Mark Rufino – Love Beyond Your Means – Reader Track

1. What is the title of your track? What is your artist/band/musical identify/name?

ShutterwaxLove Beyond Your Means, by Shutterwax

2. What type of musical genre does this track fall in?

Rock/ pop. Our Beatles influence is not well hidden on this one (or others)

3. Tell us a bit about you recording setup. Is it all iOS or do you combine iOS with other recording technology in some way?

This song was tracked in Reaper on my old black macbook, using an alesis 26io and a presonus digimax. Various microphones, nothing too fancy except for a borrowed akg 414 and a pair of 451’s. A ribbon mic was used on the male lead vocal while strumming a ukulele (figure 8 null pointed towards uke). We tracked the band live, then adding overdubs. We tracked (and mixed) the song as two separate songs, intended to be stitched together at the end. On this song, the bass was originally very simple and the song was just laying there. The drummer suggested the baseline I played, and it was a challenge for me (I still am not totally happy with it, but then again, I’ll never be happy with my playing!).

Mark Rufino IMG_2841The second section was where it got a little wild, and was the sole ios performance on our album- I used voice synth to record the chorus of another song that was intended for the sessions but time did not allow, called “everyone wants to eat.” I planned on using the ipad more but it just didn’t fit into these sessions.

iOS came into play on the mix, where I mixed the entire album in Auria. It got much easier in November, when my ipad 2 got replaced by my iPad Air! I used various plugins in auria, as well as using audiobus to create extra aux sends and printing the returns. I used Virsyn’s Audio Reverb on every song in this manner, as well as AUFX:Dub and Echo Pad for some delays (the shimmer on the guitars in the second section of this song is Echo Pad), and possibly some others.

4. What was the key equipment – software and hardware – that you used to create this particular track?

Mark Rufino 1Well, I guess I listed it before, but tracking- reaper, alesis 26io, presonus digimax, akg 414, akg 451, sennheiser 6 series drum mics on toms and kick, 57 and 451 on snare, DI bass through tech 21 Vt bass pedal, guitar was mic’ed with a 57 and sennheiser 609, using a vox ac30 that was residing at the barn studio (known as barnudio…) and a Mesa transatlantic head through a guitarist built 2×12 cab, a 60’s gretsch kit with Rogers snare (and a great drummer!), 414 on female vox, tapeop message board group buy ribbon mic with cinemas transformer on male vox, 451 on ukulele.

On the mix, in Auria the stock channel strip, fabfilter pro-q, old timer, vintage warmer, Saturn, timeless, echo, various IR files, BIAS on bass track, Virsyn Audio Reverb, AUFX:Dub, Echo Pad, Voice Synth.

5. How did you start to build the track? What was the first element you created and how?

Recorded the basics live, in both sections, overdubbed extra guitars, keys, vocals. The demo was done on Garageband by the guitarist, not sure if he used his iPhone or his Mac, but it was a quick demo that was emailed to us a few weeks prior to the sessions. We each submitted demos done in various forms to Dropbox, then listened on your way to the sessions and voted on ideas to develop.

Mark Rufino 100_6349A demo I did in Nanostudio while standing on a street corner in NYC turned into another song (I was listening to Phoenix just before writing the song, so the demo was called “Rise of the Bird…” Clever huh?) that was tracked at the sessions. The vocals were recorded last, and we decided to have multiple parts in the second section, fading in and out from each other. The voice synth overdub was the last thing recorded at the sessions, late on Friday night.

6. How did you build from that point? What elements came next and how were they created?

Aside from tracking, in the mix process I kept it straightforward. I added the shimmer verb from Echo Pad in one of the later mixes I presented. Also, originally the idea was to have the vocals in huge ending section buried, however, after listening for a while and playing for some engineers I respect (highly recommended- they told me the truth!) we decided to change that idea and make the vocal lines more front and center, weaving in and out.

7. Were there particular parts/instruments that you feel are critical to the finished piece? Was there a particular iOS app (or apps) that you used to achieve this?

I think they were all critical. I was going to use super manetron for the mellotron parts, as well as something for pads, but it wound up being easier to use software on my Mac during tracking than hooking up the ipad. At the time of tracking I had an 16gb ipad2, so we couldn’t use that as our primary recorder while keeping the flow of the session going. Since we mainly rely on acoustic instruments, most of the apps I enjoy for my own use, loopers, samplers, synths, etc, didn’t fit into what we were doing, although I did try a few times.

Mark Rufino IMG_2781With another ios year under my belt it may play a bigger role in creation at the next session. Without a doubt though ios is now my primary platform for making recordings at home, usually in Garageband but sometimes in other apps as well. As far as finishing, Auria was critical.

I don’t mind mixing in Reaper at all, but Auria really makes so much sense to me and I live mixing on the go. The ease and speed of setup for Auria means I can get things done in stages when I have little bits of time, and I can do things like check mixes in the car and change them accordingly by plugging my ipad right into the car stereo, which is awesome.

8. Having created the arrangement/individual tracks, how did you go about mixing and/or mastering the track to produce the finished audio file?

Auria played a critical role in the mix, as it was the primary platform for 9 of the 10 songs we are releasing. The 10th was done before I had Auria and we didn’t want to go back to remix it because we were happy with the mix. I like the limitations Auria presented because they focused me, so instead of looking through 20 compressor plugins or the like, I was able to use what I had and mix.

For mastering, I used the beta of the new mastering app that is coming out (Final Touch from Positive Grid, the developers behind BIAS and JamUp Pro), which has been working really well. I am not in any way a mastering engineer, however since there was no budget at all, going to a mastering house was not possible. I’ve been trying to approach it with respect, hopefully it worked!

9. In producing this particular track, what elements of your workflow do you think were particularly effective?

Mark Rufino IMG_2889Equally, are their limitations (particularly with any iOS element of the workflow) that you found you had to work around? Initially using the ipad 2 and Auria, there were more limitations than when I got my iPad Air, however it helped me finish because I didn’t have too many options.

If I am able to get the proper hardware, I would like to try tracking to my iPad Air next time, but I find reaper easier for tracking right now due to being able to save alternate takes, etc. Although, not being able to do so at the current time (who knows what Rim has cooked up for the upcoming Auria update!) would also force us to make immediate decisions, like working on tape, which could be very helpful. I love using Auria because it is hands on, so writing automation feels more like using a board. Using Dropbox really helped initially with demos and with sending mixes out later.

10. Tell us a little about yourself and your musical interests/background.

Mark Rufino IMG_2823I’m a bassist playing in wedding and cover bands. Shutterwax is a collective of artists. We all play or have played together in various combinations over the years- the guitarist, female singer, and I were in a cover band together for about 12 years, the other singer/ songwriter Harvey, Jeff (guitar) and I were in a band together, originally backing up Harvey as a solo artist but then becoming a band.

In recent years, Harvey, originally from Bournemouth, England, moved from New Jersey to buffalo, NY, and Jeff and Jessica moved from NJ to Maine. The drummer and I play together in one of my wedding/ cover bands now, and he has played with many people over the years. We get together one week per year in Maine in July to write and record distraction free, then go back to our (ab)normal lives for the rest of the year…

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