LABELS & RECORDING SYSTEMS
Over the years, I’ve used various fictitious labels for my home music. Distorted Recording Corporation from 1989 to 1991. Far Side Productions from 1992 until the death of the original Fostex 160 4-track in 1996. Gaijin Records from 1997 onward when I got the newer Fostex XR5 (which also coincided with using Warhorse as the new ‘band’ name). And finally Circle Nine Music as of working with the Yamaha digital 8-track in beginning in 2002. I also now use the Circle Nine label name for my real CDs and publications.
The Fostex 4-track machines used regular cassettes. A tape has four tracks, side A left and right, side B left and right – the 4 track mixers plays all 4 in on direction at double speed. Projects I made with these (using synthesisers, drum machine, and microphone) I then mixed down onto cassettes. Typically one ‘album’ was one side of a 90 minute tape. Only as of 1992 did I keep the original 4-track recordings as well (and in 2010 I transferred these on to my PC to preserve them with Ableton should I ever wish to make new mixes).
The Yamaha digital 8-track recorder meanwhile uses MDdata minidiscs. Minidiscs (or MDs) were popular when I was in Japan – they are like a smaller CD you can record on (they were seen as the digital replacement for audio cassettes). The technology never caught on elsewhere though as MP3 players became popular. This machine needed MDData which is like the CDrom of MDs (and not common even in Japan). It was a major improvement to have 8 tracks to work with and to have it in digital instead of analogue. Again, I used synthesisers, a drum machine (a new one) and microphone to make the recordings, but I also used Finale for backing tracks on the most recent ones. The mix-downs I put onto MDs rather than cassettes. MDs can fit around 74 or 80 minutes typically, so my albums on these have been a bit longer than the ones I made for cassettes. And starting in 2012, I now burn projects as audio CDs.
Aside from the various multi-track recorders and digital audio workstations I’ve used, I have relied on various piece of technology.
ASTERIX (first incarnation): In my earliest projects I used my brother’s Yamaha DX7 (89-90) synthesiser and later his Roland W30 synth and Roland U220 Sound Module (89-92). I didn’t actually have a microphone for the earliest projects. The first one I merely recording myself live air and then for the next few I used old earphones as a makeshift microphone. By the final months of 1989 to 1992 I used my brothers new microphone, though I don’t remember the make. Additionally, from December 1990 to 1992 I made use of my brother’s Boss SE-20 Stereo Effects Processor. I had to chance to use it again in the summer of 1995 to make some new mix-downs of music from that time. From 1989 to 1999 I used a Yamaha RX drum machine that had belonged to my brother.
ASTERIX (second incarnation): Aside from the Fostex and drum machine, the “second incarnation” featured equipment I gathered myself which was somewhat less advanced. In 1993 I had to make due with a somewhat temperamental mic that would normally be used to record with a tape recorder. Finally in December 1993 I got a tiny Realistic condenser mic which I have used ever since. From 1993 to 1999 I made use of a Yamaha PSR-28 synthesiser. (Now I only use that one to compose rather than record). While my music has mostly been synth based I did at times use guitars. I first used an Onyo guitar which I first used on one song in 1991 but not again until 1993 and in 1995 I switched to a Gibson until 1998. In 1993 to 1995 I used a nylon string guitar that belonged to my other brother, though I forget the make.
WARHORSE (1990s): The main change here was the new Fostex recorder, beyond that I made use of the same Yamaha synth, Realistic mic, Gibson guitar, and Yamaha drum machine as before.
WARHORSE (2000s): I took over ownership of my brother’s Roland synth and sound module and used them again for the Circle Nine album in 2003/04. For most projects done in the past decade, I used the general midi sounds that came with Finale, or sounds found in Sony Acid or various virtual instruments in Cubase. In 2000 in Japan I bought a Zoom 234 drum machine and so far only used that for the Circle Nine album in 2003/04. Often though in projects of the past decade I’ve used drums that come with Finale or in many of the works done since in 2012 loops imported from Sony Acid. I used to often use Finale to create MIDI files though on Set the World on Fire 2013, I found it easier to skip the Finale middle-man and just “draw notes” in Cubase. In the few occasions were I play a part “by hand” I now use a M-Audio Keyrig49.
(updated March 18 2013)