Process Vs. Product

It was pretty early into my teen years when I knew I wanted to be a musician. I was playing bass guitar in a band and playing mostly covers but we’d write the occasional original tune. At that point, being a musician in the loosest definition, I just wanted songs. I didn’t want to actually write them. I just wanted to have them, and to brag and to play them for people and be famous. I was in search of a magic button that just created fun songs that I could attach my name to. Of course, that’s not how music works.  Even when I started writing electronic music I still struggled with this. I wanted to obtain songs with my name on them but not bust my ass to create them. Looking back, that’s a pretty selfish way to look at music, and writing music.

Now into a few years of writing electronic music, I’m starting to really appreciate the process. And it’s not just the songwriting process I’m enjoying, it’s choosing the title, choosing artwork, collaborating with other people and learning from them. Even when a song is in it’s infancy, a title really matters to me. I’m not the kind of guy who can name a song “untitled_1“. Even little voice recordings on my phone have titles. Since I first thought of Poly Gecko as making mainly instrumental music, titles really would be the only word used to represent a song, so I instantly gave them more value.

Artwork is a fun process, too. Lately I’ve been really into visual art and photos. *cue hipster music (on vinyl)* I’m starting to really put stock into a good cover and visuals for a song / EP / album, etc. This part of the process however is a task that I can not perform. I’m lucky to have a few good friends who are talented with a camera and Photoshop to make things I envision come to life. My friend, and collaborator Karver Hitchcock have just finished a song, State of the Obvious and it’s now my duty to find or create artwork for it. Wish me luck.

But, okay, back to the actual songwriting. As you might know, I just finished my submission for a remix contest hosted and judged by Tupper Ware Remix Party, one of my favourite groups – certainly my favourite to come from Halifax (not to mention the FUTURE). Upon finishing the remix, multiple people were telling me “oh, you have to win”, “this is amazing! Nobody can beat this!” While I truly, truly appreciate those words and am so flattered by them, that’s not exactly how I’m looking at this. TWRP released the stems to their song, I experimented, learned a lot, worked on a deadline, and completed a remix that I’m really happy with. You could say regardless of the winner, I’ve already won. It sounds cheesy but that’s honestly how I feel. And besides, if there’s another cooler remix to The Hit, I really wanna hear it. Of course I would be honoured if I was selected as the winning remix but because the process was so enjoyable, I feel like I’ve already met every level of fulfillment.

The more I write music, the more I’m really developing a love for the process instead of just the end product. It didn’t happen overnight, but now I’m really beginning to feel it. It’s still so important to have an amazing end product because that’s what ears will consume but the real magic and fulfillment comes from the creation – because that is the art.

Have a good week,


The Importance of an Audio Engineer

Back in December when I really started to focus on the completion of PGEP, I figured I would write, record and mix it for myself. Well, I followed through on the writing and recording aspect, anyway. When it came to mixing, I decided in the spring that it would be better if someone else performed that task. Even though I graduated from a Recording Arts program, I still thought it would be best for PGEP to get mixed elsewhere. There are a couple reasons for my decision: I don’t have a proper listening environment to mix (sorry Dartmouth apartment!); I wanted to remove my biases towards parts and allow it to be mixed for an audience instead mixed for me; I wanted a knowledgable, experienced set of ears engaging the project to bring out it’s full potential. His name is Luke Batiot and he is the Chief Engineer at Village Sound in Halifax.

Luke and I have a great history. We were classmates in Recording Arts, then roommates in 2012 and 2013 and now we watch Game of Thrones together. Maybe you’re thinking that I picked Luke to mix PGEP because he’s my friend. I suppose that’s maybe partially true. I selected him over any others because I trust him. I trust his ears. I trust his mixes. I’m so happy he was able to mix this project. PGEP now sounds like I always heard it in my head. I couldn’t have reached those heights without Luke, Dave and Jason at Village Sound.

I’d like to use this space to demonstrate the importance of mixing and the importance of finding an audio engineer you trust.

This recording is Forrest at a rough mix stage (before Luke):

This recording is Forrest post-Luke:

Hear the difference? I hope so. The drums are tighter, more impactful. The vocals shine like they’re supposed to. That bass pad at the end is suddenly taking up every square inch in your room. The use of delays and reverbs is much more refined in the Luke version as well. The mastering really smooths out the tracks and makes it way more listenable. Overall, Luke’s version has so much more life, texture. The rough mix falls flat in comparison.

I don’t want this blog post to be a butt-kissing parade or an awkwardly long thank-you, but merely a tip of the hat to Luke, Dave and Jason and Village Sound and to stress the importance of finding an audio engineer you can depend on. It certainly has a cost but all the important things do. If you want your music to be the best it can be, get it mixed, get it mastered. Your future self will be thankful.

Sidenote: PGEP is done (that was fun to type). On Monday, pop on back to this website and hit the PGEP tab for your free download. 

I’ll see ya then.

A long slow goodbye,