Week 2 Collaborating With Brain — Setting Up the Basics

Hey all, I was thrilled by the response from Week 1 Blog!  Thanks for downloading Major and Minor parts by Kai Eckhart on bass.  I’d love to hear more of the two track mixes!

I left off with …

What would YOU do?
A.  Cry to the label that they just spend money for something that was not complete?
B.  Stop Kai in his creative process half way through the session and question what he was doing which also puts a BIG cramp on the vibe, creativity and future relationship?
C. Take it in the gut and just put the time in to do the remix?
D. Or come up with a solution that is win win win?

I was ready to take Option C when I came up with an option for D..  win, win, win.

As Kai was playing into the evening, I started thinking of my backup plan.  Since nothing was being sampled from the original stems, it seemed we had a whole new song to work with rather than a remix.

The next day, I called Valence Records label owner, Gregory James and proposed something very exciting…  creating a whole new song for the next release of The Valence Project and use it as the subject for Indaba Music!  This was a big win for everybody.  Still, it wasn’t a walk in the park to tell Greg that the remix for Who Do You Love? wasn’t accomplished and instead proposing something new.  So, I outlined all the positive points and laid them out to him.

1.  Since this was a new composition, there wouldn’t be publishing royalties to pay out and instead, Kai and the rest of us would be composers in a new piece of music

2.  There are so many great bass parts from that first session, we could create a whole album of music just from those tracks.  Kai would be a composer on each new song.

3.  We’d have an opportunity to work with Brain, Melissa and the gang again and get something ready for album 2

4.  (And best part) I could feature the work with my new Artist in Residence blog and Indaba members experience songwriting that is both tough and rewarding at every stage.
When you’re looking for a win win win, it’s best to take a break and sleep on any decisions before you have to make that call to the label.  Have the solution ready, your ducks in line.  Aspiring engineers and producers take note… if you want to get into the music business, it’s less about knowing all the gear and much more about solving problems.

Before I called Greg, I made sure that Brain and Melissa were available and fortunately, they were.  Greg loved the idea and he’d also be involved writing the lyrics with Melissa and playing guitar.

Brain (Bryan Mantia) and Melissa Reese came to the studio the following week to help carve out the basics.  Brain brought in his computer rig which has both Logic and Protools installed.  Typically, we start in Logic editing a sound, finding a groove, looping, creating a song form and adding more parts.  Then, we transfer back to 2” tape.  In general, the longest time was spent listening to Kai’s parts and figuring out how we were going to approach it.  Hours.

Time flew quickly and we were a little stumped how to start until we decided to set a BPM (beats per minute) to 120 and just do SOMETHING.  Brain sampled many of Kai’s parts, cut them to the nub in some cases, then looped them in logic.   He then came up with a simple part drum part with a nice groove.  He asked Melissa tojam on the nubbed bass samples.  Below, we’ve got the basic groove of sampled drums plus bass for you to download, edit, reuse, add parts and see what you come up with.

Yeah, you guess it.  This week, you’re going to hear that we used ONE NOTE out of the whole shebang of notes Kai played.  We then split that note through the keyboard and replayed a whole new bass part from the keyboard.  Even though Kai’s a fantastic bass player, IT’S OK to do that.  Kai is still a writer on the song.  He was the INSPIRATION that got us to this point… and actually, next blog you’ll hear how we added more of his parts in a similar fashion.

Limitations often challenge you to experiment and go to new directions, just as collaboration can push you to do things you’d never think of.  It’s all about checking your ego at the door, being open to new ideas and allowing hybrids to grow.  A little Darwinian, in fact — where the strong parts survive.  Even if you spent HOURS on something, if it’s weak, let it go.  It’s ok, calm down, it wasn’t a waste of time.  It’s part of the process.

What I love about great musicians is that they will allow those kinds of events to happen.  A young bass player might have his ego damaged that we only used one note.  At the same time, one of the greatest bass players around (Kai) will have a big smile on his face knowing that he inspired the insanity that is yet to come!

Here’s the session for download.  It’s 44.1/24 .wav, more big files.

Art of Collab Session #2 with Brain

I encourage you to resample the bass parts, cut them to a nub, effect the sound and replay as keyboard tracks for your next mix.

If you want to know more about Brain, Melissa, The Valence Project, Gregory James, OTR Studios and all those involved, click here for more information.  Special thanks goes to the crew at OTR led by Patrick O’Connor, Mike Howles and Andrew Doyle for putting up with my antics!

Next blog, we’ll go deeper into adding more ‘transformed’ bass parts from samples of the session played on keyboards and into Logic with Brain and Melissa.

Featured song to check out….

Remixes of Who Do You Love? From The Valence Project (the remix that started all of this).

Thanks for reading and participating,

Experience is Everything

Peace to all and Think Good Thoughts to Getting the Oil Leak STOPPED!

Back soon,


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4 Responses to Week 2 Collaborating With Brain — Setting Up the Basics

  1. If I didn’t mention this before.. Brain is one of the most incredible musicians I know. He’s been the drummer for Guns N Roses for this latest incarnation, drummer for Primus, Tom Waits and Buckethead. He write music for for Sony games, commercials, TV and film. He is astounding in his ability to know what NOT to play (which is harder than playing to fill up every space).

    Melissa Reese is one of the finest young musicians I heard in a LONG time. Not only an amazing singer, but incredibly professional and creative as a keyboardist and composer. We’ll be hearing more of her in upcoming sessions. Be sure to check out her site, too.

  2. Todd Day says:

    so clean! Everything! Love it! LOVE IT!!!!

  3. Peter Wisely says:

    Wow, amazing!!! would you be able to talk a little about how to mix these tracks, I think that its incredible that you are allowing us to do so, but I’m not totally sure where to start. Should I mix the bass tracks from your last post with the drums of this one?

  4. Hi Peter, yes, you can mix or edit the bass tracks from the last session, though, the rhythm has changed so you might need new loops. I wanted to leave open as much creative input as you (the remixer) wants.. to experience how vast the choices can be. This is exactly how it happens to us in the studio… we had NO idea where it’s going to go and decided to let you experience it as we did.. not knowing where we’re going…

    I can tell you that it will get easier in weeks coming up.

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