Sunday, June 26, 2011

(2010) Something More

I think if anything conveys the power of mere words, it's this song. It's also one that I wish I could work on more, but the longer I leave it, the more I like the original way it sounded, and generally go back to.

This illustrates the see-saw way I was feeling when I started dating somebody for the first time after a rather tumultuous long-term relationship. I really liked this guy. I mean, really, REALLY liked him. And like most people after a long-term relationship, I was afraid to completely let go in case I got hurt again, or ended up hurting someone else. But it's safe to say now that I finally allowed myself to completely fall head over heels for him. We would spend hours late at night, just talking and laughing non-stop over stupid things...when we were together we were like fire, just feeding off each other in sheer fun and craziness.

I wrote this about 2 months after we started dating. A month later, he told me that he had applied for a job in a different province, went for the interview, got it, and was moving away in a few weeks. All very suddenly...I had no idea he was even looking for another job. Then he left without really saying goodbye (just a quick text), and that really threw me off. I was thrown off for a couple months, in fact.

Listening to the words now, they take on a different meaning for me then they did when I wrote it...but perhaps it was the meaning they always had (or...maybe I just conjured it up by writing those words). Now it sounds to me that I wanted to make sure that I was ready for something like that again, but not really wanting to get too deep into it. Well, I definitely know now that I am ready, so that's the positive that came out of it. I guess the only negative part is what really sucks: I still kinda miss him and what we had. Hopefully I will find it again.

Well, this be it:

I wasn't asking for much
I only wanted to believe that there was something more
I thought I didn't know much,
Was kinda hard to see past the shadows of my life before

And then the answer came and like the perfect sunrise,
Shone it's light upon my sleeping soul
But still my questions remain and like a violent earthquake,
They shake me to my very core

I wasn't asking for much
I only wanted to believe that I was something more
I thought I didn't know much
It's kinda hard to believe in something that hurt so much before

But then I spotted you and like a fool, I wished for something
Well beyond my grasp
And then you smiled at me and all the waves came crashing down
They carried me to you, far away from the past

I'm not asking for much
I only wanna believe that this is something that could be more
Because I still don't know enough
And it's kinda hard for me to think that
Things won't turn out like they did before

But then you speak your mind and I feel your words wrap around me,
Lighting up all my hidden desires
It makes it easy to find the feelings I thought had left me
Now I know I can only go higher

No, I'm not asking for much
But you're helping me believe in something so much more
And I still don't know much
But now I'm looking ahead at something that I've never had before...

Why I Never Had Lyrics Before

I began writing songs when I was 12. I've been writing poetry since I was about 11, but the inclusion of a little Yamaha keyboard (or Casio, can't remember anymore) in my life when I was young got the whole song thing rolling for me. Not that my songs were any good at the age of 12. Luckily I don't remember any of them now, because I'm sure they were probably full of pubescent angst and longings I couldn't even clarify for myself back then.

I started making music when I was about 16. I still always had words to go with them, but back then I always thought them too cheesy, and so never really included them. Well, I also never had a decent microphone to record them on, so that was also a factor. And that is also probably a good thing, because I still remember one song I wrote when I was had the word 'ostentatious' in it, just because I loved that word. Who the hell writes songs with words like that in them? So I forgot about writing songs and just focused on writing music.

When I decided to try and write songs again, I was 23. And I had a boyfriend. I wrote a song and made this music for it, and played it for him. The song was about going to some guy's house wanting some nice cuddly time and being met with someone who just wanted a lay. His first response? "Is this about me?" It was nothing about him, and I told him so. "Well, who is it about then?" Umm...nobody. Just something I thought up. It went with the music, and it sounded kinda cool...and that was it.

(Damn boys!:)

I scrapped the song, and never wrote another one until I broke up with him. Then I wrote 3 songs, but only one got made (Existences, 2001)

Around age 25 I began writing again. Most were extremely depressing songs. "What It's Like" (2004) was one of them, and after recording that and getting the response, "That is the most depressing song I've ever heard in my life," I thought maybe I should try to write something a bit happier. I have several notebooks filled with song lyrics that either never made it to the music stage, or I figured they were just too cheesy sounding to continue with. I revisited some of those songs later on, but still...the songwriting process was slow. I was still basically learning how to play by ear according to my voice, or writing for the music I was making. Just kinda getting a feel for my own pattern, I guess.

Then I made "Be A DJ" (2005). Nothing I was singing my opinion, that song was just a silly little parody that ended up sounding pretty good. But I had a (different) boyfriend at the time and, all gushy and excited over my new song (which was inspired by him), I played it for him. His first response?

"Who's Mike?"
(A line in the song references a fictitious buddy named Mike.)

After much consoling from me that I NEVER had a friend named Mike that I would borrow records from, I quit writing again, at least not until I broke up with that guy. I wrote my first 'real' song 2 days after we broke up. It's ready for a new treatment, but it's never been released. Mostly because it's all about him. Not that anyone else would know when they listen to it, unless they knew every facet of our lives together.

**Funny...these guys who thought my nonsensical songs were all about them and likely had no chance of going anywhere anyway had no idea that they may be fodder for some songs later in life. I'll be fair...I only wrote a song each about each of them, and I doubt anyone else but me will ever hear them. But I wish I hadn't shut myself down because of that...who knows where I'd be now if I just wrote whatever I wanted to and didn't care what they thought at the time?**

That being said, yes...every song I've made and posted that deals with love *has* been inspired by someone in my life, But truth be told, for every 5 I make, only 1 gets completely finished. I've gone through a rough time of that within the last few years, and every time I get hurt, I need to pour it out. But to me, they seem so generic that you wouldn't know who unless you knew of me and my relationships....this includes the guys who had inspired me. There are maybe 5 people on this earth that may be able to surmise exactly *who* they are about. Also, I try and shy away from the whole "my heart is broken and I will never go on again without you" theme, because I think it's straight bullshit. You know what? You get your heart broken, you let it hurt, you let it heal, and you move on. That's all anyone can ever do. Hell, it's happened to me too many times to count. When it happens now, I simply process it and move on. During the processing, I realize that it may hurt for a bit, but after a while I will likely just look back on it with nothing more than a twinge of sadness. No...I like to emphasize the fact that no matter what happens or how much you're hurting, everything will be ok. :)

(2007) Be With Me

I'm posting some music that I've made on my old computer that I very likely may not work on anymore, and this song is one of them.

I wrote this back in 2004, after meeting somebody and falling madly in love with them. Back then, I only wrote depressing songs and this is probably the first slightly more positive one I wrote then (I say 'slightly' more positive because the original words were still rather negative-sounding). I had composed completely different music for it though...and it's yet another one that I just sat on for a really long time, mostly because I didn't like the music and some of the words just didn't seem right.

I revisited it in 2008, after we broke up. After hearing it and having a good cry over everything, I sat down and rewrote some of the lyrics and made entirely different music for it. Then...I completely forgot about it until a few months ago! When I did find it, it was one of those "Why the hell haven't I done anything with this?" moments. So I re-recorded the vocals (the song still had the cruddy 'laydown' vocals I originally recorded in '04), tweaked a few things on the music, it is. I think it's quite a beautiful song, myself. :)

I check the time, it's 4 o clock,
I can't believe how long we've talked
I want to stop, but then I look into your eyes
Outside, the rain is trickling down
Inside, the warmth it wraps around us
Want to stop but then I look at you inside

Be with me
Be with me
Be with me
Don't let me cry
Be with me
Be with me
Be with me
Please help me fly

You see, my heart's still beating
Slowly, slowly, I'm conceding
If you touch me I'm still breathing
I have not yet died
You fill me with your warmth and love
So many worlds I've dreamed of
We come together, rise above
Our foolish pride

Be with me
Be with me
Be with me
Don't let me cry
Be with me
Be with me
Be with me
Please help me fly

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Old Dog Learning New Tricks


I (finally) got a new-ish PC: 2.4 Ghz dual-core processor running Windows 7. I only have 1 GB of RAM right now, which is kinda crappy, but I plan on getting another 2 GB stick within the next couple weeks. And I'm gutting my old (OLD) soundcard tomorrow to put it in my new comp, even though the onboard sound actually sounds much better.'s onboard. Ugh.

For me, this means getting all new updated programs that will work. I left it for a couple weeks because I was scared. Literally. When you are using the same old reliable equipment with the same old reliable programs on which you can do pretty much all you want to for 8 solid years, it's tough to change (no matter how annoying the process is to begin least I had it down pat). But I finally did, after playing around on it for some time.

Going from Fruityloops 3.6 to FL Studio 9 was a HUGE change for me. Not having access to many of my old VSTs and VSTis was the other HUGE change. This was basically like having to learn an entirely new program for me. I know all the things I can do with the new FL, but I also have to figure out how to do them. And I'm still pushing on, pushing on.

What saddened me today was learning that I couldn't possibly expect to load up any of my old tunes into the new FL without encountering massive conflicts. That's ok, but it means I def gotta finish up the few songs I had going with my old comp (maybe I'll wait to install that soundcard?). But this looks to be extremely interesting...and fun, once I figure out how to do all the things I really wanna do. So far other than figuring out how to use the damn program properly, I've learned how to work with sidechain compression, loop time-stretching, LFO on bass to create the typical dubstep bass sound (just for fun), and automation recording, among many other little things.

Still extremely excited. I also have no idea what kind of sounds are going to start coming out of this, but I bet they'll be awesome. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ode to music production circa 2003

Well, while I am waiting to begin work on the final master of yet another song, I decided to write a little something to pass the time.

A lot of people (fellow musicians and/or people wanting to produce) ask me what I use to make my music. I tell them: "A variety of things, but mostly FL Studio." Part of that's a lie. I don't use FL Studio...I use Fruity Loops V3.6. Why? Super old computer, that's why.

I bought my PC in October 2003. It has a 1.7 Ghz Athlon processor, 1 GB of DDR RAM, and an SB Audigy soundcard (the first Audigy with a front interface). I run Windows XP Pro. It came with an 80 GB drive which I am constantly trying to clear out to make way for new projects. I added another 320 GB drive which I am also constantly trying to clear out, and recently got a 1 TB external drive to move files to when I am trying to clear out my internal drives. For software, I run the aforementioned FL, Ableton Live 4, Wavelab 5, and Acid 5, as well as a variety of soft synths and FX plugins.

So here is my process (for the most part): I make my synth and bass loops and samples using Ableton, as loading up any sort of VSTi thru FL uses up most of my resources. I can generally only load 1 VSTi at once (two if I'm lucky) before the song begins to crackle and pop (I also can't use Ableton for anything else!) I render that at anywhere from 1-8 bars, and throw it into FL (although the longer the sample, the more it bogs down after a while). I do all the percussion and some FX in FL, so it's a real back-and-forth sort of procedure. Luckily, I am able to keep both open for the most part, and can switch back and forth.

So, make the sample, put it in FL, listen to it, maybe add some more percussion, render that file as a wave and bring it back into Ableton. Make another sample, render: FL, render: Ableton. Rinse and repeat. This process can take anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on how inspired I am with what I am doing. The timeframe is also dependent on how many FL plugins I'm using and how long the synth samples are, because there comes a time eventually when the whole thing gets bogged and begins crackling again.

Adding vocals is fun, but requires even more work. Luckily, not as much as I used to do since buying Wavelab so long ago (I used to record the vocals using Creative's recorder, then chop them up in Soundforge or Cool Edit/Adobe Audition and try to place them properly on the step sequencer in FL). Now I just record through Wavelab, and add FX via plugins there. If I want to utilize FL's awesome BPM delay (which I have yet to see work as well with any other program), I do chop up the lyrics and paste them in.

So now that the song is finished, I master it. This is my least favorite part of the entire process, because just to get to the mastering point is what I call a slow, tedious process. Why? Single processor, low RAM, and severe impatience on my part. :)

Mastering: First Stage

Most of my songs consist of anywhere from 25 to 40 separate instrument tracks, which I render as separate uncompressed wav files at about 75% volume level. Once upon a time, I used to render it all in FL, but I noticed FL tends to leave a certain 'taste' to the track, which I've never liked, and sometimes it'll squelch or duck parts of the song, no matter what kind of compression I use on it. I also like to add EQ, more FX, etc. to certain instruments, so it's best to do it all separately. Rendering each track for a 5 minute song basically takes about 1 1/2 minutes...longer depending on how many plugin FX I've included. Times that by 25, and add in time to make file names for each wav. To make things even more fun, sometimes I forget to turn the compression off and don't realize it until I get to the second stage, so I have to do it all over again. And to make things even MORE fun, I can't do anything else on my damn computer while I'm doing this, since it uses up all my processing power.

Mastering: Second Stage

Now that I've got all the tracks rendered and ready to go, I open up Acid and drag each one into it. It takes a while for them to load up there. In fact, this is what I'm waiting for as I type this. And I can't do them all at once, either. That would just be far too easy! It uses up most of my memory with about 10 tracks. After that, Acid will freeze up and I have to start the whole process over again. I can So I load 10 tracks, wait for them, save and close Acid, then reopen and do the next 10 tracks until they're all in there.

*side note: I just realized that by turning off the Acidize feature when rendering in FL, it saves considerably less memory. Wheee!

Mastering: Third Stage

So now that I've got all the track done and everything in its place, I begin adding FX to each track. Most of it is compression (done on each track individually). Now, most people would say that too much compression is overkill. And they're is...when you are compressing an entire track as a whole. You know there's something wrong when you're finished a track, open it in a wav editing program, and the entire wav is one solid line, because you're not allowing the dynamics to come through fully. Myself, I only add a slight compression to each, and each is bussed thru...generally with 3 or 4 different compression settings for each instrument. As this lifts each track up, I also have to change the volume settings on each track accordingly. Synths and pads (and vocals) also generally have some reverb on them, and anything else that ends up sounding kinda cool. Again, I have to watch the amount of plugins I use...if I get too many in at once the track slows to half its BPM, complete with the fun crackling noises. I also use a frequency analyzer to determine if it's too bass-heavy or hi-heavy. This is normally something that should be done by ear, via monitors, but I'm a very visual person...and I don't have decent monitors, to boot.

When it finally sounds good to me, I save it. And THEN...

Mastering: Fourth Stage it back up. While my songs sound decent enough after everything I've done, there's one final (and a half) step: select all the tracks and duplicate them so I can change the panning levels on each one. This is where I get a little more creative with the final stage. I generally keep my bass and kick around the middle, pan the hats, claps, drumloops, etc outwards to each channel (with varying channel can be at 20% with the other 25%), and pan synths, FX 'swooshes', etc nearer the end of the channel spectrum. This adds a bit of dimensionality to the song which is usually not apparent until I do this. Since duplicating each track will also change the volume levels, I have to readjust accordingly.

Mastering: Fifth Stage

This is my 'clean up' stage. I'll render the whole thing (takes about 2 min for a 5 min track), then listen to it a final time to see if there's any boo-boos I made, or if something doesn't quite sit right for me. I also like to take the song into my car to see how it sounds there. Sometimes I'll leave the song for a day or two, just because I've been working on it for probably close to a month straight by then, so it's good to take a break and then come back with fresh ears. If I'm lucky, no more needs to be done. If I'm not so lucky, I have to go back to any one of the points to change what needs to be changed, then render the whole thing again. THEN I breathe a sigh of relief, and hope that other people will like it once it's uploaded for the public's listening pleasure. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ripple Effect

I laid the majority of this track out on March 10, 2011. It actually started as a hard-hitting electro song, but somehow changed into a weird uplifting prog-trance song (which always seems to happen, and I no longer feel the urge to fight that). I also started it with the working title: 'Waves'. Call it premonition/synchronicity/telepathy/foresight...but how was I supposed to know a tsunami was going to hit a major country 3 hours after I finished the initial part of it? So I changed the title, although I don't know if 'Ripple Effect' is any better than 'Waves'.

However, as always, please's been a while since I made anything that didn't entice me to write actual vocal lyrics/lines for. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Evey Styles on Tumblr

Yep...I now have a Tumblr account, to go along with my Reverbnation and Myspace and Facebook and Youtube and Twitter and Stumbleupon and God-knows-what-else!


Each of these accounts are becoming little pockets in the internet which showcase my different facets, some under my real name...most under Evey Styles. Evey Styles, once a stage name for my music, has now become my online ME. Transformation is nearly complete. :)


Myspace and Reverbnation: focus is on Evey Styles the musician *only*. Myspace though, so outdated and nobody likes it. I barely go log onto it, and it hasn't been updated in years. I usually just use it as a portal to Reverbnation.

Facebook Page: focus shifts a bit from music to articles dealing with the music industry (or growing lack thereof). Most of my posts deal with the process I go through of making music.

YouTube: focus was supposed to be music videos (of my music), but most of the videos I upload are my cats. Fail. However, there is a wonderful list or 2 of music I absolutely love...and the odd video or 2 that I've had time to make.

Twitter: focus is mostly on me...little bits of my personal life along with little bits and pieces of music. I like to say Twitter is where I go when I've had a few too many and feel the need to say stupid shit anyway. :) Also, a little less restrained on a lot of topics, as I barely have any friends and NO family on there, as I do with Facebook. Like most people, I don't really care what I post on Twitter all that much.

Now for Tumblr: Focus is on the sensitive, artistic side of Evey. Haha...kinda, not really. I describe it as: *Dedicated to all things positive and beautiful in this world.* That's simply what it is...Evey Styles Spirit. Please take a moment to visit. :)