Our first success story! Join us as we talk with Justus Dolleman of the band Dutch Groove about the production of his record and his involvement with the MixLessons.com course and community.
Be sure to check out the rest of the album by visiting www.DutchGroove.nl
Subscribe for free at MixLessons.com!
“Welcome to TechMuze, a netcast designed to educate and inspire your musical creativity through tech – both technology and technique. Please visit TechNews.ca for show notes and more. Follow us all over the internet at TechNews Podcast and as always enjoy the show.”
Welcome back to episode 27 of the TechMuze Podcast. It’s been a little while since we’ve chit-chated. Lets jump right into it. Today, I’ve got something really special I’m very exited about to share with you all today. One of our community members at the MixLessons.com course and Mastermind Community forum has officially released his first record and it turned out absolutely amazing and I took some time over skype to get together with him and discuss some of the details surrounding the production of that record and …and the like. So, stay tuned for that in just a moment. And also stick around to the end of the interview to hear a full length track off the record so you can kind a get a taste for just how far its come. It sounds amazing. It’s a style of music that I personally really, realy like a lot. And so, stay tuned to the end of the inverview for that.
In the meantime, just a little bit of I guess upkeep and maintenance somethings I just want to draw your attention to. First of all, if you listen to this Podcast and it’s the only aspect of the TechMuze community that you participate in, I just want you to know that you miss quite a bit of free content and engagement that’s going on at the TechMuzeAcademy. I have been producing a series of video quick tips that I’m trying to publish you know one or two at least a week. If you like to get into that jump over to the TechMuzeAcademy.It’s TechMuzeAcademy.com for those of you who don’t know. Also, you can find a podcast feed of those videos by searching Itunes for MixLessons online. So, all of those video quick tips show up in the podcast feed much like this one but it’s video. And their short little episodes, little juicy morsels that I think you might find interesting and hopefully helpful in your music production endeavors. So, do an Itune search for Mixlessons online. Subscribe to that, it’s ofcourse is completely and entirely free as most of the things that I do are.
And the other way to stay informed and updated is if you haven’t already done so is head over to Mixlessons.com, throw you email in the email newsletter list. Two things will happen when you do that. One, you will actually get a weekly digest of all the new content that’s been published, so you won’t miss out on anything. But the other thing, more importantly perhaps is you’ll gain access to my free video training series called “3 Simple Steps to Amazing Home Recordings”, which is a sort of a primer on the core fundamental important concept that one needs to be aware and to consider when it comes to making great mixes. So, that again ofcourse is free of charge. Head on over to MixLessons.com. Just subscribe to the email newsletter and I will start to send all of that lovely juicy content your way.
So, without further ado I want to introduce you to one of our MixLessons.com members. His name is Justus Dolemann. He’s from the Netherlands and which he’ll be able to tell most than likely when you hear him speak. And we spend about… oh about 30 minutes or so chit-chatting about his new record. And I want to…looking forward, excited to hear what you guys think about this little conversation and I’ll see you on the flip side.
Dezz Asante here again from the TechMuzeAcademy and I want to take a minute to express how thankful I am that I live in the future with the rest of you all here and we’re able to do things like have conversation with folks in completely different parts of the planet from the comfort of our own homes. And case in point, I’ve got an opportunity here today to chat with Justus from the Netherlands who is a member of MixLessons.com and who has just recently release a brilliantly sounding record and I’ve got him on a call right now to talk to us a little bit about what he’s been up to.
So, Justus welcome to the call! “Good evening! Hello! How are you?” Good evening to you and afternoon for me I guess as it is. “Exactly! It’s quarter past eight here.” Quarter past eight, yeah, we’re 2:35 here in Toronto time. But “Oh okay!” So, why don’t we start right into it. Just tell us a little bit about who you are. What do you do I mean musically? “Musically, you’re wrong. That’s the interesting stuff, I guess. Well I have a day job, thats in the early morning I try to compose some tracks and late at night as well. So, little sleep…” Hehehehe! “and well I just finished this CD key and well I’m trying to make more tracks and the …with the help of my musical friends.” Yes! ” And my background is a little bit tutoring on the saxsophone and the…so that’s my background and I did a course at school Home Studio Production” Oh yes! “… and that’s from the SIE Institution and that’s half a year.” This was a correspondence type of course or was it in class? It was in class. It was an evening class and it’s all about the basic stuffs like what is sound, what are sound waves.That’s what’s in the beginning until really mixing and putting some sounds on the tape.” Very good! Did you find that beneficial like we’re you starting from scratch at that point or? “Well, yeah! Actually, I was and it was very theoretical so I learned a lot. But I was hoping more for a kind of practical information, getting my hands on the notes. It was really the teacher explains a lot of things and I listened which was very good ofcourse. “But” It was more a primary on the theory of things as opposed to practical application. “Exactly!” Okay!
And so I take it then that you learned the rest of that stuff by trial and error like most of us do. Hehehehe! “Well right after that, I was starting to with my own songs and mixes and I was a little lost and in a podcast I heard you” Oh okay! Which show was that? “Yeah, I tried to remember I think one that starts with the 100 episodes I think.” Oh Inside Home Recording with Dave Chic. “Exactly! So, I checked it out your MixLessons.com and that was exactly what I needed.” That was not theoretical well then ofcourse also but very practical.” Well, that’s very good to hear actually because that was kind a what I was going for hopefully. Hopefully other people feel the same way. “Yeah!” So, I have to say you too that you are not only a member of MixLessons.com but you are my first lifetime member I believe if I’m not mistaken. “Alright!” So, you’re in the club for good now. “Yeah, I know. You should…you’ll be around for a long time, you’re a young guy.” I’m planned on it, yes. “Well, I’m glad, I’m still glad, I really like it.” So, you’ve just release this record now. In fact, I’ve got a copy of it here for those of you who can see the video, if indeed we release the video I’ll hold it up for everyone to check out. Beautiful artwork as well, looks lovely and there it is. Alright! So, this is called “Someday”. Tell us a little bit about the production of this record and what its all about and yeah just give us your thoughts on that.
“Well, I did it all at home, well not all of it but most of it. I composed it at home, I played a lot of things myself with the keyboard, not a very professional way but it’s just a scratch.” Okay! “So, I used all the things I had with Logic Pro and I invited after I had the songs ready some professional musicians to come here and …to play it.” So, are these like session players like hired guns so to speak? Or do you guys play on a regular basis? “No hired guns! Well not hired…they did it voluntarily.” Oh very nice! “Very nice!” You must be a smooth talker? “Well, I don’t know. I promised them lots of things” Okay! “Hope I do come but well they came here and they played and the singer came,the guitar player and keyboard player. Well, actually the base player and the keyboard player sent them the things I had without the keyboard, without the base and they played it themselves on their own…in their own home studio. And it’s strange how it goes these days because the base was at Surinam at that time and he did a very good job from there.” It definitely sounds like he did a good job. That’s for sure! “Yeah but actually we haven’t seen each other at all. All the musicians are in all parts of the world. And we haven’t seen each other.” Wow! And I’m working to form a band now with all these musicians playing actually together.” Oh very good. With the same musicians on the record? “Well, I’m trying to but some are very busy. Their all in musicals and projects, on tour.” Right! “So, I have to call a lot and talk smooth again.” Yeah! “To put them together but they are all enthusiastic and they want to but they have obligations. So, maybe I have to find for every instrument more than one player.” Perhaps so, yeah…and sometimes thats the way it goes. But it is kind of a convenient as I sort of started the call off that you know we can do these collaborations virtually nowadays which is fantanstic. I mean I’ve done it myself where I’ve work with musicians where I have a core band and then one guy is you know accoss the country somewhere.” But we just send him the files and he does his thing, sends them back. As good as gold as they say, right! So, that’s definitely…it’s a wonderful world that we live in. We’ve got lots of opportunities” So, you say you recorded this record at home, in your house? “Well, almost! Well let me…the singer and the guitar player and I think everything else I send it to the players. And the drummer I recorded in Belgium.” Okay! “Ofcourse as you know the drums are not that easy to do in a home studio environment.” This is true. Yeah that’s often the biggest hurdle in this home recording type of situations. I know and I’m living in the middle of Amsterdam, in the the red light district actually. In Europe, that’s a lot of noise” Lots of actions going on hey. “24 hours a day.” Yeah, I believe it. “So, sometimes you hear really in the background if you really listen well from football fans shouting because they’re all collecting…here in this neighborhood. That’s very funny.” Oh yes, yes! “So, I really have to pick the recording days because its the Dutch Elistors Place, socker team then its no go” And you can’t just hold your head out the window and tell everyone to shut up I supposed. ‘No! They have some beers.” Very good.
So, so what would you say like apart from you know…this sort of cross collaboration and trying to get musicians together when they’re not all at the same place. What would you say would be some of the biggest hurdles that you wrestled with producing this record? “Well, ah! Let me say…let me think. It’s ah…it was difficult to have everything… let me think about it. Ofcourse composing the songs. I mean …I think you said at one point that if you are writing songs and you think you have 10 good ones you have only one good one.” Yeah, the ratio! “The ratio, yeah that’s what I remembered so I thought in the beginning…the greatest drill was to actually finish all those songs.” Ah yeah. “I mean …I hear everybody has good ideas and little beginnings and had…I had that too and I thought well, this is time to really finish all that songs. So, that was one thing and ah …” Such as getting the material together, making all the final decisions as far as arrangements and so forth before you even hit the record button. “Oh yes, exactly! I did it on the keyboard” but that was hard work but then I found some people and ask them, would you like to sing on this record? After a while, they came then it was difficult. For me it was really my first time to recruit some people. I was really a struggling a little bit what kind of mic does this singer want or is it good for. Is it the sharp mic or condense or whatever? What is the best thing?
So, this really was sort of your first kick at the can so to speak hey as far as…yeah!”By itself.” Well it turned out fantastic. When we’re finished having a chit-chat here I’m going to play out a tune off the record. Do you have a particular favorite? Well, tomorrow I have a meeting with a …I don’t know the english word. But at home it’s called the Kligler, Kluger.” Okay! “That’s the person who goes to all the radio stations with your cd who really works for you.” Doing the PR and the promotion. “Exactly! I put in some money there because everybody told me that if you sell some record yourself that’s no use. And so I had these meetings worked because she love very much in particular the 2nd track, Chemistry.” The 2nd track Chemistry. Oh maybe when we’re done with chit-chating we’ll play it with that tune so people will get a taste of what you’ve been working on here. Because , like I say It’s rather impressive considering you know like you said first crack at it. Because the first time recording and doing all this thing with Logic, it took me a year to really master Logic. I mean it’s a steep learning curve.” Absolutely! Ah your doing Cubase but I think that’s the same thing.” Yeah, they’re all capable more or less the same things nowadays. Slightly different layouts and workflows but they’re all very good. I have now history of all this things when I was 18. I’m not 18 anymore I’m afraid. Okay! I’m not 18 by the way. But I have no history of technical….experience. So, this was my first time. So, that was very nerve wrecking because all these play and singers they were very good and very professional and I got used to professional people. So, I had to pretend here and there.” Oh yes! We do.
So, you were talking about investing a little bit about PR and promotions what kind of plans do you have for promoting the record. “Well, I’ve done all the things you should do I think. I’m trying to be everywhere, CDBaby has my records and they bring it to actions and Put to Fire and Ben Camp. So, I’m all there.” Good! “That’s good! That’s one thing. Then nobody knows.” That’s step 1. Yes! That’s step 2. “So, I started with your site…promotionblueprint.” Artist Promotion Blueprint.”Exactly!” Which is kind been on the backburner for a little while but I hope to spend more my attention there again because it’s a topic I’m very interested in. With that for me, it’s more of a ..I’m speaking as I learn because I’m definitely not an expert in artist promotion. There’s a lot of cool things I’m learning about so I figure out I might as well share. “Well, it’s much appreciated. But well for its there I came with the idea to have the cover.. ask for the guy from 99designs.com.” Oh yes fantastic service! “Yeah , that’s why I have the sweet cover with the sea and sand because I have about 89 designs sent to me. And someone in Romania..someone in Romania made this.” Romania? “Yeah, Romania.” Very good. Again, there’s all this global village we live in now. “I know! It’s fantastic! And when also on Facebook I show to a lot of people what options were and based on those remarks I’ve chosen this design.” Well, it definitely looks good. I would have been curious to see some of the other submissions. You said you almost have a hundred of them, hey? “Exactly! I’m trying to put them on the website if I have the permission of the creators.” Oh yes! “It’s so fun to see all these different designs.”
So, this is an example of what we call Crowd Sourcing. So you basically, if I understand correctly what you have done is you’ve submit a competition basically to 99designs and for those people who don’t know, if you need a logo or you need some artwork done you put up a contest and all of these designers from all over the world will actually complete the work for you. They’ll give you a final finish product and you will have anywhere up to a hundred submissions that you’re able to pick and choose from which is very cool. So, you have all these talented people out there doing the work for you and one of them got your money. “300 dollars!” Which is not bad for a professional design work. “I know. That’s a good one.” Very, very good! We’ll have to see if we can come up with something like that for our mixlessons community there. Crowd source mixing maybe. We’ll keep that in the back of my mind. I don’t know. That’s very cool! Your question was what it takes to promote this CD. “Yeah!” Well, it’s not so difficult. It is difficult…but it is difficult, not so easy. So, I hired this or I didn’t hire. She…we’ll have to discuss the details tommorrow. I’m curious about her/she ofcourse. But she will bring..I’m buying her network actually and she goes to Herlingson. That’s a place where we broadcast this..its taking place in a moment.” Okay! “So, oh that’s one step.” Yap!
“I have to work hard I guess.” I supposed you do. And I mean one of the steps that a lot of the bands take when they’re promoting a record is touring ofcourse. And that becomes difficult if the band is not all in the same city at the same time. “I know but I’m working on that too.” Yes, as you mentioned, yeah! ” And the singer will be there, guitar player and the base player and the drummer too.” Oh, very good! Now, you have actually.. you were saying that some of these players are..they have sort of careers in their own right. I guess relenting whos doing the vocals on the record she’s done what is it, some broadway-style theatrical performances, these type of things. Little mermaid she says she’s doing right now.” Very good! And then I think your drummer has some noteriety as well if I’m not mistaken. “Oh yeah!” Tell us a little bit about him. Well, I think you know Macio Parker perhaps.” Absolutely! “Yeah! For those who don’t know who Macio Parker is just give us a little insight on who he is. Well, he was the one player for James Brown, Javie Horns with Fred Wesley and Curie Allis. One of the most prolific and notable sax players in this sort of R & B you know Genra music. “Yeah, I know and I play saxophone myself so I listened to him for many, many years and I visit all his concerts whenever he’s in Palladis or same as in Fenuin in Amsterdam. It’s a church. Okay! And you don’t know Palladicio?” No, no! Well, if you’re here you have to go there.” Yes, I’ll ring you if I’m going to see his show. “Exactly!” I see Macio Parker playing there every year. He comes here every year. And with him was German Tosnh, the drummer.” Okay! “But I didn’t know his name Begnam but it turned out he lives in Belgium and he has a wife there and that’s why he lives there. So, my co-producer he was asking here have contact with him because of feastful. And then he just..well if you don’t ask you don’t get it. So, he asked would you like to play on our record. Well, he says well let me hear it first and then I will let you know. And then he said after the first song the first song we are going to play hopefully. He said I can really make it funky and nasty.” Hahahahahaha! Sign him up! Yeah! “So, that was really ah…yeah he’s my hero. And there I was working with him.”
That is fantastic to a point that you mentioned there, if you don’t asked you don’t get and I think that holds a lot of people back just the intimidation factor perhaps. The star power that some people seem to have you know in some people’s mind. “Yeah!” It’s just like you said you just got to reach out and introduce yourself. And the worst they can do is tell you to piss off and that doesn’t hurt you. Or does it? “Not at all.” So, that is a great, great story. “You wouldn’t be surprise that some of these great players are just sitting at home waiting for somebody to call.” I imagine so. Not everyone is out touring the world in stadium concerts. “No, but because you think I thought that he’s so good it’s impossible to…that he will work with us. But he was at sitting at home waiting.” And you had good music, so perfect combination. “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” And I record in Derms in Condosion because he lives there and that was convenient.” Okay! That was a strange situation sitting there and telling him what to drum. I didn’t tell him much ofcourse.” Yeah! Yeah! He’s got the chops I supposed. “He got the chops and he listened to it twice and said alright let’s record and then..wow most of the time it was one take. That’s what we call a professional. “Exactly! The only thing I had to tell him were the beginings and the end.” Oh yeah! Just to let him know when to start, when to stop. Yeah! Which is pretty important I imagine. “It’s very important!” That’s very cool!
So, let’s talk a little about the mix on this record. “Yeah! Yeah!” It’s a real, it’s a real…you’ve managed to achieve a real, clean, clear, spacious..yeah…almost mix where you can hear every part crisp and cleanly does not too many…I mean because of the arrangements themselves does not have a lot of you know heavy synths or distorted sounds or any of the stuff that has the tendency to take up a lot of space. So, you have the ability to do a little bit more precise placements of some of the things in your mix. What kind of techniques did you get into? What kind of troubles did you run into? Just talk a little about the mix. “Yeah sure! Well, I was sitting at home with all these..all these tracks, 16 from the drums alone.” Oh yeah! “And I didn’t know what to do. I have done a few things before but..I was really lost. So, that’s why you came in such a good time with with Mixlessons and I started with your video actually. So, I had 10 tracks totally unorganize, totally in a mess. Totally messy.” Uhuh! So, I did everything you said on the first few videos. So, I organized all the tracks, routed them in the right way. It then it gave such a relief in the begining because now I had a goal, I had a structure. I had..I was..I knew what I was doing.” It takes away some of the overwhelm. “Oh and the time as well because you get so tired just doing things you don’t know what you’re doing.” Yes! So, that helped a lot. And I took your song from Stacey, Banon. Is that correct?” Yep, Stacey Banon.”Stacey Banon. Well, all the tracks you’ll hear in this record are based on that song and how it was mixed.” Okay! “Ofcourse, I tweaked it a little bit, here and there. But I did…in begining I did everything you said. I just followed your lead and well that turned out really good.” It certainly did turn out good. I’ll give you that! Absolutely!
“Yeah and then I started to get a little bit more information from Pensado’s Place and you know over there. Pensado’s Place, for those of you who don’t know give yourself a quick smack and go and google it. PenSado’s Place is very, very good – free information an hour every week. Carry on. “It’s unbelievable and I went through because you told to watch those shows and I did. And especially Into the Lair. Well, he was talking about reverb, the delays and the compression. I took notes and I applied these to these mixes and well, I did a house a fix here and there. Well, so the stage man was the base and I went from there. In about 4 months I had to learn a lot ofcourse. It was my first mix in my life. 4, 5 months it took to really tweak everything. But then at a certain point I thought now I had to stop because Pensados said so many plugins so little time.” Yeah, that’s true. “When do you stop? That was my question at a certain point? I had done everything what you said about dimensions, about panning and all these things. I used about 4 plugins I think, not to many. But then, I had to stop because otherwise you cannot go on and on and on forever.” Yeah! And always be a little bit better.”
And what do consider to be a good signal you know for yourself time to stop export, print and send to master? “Good signal! Ah well, I stopped listening to it for a while because I was ah..I thought it was finished but didn’t know for sure. But then I stopped lets say 4 weeks listening to it because you know these songs very well at certain moments.” Uhuh! “You are getting used to your own sound. So, I had to step back. I step back. And then when I came back I heard immediately what was wrong . And also what I did in the meantime I put it the in the Mixlessons forums, the songs. Oh yes! “Because I needed some feedback. I mean I thought it was pretty good but how about the rest of the world. And then he remark, you remarked. That is very helpful about balance and about the singer being too much on the front. And I corrected all these things.” You know it’s nice to hear that you take advantage of the community there because there’s quiet a few members in at Mixlessons. For those people who don’t know we have a Mastermind Forums where people can discuss and share tips and tricks and so forth. And there’s quite a few people who sort of participate passively as sort of a fly on the wall and too shy to show off their work or what have you. But you really get the most out of it when you know . You just suck it up and post our mixes and be prepared for the constructive comments and critique. Everyone is prety cool inside that mastermind community. So, there’s no forum throlls or anything like that. So, you can rest assured. But you dig and you took advantage. If you got some helpful critique and you went back to the lab and applied it and end up with a great sounding record and in part because of some of the feedback you got. “Exactly! I was shy in the beginning as well in the forum. I didn’t…I watch all the others in the beginning and then I posted my first song. I was waiting for a comment anxiously but everybody is very kind which is nice They’re telling me what they think really but in a postive way and that is very nice. Hopefully everyone is there for the same purpose so that’s the reason why you get such good conversation and dialoque inside that . And that’s very cool!
So, okay you’ve got this record. We’re going to play the track in a minute. I just want to sort of wrap up the chit-chat by asking if you could give one tip or piece of advice to somebody who’s just getting into music production, home recording, mixing anything these topics that we’d love to talk about. Just starting out what do you think it would be? Be it like a piece of gear or a technique or a philiosophy. What comes to mind?
Well, I think the most important thing I learned is to end things, to end the track. There are too many musicians I think who just start with a beginning and have a nice bridge but see it through and finish that one song and give yourself a deadline say 6 weeks. Then you have to finish this song. That really helped me.” Absolutely! “Ofcourse you need some gear, you need a good microphone and all these things. But I see so many musicians around me who are just not finishing their songs. They just don’t and I know they can but…yah, yah! They say it’s not good enough or blablabla. And they don’t finish it and they go on for years and years with all these unfinished songs.” Which is a tragedy.”It’s a tragedy.” That is good advice and the other thing just to add to that is if you don’t finish your tunes you’re never going to have that 10:1 ratio. You got to write 10 tunes before you find one in that stack that’s a good one. That’s a keeper. So, if you’re not finishing any of them you’re never going to find those keepers. “Exactly! Exactly!” That’s excellent advice. Listen Justus, I appreciate you hanging out and chit-chatting with us today. “Alright!” Is there a website where people can go yet? Is it up? Can people check out your records? “Ofcourse! Ofcourse!” Where can we send them? To dutchgrove.nl and nl stands for the Netherlands. and I’ll put that in the show notes or in the description wherever it is that I posted this content. “Alright!” Fantastic, thanks a lot my friend. Well see you! Take care! “Alright, Bye-bye!”
So as promised we’re going to wrap up the show today with the track off of the record “Someday” by the dutchgrove. Once again you can hear more and learn more about this record by visiting dutchgrove.nl for the Netherlands. Dutchgrove.nl. Check it out! Justice did a great job, put a lot of hard work and concentration into it and the fruits of his labor are apparent. So, with all that said once again. Cummon over to techmuzeacademy.com, mixlessons.com, subcribe with the email list, get the free content and I’ll see you next time.