Friday, 29 February 2008


He wrote an Open Letter to the Side-Line that was published today regarding the state of the industry, overall a good depiction of what I feel has generally been widely known for a long time. I do find myself wondering where he has been for the past few years.

One of Alan's biggest gripes was the over compression and limiting done on commercial tracks in what he described as "Volume wars"

When it came to the mastering stage for our music, I decided to employ the services of a guy called Chris McCormack who came highly recommended. I called Chris quite a few times to discuss the best way for me to produce the final mixes on our album.

I was concerned about the environment of my studio and it not really being acoustically sound. The possible options to me were to provide Chris with Stems or full mixes. Stems are groupings of tracks, typically the drum/percussion track, the vocals, bass parts and the remaining track elements. The idea behind stem mastering is that much more control can be made by the engineer who would typically have much better monitoring environment and equipment.

In the end Chris felt that my mixes were good so therefore I supplied the tracks as finished mixes. What he managed to do in the mastering stage was to create a final sound that translated really well to different systems. When I did a comparison on my own system the results were not that noticeable, however when listening to the album on different systems, ie in the car, iPod etc the difference was staggering.

One of the things we talked about was the loudness of the final tracks, whilst I wanted the album to sound great on iTunes I was conscious of the over limiting that many releases had. DM's last album "PTA" is seriously over limited to the point that it becomes painful to listen to on headphones and I find my ears getting really tired.

I therefore wanted a more natural sounding (electronic!!!) album, something much more akin to an 80's master. I think we achieved that.

It's late now so more on Mr Wilders points tomorrow.



Gosh - what a grey, odd, earth-quaky week in Sheffield!  I'm not sure what it says about my frame of mind that A) I was lying awake anyway, when the 'quake' hit at 1am and B)  My first thought was that my bed was shaking from side to side due to poltergeist activity.
Anyhoo - positives this week;
  • I did a wicked new yoga class
  • Dirty Youth making real progress
  • Worked on 'Pop'
  • Had great feedback about the new NK pics (ooh!  I scrub up well)
  • Excellent feature of us on the Electronically Yours website
  • Matt's sent me a whizzy new way of updating the blog, which means I don't have to remember yet another password, on top of my existing 10 zillion
I'm conscious that our new album will need a name, but have not been inspired yet.  Reckon we should host a competition to name the album - answers on a postcard please!!
One thing that was quite intriguing for 53 degrees, was that depite me being the lyricist, it was Matt that came up with the album title.  I like the fact that the title actually had a meaning.  So, maybe I'll blog album ideas to date....
Matt - have you got our original list of ideas for titles for the 1st album?  Hella funny.
Ttfn x

Sent from Yahoo! Mail.
A Smarter Inbox.


I never could see the point of instrumentals on albums, I guess for many bands they were just fillers, Depeche would play their instrumentals live, usually so Dave could take a break. It was actually a DM instrumental that saw the debut of NK, I did a cover of "Christmas Island" which was on an album called "bright lights, dark room".

So to the point of this post... I have started to work on the final ideas for the album and this evening I have been working on an idea that I think Sarah would probably struggle to find a melodic vocal part for. But to be honest I really like the feel of what I have come up with. Therefore this is defo gonna make it to the album. Might work as a link between tracks

I have the William Orbit albums and I think he has really mastered the art of making enjoyable albums that in the most part are instrumental. I would love to acheived what he has done. That brings me on to some news, I have been asked to do a remix as NK for an exciting project, more on that soon.

Monday, 25 February 2008


I was a little bit hasty with the Goldfrapp negativity in an earlier post. I watched their performance on 4Music from Sunday night and I really do like the songs. It's just a shame they aren't really electronic.

Rob from EY asked for an update on the album and forthcoming releases, he kindly posted my response on his site this evening.

Tonight was a battle with my wireless network, I have this thing called an Macsense AreoPad™ Mini - This provides my music Mac with a wireless connection to the outside world and connects to one of the G5s ethernet ports. For some reason it stopped working, I then noticed my Airport Express, the thing I use to stream iTunes music to my stereo also stopped working. It seems that my BT HomeHub automatically updates itself and therefore caused some issues with these devices. I have no idea why this happened but the prospect of trying to speak to someone at BT about it just wasn't an option. So I purchased a Netgear router to bypass the BT HHub. Whilst this took a matter of minutes to install I decided to enable MAC address filtering rather than using WEP. This essentially blocks any device that has not had it's MAC address added to the routers access list. But this caused problems with AeroPad. The G5 it's connected to also needs its' MAC address adding, as does the ethernet port on the AeroPad, now after three hours I have realised the AeroPad also has a wireless MAC address, and of course this wasn't added to the list as I wasn't aware of it. After getting paranoid that another device was connected to my network I realised it must be the AeroPad. What a pain! My wife finds it hilarious that I struggle with seemingly simple bits of technology, to be honest I find these sorts of things just too low tech, they should just work.

So anyway, now that my G5 is on the internet again I decided to do a software update, Logic was updated as were a few other things including the OS and now the sound patches assigned to tracks for some of the new songs have changed, so something in Logic has screwed this up, I'm not happy!!! I think it's something to do with the AudioUnits authorization thing, I will now have to systematically update my plug-in synth modules. I really really really hate stuff like this, it's just a tedious pain. Bollocks!

Matt :-(

Sunday, 24 February 2008


Last year we announced that we would be releasing Project X in time for Christmas 2007, This was going to include Tears & Tinsel plus a few other songs. Unfortunately time slipped away and although Tears & Tinsel was completed we decided to release the EP as introduction to our next album in 2008.

The XEROTIC EP will feature two brand new tracks DIRTY YOUTH & INTO THE BLUE plus a couple of remixes. The EP will be available on iTunes however we are planning to make 250 ltd edition CD's with really nice packaging. The EP should be ready by the end of March

The next round of vocal recording is in a couple of weeks and that should see us with 2 thirds of the album complete.


Friday, 22 February 2008


is great.

Yes I had the SpecDrum & the C64


My introduction to Kraftwerk was hearing 'The Model' in 1981, the B-Side was 'Computer Love' which is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I hadn't been aware that 'The Model' actually came from their 1977 album 'Man Machine'. Not sure how it happened but for some reason 'The Model' was a big hit 4 years after it's original release. I remember buying their latest album 'Computer World' after this and being confused as to why 'The Model' wasn't on the album. In the dark days of the early 80's the only information about such bands and records came from magazines and sporadic TV shows. The internet has made such a difference to discovering new music.


For quite a while a became a little obsessed with Kraftwerk and devoted my spare pocket money to buying their back catalogue. I must say that, although really ground breaking at the time I find ' Radioactivity', 'Autobahn' & 'Trans Europe Express' quite difficult to listen too. I much prefer their almost perfect melody driven tracks. 'Computer World' for me is probably my favorite album.

In 1986 they released 'Electric Cafe' - Kraftwerk had discovered sampling. This for me is a landmark album that spawned a whole generation of imitators, 'Violator' is massively influenced by 'Electric Cafe'. Famously DM employed Francois Kevorkian to mix 'Violator' as he had mixed 'Electric Cafe.

In 1987 I started to work with a guy called Stuart Towers, he got me into using Ataris for sequencing using Steinbergs Pro-24, for me this was a complete revelation. We recorded a few songs with Gaz Birtles who has a small 8-track studio in Leicester. Gaz had a varied career in music, singing with his band The Swinging Laurels, their album was produced by Steve Levine. He told me that he had seen Kraftwerk at De Montfort Hall in Leicester in 1982, he said he was amazed at the quality of the sound and said it sounded like a the loudest and best hi-fi ever.

I first got to see Kraftwerk live in 1991 in Birmingham, I was completely blown away by their sound and show. This was around the time of their own remix album 'The Mix', many of their classic tracks were reworked and to be honest apart from 'Computer Love' I think are much better than the original.

I then remember seeing in our local newspaper, 'Kraftwerk' at the Leicester Poly, I thought this was going to be a themed disco night so I called the ents department and they confirmed it was a warm up gig to an event they were doing later that week with U2, I think that was some anti nuclear powerstation thing?? Anyway the gig was fantastic, topped off by Vince Clarke being in the audience. I bought him a pint, had a chat, he said it was the first time he had ever seen them.

When Karl Bartos left the band he released an album under the title of 'Electrik Musik', difficult to find now but that album is pretty good. I got to see Karl play at the ICA in London a few years. I also had a really nice email from him thanking us for gifting him a copy of our album on iTunes. I signed up to the Karl Bartos email list, the first one they sent had every single recipient listed rather than sending the email to undisclosed-recipients. I emailed the site and told them about this, Karl himself replied, so anyway at that point I had his email address so I used it to gift our album... always thinking!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Move over

Goldfrapp your time is up.

Must say I'm very disappointed with the new Goldfrapp album, fortunately they posted the songs onto myspace so I can save myself some money by not buying it.

There was a noticeable evolution between their last three albums and I must admit I was really looking forward to the new one. I could honestly say I probably looked forward to new Goldfrapp albums more than the last few Depeche Mode releases.

I was really hoping that they would continue with innovating electronic music but alas they have decided on a lo-fi/folk/guitar/acoustic type affair.

This is somewhat of an assumption but I'm guessing the delays surrounding this release came about as they were struggling to find a way forward with their sound, and rather than churning out Supernature mark II they decided to radically change their sound. I admire them for wanting to change and the songs are still great, but I'm sorry it's just not my cup of tea.

As a teenager I had an odd rule about buying music, if it had guitars in it, I wouldn't buy it. I think I'm invoking this rule again.


Tuesday, 19 February 2008


Pretty pleased with the results, more to come soon.


Monday, 18 February 2008

Sneaky Peek

These are a couple of quick grabs from video files taken during our photoshoot this evening, thanks to everyone involved.

Simon - Photographer
Maria - Hair
Rachel - Make-up
Sarah - Posing

Video and the final images coming soon.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Xerotic = Dry

And to be honest I'm going through a dry patch.

Very frustrated, maybe need a week of healthy living and hitting the gym will cleanse my brain of crapness and lack of creativity.

Decided to search iTunes for inspiration but nothing really took my fancy. In fact I ended getting really annoyed at the way iTunes stick any old shit under the Electronic Genre. Most of the featured albums don't even have Electronic as their Genre when you click on them.

I've decided I'm in a bad mood, so need to concentrate on the positives...

Monday night = Photoshoot night
Sarah is coming down, I've decided I'm not part of the image for NK so Sarah will be shot on her own. This is our/my inspiration for it.

Zoë got me 'Control' the story of Ian Curtis / Joy Division as a Valentines gift, maybe this will offer inspiration.


Friday, 15 February 2008

I had a dream

I had two memorable dreams last night, this first was about having my laptop stolen. The second was about having surgery, I woke up at that point with a really painful wrist. I have no idea what caused this pain but I'm in agony. Please no sarcastic comments - it's my left wrist not right!

Anyway I decided to back-up my laptop today and of course I will be doing my weekly back-ups of all the music files later this evening. That got me thinking about the what would happen if I lost everything, basically we'd be screwed. So I will also doing offsite copies of everything now with a spare drive.

Hopefully Dirty Youth will be in the bag by Sunday evening.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


I'm feeling pretty upbeat about this one, Valentines tomorrow so progress will have to wait until Friday.

I'm really into cooking and usually do most of it, however Zoë has been to Sainsburys to gather an array of ingredients and it's a surprise. So tomorrow is a night for food and wine :-)


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

things to consider...

The problem with doing everything yourself is... well you have to do everything yourself. Write, Record, Produce, Mix, Design, Photograph & Promote. All of this has to be balanced between a fairly busy full-time job but to be honest I get buzz from everything. A good day at work usually means a productive night in the studio and visa versa. Of course I have to consider my family and having a 4 month baby girl also means that time is precious.

I've set a fairly tight schedule of having everything recorded by the end of June so we have a lot to do.

My nights out of the studio are spent working on artwork (and writing this), we have something quite special in mind for the album artwork and packaging so documenting this process is important.

Over the next few weeks and going to intersperse this blog with the non musical process of doing the last album and what we are also doing behind the scenes on this album.

But for now thanks for all the positive feedback we are getting and encouragement in keeping this blog updated.


Monday, 11 February 2008 waves

Step 1.

Write idea, usually a simple melody & rhythm

Step 2.

Record Vocal melody, backing vocals, harmonies.

Step 3.

Re-write track around the vocals.

Step 4.

Complete the verse, bridge & chorus. Repeat these parts for the second verse.

Step 5.

Write middle eight, lead out.

Step 6.

Work on the percussion parts, effects & additional sounds.

Step 7.

Final Mix


So one track down, another 10 - 12 to go, feels like a massive task.

Made Baz from Electrobelle posh fish & chips last Friday, he admitted he would marry me but there would be no sex, I was fine with that!

Heard his new track and his next two ideas. All sounding good. I did have to point out that Charlie uses the word 'darling' in all three Electrobelle tracks. We had to listen to the tracks so I could be proven right - Baz you owe me £50 + the £50 for the Yazoo ticket, now that was an expensive night out.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Decided to have a night off and drink some beer and watch Transformers.

After my breakthrough evening I thought I would mail Sarah a link to the progress on 'Into The Blue'

some positive reassurance from Sarah...

From: "Sarah Heeley"
Date: 7 February 2008 10:28:12 GMT
To: "Matt Culpin"
Subject: RE: Phew


-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Culpin
Sent: 06 February 2008 22:47
To: Sarah Heeley
Subject: Phew

Think I have started to crack it...

Managed to keep it going in the direction I wanted, need to sort the EQ
out some parts as it's a bit tinny, also need to add some string sounds
and maybe a lead/hook somewhere and maybe the percussion sounds need
some work, ok still quite a bit to do :-)

What do you think?

Me x

A few comments from various people.

- It reminds me of DMs 'Precious' - Wife
- that doesn't sound like you at all - Colleague
- is that the melody from 'Small Town Boy' by Bronski Beat - A Twat
- yeah it's alright - Baz from Electrobelle*

* the only comment I took any notice of.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


I was starting to get into a rut with 'Into The Blue' , after recording over the weekend this was the first track I wanted to play with. I quickly changed the original backing to suit the vocals but it wasn't really sitting well.  After a couple of days of playing with this track y plan tonight was to wipe the sound-set and the arrangement and to start again. Something I have done quite often with other tracks but I do get a sense of dread as it means starting from a fresh. However I'm pleased to say I persevered with it again another night and fortunately I think I've cracked the basic structure.

My overall plan is to get a track completed each week, quite a tall order considering it took us a year to complete our last album but I would like to have 15 tracks to choose from for the next album.

With 53 Degrees there was a definite attempt to make it sound like a forgotten 80's album. I thought it would appeal to people with my taste in music which I think it certainly did. For this album as I think I have mentioned before I want to develop the sound and make it sound more current. I think 'Into The Blue' definitely has the feel I was hoping for, a little more edgy & futuristic, but still very NK. 


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

(Sarah) New tunes

Yes, Yes, I like your dress
You look a mess
I like it.

- these are just some of the ground-breaking lyrics we are currently working with ;-)
But seriously, it really works and I'm sooooooo excited by the new tracks. Matt and I are really in the swing of things now and I enjoyed our session last weekend a lot. Even if the studio was a bit parky and I had to get the hang of singing with a minimum of 7 jumpers on. Ah well - I like to think it all adds 'character' to the music.

And as for the bed-spread, that pic was of course taken at my granny's house. I have made it a priority to re-shoot the image in the dark, glam electro-style surroundings of my own place.

Tatar for now x

Sunday, 3 February 2008

A productive weekend.

Four new vocals have been recorded, the tracks are called.


'DIrty Youth' is instantly the most upbeat and catchy one out of the bunch, but I think 'Into The Blue' is going to be pretty special, another one where my original backing track has already been scrapped, quite a challenging track but the vocals we have recorded are amazing.

Loads of work to do on all of the tracks but I'm really encouraged by this first session.