jacob detering is making records

Icon... The endless quest to make a record that I enjoy listening to ...

co-creation & intention.

If you are anything like me, you've long ago abandoned your myspace page. Anyhow, while perusing my page (http://www.myspace.com/jacobdetering) I stumbled on an old blog/image that startled me, again. I thought I might as was well post it again as it speaks volumes about me as a person:

"It's strange how every once and awhile, you stumble on something or someone that encapsulates something you think or feel so perfectly, it's almost shocking. If you're ever wondering what the hell i'm thinking - this postsecret.com entry pretty much says it all."


planning to make a record, what's next?

My partner Lauren Markow mentioned in passing conversation that in addition to blogging about the goings on in my musical world, I should begin scripting short utilitarian blogs about the record making process. As with most things, getting started is always the hardest part and at first attempt at writing, I got stuck in the usual places: What do I know about anything? Where would I begin?

Here's a novel idea - how 'bout at the beginning?

Making records is an often cathartic, emotional experience for artists. After all, it's in many ways akin to the birthing process; watching a song enter the physical world, growing from nucleus of an idea into a full on art piece. That being said, I feel it critical when considering the record making process, to set those feelings aside and honestly assess what the record needs to do for you and your career. Are you making a record as a keepsake or benchmark of your artistic growth? Or are you crafting a tool that will serve to further your career? Answer dependent, you should then decide direction, approach and ultimately the budget for your project. This considered, the following are things I frequently run into as a producer/engineer which have potential to make or break a project:

Songs are everything (songs are boss!)::
Send me your demos sooner than later. And while at it, send me everything! Songs are obviously the cornerstones of a good record. No amount of polishing, gear or playing can change that. I like to be involved in helping make play list decisions and working thru re-writes if necessary. I have a gigantic imagination, so don't bother making clean demos; if I can hear chord changes and words, I'm usually fine. If I tell you a song is 'weak' it doesn't mean I don't like you or your songs. It simply means I think you have better material in you.

Right part, right instrument::
Nothing will impact the sound or landscape of a recording like the right part performed on the right instrument. If I had a dollar for every time a drummer loaded in a 27 piece drum kit complete with piccolo snare drum and roto toms and proceeded to tell me he fancies John Bonham-esque drum sounds I'd be a wealthy man. Despite what you might think, you cannot make something sound like something it's not. Carpenters and mechanics all adhere to a simple philosophy: Use the right tool for the job, people!

The studio is not your basement::
Playing in the studio is a honed skill. For drummers, studio work is far more about playing the room and self-balancing the kit (kick to snare, snare to hat, etc) than it is about chops. Be organized about your ideas and execute them in an articulate, organized fashion! This means, don't noodle; play parts. Most brilliant session players I work with are systematic in their approach usually playing just time and fundamentals for the first several takes followed with crazier approaches after we're sure we have the part. Listen to your favorite records and REALLY assess what you hear. Here's a secret: You don't hear drum fills, guitar solos and noodling. Instead, you hear organized, memorable parts and usually, SONGS.

Listening is an art, the studio affords perspective::
Making records allows you to really hear what works and what doesn't. If you come in too sold on your own parts, you often lose the benefit of perspective that the studio offers. My guess is this is why the great players, engineers, producers and mixers all say that making music is truly the art of LISTENING, not playing.

Make your best record, not a record that's already been made::
People often ask me what happened to the music business. While I could give you a million answers, - I think the most accurate one has something to do with artists defining their success relational to something else they know as successful. Writing and making records has become a winnowed process much like a funnel. As you pour your ideas in - the options are abundant; you have creativity in writing, arrangement and engineering. But as you apply the 'success filter' to your process, you start trying to make your art sound like something else already deemed successful. You in turn choose from a palette of five 'successful' guitar sounds, three 'hot' snare and kick drum samples and you abandon your own creative, sonic signature.

Plan your work and work your plan::
In conversations with artists over the last few years, I've been offering the following advice: Assume the record itself will change nothing and that it's everything else that will make or break your career. Trust me, as someone that makes records this is tough for me to say. However, I truly believe that success with selling a record has far more to do with support/sales systems created than the creative/sonic perfection of your recording. Spend time planning about how to increase your visibility, ability to sell product and merch both online and off the stage.




javier mendoza | wrapping up

Seems like not so long ago that I was sitting in a cottage somewhere in Ohio listening to Javier play thru candidate songs for his new record. It's hard to believe that the record is now nearly complete.

This week marks the end of vocal track after which we have a few tiny detail overdubs to do; then mix. While we are still working thru logistics of the offering, it's exciting that every song on the record will be offered in both English and in Spanish.

Going into this record, Javier was insistent that this be a very different record; that it stand apart from other records and songs in his portfolio. Out of the gate, the idea was to make this a very simple record both in writing and in arrangement/production. Having worked on several of Javier's records in one capacity or another, I really feel that in this record's simplicity, Javier's passion and fire are somehow allowed to shine brighter. Without spoiling surprises, this record is much, much more organic and features great supporting performances from one of the greatest groups of musicians in St. Louis.

A big, big part of this record is the bi-product of the musical mind of pianist/writer David Aholt. Again, I don't want to steal the thunder - but at first listen, you will understand David's immense influence on this record. Also bringing so much to the table - drummer Joe Meyer, bassist Eric Grossman and multi-instrumentalist/writer R. Scott Bryan.

Javier's new record will be available in stores, on itunes (and many other digital avenues) and at shows early fall 2009. I hope you all enjoy the record and if you do, please share your enthusiasm with those around you.

Thanks, all.





other interesting news | caleb travers & taylor mesple'

It's been a busy, busy few weeks. Beyond pushing ahead full on with Javier Mendoza's new record, I've also started working with brilliant singer/songwriter Caleb Travers. I started receiving demos from Caleb several months ago. After working thru material, writing and re-writing, we decided to move forward with a handful of tunes. We've spent one evening in pre-production thus far with one more evening scheduled before we begin tracking. Most times, beyond getting MP3's emailed to me, I have very little time to do pre-production on material; it was nice to sit with Caleb, drummer Joe Meyer and bassist Eric Grossman and hash out tempos, feels and parts.

I also had the pleasure of mixing a song for my good friend Taylor Mesple'. Hailing from Portland, Maine - Taylor is a great, great songwriter and amazing pianist/multi-instrumentalist. In addition to being a great songwriter and performer, Taylor owns two Portland mainstays - The Maple Room and Old Port Records.

I've also continued to work on Nashville pianist Chris Walter's new record. My last session with Chris included drummer Jim White and was completely amazing. Chris recorded saw player Natalia Paruz for one of the tunes - video of that session is amazing and can be seen, here.






javier mendoza :: tracking the new record.

The last few months have been so, so busy...

Making records is often a very cathartic experience for me. Working on a full length project from the ground up is always such a humbling and grounding experience. There's something about taking a record from infancy to fruition that is demonstrative of how important PROCESS is in life. I realize while making records how much time of my life is spent wanting to be somewhere other than where i am. I often wish I was farther; wish I had this or that. It's often easy to overlook the importance of each brick in a wall; each step along a path. Making records is one aspect of my life where I see this, clearly. A good idea, the right people/ideas bolstered by the right intent and will builds things of relevance and beauty.

After a writing trip in Cincinnati with artist Javier Mendoza, we set up in the studio to begin tracking. Contributing massively on the record are the usual suspects - Drummer Joe Meyer, Bassists Eric Grossman and Logan Detering, Pianist David Aholt, Multi-instrumentalist R. Scott Bryan, Guitarist Jim Peters and of course Javier Mendoza. I've actually played very little on this record but have found my role to be more concept directive than in past; it's a different but great role to play.

What I am most proud of really - is Javier's willingness to let his songs be pushed and pulled by PROCESS. In some ways, his songs have been reworked several times, now. First in Cincinnati where we rifled thru the best ideas and reworked them and then in the studio where we really started assessing chord voicing, tempos, etc. Javier has been so gracious in this often difficult process. Too, I am so honored to work and play with a group of such consummate and giving musicians. Their dedication to music and craft is second to none.

This record is a new turn for Javier - the songs, the arrangements and the playing are all a leap in a new direction which I think you all will love. We plan to mix and master a tune next week which will be uploaded for you all; I hope it effects you like it does me.


Almost a month ago, now - I participated in an amazing show the historic Sheldon Concert Hall. On the bill were four of my favorite artists: Kevin Bilchik, Amy Petty, R. Scott Bryan and Javier Mendoza.

Having worked with all these artists in the studio and being completely immersed in their material, it was so unreal to see them all on one stage with nothing separating them from the audience except an acoustic guitar. Oddly, despite knowing the songs front to back, I felt like I 'heard' the material in a new way. During one of Kevin Bilchik's songs, I noticed each on of the artists attentively listening and smiling after cool emotive moments. This compounded with an audience that was so focused and attentive, made the evening one (of many, I hope) I will always remember.

I have the coolest job. For this I am so thankful.

Till next time,