South African singer Yoav made it clear that he wanted his latest album Blood Vine, not to be a traditional singer songwriter style album… something that Chris Tuck, recording and mixing engineer of the album agrees “is all too easy to fall into when you are composing and performing with just your acoustic guitar and voice.”
Yoav’s idea was to explore electronic sounds with Blood Vine, with no constraints on the process. He was not concerned about recreating it live and allowed Chris Tuck(DarkPopChris), now a freelance audio engineer of mixing Audio Pros that unrestrained journey. So much to the delight of Chris and locked away at Digital Forest Studios in the beautiful wine lands of Constania, Cape Town; Blood Vine was created and recently released on iTunes.
So how did this musical experience start we asked Chris?
“It was support act time at a Tori Amos concert, and on walked this barefoot chap who proceeded to captivate me with his voice, acoustic guitar and pedal board. I was sitting there saying to myself repeatedly, I really have to work with this guy. I walked out of the venue repeating those words to myself. Life works in strange ways, because two days later I received a call out of the blue from the head of Yoav’s label in South Africa. I was asked if I was interested in working with Yoav as he reckoned that we should meet each other and record and assist in the production of some new ideas Yoav had.”
Yoav and Chris quickly made plans to go into the studio to put down some ideas which laid the groundwork to Karaoke Superstar, Know More and Keep Calm Carry On, all of which appear on Blood Vine. However, an album was not the idea at the time.
“It was my understanding that these recordings were being considered demos but it was my belief that between the two of us, Yoav and I could pull-off something wonderful.”
So it was agreed and the whole album process was recorded and mixed at Digital Forest Studios set on a private vineyard with beautiful views.
“The whole setup was perfect due to its tranquility. We could just get on and make a record without disturbances”
So how did the title Blood Vine come about? Chris told us that working 14 to 16 hours a day in the studio on the songs, starting around lunch-time and getting home in time for breakfast on a day on/day off schedule was the way it worked. The title was decided during this lengthy period.
“Some onlookers might call this insanity! Two artistic types and their OCD, blissfully cut off from the outside world.”
The equipment used on the album was pretty much consistent throughout all of songs on the album.
“What I love about Pale Imitation is the contrast between lo-fi acoustic and hi-tech programmed sounds. I always like to strive for contrast and dynamics during the journey of a track, and I think Pale Imitation achieves this well.”
We agree, the results are an impressive contrast that really highlights the acoustic and electronic that Yoav wanted as you can hear in the video of the track.
“There was never a separate tracking and then mixing stage during this album, it was a continual work in progress, even down to making last minute arrangement changes. We would work on 1 to 3 songs in any session. The Total Recall facility on the AWS, which is a joy to use made this all possible. I was using the desk in Stereo Mix Down mode, which essentially gives you 24 automatable and EQ’ able stereo stems. I was automating in both the DAW and analogue layer … another feature I love with the AWS … all the processing except EQ and bus compression was being done in software so we did not need to recall outboard gear. On the software side of things I am a big fan of Maschine, Reaktor, Soundtoys and UAD, all of which I used.”
Chris tracked the vocals, mainly done through a TUL F47 mic into either a Portico 5012 or Electronaut M63 pre amp and a Slate Dragon compressor.
“Yoav’s Lowden acoustic was mic’d using either Shure SM81, KSM14, Josephson C42 or TUL F47. I would take a DI as well in case it was required for weird processing.”
As far as the end result is concerned Chris has his own view on the music and the equipment.
“At the end of the day making records is all about delivering an emotional experience to the listener, and therefore gear should not be the focus or get in the way. Less is definitely more. It’s the song and the way the artist delivers or ‘frames’ their song that ultimately counts. Which is where creative mixing can really help.”
We at mixing Audio Pros very much agree with that point!
Yoav has had a busy year touring Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway with plans to tour in the UK and Canada in 2014.
To find out more about this talented artist look at his website: http://www.yoavmusic.com
To find out more about Chris (Darkpopchris) Tuck have a look at Chris Tuck profile on mixing Audio Pros!
By Richard Lake