanded at any time for more control.”Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 11.55.15 AM

One of the coolest features of Pro Tools 11 is the advanced metering, which shows gain reduction right in the channel strip.  I guess the boys at Apple were also at these meetings, so they took that idea and put it into the Logic Mixer – Shazam!  Thanks Avid, we’ll take that idea, it was a good one.  Its not as detailed as the Avid stuff, but they aren’t using a new plug-in format, either.  The rest of the mixer is basically the same, and all of the viewing options are still present as before.  You really do need a large monitor for this sucker as well.  There is a lot of information packed into one window, and on some screen resolutions, it may appear overwhelming.

One final note – let’s not expect the world of a X.0.0 version.  Ww should know by now that the first major release always sucks.  Just as I said we have it here @ The Horse, it is most certainly not in any of the control rooms, yet.  We do our own testing, and let me tell you, it is a crash monster so far.  I had about 6 crashes the first hour I dove into it.  Argh.  Before anyone starts bashing this, let’s give it until 10.0.3 or so before it is ready for actual paying production work.  I’m sure a lot of this has to do with 32-bit plug-ins still in the folders, or maybe its because we had to do a full OS update, as it requires 10.8.4 – what?  Many didn’t even know it was out yet.  Apple’s way of pushing us along through the cyber space update wars.  I guess this means they have the next 3 years to make it perfect all over again!Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 11.54.50 AM


- Eric “YO.M.G!” Nelson Yoder


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