Anatomy of a Project: A Nontraditional Approach to a Commercial Recording

By Jimmy Landry

Last summer, Peppina—a young female artist from Finland— plunged herself into the NYC music scene for two months. With the help of renowned NYC entertainment attorney Steven Beer who discovered her, she managed to head back to Finland with a major-label sounding EP. The project was recorded in different ways, in different locations all over the city—and with budgets being slashed, these days it’s pretty much hand-to-hand combat when making a low budget recording where anything goes. But the upshot is yes, you can record a commercial-sounding record on a budget—so here are some of the techniques we employed to accomplish that goal. SONAR Platinum was instrumental in saving time on this EP. Between the Drum Replacer, VocalSync, onboard Melodyne, Speed Comping and general speed enhancements, I got to the finish line a lot faster than previous records. I highly recommend anyone who’s on SONAR XX to take a close look at what the program has brought to the table in the last year.

This all started when Steven Beer called about an artist he’d heard sing at a film festival, and invited me for a meeting at his office. Interestingly, there were two other producer/writers there as well—a bit unorthodox, but pretty much anything goes these days, so nothing really surprises me anymore. We discussed the artist’s interests, influences, and other variables, and then listened to some of my reel as well as music from the other producers. It turned out the lawyer’s master plan was to bring the three of us together to co-write, record, and mix a five-song EP before she went back to Finland in 45 days.

Peppina already had some momentum in Finland from a loop she wrote and uploaded to a site called HITRECORD (owned by actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Her upload was so popular that Gordon-Levitt flew her to California to perform the piece at the Orpheum in LA during one of the show’s TV episodes. This all sounded good to me, so I signed on to a production team that would share in the production duties and heavy lifting. As to budgets…well, there was enough there for us to take it on as a challenge.

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Using Cakewalk Drum Replacer: The “Right” Way and The “Other” Way

The “Right” Way:

There’s more than one way to use Drum Replacer to trigger your drum sounds. Which of these you choose will depend on the material, as well as your preferred outcome and workflow. First, let’s take a look at some of the intended, more traditional uses of Drum Replacer.

A mixed drum track or loop

A fairly standard Drum Replacer use is to augment or altogether change the drum sounds on an already-mixed drum track. The examples below play an unprocessed SONAR drum loop, followed by the same loop reinforced by Drum Replacer.

Filtered Drum ReplacerWith the built-in filter mechanism, it’s easy to isolate each piece of the drum kit and replace it individually. For this particular loop, focusing the filters to 67 Hz for the kick and 673 Hz for the snare ensured replacing the right sound. I wanted to soften this already-punchy loop by replacing the kick and snare sounds with something a little more “airy,” then blending these with the original. I chose the included WholeLotta Kick and WholeLotta Snare samples for their lighter, more pillowy qualities and blended them roughly 70/30 with the original drum track. Combined, they create a pleasantly complex, tight-yet-sustained sound.
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