VEMF on the cover of Monday Magazine

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The latest edition of Monday Magazine with VEMF on the cover should just be hitting the shelves around now. Go grab one and check it out!
I took this photo at VEMF2008 in Centennial Square. That is Laura and Hilary busting several moves at once – I am pretty sure I was dancing myself when I took this photo, which I should mention is not easy to do. See more VEMF2008 photos here, 3 of which you may have seen in the current edition of Douglas Magazine in the You and Me section.
VEMF is this upcoming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and I will be performing a live/DJ set with Vince Vaccaro on vocals and (possibly) guitar, and Laura Mitic on vocals and (most likely) violin on the Ambrosia stage from 12:45 AM – 2 AM on Saturday night. Hope to see you there!
Update: If you’re not able to pick up the physical magazine-paper, you can catch Amanda Farrell’s VEMF article online.

AFK – Pacific Front Sessions: July 2009

This penultimate edition of Pacific Front Sessions starts off truly downtempo with a new track from The Last Atlant. The melody meanders into G-Pal’s downtempo-breaks remix of Sunset Blvd who they hear a train coming – which is in fact Kasey Taylor’s remix of Wombat. Wombat’s “Helo” starts off chugging like a locomotive leaving the train station, picking up speed and delivering at our destination just in time for Spooky’s new weird one, “Eypes Mouth.” Weird but good, which is what I’ve come to expect from the duo of May/Forbes. Matt Rowan and Robbie Lowe are up next with a crunchy, tech-break house track called Ground Swell. This is followed up by “Tears on the Leaf,” one of my favourite tracks of the year – beautiful production and melody. Dousk’s complete gem of a track, “Chrysalis,” comes next with an outstanding breakdown, and Luke Chable delivers a brand new progressive monster (it’s about time!) in the form of “Pressure.” Great to hear Mr. Chable back into production – his sound has been missed. Steve Porter’s “Don’t Be Afrayed” takes the mix in a bit of a funkier and dancier direction before transitioning into a classic track by Lexos called “The Key.” Finally, a rare remix of Planet Funk’s “Chase The Sun” finishes things off in style with some melodic vocal progressive breaks.

Tracklisting:

  1. The Last Atlant – Anima Mundi (Original mix) [Platipus]
  2. Sunset Blvd – Train Comin (G-Pal Downtempo remix) [Klik Records]
  3. Wombat – Helo (Kasey Taylor remix) [Open Records]
  4. Spooky – Eypes Mouth (Lyme Bay Version) [Platipus]
  5. Matt Rowan and Robbie Lowe – Ground Swell (Original mix) [Proton Music]
  6. Kostas Skretas – Tears On The Leaf (Claes Rosen remix) [Dark Pleasure Records]
  7. Dousk – Chrysalis (Album version) [Klik Records]
  8. Luke Chable – Pressure (Original mix) [Neon Records]
  9. Steve Porter – Don’t Be Afrayed (Original mix) [PH Recordings]
  10. Lexos – The Key (Adam Dived No Vox) [Bang On!]
  11. Planet Funk – Chase The Sun (Future Perfect’s SunFunk mix) [Unreleased]
Download: AFK – Pacific Front Sessions: July 2009 (mp3)

Right click and Save As, or option-click the link on a Mac to automatically download

new headphones: Grado SR325i

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About a year ago, Jim lent me his Grado headphones for a week. I spent that time listening to the difference between what I was getting from my existing headphones and what I was getting from the Grados. Though the difference was significant, I wasn’t sure if they were the right headphones for me, as I wouldn’t be able to use them for DJing at gigs and such.

About a week ago, I went to Soundhounds and tried some Grado headphones. I settled on the Grado SR325i’s. As the image suggests, my needs for headphones has shifted from DJing to studio use. I have not been using headphones for producing because that’s generally a bad idea, mostly due to the forced dynamics and pressure of closed-air headphones.

The Grado SR325i is an open-air pair of headphones. To the outside observer, it must sound like it is deafining me when I am wearing them, but in fact it’s a trick since they’re open air and a lot of sound escapes instead of being trapped between the headphone and my ear. The flipside of this is that they can not be noise canceling. Hence they can not be used for crazy DJ gigs where the monitors have to be super loud and the headphones even louder. They spend most of their time sitting on my M-Audio Radium 61, and then some time on my head where I listen to music.

The thing I noticed most about these headphones is how effortlessly and fully they reproduce sound and frequency while scaling up and down in volume. Many headphones have a threshold of performance where the high or low will sound alright at mid volume, but then you turn up the volume and the high or low starts getting muddy or actually distorted. With the SR325i’s, it’s as if they’re not even trying – which is dangerous, since it is really easy to turn up the volume too much since it never sounds bad.

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What did I have to compare them to?

My previous pair of headphones were Sony MDRV-700s and, as powerful as they were and good as they looked, they were flimsy. The MDRV-700s broke a lot and were expensive to repair; eventually I zap-strapped the hinges just to keep all the pieces together. I knew many others who had these headphones and eventually they all did the same thing. Pathetic, Sony, pathetic. Finally, the MDRV-700s would distort at higher volumes and I have no idea what the EQ on it was but it couldn’t have been anywhere close to flat. I could hear reasonably well, but sometimes I would wonder if I was hearing distortion because I had put something through a distortion unit or if it was just coming from the headphones.

The SR325i headphones feature a very flat EQ, which makes them ideal as reference monitor headphones for producing. There are no false spikes (or boosts) in frequencies, so it’s very reliable in terms of what you’re actually listening to. It’s like having a ColorSync’d monitor for design work – much better for picking colours. These are much better for picking sounds and sculpting them.

All in all, I am very happy with these headphones and look forward to composing and producing a lot of music with them.

a designer’s lifestyle

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This is a post I made for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada tonight, and I am reposting it here because I think it might be of interest to anyone who works a desk job.
How do you balance the sit-at-desk nature of design work with the need for physical activity in your day-to-day life?
Personally, I go for walks at lunch, and sometimes I’ll do the 4 kilometer walk home. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some tennis in – but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for that. I used to take intermittent breaks and do 20 pushups at a time and get back to work. Of course, not every office space allows for this, and it doesn’t really seem appropriate for the workplace in retrospect. Still, how can I regret getting that exercise?
If the interface from the Minority Report because a reality soon, we could strap weights to our arms and get a decent upper body workout while working. That would be awesome. Maybe we could hook up treadmill-like devices for scrolling up and down. The point I am trying to make here is this: if we are going to be spending all our time designing, shouldn’t we be looking at ways for it to actually *be* incidentally good for us? With the rise in popularity of gesture-based input systems, I can see benefits arising from some integration with design applications.
If you’re a software maker, are you thinking about this opportunity? I’m looking at you, Adobe.
If you’re an employer, are you encouraging your employees to get physical activity? I worked at a company a few years back that offered an extra 30 minutes added on to lunch specifically for physical activity. I found the policy added a little endorphins to the middle of the day and the benefit afterwards was increased productivity. Kick that lethargy to the curb.
As usual, comments, questions, opinions, criticisms, recommendations, tips and tricks are all encouraged. What are you doing to achieve balance between the nature of desk work and the need for physical activity? What are you not doing that you would really like to be doing?