The success of SONAR X1 user Chris Standring’s groundbreaking 2010 CD Blue Bolero, which topped several year-end lists and produced a No. 1 single, made it tough for him to create a follow-up record; but all early indicators are showing that he managed quite nicely with the new Electric Wonderland recording which came out yesterday.

As of this morning, Chris woke up to find out that Electric Wonderland has hit #1 in its genre on the Amazon.com sales chart, as well as #1 on the BDS Radio Tracking Chart (Billboard) for the same genre.  I would say that’s a setup for a pretty great day, especially considering the “sales” climate of the music industry in general.  Electric Wonderland is a 10-song CD of original songs that fuses elements of the last record Blue Bolero’s orchestral touches with a deft jazz-pop touch that’s been a hallmark of Standring’s stellar career.

One of the changes Chris made on Electric Wonderland besides going from SONAR 8.5 to X1 was mixing the record on his own.  “I decided to personally mix my latest Electric Wonderland album,” Chris told me over the phone.  “I usually hand it off to be mixed, but this time considering the features of X1, I thought I would try it since I had mixed a couple of side projects recently that I was really pleased with.”  This change seemed to have worked well for him considering the amount of radio airplay the single “Oliver’s Twist” is getting.  It really goes to show you that we are truly in a great period of time when a talented artist with great ears and skill can pull off great radio ready mixes using SONAR X1.    

Another change was throwing away his pick for the most part. Doing so lead to a difference in tone, and he felt it to be an enhanced personal and intimate experience for the listener. “I went through a phase where I didn’t enjoy hearing myself play with a pick. It got in the way in what I was trying to express. When I put it down and played with my fingers and listened back to it, it felt more musical, much more intimate; and I found myself gravitating more to that sound. It’s also how I’m playing live now.”

In terms of Chris’s workflow with SONAR X1 for the new record, he started and finished it in the D.A.W.  The first phase was the writing phase where everything was written and recorded while keeping the final product in mind.  “There’s really no such thing as a demo these days,” Chris told me in conversation.  “Now, whenever I’m tracking something I’m going for keepers.”  The second phase was where a lot of his parts were replaced by other musicians.  This was either done in SONAR or in other D.A.W.’s depending on what the other people were using.  Some of the tracks were also recorded in commercial studios.  Finally, everything was fully assembled back in SONAR X1 where he mixed it and then rendered it for mastering.

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“I love SONAR X1.  I’ve actually recorded my last three solo albums using SONAR along with two other side pop projects, and it just keeps getting better and better.  I was initially attracted to SONAR in the beginning because I have always been interested to fuse cutting edge electronic style concepts with real playing, arranging and orchestration.  Now with the ability to audition loops on the fly, along with the ability to create groove-clip loops makes for a really creative work environment.”

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With Electric Wonderland, Standring is drawing more praises from both music critics and his ever-growing fan base.  In the not-so-distant past, JazzTimes magazine has twice named his CDs the best of the year, while 2010’s Blue Bolero was named CD of the year by the influential Art Good’s JazzTrax. The song “Bossa Blue”—which was No. 1 for nine weeks—was named Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz track of the year. 

After beginning his musical career the traditional way on established jazz record labels, Standring now releases music on his own label Ultimate Vibe Recordings, which has been a successful move for the artist.  In 2008, he offered his very first CD release Main Course, one that was never released, as a digital-only present for his fans through Ultimate Vibe; now Main Course is digitally available worldwide.  His first official release on Ultimate Vibe was his 2008 smash hit Love & Paragraphs, followed by Blue Bolero in 2010, Send Me Some Snow (a holiday album in 2011,) and finally 2012’s Electric Wonderland.

In addition to his steady spot on the Contemporary Jazz Charts, Standring is also a popular performer with his solo shows and with package tours. This month, he recently performed for the first time at the esteemed Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia.  He’ll also be on stage in his native England and in his adopted United States, touring in support of the new record.

In a time of over-information and negative connotations concerning the” music industry,” it’s great to see someone like Chris Standring setting such a good simple example for the independent spirit.  Along with other SONAR users doing great things, he sets his own industry standards by staying ahead of the game creatively.  At Cakewalk we are proud to support Chris’s efforts on the new record and in general, and we’re excited that he uses SONAR X1 as a creative tool to stay on point with his music. 

Congratulations on the new record Chris!

Check out the video for Chris Standrings new single Oliver’s Twist and check out the power of SONAR X1 here.

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