The Luxury Wafers Story

The Luxury Wafers Story

Everything was Good!

Chessvolt_Control Room

 

It was shortly after New Year’s day in 2008, that my wife, Landry,  and I started considering the possibility of acquiring a second recording studio. The room that we’d bought a couple of years before was overbooked. Chessvolt Studios in beautiful Panorama City was constantly full. It was a quality problem to have.

 

We looked at a house in Woodland hills that boasted two SSL studios. We looked at a huge property in Agoura Hills, owned by Nikki Sixx, that had to be sold due to his divorce. We looked at another property in Malibu owned by one of Goldie Hawn’s ex-husbands. We were doing that L.A. thing, and feeling pretty good about it all.

 

We actually came very, very close to closing a deal, and would have had the seller not gone sort of crazy at the last minute. The year progressed, though, and we had no success in finding our newly expanded recording space.

 

Then, like a canary in a coal mine, all of our business ended. Our one location was frighteningly empty, save for a handful of crickets that took up residence in our storage room. Of course this foreshadowed the Great Recession that was soon to hit, but that, my friends, is another story.

 

Enter The People.

 

Landry and I decided to invite some indie bands into the studio. We literally had zero bookings, and so we started checking out some of the L.A. scene with the intention of offering studio time and production to a band we loved. We ended up discovering and inviting The Henry Clay People into the studio. The production relationship did not develop as I would have hoped, but a curious thing did happen.

 

At the time, I was discovering new music through two podcasts that I’d subscribed to: the KEXP Song of The Day from Seattle, and WFUV’s take 5 from New York City. Guitarist Andy Siara, of Henry Clay People, wrote me out a list of music blogs. I was still unfamiliar with the blogosphere, and eagerly explored the list. I instantly became a fan of what Daytrotter was doing, as well as another live music blog called HearYa.

 

Landry and I had an auspicious thought: “What if we did Daytrotter with video?”

 

And what if we pressed vinyl?

 

Simultaneously, we’d been entertaining producing a compilation album that would be released exclusively on vinyl. What would we call our new vinyl specialty label? The discussion was in full bloom one afternoon as we scanned the shelves of our neighborhood 99 Cents Only store. We both noticed a cylindrical can of “Luxury Wafers”, stopped in our tracks, and stared at each other. A new record label had been born.

 

While the vinyl label stayed as a wishlist project, when we began our “Daytrotter with Video” blog in the summer of 2008, we named it Luxury Wafers. Of course.

lux_waf-hi-res-logowhitebackground

 

LuxuryWafers.net v1

 

The first Luxury Wafers Session was L.A. Americana band Olin and The Moon. Over the following 15 or so months, Chessvolt Studios hosted almost 300 Luxury Wafers sessions which included Lissie, Mother Mother, Ben Kweller, Brendan Benson, Langhorn Slim, and Dawes.

 

We took Luxury Wafers on the road to The Hanger Studio in Sacramento, as well as Jackpot! Studio in Portland. Tape-Op editor Larry Crane, and publisher John Baccigalupe were kind enough to donate their rooms to feature local acts they cared about.

 

When our Chessvolt Studio was taken by the Los Angeles Unified School District in late 2009 to make way for an elementary school, Dave Trumfio at Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock stepped up and welcomed Luxury Wafers when his studio was available. The Kingsize sessions featured Adam Green, J. Tillman (Father John Misty), as well as L.A. favorites Dengue Fever, and others.

 

Luxury Reset

 

In early 2010 Landry and I decided to put the blog on hold as we discovered that a new Malick was on the way. Uma Mae Malick was born July 27th in 2010. The blog had been dormant for 6 months when our Uma was born.

 

Wafers Reborn

 

In July of 2013, Uma was about to have her 3rd birthday, and we decided to revise our Luxury Wafers brand. I personally had some releases that had never been made available digitally. Butch Norton and I also had an instrumental album that was unreleased. Further, we negotiated the release of two very special projects that I’d produced: Courtney Jones’  “All The Things That Fall”, and Spencer Livingston’s “Grow”.

 

We decided that Luxury Wafers was to be reborn as a record label, and that we’d launch the label with a tour of the Northeast that we titled, amazingly, Luxury Wafers Goes East.

 

Since the tour, we have released German singer/songwriter Johna’s EP “Miles”, and Mexico rockers Volagio’s EP “Hollywood”, both projects that I produced.

 

We released a duets EP that I did with Fitz and The Tantrums drummer John Wicks, as well as a wonderful compilation for The Everywoman Festival, titled “Be Yourself”. Proceeds for the Everywoman compilation are going to support Embracing The World, humanitarian Amma’s charity, that the entire Malick family feels passionately about.

I Like it! Arturia Spark 2 and SparkLE. (I know I’m a Geek)

I Like it! Arturia Spark 2 and SparkLE. (I know I’m a Geek)

This post is more about one of my favorite music blogs, than it is a gear review. I must admit that I geek out over new technology, and even though 90% of the recording I do is organic instruments and sounds, I love playing around with that other 10%. So, fellow travelers, here’s a picture of my newest wish-list toy, Arturia SparkLE: Arturia SparkLE     However, the real story is the source of this story. Peter Kirn writes a blog called CreateDigitalMusic, from his home in Berlin, Germany. While Create Digital Music is by no means the only source of information on new music technology, it is the best. Peter’s stories dig deep.  Not only into the features of the gear, but into trends and direction. The shifts and progression of this fast changing landscape that we love. Here’s Peter’s review of Spark 2. Check it out, and you’ll be back for more. Spark 2

Jeffrey Lee Pierce | The Gun Club | Tribute Released!

Jeffrey Lee Pierce | The Gun Club | Tribute Released!

Glitterhouse Records was once the European branch of the iconic Sub Pop label. Now independent, they have just released Axels & Sockets, The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project

Axels & Sockets

I had the pleasure of recording and playing on “Weird Kid Blues” by Nashville songstress Julie Christensen. We were joined by the consistently amazing Greg Leisz. The project has a rather impressive lineup!

 

01 Nobody’s City – Iggy Pop with Nick Cave (feat. Thurston Moore)
02 Kisses For My President – The Amber Lights with Debbie Harry
03 Mexican Love – Black Moth
04 Weird Kid Blues – Julie Christensen
05 Ain’t My Problem Baby – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
06 Constant Limbo (Constant Rain) – Crippled Black Phoenix and Cypress Grove (feat. Mark Lanegan & Bertrand Cantat)
07 Into The Fire – Nick Cave And Debbie Harry
08 Thunderhead – Kris Needs Presents…Honey
09 Desire By Blue River – Mark Lanegan and Bertrand Cantat
10 Kitty In The Moonlight – The Amber Lights with Xanthe Waite
11 Secret Fires – Ruby Throat
12 Kisses For My President – Andrea Schroeder
13 Body And Soul – James Johnston
14 Goodbye Johnny (Andrew Weatherall’s Nyabinghi Noir Mix) – Primal Scream
15 Break ‘Em Down – Hugo Race
16 My Cadillac – Cypress Grove
17 The Journey Is Long – Lydia Lunch and Jeffrey Lee Pierce
18 Shame And Pain – Mark Stewart And Jeffrey Lee Pierce (feat. Thurston Moore)

Iggy Pop!

Nick Cave!

Iggy Pop with Nick Cave… Nick Cave with Debbie Harry… Lydia Lunch with Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Yup.

Everywoman release to benefit Amma’s Embracing The World.

Everywoman release to benefit Amma’s Embracing The World.

 

Check out the Everywoman Festival album on iTunes.

My friend and client, Sophie Serafino, founded an event that is “dedicated to celebrating and empowering women”. It’s called the Everywoman Festival, and I was lucky enough to attend this year’s event in Calgary.

Not only was I invited to attend the festival in Calgary, but Sophie asked if the festival album could be released on Luxury Wafers. So, Be Yourself was released on Luxury Wafers and all proceeds from the release go directly to my favorite charity, Embracing The World. Among Embracing the World’s many humanitarian initiatives, there are a number of powerful programs dedicated to empowering women. Luxury Wafers and Everywoman Festival feel that Amma’s worldwide charities are the perfect recipient for any and all album sale income.

The album features a wide range of amazing women! I’ve worked with Sophie Serafino, and Australian rapper Sammy G.  Two songs that I produced also ended up on the album: Back To Me by Courtney Jones, and Miles by German singer/songwriter duo JOHNA.

It was truly a pleasure to meet the super talented Olivia Wik and Justine Tyrell. Their songs are among the most popular on the Everywoman compilation, and deservedly so. They rock! Ditto for Celia Rose!

Please check out the album. Buy it on iTunes, stream it on Spotify, get it on Google Play. Let me hear from you with feedback!

Be Yourself on LuxuryWafers

News/No News – A Musical Dilemma

News/No News – A Musical Dilemma

Well, maybe not all that musical, but a dilemma nonetheless…

Let me explain.

The last 5 months have been possibly the busiest time I have ever had. In my life. I am truly blessed to be involved in some really fun, and equally exciting projects. Frankly, I don’t know where to begin, but that’s what’s known as a Quality Problem.

Honestly, I’ve found that if I’m blogging regularly, I’m really not that busy. If I’m busy, visitors to this site don’t hear from me, and likely assume that I’ve retired to Galapagos, or something…

And so I’m throwing down The Gauntlet. To myself. I’m challenging myself to blog through this insanely busy time. We’ll see what happens.

I do want to mention a recent trip North… and by ‘North’, I mean North of Boise, Idaho, across the Canadian Rockies, and into Stampede-Ville… Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

I was invited to take the “Cowboy Oath”, and honored with a Calgary Stampede White Hat. I never thought I’d be taking the Cowboy Oath. I guess you never know about these things. Here’s the proof, you doubters, with the lovely and super talented Sophie Serafino, and Official Stampeder Kevin Hendrickson. The scene of this Cowboy Crime was at The Everywoman Festival, founded by Sophie Serafino, and an event that I’m honored to be a part of.

White Hatted in Calgary!

This was just the beginning of an amazing visit. I’ll be posting part II of this adventure. The studio part. The Everywoman Festival Album Release part. More parts…

Mastering: The New ‘Fix it in The Mix’!

Mastering: The New ‘Fix it in The Mix’!

manley_stereo_variable_mu_mastering

 

A few months ago, I added the skill “Mastering” to my profile on a couple of my social media pages. Like a number of my friends and colleagues, I’m good at mastering a mix of mine, or a mix of yours. Like a number of other mix engineers, I offer a lower priced alternative to a dedicated mastering studio, where rates start at $100.00 a track, minimum.

Personally,  I started thinking about offering Mastering after hearing the work of a few bargain priced online Mastering sites. Often the finished product sounded as if the ‘Mastering Engineer’  simply ran the track through a preset mastering plugin, and moved on to the next track. I was not impressed. I spoke to my friend & insanely talented mixer, Ducky Carlisle,  and he told me that he’d started offering mastering to his clients. I’d been mastering  tracks for clients who were on a budget already, and decided to put it out there. Hang it on my shingle, so to speak.

Today, I get a pretty steady stream of inquiries.

I think it’s important to be totally forthcoming: there are a lot of projects that I send to an outside mastering engineer. At the end of the day, my work is not going to be the same as a Mastering Engineer who:

  • Exclusively does mastering, and does it on a daily basis.
  • Works out of a studio with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of dedicated mastering gear.

I’d love to tell you that my work is that good, but I can’t.

Now, with digital technology, there’s a tendency to take the attitude “I’ll fix it in the mix”. It’s not a smart way to work, but many of us do it. I’ve been guilty on an occasion or two…

The trend I’ve been noticing from my potential mastering clients has taken the “I’ll fix it in the Mix” paradigm to a new level, which is “Please fix it in Mastering”.

One problem: I can’t, and nobody else can, either.

Mixing is a skill, and there’s a whole lot to it. It’s one of those things where the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. I love it for that, and that very dynamic is the thing that drives me to get into the studio in the morning.

My theory is that while mastering a track is a service that’s affordable to almost everyone, mixing is not. A great mix takes time, often lots of time, and a good mix engineer charges appropriately for his/her work. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut, and a mix that has issues will end up as a Master that has issues. Those issues will likely be even more pronounced in the completed master.

My feeling is that I cannot master a song that has major mix issues. Believe me, you won’t be happy with the results, and neither will I. I’m happy to discuss mixing it, I’m happy to give you some feedback. I won’t master it as is, though, and I hope you understand why.

 

Music Creation: from Concept to Master Recording – A 3 Day Intensive

Music Creation: from Concept to Master Recording – A 3 Day Intensive

I’m going to be hosting a 3 day music production intensive right here at home in Los Angeles. If you’re a singer/ songwriter, aspiring producer, mixer, engineer, or musician, you are invited to apply. The event is limited to 15 music creators. Here are the details:

Over the course of 3 full days, participants will write, record, mix, and master their own creations. Whether you are a musician, singer/songwriter, engineer/producer, or any combination of the above, your participation is encouraged.

Everyone will have involvement in the all sessions and will gain a more holistic view of the creative process as it applies to making music and simply being musical. Day 1 :: Will be spent exploring our strengths, forming writing groups, and songwriting. Day 2 :: Is the production day. We will record the completed songs, and make sure they are complete and ready to send to mix. Day 3 :: Will be spent mixing. We will also master the tracks, so that they are complete and ready for release. This is a real time and real world experience.That is to say, we will draw from the talent and strengths of the participants. No outside musicians, engineers, singers will be involved. I will be your guide. Connect and network with singers, songwriters, engineers, and aspiring producers. This is a perfect opportunity to begin to build your team outside of the seminar. It is also an invaluable environment to deepen your skill set. Interested? Write me for more details. revelada_20    revelada_10SAE Mexico City

What’s Happening now at Pie & Tart

It’s been a crazy busy summer, and I thought I’d get caught up with an events post. Here goes…

This is what’s been happening here at The Pie & Tart Shop:

We launched our new label Luxury Wafers Fresh in July. To celebrate the launch, I fronted a New England tour that featured Spencer Livingston, Courtney Jones, and my duets album with the always fabulous Butch Norton.

Probably none of that is news if you’ve been reading this blog, though.

This week singer/songwriter Nadine Kramer of JOHNA is in the studio and visiting L.A. from Cologne, Germany. Yesterday we tracked basics with Wallflowers and Ozomatli drummer Mario Calire, and Pie and Tart regular, Jon Ossman, on Bass.

I’m mixing Tall Ulysses from Paris. Check out his music… wow!

I’m producing and mixing Australian rapper Sammy G.  (Side note: take a minute and check out these three artists. Totally diverse, but each is an awesome talent: Tall Ulysses, JOHNA, and Sammy G.)

Valerie Winters is coming back in the studio to finish 3 songs that we tracked last spring. Val’s album, Soulful Child, is slated for release on Luxury Wafers Fresh. It’s a good one!

Latin tinged singer/songwriter Joya’s album is complete. Recorded and mixed at Pie & Tart, it was mastered by Steve Hall and has an upcoming release date on Luxury Wafers Fresh.

I have been tracking Jeff Turmes‘ new record and we’ve been scheduling sessions around his day job, which is touring with the legendary Mavis Staples. This is going to be a really unique record.

My first solo record, Wrong Side of My Life, was part of the Luxury Wafers launch, and it is the first time the 1998 project is availably digitally. Ditto for my 1999 project with Amyl Justin, Sons of The Jet Age.

Also from Wrong Side of My Life, I got a placement on ABC Family’s Twister. Nice surprise… 15 years later.

Last Call, the live recording of blues piano icon Otis Spann‘s final concert, was released digitally for the first time, also on Luxury Wafers Fresh.

Mexico rockers Volagio celebrated the release of their Luxury Wafers EP, Hollywood, this week. Here’s a link to their new video for Hollywood.  Shout out to Honky Tonk Studios in Mexico City, where we tracked and mixed Hollywood. A great room, with warm and friendly staff. Highly recommended!

Also, I’m planning a 3 day music creation intensive. If you’re interested in attending, email me from the contact page. You’ll find more details in my next post.

Pie & Tart central. Over and out.

Guitarist for hire. Yup.

Guitarist for hire. Yup.

dobro-head

So, one of the more personal results of our Luxury Wafers tour, is that I realized I’m a guitar player. Quite

Really though, it had been over two years since I did a live show, and although I play in the studio daily, it’s just not the same. Consequently, two solid weeks of doing shows was a wonderful thing for getting in touch with my roots. I’ve been left wanting more, and I’ve decided to offer my services as a guitarist for your recording project.

To be clear, I’ve always made myself available for projects I am producing, but now, if you have an outside project that could use my guitar, Dobro, Baritone, Nashville Tuning, Lap Steel, and/or acoustic slide, if I’m in studio, I’m available.

Recording geeks: I’ll give you all the geeky details about the many recording chain options we have here at Pie and Tart.

Everyone: email me or use the contact form.

3 guitars

Boston.com nibbles on some Luxury Wafers

Boston.com nibbles on some Luxury Wafers

 Scott McLennan of The Boston Globe and Boston.com nibbled on the Luxury Wafers in advance of our Boston show at  Club Passim in July.

Thanks Scott, for a great article, which includes some quotes from Ms. Courtney Jones. It’s a quick read that’s highly recommended for songwriters, as Courtney removes a layer or two from the veil that protects her creative process:)

There’s also Soundcloud links to Spencer and Courtney songs, so what are you waiting for? Click Here!

Boston.co-scott

Back from the East Coast!

Back from the East Coast!

This is a quick post.

Since I last checked in our new label, Luxury Wafers Fresh, has launched.

I went out on the road with Luxury Wafers artists Spencer Livingston, and Courtney Jones.

Our default studio rhythm section, The Pie & Tart Slicing Crew, joined us on the road. (That’s Butch Norton, and Jon Ossman in case you didn’t know.)

So… here’s a sampling of East Coast-ian images. I’ll be posting more about the tour, the releases, and also some interesting happenings back here in the studio!

Meanwhile, check out some of my duets with Butch Norton on Spotify. Not into Spotify? Here’s the iTunes link to 18 tracks of love:)

CJ.ossmanspencer.nhHJon & Spencer at The Alternate Root plymouth JonUmaGrace

I couldn’t resist: Lou Reed reviews Kanye West

I couldn’t resist: Lou Reed reviews Kanye West

This short post is basically a link to Lou Reed’s review of Kanye West’s new album  “Yeezus”.

One night in 1996, shortly after Lou Reed’s “Set The Twilight Reeling” was released, I watched and taped his performance on The Tonight Show. As I watched him sing “New York City Man”, I thought “Wow, I guess Lou just doesn’t have it anymore”.  Hmm.

Over the the following days, I found myself inexplicably returning to the videotaped performance. A week later I ordered the CD, it is an album that remains an all time favorite to this day.

Lou had burrowed his way into my subconscious, something that he evidently does very well. The experience was a profound one for me, and led to an immersion in great songwriters’ work… which led to my becoming a songwriter. lou_eggCream

Without further ado, the review.