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Stevie C’s Blog.

What I’ve been up to…

Roadie: lighting tech, stage crew, spot-op, sound engineer, DJ.

XFT

June - July 2014

I was horrified to find one of my photos (the cloisters at Iona Abbey) had been copied without my permission onto a website selling a questionable fuel additive (XFT Xtreme Fuel Treatment) that makes unproven claims. I’m happy that someone found my photos interesting, but they used my intellectual property without permission to advertise a product I do not agree with. Sending them an invoice for the image got it removed from their site, but nothing more.

So, as many internet users are asking, is XFT a scam? I wouldn’t think a legit product/company would need to use stock (or stolen) photos on their website. If they really were making lots of money from such an amazing product, I would have thought that the small license fee for use of my image would have been pocket change to them.

The takeaway: just because you found an image online, does not mean you can do whatever you wish with it. Even if it’s not watermarked, someone still holds the copyright to that artefact automatically under intellectual property law. Further reading: Clicky

Roots Went Back To Its Roots

I was at Mains Castle with DJ Ross and audioWAVE Sound Hire, where we along with Dylan & Kev, were installing and babysitting 3 DJ PAs for the two floors and the courtyard of Mains Castle, Dundee (which I previously assumed was miles out of town). We had QSC/JBL & D&B systems to cart up the spiral stair case - but I did learn a bit about their purpose, thanks to Kev. We indulged in some intellectualised banter regarding the origins of house music and its influences on music culture today.

Kirrie Baton Relay

DD8 Music were organising bands to play as part of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Most of DD8’s equipment was sitting in Rainbow Music awaiting servicing, so I was left with a Phonic PMC 12 and a pair of Yamaha DXR12s. No complaints however. I have to admit that I love these speakers. The only thing they couldn’t do is teach a guitarist and his dad (who was watching over me) about proper mic technique, or the importance of not turning every dial on his amp to 11. I think I’m taking this too personally.

DD8 Music Queen’s Baton Relay at Kirrie Hill Camera Obscura, Yamaha DXR12, Phonic PMC 12

Do DJs “Play” Live?

I got into bother for posting an upcoming DJ gig to a Dundee Music page, to be angrily told “no DJs aloud!”[sic]. This got me thinking: why aren’t DJs live?

Most people would casually have you believe that DJs “are just pressing play”, so why do clubs pay someone to stand behind a laptop when they could do the same themselves with iTunes for less? Ok, I’m aware that some really big DJs walk onto a festival stage or wherever and press play, but I’m talking about working DJs. That said, I once had a lassie in a bar try to tell me that “sound engineers are just pressing record” - I despair.

I’ve been at events both as a tech and as a punter where the DJ has been beat-matching manually, scratching, looping, sampling, glitching/effecting, mashing up, playing with a Kaoss pad, drum machine or MIDI keyboard and even adding in live instruments like cowbells, cajons and tambourines - and feeding these back into the effects. They are not considered live, yet someone performing to a backing track is.

LITD 2014

Speaking of DJs and acoustic guitarists with loop pedals, this brings me to DD8 Music’s Live In The Den 2014. We had the fantastic DJ Forge playing inbetween bands.

I brought along my laptop to do some live recording (stupidly assuming I could patch my M-Audio Profire to the desk group outs - for drums, backline, vox etc). They brought along a digital desk, so I had to pinch somebody’s USB B printer cable. I was able to stream 16 channels of audio down a USB line (despite my reservations about USB 2.0 bandwidth) no problems thanks to the “Magic Fairy Dust’, as I’d always suspected.

There were several occasions of the recording buffer overflowing and the session stuttering to a halt. The drunk guy sloshing his drink everywhere was a buttock-clenching experience if ever there was one, so I fashioned a poncho for my Mac. The Mac was wearing a mac.

Allen & Heath QU-24 and Macbook Pro Live Recording at DD8 Music Live in the Den Kirriemuir 2014
DD8 Music Live in the Den Kirriemuir 2014 with Gary Taylor
DD8 Music Live in the Den Kirriemuir 2014 with Quiet No Longer
DD8 Music Live in the Den Kirriemuir 2014 with The Blend and an unexpected guest

I performed a few rough mixes in Logic, but will import the tracks into Cubase to perform a better mix. I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect, but I think I mix better in Cubase than I do in Logic. I prefer Logic for live recording, but find things like editing, overdubbing and side-chaining easier in Cubase.

Kirriemuir Den Band Stand overview from Tannage Brae. DD8 Music Live in the Den 2014

Graham demanded that I wear a hi-viz jacket, but didn’t specify how or where.

Other than what I’ve recorded, I’m listening to Pink Floyd, Jon Hopkins, The Commodores, Aaron Bond, Jose Gonzalez, The Beatles, Oasis, Paul Hardcastle, Cazwell and Motörhead.

Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo Pie. …