I became obsessed with music when I was around 11 years old and my brothers left behind their collection of cassette tapes when they went on to college. They were mostly classic rock albums – Led Zeppelin I, II, and III, Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and everything in between.
I had a musical background already taking piano lessons, but it wasn’t long before I picked up my mom’s nylon string guitar and started learning how to play – first the chords, then on to as many solos as I could learn, one note at a time.
Eventually I studied more formally, taking up blues, jazz, and classical guitar, but once I realized I wouldn’t *quite* be the next Jimi Hendrix, I got my feet wet writing songs of my own. Since then, I’ve recorded a handful of EPs (not to be confused with the other Dan Kaplan, who writes and records solo harmonica albums), a full length album, and I just finished mixing my first full length album, Chasing Daylight, with my band, Magnolia. You can listen to the first single here.
- I was an all state flute player in NY when I was a kid. I don’t remember why I started playing the flute, but I probably thought it’d be cool to be the only boy. Now it just comes in handy for the occasional jazz flute solo (i.e. never).
- I had a song, “Around the Bend” featured on The Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch a few years ago. Still probably one of the highlights of my life.
- I *might* be related to Johnny Appleseed.
Years @ Cakewalk:
5+ years (gulp)
Mostly guitar and piano, but I’ll hit or try to play anything I can get my hands on
While working as a Quality Assurance Engineer for Cakewalk I have the privilege and duty to test the latest builds before they are available to the public. While testing SONAR X2a and the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier
I decided to work on an MGMT inspired remix of new song written by Cakewalk Graphic Designer Dan Kaplan
. Dan gave me the stems from his studio sessions and from there I remixed the song using SONAR X2 Producer
, the CA-2A, and Z3TA+ 2
When I first listened to Dan Kaplan’s song Sink or Swim one of my favorite things about the song was the dynamic between the male and female vocals. I thought it would be interesting to try and approach the song more as a duet or at least feature the female vocal more than in the original. I started by putting the original stems in one folder in SONAR and began setting up tracks for the remix in another. I created some instrument tracks for Session Drummer 3, Studio Instruments Electric Piano, and Z3TA+ 2. I then brought in sections of the bass and piano stems and began working on the first chorus trying to get the vocal dynamic working. I added Kick samples and built a pad to fade between chords using Z3TA+ 2. The Bass needed to be a lot more aggressive and the saturation knob in combination with some EQ got the sound I wanted. I used a synth sample from the original stems for the instrumental sections that reminded me of a MGMT riff and layered some different snares and claps to add more energy. Things were already moving well towards the end of the song but I needed to figure out how to get to the first chorus. I found a great background vocal sample from the end of the original track that reminded me of something the band FUN might do and thought that it would be a cool way to start the song. Using 4 different instances of SD3 I built the giant drum circle intro and added some of my own guitars using TH2. I put some rhodes and strings in the intro as well which to me kept the space that was there but left some nice texture. The strings also really helped the transition into the first chorus when the pad comes in and takes over.
I’ve always liked well planned vocal arrangements in pop music and wanted to build a 3 or 4 part vocal section for the end. I copied and moved the original chorus to the end and began playing around with other vocal samples to see where other phrases could come in without hurting the melody. It started with the female sample “There’s one more step” which besides adding to the context of the song helped setup the lead vocal when Dan repeats the same lyrics. I then used it for the bridge as well. I cut up the lyrics “Sink or Swim” that Dan sings and also layered that in a few choice spots.
I added some splashy electronic cymbal hits for added effect throughout the song and chopped some of the kick and snare samples to give it some life and not be too repetitive. I found a great long kick hit in the included sample library that I reversed for the sub swells along with reversing some other samples and sections of the guitar. Each track went through the A-Type console emulator which I think adds more air to the track and used a lot of the BREVERB SONAR plug-in for reverb on tracks and busses. To get the weird watery effect on the female vocals in the bridge I pulled out the original Z3TA+ which can be used as an audio plug-in also and found a preset to start with and tweaked it so the words were still understandable.
Listen to Dan Kaplan’s original version of Sink or Swim.
SONAR has always been the “working man’s DAW.” From inception, it was built on the foundational theory that musicians should not be held back or creatively limited. From electronic beat-wizards to the most authentic acoustic musicians, SONAR has always been a DAW that creative musicians turn to for empowerment.
With the financial troubles of the Major Labels, a common trend is showing more and more very credible artists representing various genres who have the DNA to be on a major label, but successfully continue other career paths while keeping music on the forefront. Between the troubled economy and the state of the recorded music industry, many people are turning to SONAR to record “major label” sounding tracks on their own to tap into the licensing market, which has enormous potential not just in terms of making money, but also with obtaining national and international exposure. Continue reading Cakewalk’s own Dan Kaplan on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”