Producing Ember Rev’s “Premonition and Ruin”

Ember Rev

On this post, I’m documenting the process and workflow of producing Ember Rev’s new album.

Last year I was looking for a lead singer that could convey the story I had written for my upcoming debut album, After 1989. One night I stumbled upon a short video on Facebook, posted by Ian Shepherd. It was a folk-rock band playing live at Hot Numbers Café in Cambridge. The singer and guitarist, Dan Ecclestone is a friend of his.

I liked what I heard and followed the link to the band’s Bandcamp page. The first song I played caught me off-guard. An intensely powerful and deep male voice, slightly David Bowie-esque at times, with the right amount of gravitas. I immediately thought it was the voice I was after.

Go Where The Waters Are Deep

Following one of my favourite Bowie maxims, I went beyond my comfort zone and decided to contact Dan directly. At our first meeting I asked him to be the lead singer—and occasional instrumentalist—for my album and he enthusiastically agreed.

We also discussed his band’s next project, titled Premonition and Ruin, and whether I could help with the mixing. An “extended disgruntled ramble about Brexit”, as Dan put it, it was likely to sound more ‘rock’ than their first album. Ian Shepherd was on board to master the album.

In a remarkably brief time, I had my vocalist sorted and a brand new exciting mixing project. Talk about going beyond a comfort zone.

Ember Rev (live)
Ember Rev performing live – Photo: Silvia Maggi

Premonition And Ruin

Subtitled “a remainer’s lament for the European ideal”, Premonition and Ruin is an exceptional album, filled with original songs, beautifully written and arranged. Furthermore, I was excited about working with the accordion. It doesn’t happen often, and I love the instrument.

When I started mixing the first song, England’s Finest Hour, I thought right away of spicing the accordion up, in a Gotan Project sort of style. I worked creatively on the sound and the flow of the delay effect, ending up adding a strange electronic feel to the instrument. Logic’s automation helped me achieve a fluctuating movement, also allowing the rest of the mix not to be overwhelmed. The methodology proved to be successful; from there I created a boilerplate.

Workflow

I added the project to my Trello boards and enrolled Dan. We both followed the plan in real time interacting through comments, links and suggestions. We met at least once a week, and the workflow went on in the smoothest possible way.

Ian started his involvement with that same first song, using a mix I exported to Dropbox. I used his advice to sort a few EQ problems from the first mix iteration. Funny anecdote: we went back-and-forth a few times to correct a weird issue with the drums low-end. Finally, I’ve found I had a sub-bass plugin engaged in the kick drum track, a remnant of a previous patch template of mine that I completely forgot to remove.

The album is available for purchase, in digital and CD format.

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