After working almost day and night in the studio the last months to further improve the music on my Apollo album, I decided last night that is was time to stop doing stuff that probably nobody hears anymore. So the music is done now and I'm going to focus now on the final mixing and mastering process with my friend Hans Landman. I can also start finalizing the artwork now, since all track times are final. Here another friend has offered me a helping hand. This weekend I'm going to visit Remy Stroomer who is a designer by profession as I found out. Everything still looks good for the 1st of October release, but it will still be lots of work to get it done in time. Let's hope nothing goes wrong, but at least the music is ready :) If you look close btw on the picture on the left you can see the version numbers on the tracks. In my workflow a version number update means about a day's work. So you can estimate how much work has gone into this album so far. All this work was done in a time span of about two years.
Last week I bought a Kurzeil PC3 synthesizer. I have a Kurzweil K2600R and I love especially the strings coming from it, but since it is a module and it is stacked away (and makes a lot of fan noise) I don't use it often. All those sound and some more now are in the PC3 series and you can also easier edit the VAST synth engine since the 2.0 software update. It does like Kurzweil is coming up with something new soon, since the prices have dropped dramatically on the PC3's. It looks like they are being dumped. I decided to go for a 76 keys version with semi-weighted keys. The first synthesizer I actually have with semi-weighted keys. I put it in a nice spot where I can play on it easily in the studio, just between my Yamaha SY-99 and Waldorf Wave 2, which is broken by they way :( So I would say check your local store out you might be able to get the PC3 very cheap as well and I can tell you it sounds awesome :)
When you follow me for a while you might know by now that I have a passion for motor sports. I always watch every Formule 1 race on TV and one every year I try to visit a race, but the last time was already way too long ago. So last weekend I went to the Belgium Grand Prix together with a table tennis buddy who also loves Formula 1. I was at the Spa circuit before visiting the 24 hours of Spa, but never saw a Formula 1 race there actually, but it is always one of my favorite races in the season.
Since it rains a lot in this area at this time of the year, we decided to get some tribune seats that would keep us dry. Here is a picture on me and Ton on the right taken by a nice fellow Dutchman that was sitting next to us. But even though we hoped for rain, since that gives the most spectacular races, it stayed dry all the time. It had rained the day before though and that meant anyway that everything was covered in mud very quickly also the parking area was quite slippery.
We were sitting in a very nice spot along the track as well. We were right at the famous bus-stop chicane. There the cars arrive at full speed and they have to break very hard then to accelerate onto the straight again. And I don't believe how close to the track we were siting, no more than 50 meters I guess between us and the cars. I still love the noise these cars produce even though I put in ears plugs to protect my ears a bit.
We could also see the cars entering the pit lane right in front of us. Which is important to know he is in the lead or not, since the whole order is shaken up when the pit stops start. But luckily as well we had a very big TV screen right in front of us just across the track so we could follow the race very well and also see what happened on other parts of the track. The only downside was that there was a big fence in between us and the track. I brought my video camera as well and planned to film just like I did in Le Mans, but unfortunately that was not very successful. So no video this time, maybe next time. All in all I had a great day and a necessary little break again from the music of my Apollo album. But today I'm back in the studio working on the last bits and pieces. I actually must have the music ready by the end of this week, so time is running out. But don't worry I'm almost there. The finish line is in sight :)
I worked a lot on finished the music for the Apollo album the last weeks, so I didn't have much time to work on the 3D stuff. But today I didn't feel very well and I couldn't set my mind to the music, so I picked up the 3D work. I did another version of the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building. This time I use an extra plugin called Vue X-stream to add an atmosphere. The clouds and the sunlight are generated by this plugin. They are computer generated and no pictures. This stuff actually moves too and you can use wind and everything. The only problem is though that this still picture rendered for like 28 hours. So I guess I'd need to cut back on the quality to make an animation from it.
I couldn't help myself and just had to try some other stuff with this software too. Here is a picture I rendered with only Vue. I think it looks so cool :) You see the Sun shining through the thick cloud layer and the water also looks amazing. And yes the water animates too and responds also to wind etc. I did color correct the picture a little bit afterwards, but not much. I guess this kind of atmosphere is a bit too dramatic though for the Apollo project. But I sure love it :)
And here was my first attempt of a sun set with Vue. Only a sun, some water and some clouds. It is amazing that you can generate this with a computer isn't it? I'm sure you'll see more picture like this from me and I can't wait to do animation as well. I think they will go well with my music. But enough distraction for now, I need to go back to the music. So far it is looking good. I'm still on schedule and Hans has also started the mastering process in the mean time. We are fine tuning the mixes now, but musically everything is as good as done. So still go for the 1st of October as it looks now. I'll keep you posted.
To get you in the mood for my upcoming Apollo album I decided to give my website a redesign. I made a new Apollo theme. I hope you like it. Have a look on http://www.synth.nl and let me know what you think of it. And please do report if you run into any kind of problems so I can look into it. Please also take the time two read the articles on my main website. If you do not want to miss out this kind of news you can subscribe to my newsletter. Instructions are on http://www.synth.nl/contact
Last week I signed a record contract with my label Groove Unlimited for my upcoming Apollo album. So now everything is official. Apollo will be released on the 1st of October on the Electronic Circus festival in Gütersloh Germany.
You can already pre-order the album from Groove Unlimited and if you pick it up from either the Electronic Circus Festival in Germany on the 1st of October or the E-live festival in Oirschot in the Netherlands on the 15th of October you will get an additional 10% discount and of course no shipping costs.
You can find more information on the festivals on these URL's:
The album will be available later from more locations, both as physical CD and also as digital download in high quality. You can find more information on the album here -> http://www.synth.nl/Apollo
I'm currently still working hard on finishing both the album and the artwork. Also the mastering still has to be done. Preview will follow as soon as possible. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Today I started making the last sound effects I need for my upcoming Apollo album. I used my beloved Roland SH-5 for these sound effects. It has a lovely noise generator and excellent filter with perfect auto-oscillation for nice effects when you turn the resonance up. And also the LFO's are very nice to use. So I like it a lot for these kind of things. The Apollo project is really getting in the last stages now. 6 of the 12 tracks are done now, 5 almost done and 1 still needs a bit of work, but so far my planning looks still OK for release on the 1st of October. I'm currently fixing little errors as well together with my friend Hans and he is already starting up the mastering process for some of the finished tracks as well. I still need to finalize the artwork as well. But there is light on the end of the tunnel :)
Ron Boots played my Don Quixote track on his latest DreamScape Radio show. As you know this track was released on the SchallPlatte 13 CD that is normally not for sale. But Ron made a great offer. He is giving away 5 free copies of the CD with you next order from Groove Unlimited. To go to the Groove website and pre-order my new Apollo CD ;) or any other CD you like of course and then put in the note that you would like a SchallPlatte 13 as well. I'm sure he will run out of them very soon. I thought I'd let you know :) You can find the radio show here: http://dreamscape.groove.nl and order your CD here http://www.groove.nl
Today I had some special visitors in my studio. Rob Papen and his crew (producer Jeroen and cameraman Jochem) came over to film in my studio. Rob is a well know synthesizer musician in the Netherlands from playing in bands like Nova and Peru, but he is also well know sound designer and maybe even famous for his very good software synthesizers like Predator, Blue, SubBoomBass and recently Punch. As you might know Rob also gives courses in synthesizer sound design and he is now working with his crew on a book and DVD about sound design.
Rob filmed quite some material for the DVD in his own studio where he has a Moog Minimoog and a Jupiter 8, but he wanted to show the layout of some other synthesizers as well to explain where they differ from each other, but also what the similarities are. Here you see Rob playing with my Yamaha CS-50 where Rob especially focused on the Ring Modulation and the other features that make the typical sound of this synth.
Rob also had a lot of fun with my DIY modular and one of the dotcom sequencers. Here he explained how patching works and that you can use the sequencer to control the pitch of an oscillator but also to control the cutoff of a filter. He also showed some other examples of sample and hold on the ARP 2600. From time to time we did have to move some synths around to get a good shot and it is a good thing they brought some extra lighting since it is quite dark in my studio which is great for atmosphere shots, but not to explain stuff on synths of course.
Rob also used the Moog Memorymoog and Roland SH-101, but didn't want to stick with only vintage synthesizers. He also did some shoots with the DSI Prophet '08 and seemed to have fun with the D-beam on the Jupiter-80. The problem with filming this synth though is the touch screen so Rob explained that there were 10 Roland GAIA's in there and did some more in depth explanation on the Roland GAIA itself. There were many more things Rob wanted to do I think, but after about 10 of shooting hours we called it a day.
All in all we had a very nice day and I think it was very productive for Rob and his crew. They actually did a little introduction shot with me on it as well, so maybe I'll appear on the DVD as well. Judging from what I heard about what they did so far and what they did today I think it will be a great product to see if you are into synthesizers. I also filmed a bit with my own camera when they were shooting and Rob gave me permission to put it online, so I'll try to make a little compilation to give you an impression of what to expect. I'm really looking forward to the DVD. You can find more information about Rob Papen's software on http://www.robpapen.com btw. And I guess the DVD will be for sale on there later on as well.
At the moment I'm testing the new Roland Jupiter 80. Thanks to Live Music in Arnhem (NL) and Roland. I heard it briefly at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt and I was already pleasantly surprised then, but now that I'm able to play with it myself I'm totally convinced that it is a synth for me. Like I said before I'm not very into the acoustic sounds, however I did enjoy playing with some of those sounds a lot. Like the piano and violin sounds. But my main interest is the VA engine and now I'm sure it sounds like the GAIA engine (which I personally like a lot), but not 9 of them like I wrote before, but 10 actually :) You can even load a synth engine on the percussion part. So that gives a total of 30 1 oscillator synthesizers stacked all together. It is amazing what kind of power and movement you can get into your sounds. Each 1 oscillator synth has its own filter, VCA, LFO, envelopes etc. So imagine stacking that on top of each other 10 times in a single preset :) Bass sounds can have a lot of punch and low end, but you can also get screaming leads from it. But I think it excels really at string and pad sounds. From soft and mellow to grand and wide. That is what I'll be using it for most of the time I guess. Further more the build quality is excellent, the whole thing feels very solid and the keyboard and touch screen are excellent. I like the playing feel of the keys a lot. My kind of thing :) So I would say try it out! Stop whining that it is called Jupiter and that it is not analog, and don't judge it on the acoustic preset demos on YouTube demos with crappy audio, but find a real one and make some sounds yourself instead before you judge it! I'm happy and sad now actually. Happy that I could try it out a bit longer than in Frankfurt but sad that I'll have to return it in a couple of days. Mine is already ordered now and I'll wait impatiently until it is here :)
Here is a picture of Remy Stroomer and me playing music together in my studio. Remy is a very gifted musician who releases music on his own record label 'Desert Island Music' simply under his first name 'Remy' and like me is inspired by Jarre, but his music also tends towards Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. We have met on several music festivals and he also arranged the meeting I had with Jean Michel Jarre a while ago. We have talked about doing some music together a long while ago and the first result was the contribution that I did on his last solo release called 'I-Dentity'. But I have good news: There is more to come. I'm currently working on two other projects together with Remy, but I can't give you the details just yet. But keep an eye out for news :) I'll let you know as soon as things are more clear. But for starters we have had already two very nice and inspiring sessions in my studio and soon I'll be visiting his studio for more.
Groove Unlimited already added my upcoming Apollo album to their website so you can already pre-order the album. In this way you will be sure to be one of the first to have the album as soon as it is out. I heard that already some of you ordered it. Thank you very much for the confidence and I hope of course that you will like it. You can only pre-order Apollo directly from Groove Unlimited at this time. When the album is released it will be for sale on more places. You can get find it at this URL: http://www.groove.nl/jump2.php?artiest=synth.nl Of course you can also pick it up at the Electronic Circus or E-live festival if you rather get it from me directly.
Last week I got back from holiday and I wanted to get back to my music, but I'm having serious jet lag troubles. I'm very tired and I can really focus unfortunately. I'm sure it will pass in a few days, so I started doing some little studio changes. I recently sold quite some stuff to be able to get some new synths soon. One of the things I did was sell most of the stuff from my mobile modular rack. I only kept the Semtex XL that I put in the modular desk now as you can see. And on the spot where the mobile 19" rack used to be I could now finally put my ARP 2600. So now it has a decent spot where I can play on it and it is also next to my modular desk so that I can patch it to the other synthesizers. I had this in mind for a long time already, but just didn't find the time. Well now it is there I'm quite happy with it.
I also found a new spot for the Blofeld module. I removed the front cover from the Arturia Origin and that just gave me enough room to put it on front of it. So now it is finally on my desk within reach. I'm sure this won't be the final way I set my desk up, but for now it will do. The next major update will be the addition of some new synthesizers. From the stuff I sold I'll buy a new Korg Kronos and a new Roland Jupiter 80. I have ordered them a long time ago, but I'm still waiting for them. I hope to get them soon and then I'll let you know right away of course :)
Yesterday I picked up an Alesis iO Dock from I4 Muzique in Eindhoven (NL). I think this is one of the best Ipad gadgets out there. I was struggling a bit with the RTP midi over Wifi and really wanted some decent midi adapter. Well here it is :) It has midi in and out and also audio in and out on decent jack connectors. It even has a video out. Another thing is that this thing also acts as a charger at the same time. You can easily slide your Ipad in and out and it is very stable. I can highly recommend it for serious Ipad users who want to use it in the studio. I think you can also hook up and USB midi keyboard if you want to play on some synthesizer that is running on your Ipad but I haven't tested that yet. The midi works great so now I can really start using my favorite App called Midi Touch.
I am in contact with quite some fans over the Internet and I really like the feedback I get on my music in this way. One of those EM fans is Mike Valant. He bought all my CD's and just before we went on holiday he asked me if I could send a Dutch Masters CD to him. I knew that he lives in Florida and we were going that there, so I suggested that I could take it with me to the US to save him some shipping costs. On our trip from Kissimmee to Key West we passed his house and we decided to not post it on the mail, but to deliver it in person. Mike prepared a very nice lunch for us and we had a really nice talk about music. I asked Mike if he would like a preview of my upcoming Apollo album and he was delighted. I'm still not finished with the music and I apologized a couple of times for things that I still needed to finalize, but he liked it a lot already as it was :) We stayed at his house for about 3 hours and then we had to drive on to the Keys otherwise it would get to late before we got there. We had a great time over there and just before we left we made this picture. When we got back home I got an E-mail from Mike that he couldn't wait to get a copy of Apollo in his hands :)
Please buy my music if you like what you read or hear on this blog. You will find the sales links for my music when you click an album below. You will support me and my record label so that I can release more music in the future.