Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ren is from Australia originally, but is living in Heidelberg, Germany working for Montana...What a dream come true...We've been friends since he visited the states nearly 9 years ago...Dil and I met recently, the year before last, but he's been a wealth of knowledge for me as he was co-founder of Flashbacks Magazine and has told me some crazy stories especially about his twin bro Aber who practically named everyone back in the day...
Sunday, July 27, 2008
A Musical Balancing Act
Former "Balanceman" Jeremy Goody shifts gears to keep pace with a changing industry.
From EastBayExpress.com By Rachel Swan
Sound engineering is the ultimate man-behind-the-curtain job. You need an ear sufficiently fine-tuned to tell if a mic needs adjusting or pitch correcting, but you don't have the glamour of a rock star. And unless you're a mega-hit man like Bruce Swedien (the guy behind Michael Jackson's records) or Rudy Van Gelder (of Blue Note fame), your name has limited currency outside the world of audio geeks. Take it from Oakland engineer Jeremy Goody. A wannabe Depeche Moder turned accidental rap producer turned improbable Latin jazzman, he's become a figurehead in the local recording industry, without ever getting real name recognition. The 36-year-old engineer has simply grown his business by rolling with the punches, and adapting to whatever genre was hot at the moment. Now he's built one of the East Bay's premier recording studios, at a time when his line of work is once again about to shift drastically.
Goody comes from a musical family whose members all ditched their instruments to become entrepreneurs. A trained trumpeter with a side interest in gadgetry, he followed suit. In the '90s, he played in punk bands, but also served as de facto beat-maker for a spate of local rap albums that never quite made it. A decade later he moved on to jazz and world music, and became the unlikely go-to guy in a burgeoning Latin band scene.
But the times they are a-changin', Goody explained during a recent interview at his new Temescal studio, an oblong building with low ceilings and sharp, angular walls, formerly home to a mortgage and investment firm. After buying the place in January, Goody and designer Chris Pelonis installed triple layers of drywall, put in custom-made bass traps, and added a kitchen, control room, and isolation room. The idea, Goody said, was "good ol'-fashioned acoustic building techniques of mass and isolation." He calls the place Megasonic, a name originally attached to the West Oakland warehouse studio he rented for five years, which was actually a complex of 12-by-14 cement bank vaults with huge heavy doors.
On a sweltering Saturday afternoon, the engineer had just wrapped up a session with Latin bandleader Edgardo Cambón from the salsa group Candela. "I see guys like Eddie — he's spending a ton of money on his record," Goody said. "But he's from the old school. He might not be paying attention to the fact that records aren't selling anywhere anymore." Goody explained that right now more industry money is going toward licensing than recording, so the goal is not to sell the most albums, but to get your song aired in commercials. It's a more prudent approach, he said. "Probably half the bands I'm working with now, they want to put out their CD, but they don't really care about selling it, because they know they can't. You know what I mean? They're like, 'Look, we just want to have a CD at gigs.'"
Recording engineers have to change along with the times, which is something Goody's long been accustomed to doing. He taught himself how to chop up samples shortly after purchasing his first keyboard at age thirteen, so his skills developed parallel to the technology. He learned how to engineer by playing with tape decks in his bedroom, went through five weeks of trade school, and quit his video store job in 1990 to help local producer Bryan Matheson build Skyline Studios. There, Goody worked with everyone from AFI to Shock G of Digital Underground, though a good portion of his clientele consisted of teenage rappers who would rent out the studio, and then draft him to make beats for them. "I learned how to improperly abuse equipment — just kinda push it to its limits," he said. "There'd be like a wall of synthesizers and drum modules and kids would kinda like sing parts to me." He compared it to a touch-typing course.
Working at Skyline, Goody learned all the stuff that makes him employable to hip-hop artists and electronic music guys. At a subsequent job at Berkeley's Bay Records — where he's worked since 1996 — he learned about microphones and proper recording techniques, which helped endear him to jazz and Latin artists like Cambón, Serbian pianist Larry Vukovich, and percussionist John Santos. He also started making his own music — down tempo, glitchy, electronica stuff packaged under the alias "Balanceman." He now goes by the handle "Sal Goody." For his next album, Goody is recruiting female jazz vocalists to sing over programmed drum beats. The vibe he's going for is completely disarming: the industrial, dryly orchestrated sound of drum samples against the lilting vibrato of a lounge or cabaret singer, who should have been recording with her nine-piece swing band but accidently popped into the wrong studio. He's already convinced singer Maria Marquez to do a version of the Latin ballad "Perfidia," which may be the absolute pinnacle of anachronistic-but-easily-repackagable pop tunes.
But he's not expecting to cash out on this album, or any other. "Making records is cool and fun and stuff but it's kind of a treading water situation," he explained. "There's not big budgets, so you can't really crawl out from the investment so easily, and we're trying to figure out other ways to make money." Once again, Goody's evolving to keep pace with changes in the market. Getting into hip-hop and electronic music was a by-product of making beats at Skyline. The engineer's newfound interest in Latin music precipitated from projects with Santos and Cambón.
Now the game is different. You can do the heavy lifting part of making a record on your computer, so most of the artists who rent out Megasonic come in for shorter periods of time, and with very specific recording needs. Goody has reconceptualized his business accordingly: He's focused less on recording than on mastering albums, the final stage of album creation, in which recorded tracks are equalized, edited, compressed, and have any hiss removed. And he's found other streams of income through voice-over work and animation (he's even trying to launch a bilingual animated kids' show called Baby Bongo). "If you look at it as a business model, I put myself at the end of the food chain," Goody explained, adding that he has little emotional investment in the albums that leave his studio. At that point, said the engineer, it's out of his hands.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Rustic and rural, okay but ruthlessly racist act of deprivation, no way, they deserve compensation...
This is an older article on the Ohio county that was recently awarded an $11 million settlement which made me realize just how current the disparities in treatment of different races is in these modern times...And Ohio is a swing state too?
Ohio Town's Water at Last Runs Past a Color Line
Published: February 17, 2004
ANESVILLE, Ohio — In January, a strange thing happened when people along Coal Run Road turned on their taps. Drinking water came out. Not the sulfur-tinged, bug-infested stuff that collected in their cisterns or swirled in their wells. Cool, clean, straight-from-the-pumping-station city water.
For most of their lives, residents of this tiny hollow on the edge of town lived a bit like frontiersmen, keeping drinking water in jugs, collecting rainwater in barrels, even occasionally melting snow from their yards, all because they did not have city water service.
"I never thought I'd live to see it," said Helen McCuen, an 89-year-old widow who has lived in the hollow for 57 years.
The story of how they got that water, and were for years denied it, seems anachronistic in 21st-century America. But it speaks volumes, the residents contend, about disparities in living standards that are related to the color of one's skin.
For years, decades really, residents of the hollow had been asking local officials to extend water lines down their narrow, twisting roads. Not enough water pressure, they were told. Too expensive. Too hilly.
Yet just up the hill, not 200 yards away, homeowners have had running municipal water for years. One new homeowner even installed a hot tub and routinely sprinkled his lawn, something residents of the hollow could never do with their 1,000-gallon cisterns, which were constantly running dry.
Almost all the people living at the top of the hill are white. Almost all the people in the hollow are racially mixed: white, black and American Indian. And it increasingly seemed to residents of the hollow that this had something to do with their plight.
"The water stopped where the black folks started," said Saundra McCuen, 49, one of Helen McCuen's seven children. "I don't want to use the race thing, but what else could it be?"
In 2002, two dozen residents filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, asserting that they had been denied water service because of racial discrimination. Last summer, the commission agreed.
The commission found that on Coal Run Road, none of the 17 black or mixed-race homes had city water service, while two white homes did. On nearby Langan Lane, all of the 18 white homes on top of the hill had city water, while five of the eight black or mixed-race homes in the hollow did not. (The other three families had connected to the municipal lines by themselves.)
The commission concluded there was probable cause to believe that the city, county and local water authority had "failed to provide the complainants with access to public water service because of their race."
One month after the report was released, Muskingum County announced it had found enough money to issue a $730,000 contract to extend water lines into the hollow. (Officials had used a much higher estimate — $2 million — when they told hollow residents a few years ago that it was too expensive to connect them to the water system, residents said.)
Government officials say race had nothing to do with the lack of water service in the hollow. But they have also begun blaming one another.
City officials contend that a now-defunct water authority removed the hollow from its service area many years ago, leaving responsibility for water to the city. But Zanesville, a city of 28,000 people, decided it could not extend lines into the hollow because it lies just outside the city limits, said Scott Hillis, the city's law director. The city assumed that the county would provide the water.
But Muskingum County officials contend they did not become aware of the hollow's situation until two years ago. (Zanesville officials said they told the county of the hollow's requests at least eight years ago.)
County officials also contend they have not had enough money to meet the county's needs, since about half of its residents — most of whom live in remote rural areas — do not have running water.
"As far as I'm concerned the suit is ludicrous," said Dorothy Montgomery, a Muskingum County commissioner. "There is nothing done by the commissioners that is based on black or white."
Zanesville, 60 miles east of Columbus, was founded 200 years ago as a way station for migrants moving from Virginia to Kentucky. It became famous for its clay pottery and Y-shaped concrete bridge over the Muskingum and Licking Rivers, but fell on hard times after World War II as many of its kilns and mills closed.
Before the Civil War, the underground railroad ran through the city. But city businesses remained segregated until the late 1950's, residents said. And the Ku Klux Klan has been active for decades, holding small rallies in the region as recently as the late 1990's.
The denial of water service "wasn't in-your-face racism," said Vincent Curry, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates Association, a group based in Akron that helped the residents file their complaint. "This was more, `We won't respond to you because we don't care about you.' "
Until January, Helen McCuen paid a "water man" to fill a cistern buried in her front yard twice a month. And until the 1980's, when she finally bought an electric pump, she and her children used a hand pump and pail to bring water into the house. Drinking water was bought by the jug. And if supplies ran low, the family rationed baths and caught rain in barrels.
"I didn't think I could get used to drinking water out of the tap," Ms. McCuen said, sitting in her cozy living room surrounded by photographs of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "But I did."
For Jerry Kennedy, 54, the indignity of hauling water struck home a few years ago when he offered a friend a cup of coffee. His cistern was empty, so he opened the door and walked into the winter air to gather snow.
"What are you doing?" his friend asked.
"Getting water for your coffee," he replied.
She was stunned, he said, to learn that he did not have water service.
A few residents drilled wells for drinking water. But most local wells have been polluted by iron and sulfur runoff from abandoned mines that turns the water red and makes it smell like rotten eggs in the summer.
John P. Relman, a lawyer in Washington representing residents of the hollow, said they spent 5 or 10 times as much as other people in the area for water because they had to buy or haul it themselves. Mr. Relman has filed suit for the homeowners, seeking compensation from local authorities for those higher costs.
"They stereotyped us as poor, uneducated black folks who didn't have enough sense to ask for water," said Cynthia Hairston, a nurse who grew up along Coal Run Road, left for two decades and then returned with her husband three years ago. "And then we did. And they said: `Where did they come from? We thought we had pushed them back into the corner.' "