I've recently discovered the Dubstep genre and even though there are a lot of the tracks of that genre that I don't particularly like, there are quite a few I really DO like as well. As I mentioned in an earlier post it was "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex that got me interested and I really liked the structured randomness of stabs and the wobbly bass.
I suggest, while reading this post, that you listen to Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit] =)
Yesterday after I dropped off my son at daycare I had the melody of Nostalgia in my head and I imagined what it would sound like with some wobbles and random stabs in that track. When I came home I launched Cubase and loaded the chill-out version of Nostalgia to play around a while with the idea.
A few hours later I had a decent draft going with a duration of about a minute. I had to stop for the time being to resume some everyday-normal-duties but around 9 PM the kids were a sleep, we had finished eating Thai food, and the Cubase project was loaded.
I couldn't stop until the clock showed 03:30 AM but I happy with the result and I considered the edit to be ready for release. Since it's an edit the production time was greatly reduced because in general all the melodies and midi data is already there, it just needs rearranging with the exception for the additional random stabs, a modified beat, the wobble bass, and some instrument substitution.
To get the wobble bass, by the way, I use Sylenth1 and set the Low Frequency Oscillator 1 (LFO) to sinus wave and that it should modify Cutoff Frequency A. I then use VST Automation (see my tutorial on VST Automation in Cubase) to alter the rate of the LFO to achieve the wobble effect.
2 hours of sleep anyone?
I released the preview on Soundcloud last night before heading off to bed at 04:15 AM. My son woke up again at 06:55 and I had to get up with him to drop him off at daycare again . 2 hours and 40 minutes of sleep - wohoo. Following some positive comments about the track on the Imphenzia Facebook page I then started the process of releasing the track on Imphenzia.com.
The process of releasing a track
To release a new track on Imphenzia.com there are a few things I have to do.
Unmastering the skill of Mastering
First thing is first and I have to master the track. Unfortunately my mastering skills are absolutely awful and close to non-existent. I spend about 2 minutes mastering the track because my ears can't really pick out the difference when it comes to EQing, limiting, compression, and altering the dynamics.
To give Nostalgia the drive through audio wash I load the 32 bit floating point WAV file I rendered in Cubase. I then apply quick EQ to drop some of the deepest bass frequencies and increase the mid-range and treble because I think my tracks are usually quite bass heavy when down-mixed in Cubase. I then normalize the track. And finally I use the Volume Maximizer in Sound Forge to limit at -6dB and compress the loudness. I only have my Sennheiser PXC 450 headphones and a pair of Logitech Z4 speakers to listen to the mix so, again, I wouldn't know how to tweak the mix either way so I just release it. If you are reading this in disgust, and you possess amazing mastering skills, please contact me and help me out =)
Encoding the mp3 and flac files
So the track is "mastered" and re-sampled down to a 16 bit WAV-file. I then use my VBScript to encode the 320kbps MP3 version and the lossless FLAC version. This is a simple and automated process now and the script also creates the necessary mp3-tags and metadata.
When releasing a single, I just have to create a small track icon in 100x100 pixels and 70x70 pixels for my web site. Since it's an edit of an existing track, I just modified the Nostalgia icon - took me about 5 minutes.
Uploading to Soundclick
I have all my tracks on a VIP-account on Soundclick.com because I use their web player for streaming audio to Imphenzia.com visitors. I used to need this because I didn't have enough storage on my website to host all my music but nowadays I could in theory stream it from the .com-site but then I'd lose out on the exposure at Soundclick. I usually hover in the top 10 of their trance charts so it's a valuable self-promoting greater good to continue to have my music there. So I upload the 320kbps Mp3-file to Soundclick, write a description, and I also upload the 100x100 resolution icon.
Uploading to Imphenzia.com
Then it was time to upload the MP3 and FLAC versions to imphenzia.com (I use FTP) and these are the tracks that Full Access contributing visitors can download. I also update the MP3 and FLAC zip archives that contain all Imphenzia releases to-date. So it's a fairly hefty bunch of megabytes being uploaded at this stage. I also upload the 70x70 and 100x100 track icons.
Updating the database
The PHP code on impheniza.com retrieves information from a MySQL database and for every track release I have to fill in some information. This includes, name, release timestamp, keywords, description, story, equipment used, duration, unique identifiers, etc. It only takes about 5 minutes or so, not too bad.
The track is up, time to notify everyone. First I announce the release on Facebook and Twitter. Then I use my e-mailer script to send out a notification to all subscribers. Today the list contained 806 e-mail addresses but over 180 e-mails sent bounced due inactive e-mail addresses and people having reached their quota. I decided to tidy up the list today so it meant manually removing the 180+ e-mail addresses from the database.
Updating the RSS XML File
This is the final step of my release process. I update an XML file containing the RSS feed for imphenzia.com but admittedly I haven't done this yet so I'll have to do that in a second. I'm not sure if anyone even uses my RSS-feed to be honest, but I'll keep updating it for the time being.