This is a video of a new song from our gig last night at the Essex International Jamboree. We were playing to 7,000 Scouts and Guides in a field on a massive stage. So much fun!
We arrived in Stuttgart and headed straight to our room for the night courtesy of AirBnb. This was our first experience with Airbnb and it was an amazing one! For those of you not in the know, Airbnb is a web service where instead of paying for a hotel, you can rent a room in someone’s flat instead. This has two advantages. One, you’re not in a hotel and two, you stay with someone who lives in area and knows it well. This was true of the couple we were staying with, Peter and Tania. We dropped our bags and went straight out again as we were meeting with the owner of the Galao cafe, Reiner.
When we got to Galao, we met one of the loveliest cafe owners you’re likely to meet. Our friend Laura Braun had recommended it and we could see why. We chatted to Reiner about how the cafe had come about, what happens at a gig and when we could play. Then we were off to see more of Stuttgart, promising to return in the evening to see the place in action.
When we got back to the flat, Peter and Tania took us out to try out some traditional Stuttgart food and beer, which was delicious! They hadn’t been to Galao before so they came with us to see the live music.
The great thing about Galao is their one act policy - knowing that the artist can play as long they want and isn’t being herded on and off the stage to get ready for the next group is very refreshing. It’s definitely something we’d like to see more of in the UK!
The act that night was a local singer/songwriter called Benni Benson and he proved that this idea works. He was a great storyteller, brilliant guitarist and had a set of wonderful songs that everyone enjoyed. There were a couple of glasses going around the room for people to put money in if they liked the music. The glasses were overflowing by the end of the night and Benni sold quite a few CDs as well. It’s a win win for both the cafe and the artist. The cafe sells lots of beer and snacks during the show and the artist gets to make a decent amount for his efforts. Afterwards we got talking to Benni and his friend Eva Maria. They were both really friendly and promised to send us venue details of nearby places to play. We duly bought a CD from him and went home happy to know that we’d be playing there in Autumn.
Here’s the second set of photos from “LFF Presents… Heart Strings”. Featuring Light Falls Forward, Eek N’Grr and Bleeding Heart Narrative. We’d like to say thanks to everyone who came down and made it such a great night. Keep your eyes peeled as we’re going to be announcing our next night soon!
We’re very happy to announce our first tour of Europe! We will be playing in Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany and France from 8th April to 18th April. We’ll be playing in the following venues:
09th April - Trefpunt - Ghent, Belgium
10th April - Jet Lounge - Amsterdam, Netherlands
13th April - Folk Club - Bonn, Germany
16th April - Moonlight Cafe - Lille, France
17th April - Au Petit Bonheur La Chance - Paris, France
If you are in those areas or know someone who is, please spread the word and come and join us - it should be great fun!
Today is the last day of 2011 and what an amazing year it has been - this time last year Light Falls Forward didn’t even exist! It was exactly this time in 2011 that Charlie and I decided to have a go at songwriting together and see if it worked, and it did! We had both been gigging with other bands and writing parts and harmonies for them but we wanted to see if we could write our own songs, so we sat down last Christmas and wrote an EP of 5 songs that we put out on Soundcloud in February called Four Seasons and a Day. One of those songs, Rise Above It, has stood the test of time and made it through to our studio EP that we are releasing next month with the addition of drums.
We started gigging in Spring as a duo called C&Nome (pronounced Sea Anemone) at acoustic nights across London, playing at The Phoenix, 93 Feet East, The Luxe, Notting Hill Arts Club and lots of other lovely venues. We also kept writing and went away on a few songwriting weekends to Whitstable and Dungeness, recording new material at home and putting it up on Soundcloud.
After several gigs of explaining how to pronounce our name to everyone, we decided we should come up with a new name and wrote down a few lists of words that we thought summed up our sound. From that, we came up with Light Falls Forward which we both liked straight away and after running it past a few friends, we went with it.
Our good friend and amazing drummer, Ed Williams, joined us to go into the Fish Factory in September and record our debut EP, Songs and Shadows, which is being mastered at the moment. We also put together a string quartet to play on the album - Greg on cello who gave me a few cello lessons last year, Anais on viola who we had worked with as part of the Minds Ear Orchestra and two violinists (Lily and Peter) recommended to us by Davy Berryman who created Sea Stacks. They hadn’t played together before but after a couple run-throughs, they sounded like they’d been a quartet for years. They all gave up their time for free to record parts on a couple of tracks and it sounded amazing!
The real highlight of 2011 was our last gig of the year, Light Up The Night - a night that we put together where the bands played in darkness, lit by the light the audience brought, to raise money for Shelter. Light Up The Night was a huge success and we were both overwhelmed by how many people came along to make it such a wonderful night. The Slaughtered Lamb was the perfect venue and Sea Stacks and The Portraits played beautiful sets that captivated the audience. The darkness and candlelight made it even more magical - we couldn’t believe that we had created this experience, it was an incredible feeling! T-Toe finished the night with a great set that got people up and dancing, and we raised over £150 for Shelter on the night too which is amazing! It was the first “LFF presents…” night and we are planning lots more for 2012.
We’re busy songwriting again now to get material together for a second EP and trying to find the right venue for our next live music night which will take place in February. More about that coming soon but first will be our EP release in January… watch this space for news on that! Happy New Year and may 2012 be an exciting year for you all!
Here are some shots from our recent Old Queens Head Gig with Werewolf Promotions. Shot by our good friend Ken Copsey. He knows how to hold a camera!
It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and for a present Naomi bought me a five hour, one on one session with an engineer to go over the finer points of mixing and mastering. I thought I’d share what I learned in my session with you.
The morning was crisp and there was definite excitement and nervousness in the air as Naomi and I wandered down the back streets of Hoxton to the London Academy of Music Production where the lesson would take place. Naomi was accompanying me as I didn’t actually know where I was going but soon we pitched up outside the front door waiting for the tutor to arrive.
She left me there to go and have tea and cake with a photographer friend of ours whilst I toiled and had my brain mangled with new concepts and ideas. She did, however, promise a nice ale at the local booze house afterwards, so I had a reward waiting for me after all my hard work/to help my brain to recover.
So here I was, being taught how to use Pro Tools after 7 odd years of using it haphazardly and the thing I found out? I suck at Pro Tools! Seriously, I didn’t realise how little I actually knew about the platform. So it was a great experience to be able to just ask questions and have my tutor guide me through.
We started at the basics, I finally got explained to me what the key buttons that exist in the edit window do (linking and unlinking cursors and the like essentially). Then we dived into the song itself.
The first thing I was told to do was to make sure all faders are set to 0. You do this so you can see what it all sounds like to begin with, and to be honest, it sounded horrendous! Everything competing for your attention like a school classroom you’ve asked if they want to go outside and play.
Then we made sure the workflow made sense. In mixing, it seems to make the most sense to start at the back of the band and gradually work your way forward. This means starting with the drums. When sorting out your workflow it’s easiest to work from left to right so stick your drums on the left hand side of the mix screen. Then put your bass instruments, then keys/guitars/strings and finally vocals on the right. This makes sense as you work from left to right in the same way as you read a book.
Now to work on the drums. We recorded the bass drums with two mics. One to capture the low end power and one to capture the click of the beater and the more mid-range snap. So you now have to make those sit together nicely and not cancel each other out. One way to do this is to invert the phase of the mics. As I understand it, this inverts the audio wave so the positive wave becomes negative and the negative positive. The easiest way to think of this is when you invert the colours on a photo.
The next thing to do is isolate the individual drums and listen out for anything that you don’t want. You want to use a decent EQ plugin and remove any frequencies that are superfluous. So we start with the deep bass drum mic. Anything below 35-40 hz isn’t needed so you can put a high pass filter on, set it to 12/18 db/oct and move up slowly from about 30 hz until you hear the sound of the bass drum being affected. Then move it back down until the sound’s back to sounding good. This is the essence of EQing and one thing that I’d never really understood about it. You’re trying to get to the essence of the sound and cut away anything that isn’t necessary. You can then have a look at 125hz, 200hz, 300hz, 400hz, see if they sound good or bad and cut away what you dont need.
Another thing you need to know is that when you cut at lower frequencies, you can have the Q setting quite thin as people can’t hear that sort of cut at that frequency. When you move up the frequencies over 1k, you have to have the settings more broad as people’s ears are more attuned there and will notice things you do. Be gentle.
After that you can move onto the other bass drum mic which is there to add more snap and capture the beater sound and the higher bass drum frequencies. So you can cut away the lower frequencies as they’re being covered by the other mic. To do this you can set a lower ratio on the high pass filter, 6 db/oct, and move up the sounds dong the same thing. You then blend the two sounds together and find the best fit with the two of them. You’re looking for one to provide the power, low end boom and the other to provide the higher snap, punch and crack of the bass drum. Blend those two together right and it’ll sound huge!
Next we’re onto the snare drum and we mic’ed the bottom and top of the snare to get both sounds, similar to the bass drum. Again all you have to do is cut away the things you don’t need and keep the good stuff. The high pass filter can be set similar to the second bass drum mic with 6 db/oct and then move it around a bit higher up until you get to where it sounds good. Remember that the snare will have been picked up amply by the over heads and so these close mics can be used just to add detail to the sound rather than being relied upon to provide the majority of the tone. Key frequencies here are 100-250hz, 1-3khz and 5khz. They are for the body, bang and stick/rim shot sound respectively.
Following the snare, come the toms and these bad boys sit around the bass drum. Low frequencies rule here and you have to be quite the surgeon with your lower frequency cuts. This will allow all of the toms and the bass drum to sit nicely together and you need to make sure of that. Solo the drum then un-solo it to see how the tom is sitting in with the rest of the kit, then solo again, tweak and so on. It’s really about trusting your ears and allowing them to show you what’s good and what’s not. Frequencies to look at here are 220hz, 330hz and 1.2khz, try cutting the two former and boosting the latter. The first ones are for resonance and boom, the last is for stick noise.
We then moved onto the overheads. These are there to pick up the cymbals and higher kit frequencies so don’t worry about trying to hear everything through these mics. Cut the lower frequencies out with a 6 db/oct high pass filter and then find the nasty harsh sounds in the overheads and remove them. I’ve read different things about where to pan overheads, some say pan slightly wide but not extreme but we did and it’s good to have the drums spread wide over the spectrum in my opinion but that might not work for your song.
Hi hats are a strange one as some people think it’s pointless to have them recorded as they’ll be coming through the overheads. I think it’s good to have them as they can get lost and need a little definition but use them judiciously as they can quickly become fatiguing. High Pass filter set up quite high (around 1.15khz) with 12 db/oct and then cut the harshness as well.
We had a room mic as well that gives you more depth to the sound and is there purely to pick up room reflections. You can treat this like an overhead and just worry about the higher frequencies as well. High Pass Filter and cut harshness.
I suppose the key thing that I learnt at this session is that you have to listen hard to your sounds and really get to know them well. We were lucky to have a great engineer (Adam Lunn, you’re amazing!) recording us and so he got us really clear, well recorded sounds that allowed us to really dive in and monkey about with.
Hope you enjoyed this and we’ll post up the next parts in 2012! Let me know if you’ve got any EQ tips or general ideas on micing and the like.
We spent 4 days recording our first proper EP in studio and loved every minute! Everyone can record music at home and we do it all the time just to be able to get songs out to the world, but you can’t get close to the sound and feeling you get from a proper studio. A wonderful Italian guy called Antonio built Fish Factory many years ago and hundreds of great bands have recorded there. People keep going back because the place is amazing - a huge and quirky space full of antiques, the best quality equipment and a great sound! We set ourselves an ambitious plan of 6 tracks in 4 days and we nearly managed it. We just need to add on some harmonies and synth sounds at home and get mixing.
My favourite part of the 4 days was recording the live strings! That is something you just can’t recreate with a sample sound through a computer - the sound of a bow hitting strings and the way the sound soars and gives you goose bumps. When the cello played the first few notes on Weather the Storm, I couldn’t stop smiling! With that sound and drums too, the song has taken on a whole new life and I can’t wait to get it finished! Charlie’s favourite moments were conducting the quartet and the very sexy bass amp he got to play bass through (Ampeg B15s for any bass geeks out there) - that has definitely gone on the long list of gear we would love to buy when we find ourselves with lots of spare money!
Another highlight of the whole thing has been being able to work with drummer Ed Williams. He is one of the most musical drummers we know and gave us so much of his time to make sure that the drum parts sounded exactly as we wanted them to be. We looked forward to our weekly rehearsals with him as he was always ready with ideas, suggestions and most importantly good coffee! He made us laugh lots during the session too and gave us an energy boost every time he came in, partly helped by a strong coffee or 2 and an all important croissant!
It was really hard to leave the studio on Monday night - it felt like a second home and Adam, our engineer, Antonio and Ed felt like new family. It would be amazing to be able to spend every day like that (or at least a few days every week - we might go a bit mad doing it every day!), totally immersed in these songs we’ve created, hearing them come together piece by piece with other musicians bringing the missing parts to life. It’s such a great feeling and no matter how good home equipment is now, there’s nothing like a real studio. We can’t wait to go back in and work on a second EP next year!