Bandcamp Friday, the DIY Edition

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has made home recording a necessity, or at least a more fruitful pastime, for many folks. This #bandcampfriday, check out some musicians who took creative matters into their own hands.

Marq the A$tronaut, “Satanic Girls”

This lively single by Connecticut guitarist and producer Marq the A$tronaut, a.k.a. Mark Lyon of soul band Phat A$tronaut and a founding member of tech death outfit Xenosis, offers a master class in pandemic collaboration.  You’ll need two hands and maybe some toes to count all the folks who contributed to this funky track — see the full credits on bandcamp

The result is six minutes of feel-good fun, including smoking sax, trumpet, and guitar solos. 

All proceeds from “Satanic Girls” are being donated to the State House, a New Haven, CT venue — so grab this tune on Friday! (Or any day!)

Christopher Steve, Taken by the Tide

Indiana musician and music blogger Chris Latta, known for this project as Christopher Steve, is releasing a solo album on Feb 26th that he characterizes as experimental doom folk. With influences from Alice In Chains to Orville Peck, the album is driven by rhythmic acoustic guitar, philosophical lyrics, and Chris’s steady vocals.

Taken By the Tide also features many collaborators, yours truly included. (Hey, if you’re looking for unbiased music journalism, you’re reading the wrong blog.)  In particular, I enjoyed the surfy vibe of electric guitar on the instrumental track “American Ruins,” courtesy of Patrick Phillips and the Brandon Signorino’s mandolin work on “I Am A Clinic Escort.”

Chris said of his recording process:

“I basically just got a setup together in my basement. Got a new laptop and a home studio kit with a couple mics, a Focusrite interface, and ProTools. I did all the basic tracking myself and for the guest collaborations, I sent the basic tracks for them to record in their home studios.

Once I had everything tracked, a friend of mine offered to mix and master it for me since I didn’t have any experience with that. It changed hands a couple times but turned out pretty well overall.”

(I recorded my own contributions for the title track and “Denial or Delight” on my phone with an app called Spire — no mic and a very minimal ability to edit.  It’s safe to say that I am not a musician who leveled up their home recording skills during the pandemic…)

As far as the songwriting on the album, Chris said,

“Almost all of it was written before the pandemic. The music for “Taken By The Tide” and “Eternity” was written a month or two before I started recording, but the others were all written about a year or two before then.

I’d almost recorded the songs and a couple others in the fall of 2019 with a friend of mine, but I ended up procrastinating because the material didn’t feel ready. Thankfully I feel like the extra time made for better tracks and hands on recording experience.”

Plus, plenty of time to enlist in a little help from some friends!  Preorder your digital copy on bandcamp.

Crawl Below, 9 Mile Square

Back to my home state for this one… Connecticut isn’t what most people think of as a storied locale; it doesn’t inspire, say, the awe of the American West or the laid back dreams of SoCal beaches.  But our southern New England home does have its own intriguing — and at times, grim — history for those who care to find out.

And Charlie Sad Eyes, the solo artist behind Crawl Below, will tell you all about it on his upcoming album 9 Mile Square (to be released on February 12th). 

With songs inspired by Revolutionary War drama, battles between Native Americans and European settlers, and the history of Charlie’s hometown of Norwich, it’s a lesson in the little-known history of our little state.  Charlie is a man of many musical projects — all marked by a melancholy vibe and melodies that stick in your head, no matter what genre he’s delving into.  9 Mile Square is no exception.

Charlie said of his home recording process,

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I use the most basic setup possible for recording… a crackly (kind of broken, I think) Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface into GarageBand. […]  I program the drums with EZDrummer. If I think the songs are worth it, I send it to Studio Wormwood for mixing/re-amping.”

So a little Sad Eyes with a dash of The Kaminsky Effect (i.e. Dave Kaminsky of Studio Wormwood), and you’ve got a very polished DIY album!  Preorder yours on Bandcamp Friday.

Please excuse my lack of a conclusion, as I need to wrap this up while the baby is asleep! 

What are you planning to pick up on Bandcamp Friday?  Leave a comment!

PS: Want to improve the composition of your own home recording projects?  Subscribe to Francis Roberts on Youtube for music production tutorials and more!

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