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Surviving on Borrowed Time / Presentiment

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CASK ANNOUNCES NEW CONCEPT ALBUM “SURVIVING ON BORROWED TIME” TO BE RELEASED JANUARY 2020
HEAR THE FIRST SINGLE “PRESENTIMENT” NOW ON YouTube

Download the single and an acoustic re-imagining from www.caskcamp.bandcamp.com

This will also be the first Cask album to exclusively release in DSD format through Native DSD Music a week before it launches anywhere else!

Be dark

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I’d like to think that some of my lyrics paint a picture for those listening, reading, interpreting…

When writing a song, I often have a vision of what the song could mean to the person sitting on the train, the person I’ve given a copy of the album to, the person scrolling through various YouTube videos trying to find a new artist to listen to.

My lyrics were mostly always morbid. Maybe if I were just a little more experienced at the time, I’d have been penning words for an emo band during the big emo days.

When I was in high school, I loved doing English. I chose it as my elective subject and would often be tasked with writing short stories or poetry. Teachers would usually grimace and scold my poems for taking the theme of end times and jealous lovers murdering their spouses over misunderstandings, favouring fellow students who would write pleasant poetry about how beautiful the world is and how much they love their families. I could write that too, but I aimed to be different.

I must have been about 6 or 7 when I was called into the school counsellors office to discuss the teachers concerns over a short story, I wrote about a murderer who had taken the Chief investigators family hostage. When reprimanded on possible inspirations from watching too many inappropriate movies (which I insisted was not the case. Thrillers and horrors often bore me) I would simply quote my Nan “that boy has got a wonderful imagination”

It wasn’t about being dark, edgy and offensive for the sake of proving I was harder than others nor were it to shock and entertain. I just believed that there was enough lovey dovey out there but not enough dark evil stories with twists and turns. When it came to music, art and poetry; I insisted on being different. Why paint a beach when you can paint a graveyard? In high school I was scolded for drawing a pirate ship battle where legs and fingers had been blown off. I’m terrible at drawing and painting, so I let the smudges and splatters of red paint cover up my dodgy drawings. Rather than be commended for having my own artistic style, the very essence of art and the objectification of art was squeezed into a simple line I remember my art teacher saying word-for-word “your style is dubious and your attitude towards art is disrespectful. This is not art. This is just gore and you’re showing off”

Cool.

Music class was always the same. People would write songs about peace and love and the things they enjoyed. I’d write “emo” stuff like “Your funeral is the best one I’ve been to. Every other person I never even knew” which was intentionally a combination of edgy and humorous. I was taking the piss, which made it even more irritating when my mental health would be questioned. When I had to perform the song in front of the class, some students were disgusted and shocked which was great but those who ‘got’ my ironic lyrics who’d laugh and grin as if they were witnessing some over-the-top video game played in front of them made it even greater.

I didn’t have conservative school teachers or peers. Just ones who weren’t used to somebody taking art and making it unpleasant. My graphic design exam involved me taking Da Vinci’s Last Supper and spicing it up by including all sorts of aliens and famous criminals on the table with Jesus. Thankfully my digital arts teacher loved it and said something along the lines of “it stood out in its own way when presented next to the other submissions from other students”

Anyway, my point is really simple: don’t let your legacy be tainted and changed by those who don’t see it as appropriate or fitting their system. You’ll only regret it. If you’re into dark, morbid, evil shit then use it creatively.

TunedLoud Reviews Life is a Terminal Illness

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Read the verdict here

Track after track, on “Life is a Terminal Illness”, Cask certainly proves himself to be a master composer, arranger, lyricist, performer, engineer, and virtually every other role that applies.  “Life is a Terminal Illness” is likely a recording he’ll be remembered for, a milestone in his career, the moment his many roles and skills merged into something larger and all-embracing.

I Broke the “Don’t Master Your Own Music” Rule

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Speak to musicians, producers, recording engineers and especially mastering engineers – – or simply look on the internet – – and you’ll hear pretty much the same unanimous suggestion.

“Don’t master your own music” 

There are plenty of genuine reasons for this. A fresh set of ears are incredibly beneficial. You’ve written and recorded a song and you’ve either mixed it yourself or you’ve sat in on the mixing sessions. Your ears have been somewhat conditioned to the sound and maybe you don’t know it, but you are fatigued with the song. Do you ever listen to another artists song and think about how you would have brought the guitar up a little or expanded the chorus vocals?

I was adamant on Life is a Terminal Illness being my perfect solo album. I wasn’t happy with anything I’d ever released before and I needed this one to be the one I wasn’t ashamed to put my name on. In case you missed it: I’m a perfectionist.

I sent the first big track I’d recorded “See What Tomorrow Brings” to a revered mastering engineer in the U.S. and I explained that the album wasn’t going to be polished and professional as it’s a raw expression of what I recorded in my own studio. Some parts of the record were analog and some digital. I explained how I was opposed to the loudness war and wanted to keep the dynamic range reasonable.

I received the mastered file. It was a little too compressed, so I requested alterations. After a few days of toing and froing I accepted that I wasn’t going to be pleased with the result. I waited a few days and listened again. It was alright, but I still preferred the unmastered version.

I went to another, lesser known, mastering studio and received a better result, although it still didn’t please my ears.

I sat on everything for a few weeks and decided to create a reference master. I’m certainly no expert at audio mastering, but I have been the mastering engineer on several classical releases distributed by my record label and I have mastered friends’ demos to their satisfaction. I realised that what I was looking for was what I had done myself. I’m protective of my music. I don’t sit down and record on all this equipment I’ve worked hard to purchase to then have the result crushed into a loud mess. Why pay someone to ruin your music when you can ruin it yourself?

I realised that with a few simple EQ tweaks and careful use of compression; I’d achieved the sound I wanted. I believe in severe testing. Listen in as many cars as you can, on a high-quality audiophile sound system, then listen on an average consumer hi-fi. I listened through TV speakers, terrible headphones and my mobile phone. I even fed the recordings through a tube headphone amp back to a 24/96 recording interface and used this to reference what would eventually become the final version of the album.

Would I master my own album again? Maybe. But I still firmly believe that the album should be approached by somebody who hasn’t heard it before. Mastering engineers often have an ear that will straight away say “hey that needs to be a little tighter here and sharper sounding over there”. My problem was all down to trust. I trust very few people with my music. Those I have used and had success with are Matt Colton,  Tony “ Jack The Bear” Mantz and fellow composer Alan L. Williamson but at the end of the day, for this particular project, I broke the rules.

The final version of the single edit on YouTube

My Biggest Regret in Music

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There are plenty of things I regret in music. I regret not safely backing up the original stems and early project files for some of the music I’ve released. I also should have taken more notes throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s of those recording sessions and even the guitar tabs and musical notations.

But my biggest regret? The first thing I ever released.

Why would I cringe at the thought of the first major worldwide release? One that charted in Mexico on the iTunes charts? One that had backing from a serious record label and studio?

Because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. 

The music was composed, and the lyrics were written by yours truly, but the overall release was tainted by a small number of people – – friends – – who wanted me to be a success. With silly amounts of pitch correction and oversampling, I had sold out before I’d even attempted to hit the mainstream.

The album failed (thankfully) and although there are still some links out there on the internet, the distribution ceased, and it has been deleted from all publishers.

The worst part was whenever I performed the songs live, I replaced the crappy synthesised instruments with my real playing and I used my real voice. People would compliment me and say they appreciated the fact that I’m not some fantastic singer and that I was not afraid to have flaws during my performances. I certainly don’t think I have a good singing voice, but I refuse to try and disguise it as radio-friendly and as slick as some voices are (or at least portray)

I escaped my solo stage name and began Cursed Legacy. Death of a Hero was everything I had ever wanted to release, and it was 100% independent. It was all me, the way I wanted it. I refused to work with others who would sway my production into their own. Lunar Isolation has been a huge challenge and bringing in a whole new band and producer was worth it as I finally had people in my musical life I could trust with the project, so I could step back and work on my own music elsewhere.

Life is a Terminal Illness is the best thing I’ve ever done by myself and I refuse to sell out. The album doesn’t have fancy studio work or shiny production and that’s because it is real. I wrote, performed and recorded it without the influence of those trying to make me something I’m not. I am very protective of my work. The album was mastered by a well-respected engineer in America. The dynamic range was decent, and the album sounded okay, but I opted not to use the master for the final release as I wanted the album to be represented as exactly how I recorded and mixed it. I broke the number one rule for mastering: don’t master yourself, get an independent set of ears to master it.

Don’t be a musician unless you will ensure it will always be YOUR music the way YOU want it.  

 

NEW SINGLE AND ALBUM REVEAL

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LIFE IS A TERMINAL ILLNESS
OUT AUGUST 1, 2018

PRE-ORDER ON BANDCAMP AND GET SEE WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS TODAY:
https://caskcamp.bandcamp.com/album/life-is-a-terminal-illness

PRE-SAVE ON SPOTIFY:
https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/cask/dHSE

Stream the debut album “Play it Over…”
https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/cask/buEn

CASK’S AUDIO PRODUCTION AND MIXING TIPS

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IMG_20180118_104720_651.jpgHere are a few valuable tips I have used over the last few of music production I figured I’d share. Do what suits you and find your own style, but this is what works for me and I’ll be sure to keep posting various things that I think may benefit aspiring amateurs and home-studioers alike.

 

  • Don’t add too much of anything
  • Listen to your mixes on as many systems as possible (use fancy headphones / crap ones / use your car stereo / even use your TV)
  • Mono your bass
  • Expand your mids
  • Leave the faders alone. Mix with Pan and EQ.
  • Never overmix your drums.
  • If within 45 minutes your mix isn’t progressing, remove parts or change the arrangement.
  • The key of the song definitely does matter. Don’t be lazy and decide to do it in E standard tuning just because. Experiment with half-step or full-step tuning.
  • Turn off your computer and leave your mix for a few days, come back with a fresh mind
  • Record vocals in stereo
  • Try a low-pass filter on a delay

Amusing Occurrences in Spain

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I’ve been here yearly for the past three years and I think it’s safe to say I’ve adapted to the wonderful Kingdom of Spain, but there are some crazy facts and things I’ve noticed that need to be shared:
 
  • Their is at least one night a week when fireworks will go off in a local town for a few hours.
  • Each little suburb essentially chooses its own rules. It’s a bank holiday in one town and a normal day in the next. It doesn’t matter where you go,  chances are you’re going to get there and all the stores are closed for fiesta.
  • They build airports in no fly zones, causing outrage at its uselessness and melt down over it despite the fact that at least one or two airports exist per area. (Sydney would have like thirty airports by now but we’ve been struggling and pondering over a second major airport for years)
  • (A point I’ve made several times before but is worth covering again) Australian imported alcohol is 75% cheaper than in Aus and yet still considered ‘premium price’
  • If you make an appointment to see the doctor at 8am,  you’re best taking the day off as they’ll see you closer to 1pm.
  • The postman is trained to learn the location and people only to be replaced a month later by a new guy. The cycle never ends.
  • Raising the speed limit in part of Valencia on the motorway from 110km to 130km actually brought the road death toll down. 
  • If you venture through old houses (ruins) from the early 1900s, the lack of evidence to suggest toilets or showers were installed is quite obvious. Don’t ask…[Josè, my grandfather, tells me that in the 60s he gave a gift of flowers to someone who put them in the toilet bowl, oblivious to the idea that toilets are not actually vases connected to the plumbing]
  • Lined paper essentially does not exist: this is something I noticed a few years ago. It’s graphing paper (those maths squares) or nothing. To get lined paper I actually had to visit a British supplies store.
  • There’s a popular brand of cigars called “Tampax” so you can literally go out and smoke a Tampax with your friends.
  • Workers will whip out their private parts and hilariously piss near the construction sites without considering that it might be better to do so with a bit more privacy.
  • Peacocks, for no apparent reason and at any time, will appear in bizarre places such as hanging off the edge of an apartment block.
  • Snakes have no regard for traffic and will cross without paying respect to the laws of the road and the rules that us common pedestrians are forced to follow.
  • Saying you’re from Australia is like admitting you have traveled from outer-space to visit. Most villagers have yet to leave the village let alone leave the country.
  • If you’re as white as I am and you speak Spanish to somebody, they’ll give you a response in English.

    And with that aside, I have been approved for a home loan to purchase property and relocate to Alicante later this year. 

 

 
 

Bucket List:: Amusing Budget Flight with Strangers? Check

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It was the 14th of April and the Ryanair flight departed at 6am. Edinburgh to Alicante. 
I was sat on the aisle seat beside two middle age Scottish women with their daughters behind on the opposite side.

Within a few drinks (they spent a good £50 in the first go) they laughed and bantered with me until one of the daughters convinced me to draw a beard on her mum’s face as she slept.

As word got around, half the passengers laughed as we all took photos and the other half death stared.

When the plane landed, I shot off to exit the terminal with a smile. The family was en route to Benidorm, their holiday must have begun amusingly.

Ryanair is an extremely cheap airline with a reputation for being terrible and scamming customers but it was pretty good and ahead of schedule. The landing into Alicante was bad though. Really painful.