How to put a record together – part 1

It is such an exciting time for me as in a few days we will announce the official release of my first single from my new album 72 Names. When you start such a big promotional campaign, you never know where it will lead. But at least I know that I made it and made it the best that I could! Many of my friends online and real friends have been in the process of making albums for years, as I was. People just don’t realize how much work it takes to make an album that starts with writing the songs, recording, producing, mastering, creating a CD cover, having photos taken etc, etc. What I’ve learnt from making this album will make it so much easier for me in my next project, and I would like to share with you a few points I learned on the way.

Firstly, the most essential thing is to find a producer who gets your vision and can manifest your ideas into songs. Some producers will take a song which you write a million miles away from its origin, to put his stamp on the track which most of the time doesn’t work and the track will sound over produced. A good producer is one that listens to your ideas and makes them better. We all know the stories of producers who have made it happen, a few of the famous ones, include The Beatles who worked so hard before George Martin turn the music into timeless songs. Norah Jones’ first album which the legendary Arif Mardin produced. The album was recorded first with someone else and it didn’t work until Arif came to the picture and gave it that amazing warm sound that she has got. Also I heard that Ken Nelson who produced Coldplay contribute to their sound. I was lucky to find Phil Curran who in the past has done remixes for Tears For Fears and some advertising campaigns and he got my vision completely. I also worked with Yoad Nevo who has worked with such big names as the Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Adams and Sophie Ellis Bextor and he took my music to a different level and created a much more big, electronic sound.

If the budget is not big, but we still want to stay true to ourselves the best thing is to combine electronic with live music. My living room for more than a year was a recording studio with amazing cello players like Laura Anstee and Alexi Kiseliov and other great musicians coming to record.  When recording drums, I had the privilege to work with two great drummers, one was Paul Robinson who has worked with Rod Stewart, Grace Jones, Trevor Horn and other big stars and who has an online drummer service: you will be surprised what you can do with the internet these days. The second drummer Jamie Fisher who is the drummer with the Genesis tribute band and Samantha Fox has played firstly percussion and drums in all of my latest gigs and also his drumming was very influential when I was writing the album’s title song ‘72 Names’ and the William Blake song ‘Man of the Thames’ with his darbuka playing.

The next stage is the mixing, you can have the best ingredients to make a chocolate cake or with any cooking but if you put too much of one ingredient in than the other it will destroy it, and mixing is like cooking. You need to get to that perfection state, and after hearing the songs hundreds of times that you know it’s there. Always good to give it few days and listen to it in different I had a great experience with Hez Theo who mixed my song ‘Beauty of the Duty’, after over 10 mixes with someone else he suddenly transformed the track to something commercial, as he loved the track and was so connected. This taught me that engineers have to be passionate and really understand a track, as with other tracks it took him much longer to get it right and I had to ring the producer to come and helps us sort out the situation. If we look at famous bands we will see different engineers working on different tracks, now I understand why.

The next stage is mastering. Mastering is the polishing part of the music, and if we talk about the cake, it is the icing and decoration! Only after doing this album I understood the importance of mastering as with my old project Timeless Melodies, which was more piano based, the mastering process finished after a few hours. But mastering can take a song to be pleasant or unpleasant, to a song that you want to dance to, or don’t want to move to. The best advice that I can give is to find a sound that one likes and bring it to the mastering engineer; it can make life much easier to get the kind of finish you like.

The next level, design, photos and duplication will be in the next blog but feel free to comment or ask me any questions. The most important advice is too never give up it is the most amazing feeling to put a record together.

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A late blog from my trip to the Geneva peace festival

I had an amazing four days in Geneva, I always believe changing the atmosphere and refreshing yourself is helpful. The flight to Geneva is quick, and in one hour and a half I was in a different world, and it’s only 6 minutes from the airport to the town centre where the famous Geneva Lake is and the famous Mont Blanc Bridge.

The first night I was filmed for the B1 Nation TV, which organized the event. It was challenge and I tell you, I had to put a lot of makeup on to cover up the tiredness from my 7am flight from Gatwick! But it was a huge hall, with over 500 people there and I met amazing Arab singers who were very supportive and friendly, one of them was the stunning star Huda Saad.

The second day was much more intense, it started with breakfast in one of the most exclusive hotels, with lectures from different peace organizations. One of them was the World Food Programme (WFP), who are doing an amazing job delivering food in moments of crisis to every place in the world. There was also a very moving lecture from the Sea Shepherds charity, who save whales and dolphins, who showed an almost disturbing movie of how whales are killed.

One of the highlights of my visit was meeting the famous producer Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi, who created a music group named kolechad (one voice), of Israeli and Palestinian’s, it’s really interesting to see how the two collaborate together. The next day I performed in the grounds of the United Nations, in front of the main building which I was very proud of. The last song, I invited to the stage the Arab singer and producer Yusuf Azzar and we improvised and wrote a song together on the stage, which was really exciting, when I get the video I will send you a link.

I also met a very special man who was from Peru originally; he had nothing to do with Judaism or Israel, but he has spent a number of years of his life looking to prove that the Hebrew language is the origin of all languages. Check out his website www.edenics.org The star of the event was the French singer Francis Lalanne, who entertained us with pleasant songs.

The last night I felt already familiar with the town, I met new friends and we all went out. Geneva is a very easy place to get around on the tram, and I had a great time, the only problem was that I gained two pounds from all of the cheese and chocolate!

Music promoters & Gigs

First I apologise to my friends who came to see me last night that I had to cancel the gig. It was a professional decision that I had to make and I hope you’ll understand after reading this blog.

I was the headline performer of the night at the venue. The promoter booked me 2 month in advance and because I am quiet experienced of those kinds of gigs, promoters put different bands together that musically don’t match each other. I agreed with him that I would arrange the bands myself or he would book acoustic acts before me and we were really planning a great evening.

Unfortunately in my long experience in London venues and promoters. They book you and chat with you over the phone and promise you mountains but all they want is your crowd and they don’t even come to their own event. We do the hard work and bring loyal fans and friends who come to listen to our music. But the fans and friends of the other act, especially if it’s a young rock band or different music style will then talk when you sing or leave and go to the bar and the place will look empty.

A big publisher that wanted to sign me came to see me in one of those gigs and felt sorry when I was playing on the piano and people were talking. He said to me after, “you can’t go to a Mexican restaurant and expect to have a fine French food”.

I think he put it in the right words, and for me and other acts like me, that like to have quality night with good music and the right atmosphere its time to wake up.  I already did  few big events myself  and had over 100 people coming and  managed to pay good fee to my musicians and mostly enjoyed a whole gig, so there is definitely another way.

Coming back to last night, as I was already aware of those frustrating evenings I made conditions to the promoter to prevent that situation. I worked for 2 month inviting people, making posters and flyers, putting up a few times in east London, having a rehearsal and paying my musicians. The promoter didn’t keep his promise and booked 2 rock bands before me, which changed all of the dynamic of the evening and the situation with the sound check.

The sound check was from 5 but the manager agreed with me to come at 6. For the first time in my life I was late, sitting in the taxi in traffic that didn’t move. I left home on time also my band was 20 minutes late. But my drummer was on time. When he arrived at 6 the other band were doing their sound check anyway. When the other band finished the sound check, the band which I arranged to play at the venue, were about to go on stage to do their sound check, exactly when I arrived – bad timing for me, or maybe not. The sound engineer was immediately rude to us and said that he wouldn’t give us a sound check. I was shocked and answered him quiet firmly that I was the headline and we must do one, even if was just a few minutes. He again said that he would not do and even swore at me. Shocking!

My drummer tried to talk to him in more gentle way but he didn’t want to hear and wasn’t flexible. My drummer that plays with top bands including the Genesis tribute band, agreed with me that he had never had a situation with such an inflexible sound engineer. We all know that sound check is never on time and how many times we waited for over 2 hours to do it. There was a presenter there from the promotion company but he didn’t do anything, just stood there and even didn’t come to apologise or find a solution.

I also called the promoter who booked and “plan” the evening with me but was told he is on the other line few times. Although I have made so many gigs in my life in small venues with no condition, sometime even singing accapela or in great venues like the Forum, Pizza on the Park, Soho Revue Bar and many more, I had a choice: do I want to go and sing without a sound check, specially in a venue like that, that sound is super loud? My professional ethics say – NO!

Especially because the engineer was so rude, I was afraid that it would be a disaster. I was looking forward so much to that gig but something said to me; Tally, it’s time to move on. Find the right promoters and nice warm intimate venues that I and the audience will enjoy.

Any suggestion or comments are welcome. If you like my music and would like to do some events together get in touch.

Video shoot

This blog is about my video shoot yesterday, it is written by Alison Lamb, who has been working with me. I hope you enjoy it! Tally

Yesterday I attended my very first video shoot! I was involved in the recording Tally Koren’s new single, ‘Two Kisses’; the first single to come off her new album ‘72 Names’. The shoot took place in a pub in Barnes, in a back room that turned out to be a really brilliant, intimate live performance room and venue. Once I arrived, everything was already set up to begin filming. ‘Two Kisses’ is a very beautiful song, with very personal and emotional lyrics, and it was obviously very important to show respect for the song through the video.

There were a number of different scenes filmed through out the day. Black curtains surrounded the small stage area with little spotlights highlighting the beautiful grand piano, which took centre stage to begin with. The different shots moved from Tally singing whilst playing the piano, her singing directly to the camera, which was intensely emotional for Tally to her finally performing the song with her band to an audience. There was also a running narrative throughout the video reflecting the lost love in the lyrics, which was acted out by Tally. It was brilliant to see Tally’s differing performances and on many of the takes she was singing live along with the track, I know by the end of the day everyone was tired but I couldn’t imagine how Tally must have felt! Her professionalism was inspiring, and even though the song is incredibly emotional she remained positive throughout the day.

It was really great to see the filming taking place. All of the guys involved were brilliant and were more than happy to have me looking over their shoulder and ask them stupid questions about what they were doing and why! It looked like incredibly hard work, but the great relationship between the team and the brilliant atmosphere that they created didn’t falter once.

Everybody got involved helping out with anything and everything that needed to be done, and there was a great team spirit. There were times when it was touch and go that we were going to be running out of time but the fact we did get finished just shows everyone’s hard-work and dedication to getting the different takes as good as they could be.

It was a very early start for everyone and a very long day but a really great experience. Having been present at the recording it’s going to be really interesting to see how all of those different takes become a 5-minute music video!

You can listen to ‘Two Kisses’ here http://www.tallykoren.com/music_audio_cd_72_names.htm

Chain emails & Miracles?

I got a chain email today from my sister and as she never sends me any chain emails I opened it and it was all about the wisdom of the Kabala. It asked at the end to send the email to 10-25 people, telling us how someone that responded to it became rich after 10 days and how one that didn’t had an accident.

How scary, even just the thought of it, so when I open those emails I always send to my friends just in case…..

I have been studying Kabala with a lot of teachers in London from the Kabala centre with same teacher who taught Madonna, Lubavitz, the Tanya book with a group of top psychologists, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, Rabbi Tatz and few more. Then when I did my BA degree, I studied the Kabala in a more historic and academic context. So I look at things now from a spiritual and mystical view but also a logical one.

I believe in miracles and my life story is full of them. But first we have to create them and then let them happen!

I will write more on these subjects soon.

Website ups and downs

It has been over two weeks since the launch of the website and if I thought that the launch was like ending with all the technical and mechanical stuff of the website, I was wrong!

My website was only internet explorer friendly so I apologise to all the people who tried to preview the music and could not listen. Now finally it’s all working for any server and provider. I also learnt that some people like to go directly to itunes, some people like to buy on amazon, and not everyone trusts to download directly from private websites.

The great thing is that it is all a learning experience and I am becoming wiser and wiser…But can’t wait for next week to start gigging and doing music again, isn’t what it’s all about!

The organic growth of my album ’72 Names’

Hello world,

It has been only a few days since the release of my new album ‘72 Names’! The album was released via my website and will be available on iTunes and Amazon by the end of the week.

I decided to release the album without much noise or the ‘hoo-ha’ of PR and radio pluggers as I would like to give it the opportunity to grow organically. Although this does mean more hard work, having to spend hours near the computer connecting to old friends on Myspace (where I have more than 7000) and the other social media sites, I enjoy it.

An aggressive promotional campaign and the repetition of the same song on the radio will obviously allow the listener to become more familiar with a song and lead to success and fame much faster, but so many singer-songwriters complain that their record company takes control of the creative side, which is something I couldn’t give away, so there are pluses and minuses in everything.

Music is something so profound; something that people can connect to within seconds, like ‘love at first sight’ and I want to have that connection with you, the listeners, and to be in touch with you, to know you better and I would especially like to know if the optimistic theme of my lyrics uplifted you in anyway.

After meeting up with Cida, my friend on Saturday, at the ‘Beach’ bar in Fulham to give her my first CD, she introduced me to the owner and asked him to play my album for everyone there to hear. After a few minutes the DJ Mark Wheawill came over and asked if he could do a remix of the first song ‘Calling You’. I was very happy with his reaction and offer, particularly as the album had only just begun!

Also, the bar woman there, whom knew that my music was being played but hadn’t shown any signs of excitement like the DJ and my friend had, suddenly exclaimed halfway through the eighth track ‘Music is My Life’ that she loved it and that it was amazing! This showed me the power of music and how one can have an instantaneous connection to it within seconds.

I would love to know your thoughts on your favourite tracks, and in particular the ones that you fell in love with ‘at first sight’….