Your production quality is inversely proportional to the distance between your butt and the chair

I started working on my next (second) song Whole Lotta Trouble yesterday. Keep in mind, all songs I work on already have a finished lyric and music, it’s a question of producing them. And I’m backlogged! So, inspired by the reception of a live audience to my trap mix of Woke Up This Morning, on Oct. 26, I decided to make this next one, a what I’m calling, ZZ Trap. Just imagine a minor pentatonic guitar-driven track.

This song is very straightforward as a rock song, pretty brisk at 134 bpm. Also, very easy as a Trance a the same tempo. I know this because I have the folders with those basic draft mixes! But, you know, ya got be with the times, ya gotta have that 808, and that swagger. The mix has to start whimsical and then DROP that 808… and the electric guitar part. Oops!

I went through several, not many, loop kits. Just listened until the first one sounded right. Being lazy, sorry, I just don’t keep trying for something better. You can go on forever doing that. It’s like finding the right person to get married. Just get one that’s damn good and stop looking for others; stick to it and make it stick. Then, bam! I’m hit with a hammer, it just sounds impossible to wed – to keep pushing the analogy – the guitar to them trap beats and sounds. The thing with loops is that often they come kinda of mixed already, with their own space (reverb, etc.).

And we get to the subject of Today’s Post, today’s insight. Sitting in the studio, going nowhere, but just work on it nonstop (OK, so there are some benign stimulants involved, like a drink or two, every few hours). And finally, already close to midnight, after a few hours of tearing that loop apart, particularly the snare groove – how it interacts with the vocal, and it’s all about the vocal – I start getting it! I start feeling the natural high from accomplishing something, or seeing how it’s going to materialize.

May 1999, Connecticut Songwriter’s retreat with Pat Pattison

Then it starts raining and the water over the lake just puts me over the top of awesomeness. And then I realized, just like songwriting, my instructor in the songwriting retreat, Pat Pattison – back in May 1999 (Whoa, that’s 20 years ago!! Fuck!) told us that the quality of your lyrics is inversely proportional to the distance between your butt and the chair. Get it? If you don’t, think about it for a second, it’s worth the trouble.

The great insight for me personally – and I off this to you, is that, while I have firmly believed for a long time, without question, that this is true: to write great lyrics, you just have to spend a lot of time working them, and the more you do, the better they get, I had never believed this for producing a song. Wow, this gives me so much, total confidence from this day/night on: I will be a great producer. Just keep doing this inverse thing between my butt and my chair!

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Just found this from 2010

As I’m revamping all my websites and social media presence, I just realized this was the content of my About section in my blog:

” Truth be told, I have a daytime job and limited time for posting and all that. However, this will change in 2011; 2010 is preparation time! This blog documents my musical evolution. Of course, to me in particular, music is an instrument for individual and collective communication, and for self and social analysis, not to mention for mindless entertainment! So there’s a lot here beyond music… helping making a better world, perhaps? See ya at an Open Mic somewhere… “

Henriette and I in Santo Domingo Oct 2010 on “Exploratory Mission.”

Wow, time has really passed and things have really changed – as in a LOT. In 2010 I was living with family in Virginia, 2011 we moved to the DR and I worked in Haiti. Then I left my amazing job as a “development missionary“, in 2014; I also lost my wife that same year… And here I am today, 10 days away from dropping my first single Woke Up This Morning on Nov. 3rd!!

I’m just riddin’ this thing called My Life as Cindo.

My sons and I Oct 2019 at IKEA in Orlando – collegre freshmen at UCF!

#wokeupthismorning_us @cindo.santos #performingartist #songwriter #upcomingartist

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Not knowing what to do is as bad as having too many things to do! (This is great news!)

And another thing. I started writing this in my Notes under Blog 2019. Do you know how many insights I’ve had in life which are meant to be posted, but they are – sad little things, dozens or more of them, sitting as their own paragraph waiting for Cindo Santos to show them some love, improve them, and post them. LOL when will that ever happen, really? Specially, when there are new insights almost every day, at least a couple a week!

I was supposed to have posted this May 2019… get it, the irony?!

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Don’t Plan; Just Do It!

Diving deeper, busier, into my career, I realized this morning, just as I’m getting out of bed (ooh, that’s the name of one of my songs) that I have to change my creative paradigm from putting away ideas into finishing them. It’s been my practice, as it is probably yours, putting away an idea (melody, lyric, human insight…) for later accessing, developing, reworking, finishing, and sharing with the world. Later, really? Look at this partial screenshot of my Idea Folders. We won’t even go into my Songs Folder that has so many songs, I had to subfolder them into A – C, D – E, etc. Or into my Video Blog Ideas, or… WTF dude!

Older is not the same as younger – I keep telling all them New Age, vegan, self-affirming, you-can-do-anything, you’re-only-as-old-as-you-think people. Now, when you’re young, you just don’t have enough ideas, and don’t know which ideas are even good. When you’re young you gotta plan, plan ahead. As you get older, as I, Cindo Santos get older, I got some many ideas, I’ve got gigabytes of ideas neatly in folders catalogued by year. To publish my best music ideas would take me decades of releasing an album a year, or a song per month. Believe me, I did the calculation. It would take me another lifetime. And I’m still generating new musical ideas, every freakin’ day – I’m not kiddin’: I don’t fool around on the guitar anymore, because of new ideas popping up: it’s stressful; and new blog ideas almost every morning when I wake up. Jeezus!

I might not even be here in five years, hell, maybe not even next year! Planning, making a plan, a five-year plan, bla bla bla. I got no time to plan into the future. Meaning: the only plan I need is this year’s, maybe next year as well, the next six months, next month, next week, tomorrow, and today (I go with the kids to get their vaccination records; practice the two-step dance moves; finish and publish a video eating tacos with Fidel Gaspar in Clewiston, FL; finish and publish this Post). Meaning: don’t plan; just do it! Besides, tastes, demand, interests change so fast in our digital society, what your plan for what seems great at the moment, might be totally boring in a year’s time.

This reminds me a little bit, of what Calvin Harris said in some interview. Basically, if the song idea isn’t clicking or he feels there’s no future in it, he just drops it; he only works on music that he believes is going to succeed. Just from the summer of 2018, when my sons and I travelled for two months in California and in Brazil, I have, over a dozen really neat things to share – but when? How long are their shelf lives? And there’s the incredible summer of 2019 coming up in a month!

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First, they found water on Mars

First, they found water, ice as it was, on Mars.
Then they found gold, a rush to a new start.
The West is long gone and on fire,
Now we have a new frontier.
Humans in their spaceships, carrying spears.

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Shaunna Hall – Summer of Love & My hometown Coimbra, Portugal

Wow, It’s been half a century since the Summer of Love.  As luck would have it (as usual?), I was there to celebrate it earlier this summer with my friend Suzanne who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and my new friend Shaunna Hall, a badass guitarist.

And tonight, with even more luck, I got to play with Shaunna at Cafe Santa Cruz in my hometown in Coimbra, Portugal. The world is small.

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80/20 “rule” for Finishing and Releasing my Songs

Whoa, what is going on with failing to finish and releasing my songs?! I was just reading an article from SageAudio – where “The Pareto Principle in reference to mixing says that 80% of results come relatively fast, while the last 20% is more demanding and meticulous. The 80% is the very first part of mixing.” By now, if you’re in the recording business or doing anything of value, you know about this generic, rough rule.

But the realization here for me, is how I have folders with a total of 11 Bossa Nova songs arranged and mixed in my own Da Bossa style, but they are at different levels of unfinished – they’re all around 80% finished. Note that I was already using my own rough estimate on a scale from 1 – 10. What does this mean? Well, I’m on a music roll when it comes to laying out and enjoying (yes, they are all listenable as is right now) those first 80% of the songs; but then I get stuck. Those remaining 10 or 20% meticulous moves are a pain in the butt.

In the beginning I was blaming it on the “oh, I don’t have the technical know-how and experience to finish them off.” [important: by finishing them off, on the scale of 10 or the 100%, I actually mean: song is ready to be sent to a Mixing engineer, or maybe in some cases, sent directly to a Mastering engineer]. The good news – the great news, is that I now feel that I’m competent enough to: make a darn good arrangement; know when I need to rerecord the vocals or give them increased body or getting rid of the nasal stuff; LOL hear when I need to tune the vocal; when the acoustic guitar sounds muddy or has an annoying resonance; where the kick should go vis-a-vis the bass; hear if there is too much room sound in the live instruments; hear when the mix’s lower mid range is bloated; not to mention, where Verse 2 needs a pick-me-up to avoid the dreaded boredom that makes the listener quickly click forward to a different song; where the Chorus doesn’t rise to the occasion; where I get no chill or goosebump moments in the song (ooh, this is real bad); where something is masking something; where each instrument is not perfectly clear; where the reverb needs to be sidechained for clarity; I can tell when a song is finished or is unsatisfying.

So, now I can’t attribute blame to the technical aspects anymore – it’s a wonderful personal accomplishment that has taken me a few years. But, huh, OK, what about those remaining 10 to 20%?! F*#?!

From reading different articles on this – how to deal with procrastination and finishing your damn art work, this is what I’m going to do: i) follow the suggestions in the above-mentioned article and other ones; ii) really, set a fixed time every morning (like those writers that get up at 3-4 AM and work till 7 AM every day, before going to their daytime job, or somenting similar, like, for me: 8 AM to 12 noon (6:45 I make sandwiches for the kids school lunch); and iii) work and finish one song at a time.

Not foolin’ myself [Foolin’ Myself, great song by Billie Holiday – a little aside, she is a big influence on my singing], plan B is to just get each song to the 80% finish line and then hire a producer or a hands-on mixer to nail the bloody thing to its cross, for all to hear (ouch). The thing is, I get the greastest pleasure, and the ease, it’s child’s play, from creating, assembling, copy/pasting, arranging – those first 80% – I know this because I great frustrated with “meticulous”, and besides these Bossa Nova songs, I literally have hundreds of my original songs at the 40 – 80% level. So, regardless, I am going to need help. Help! If you like my music and you want be a part of my life goal of producing a HIT song, get in touch with me, now!

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Lovers Come and Go

Hi,
I miss your warmth,
A little bit.
Miss to byte, just a little,
Your peachy lip.
I miss you giggling
At things that aren’t particularly funny,
How you call me darling
Rather than honey.
But, hey,
Lovers Come and Go,
As my song goes,
However, unlike the song,
After the ecstasy,
There’s been no misery.
Thank you.
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Paralyzed by Fear Less and Less

It’s true, less is more: less fear, more of life! The great news is that I was accepted at the Transmute Retreat in New Smyrna Beach – I’m so excited, I’m so challenged by this (these people are goood), so I lost my fear, I’m jumping right in. It’s time to up the ante, up my game, when it comes to being on stage, to perform, to be entertaining, to tap into the dreams of each person in the audience, taking them on a little excursion…

 

 

Anyway, I believe they still have some slots at the retreat, so check it out! www.transmuteretreat.com

I have great memories of New Smyrna Beach with its very white fine sand and that delicious burger restaurant right at the beach (and I don’t even like burgers that much).

I will be sharing with you on this blog, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, both my progress and some of the bitter-sweet memories of have New Smyrna Beach – you’ll see.

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Paralyzed by Fear

No, this not the title of some self-help book; this is me now. Fear of commitment to my music career, fear of jumping in the water, fear of not being able to keep with it, stay afloat, once I jump in. I’ve been sitting on the bench with three major things: i) taking my live show to the next level: ii) mixing, mastering and upload to the world my first songs; and iii) hiring help for photo, video editing and music video making, web content management and social media maintenance.

I was a sent a link for www.transmuteretreat.com – a week long retreat in Florida, precisely for helping your live show get to the next level. There are two openings left, and I have to answer some questions to apply for one of the 15 slots. Oh no, paralyzed by fear! These people have amazing live shows, apparently boundless energy and focus. Where is my freakin focus?!

I’m paralyzed by fear. So I had to share this paralyzing angst with my 16-year old son. “You can’t do nothing for the next thirty years.” & “No one cares about your age.”

Wow, thanks son, I’m going to fill out that application form and take from there… I’ll keep you posted.

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