(that's a picture of the Leebot, btw)
Thanks very much to Jeff of The Simple Carnival for a recent interview done with Lee, giving a little background into the technical production behind Lee's music.
Unfortunately, Jeff has shut down the blog, so archives are not available... but we've saved a copy:
Interview: Lee Rosevere
Ambient songwriter • producer • engineer • multi-instrumentalist
In what ways does the place where you live or places you have lived affect the music that you create or your taste in music?
Most of my original material is instrumental, just because I enjoy playing with sounds much more than ‘having something to say’ with words.
When I lived with my family, I had a whole basement to myself with my trusty rusty 4-track tape recorder… which meant I had the space and the privacy to bash on a *real* drumset, set up massive tape loops across the room, experiment with running a guitar through a old home-stereo speaker with a pencil stuck in it and then mic’ing it (had to turn it up really loud to get a signal, but it sounded great, almost like a real amp), and record some truly embarrassing mouth-noises that humans sometimes call ‘vocals’.
After I moved out with my wife to our tiny apartment, the area where the kitchen table should’ve been became my 4×4 workspace. It was a big hassle to even set up a single microphone, so it was just easier to compose electronically on computers.
Then, as my old 166-khz computer couldn’t handle the projects anymore (plus there was no way of getting the files off it) and newer computers got faster, I got into more ‘sound-processing’ as a method of composing music, which is most of what I do now.
What’s the biggest challenge for you when recording?
Writing melodies! Seriously, always trying to do something different, and not fall into ‘traps’ of similar sound-manipulation techniques.
Working in the genre of ‘laptop-composing’, I’ve noticed that I don’t like rough edges, I like to smooth out everything, which is the exact opposite of the current fashion of electronic music making culture (glitch, noise, etc).
I’m never sure if I should break out of my comfort zone and leave some of the things in that I would normally take out. But then again, it’s how I like things to sound! Did I mention I’m a control freak and I love reverb?
Plus I’m using CoolEdit2000 for all mixing (the old version of Adobe Audition) which only has 4 tracks to work with at a time.
What music are you listening to today?
Always listening, sometimes to discover new music (difficult in popular music) although don’t think there’s anything wrong in listening to old favourites.
I just bought 2 CDs by Canadian jazz group Uzeb off CDbaby (loved them since the mid-80s, their albums were always hard to get), I’m collecting some albums of Ligeti’s music to listen to later, and whenever I don’t know what to listen to, I put on KPM library music or a 2-CD compilation called Get Easy of late 60s sunshine pop.
I usually load entire albums onto my mp3 player (not an iPod) and if I hit shuffle the first 3 songs are “Melancholy Me” by Jackie Trent, “Pearl of the quarter” by Steely Dan, and “Any other way” by William Bell.
Are there any special mixing tricks you used in your featured song?
“The Machine That Won The War” is one of the newer ones (off the Music Inspired By The Writings of Asimov – free from bandcamp!), combining many different techniques that I’ve messed around with over the years.
The bass rhythm was done in real time, but the majority of the parts were recorded without listening to the main track and then manipulated to fit in afterwards. Plus I wanted to make a song with the cheesy Simmons-electric drum sound!
Sometimes I would play along to the main track, get a little bit of a synth line or guitar part that I liked, and then chop it up, stretch it, shrink it, loop it, reverb the heck out of it and then sync it back into the track to see what it sounded like.
Many years ago, a big revelation for me was the way Frank Zappa created some of his ‘guitar solo’ songs – the accompaniment and guitar solo parts all constructed from completely seperate recordings of completely different songs (dare I say he invented the mashup?). It doesn’t have to be in the same key, or even in the same tempo!
The idea that a riff or a beat doesn’t have to stay the way it was recorded opened up a whole way of non-linear recording and composing, not to mention the added ability to stretch or shrink any sound (including sound effects).