MINIMUM

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Dropping in MAY 2020
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MILLAGRAM

Capstone Blog March/April 

This will be my last post for my capstone project as I have my album in the mixing stage and ready to submit for grading. I will continue working on the album post-school to get it ready for commercial release.The last month and a half have been the most important of all as I put finishing touches on the tracking. I managed to record a live drum session by Nathan Mann in my friends garage for three tracks as well as a saxophone session by Robyn Alcorn for two tracks. I passed on my tracking to Mike Ritchie to start mixing it mid-march. Since Mike is also happens to be a talented musician, he was able to contribute to the final arrangement of some of the tunes. It was great to have worked on these songs for so long, listening to and rearranging them probably hundreds of times over the past couple years. When they finally reached the next sets of ears, I was happy to hear Mike taking my ideas and expanding it or slicing it slightly to enhance and make it flow. Even the drum session was so fascinating as I gave the drummer a sample drum track I made and he translated into something a real and live drummer would do. I'm excited about the results so far and look forward to some fine tuning before presenting it to the public.  

The whole experience so far making this album has been very fulfilling. My next step is to finish up the mixing process and start mastering. Afterwards, when I'm happy with the project and have some solid imagery and concept to present along with it, I will begin the commercial release stage. In the past I have rushed through this stage quickly after finishing an album. This time I would like to draw it out and set things up in a logical and organized way based on what I have learned so far. My main motivation for this is that I've learned from interacting with the music industry community that for other folks to want to give you their time (and/or money), they want to know you can do your job or what they see is our job as artists. They want to see "A Plan" with execution and accountability for that plan. This is of course a purely capitalist approach to something as unpredicatable as art, but this is the world we live in today. There's also nothing wrong with a plan which my music education experience has taught me the value of as well. 

Guess it's back to the spreadsheets...

Meanwhile this project is my last submission for this semester. It may also be my last submission at Concordia ever! (87/108 credits earned... not planning to go back to mtl... maybe gonna call it finished?). 2018-2022 Four years (two of which were online), took almost every music course available including jazz courses plus a lot of random but cool electives, I think I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish :)

Next update will be sometime this summer, probably some shows will be happening in the NS area :)

xo

MG 

photo by Ela Khaki - circa 2019 at Concordia University 8th floor 

 

Capstone Blog February 2022 

February made a fast finish but was full of flurries and floral puzzles. I progressed faithfully on my album project: 

Metafor.M

I set up a pretty sweet closet vocal booth for me to get nice dead vocal tracks complete with vintage family furs and wool sweaters ( I don't know why this uploaded sideways :PPP so just turn your head to the left) 

 

Some of my friends I had booked to record at my home studio came down with the infamous flu so I continued on my own tracking bass, guitar and finally some final vocals! I have also been combing through stems, doing editing and finalizing instruments and arrangements. I should be able to work with what I've done on my own with the compositions but I put in a last request to get some drums and vocals done in the next two weeks with my very busy high school band mates here in my hometown. Worst case ontario, I use the drums I programmed, with more finessing and use my own backing vocals. I really wanted live horn parts though so I will prioritize these and maybe cast the net again. 

By the time I write my next blog I should have already sent my stems to Mike for mixing and may be getting some drafts, which I am overly excited about. I have been listening to my own mixes of the songs as I record and arrange them but getting the track back from a real mixing session is like a warm scented bath for the ears when they've been rolling in dirt for the last two years. 

I have been brainstorming ideas for eventual visuals for some of the tracks involving animated drawings. I plan to reach out to my talented cousin Matthew who lives in Montreal to explain the idea to and see if he can help execute it.

Until the end of March!

xo MG

 

 

Capstone Blog January 2022 

January passed like another night's dream as the dead of winter sets in. 

calendar art by Amanda Morley 

Accomplishments this month include confirming my ole buddy Mike Ritchie to mix and master this upcoming album in March and finalizing the name and concept of the album along with lots of practicing for the parts I will be tracking myself this coming month. 

Firstly I will introduce Mike as a very talented musician (Dal Grad) and audio engineer (Banff) who first introduced me to the wonderful world of home studio recording back in Halifax in 2008 when we recorded my first ever albums "Labour of Love" and "Your/Self" in his living room. He made what he does look so easy and fun which inspired me to take on the task of learning to use DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) back in 2012 and start recording and producing my own music. We always lucked out having Mike on our team because he had "real jobs" in his engineering career such as working post-production for a studio in Halifax that gave us after hours access to some really nice gear (I remember tracking main vocals on a $3k mic). Luckily, this will also be the case now as he informed me he has some fancy processors at his current job he can use for my mix (!!). 

I'm happy to announce the title for this work: "Metafor.M" which was a culmination of many evenings and early mornings brainstorming keywords. This word came to me as a way to characterize the album which is a compilation of songs relating to the feelings and messages received from plant and nature communications. Something I have come to term "Natural Knowledge". This term in its common use refers to the knowledge God possesses. In this way, since I see all of Nature as synonymous with the word God, Natural Knowledge seems to me knowledge and insights gathered from a connection and a type of telepathic communication with Nature itself i.e. plants, animals, all living beings. I started writing an intro for the album this month with lyrics that came to me: Life is a Metaphor for Life. The phrase with the melody cycling back onto itself. From that phrase I transformed the word metaphor to Metaform. In my research I have not found this to be a word currently in use besides being the name of a Hip Hop Artist from the states and in the title of a paper called "A Note on the Notion of Metaform and Its Implications for Semiotics" which I am currently digging into. The connection with the name also came from my previous work "Minimum (2020)" which also begins and ends with the letter M along with my artist name. The meaning of Metaform for me I break down into the word Meta meaning from the English Dictionary

Meta 

- (of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.

as a prefix:

combining form

1. denoting a change of position or condition. 

i.e. "metamorphosis" 

2. denoting position behind, after, or beyond. 

i.e. "metacarpus" 

3. denoting something of a higher or second-order kind. 

i.e. "metalanguage"

All of these definitions could be used in it's combination with the word Form even having the phrase "combining form" in it's definition. For this reason it characterizes the album as it is referring to a second-order kind of form (i.e.Nature) and is exploring forms and patterns in Nature and in the musical sense as well. 

Practice makes a more perfect recording so I've been working on perfecting the performance of the parts I have to contribute to the album, namely piano, bass guitar, electric guitar and vocals. I have sent the demo of all the tunes to my friend Robyn who will help me lay down some backing vocals and if i'm lucky give me some live horn tracks and/or EWI parts. The other person I had down to track live drums for me informed me he's busy busy busy until the very end of February but will be very free after that. So I'm trying to decide if I go on another rabbit trail to get a next drummer or just wait till he's free and hopefully have it done quickly enough for Mike to get final stems within the first week of March. 

That's the update for now! 

 

MG

 

Capstone Blog December 2021 

December was for deadlines and dead lines (actual temporary power outage) but also full of delusions of grandeur as far as a holiday goes. Thankfully I have passed this hurdle (exams + holidaze) three times before and honestly I'm just happy that some people in the past fought for my right to "have a break" and I don't have to labour relentlessly to survive in an urban environment. 

Tech probs. 

Once I got passed exams, working on this EP came as a nice creative relief from the academic agony of tests and essays. December 1st I moved into a new apartment with a whole extra room for my studio. Once I moved into this freshly painted, looking fresh place, I tried turning on the brand new thermostat for the brand new baseboard in my studio room only to find it unfunctioning. One room out of commission, door closed to keep out freezing temps. My studio remained packed for the first two weeks of December until I had time to set it up in the (warmer) living room. I also had to purchase a new midi keyboard/controller since my m-audio controller, $25 purchase from a thrift store had started to malfunction (perfectly timed with end of term jazz composition assignments...) My partner found me a novation keyboard with usb on facebook marketplace and we picked it up the same night.

Spread sheets. 

Since then I have been going through each Logic session of the tracks I chose for the EP and writing down the entire track list (instrumentation) and noting which tracks I want to keep as-is and what needs to be rerecorded. A fellow colleague of my capstone class showed us their master spread sheet of their compositions which I thought was a great idea so I got right too it. The result was very satisfying and brought me the clarity I needed to be able to proceed with the project. 

New year projections.

As my studio is still set up temporarily in the living room while we wait for the landlord to resolve the heating issues, I still plan to track some guitars, bass and keys there with direct inputs. Meanwhile I am converting a closet into a vocal booth (with a large duvet) so I can be tracking some vocals as well. I will see how this goes but am looking into other possible rooms for this as I can't predict the amount of aux. noise coming from upstairs neighbours, the road next to our house and house appliance hums.  The only other major players at this stage are my drummer friend Nathan and my multi-instrumentalist friend Robyn who I will booking time with this month to do tracking with me. If all goes well I could have most or all of my tracking done!

Unknowns.

I don't know who will be mixing or mastering this album yet. I will be making some inquiries about this, spreading a wider net to some contacts in Halifax who might help. I should know this by the end of January so I can figure out how much that might cost. 

This is all for now, I will be posting later this month for my January entry! Peace!

xoMG

 

Capstone Project Blog October + November  

Artwork by Amanda Morley for her 2022 wall calendar 

It's almost December already? December is for Deadlines since I have a lot of them. One of the things I appreciate about my post-secondary studies is how it has encouraged me to address my relationship with this thing called time and how there's no going back. You missed you missed. Time just marches forward. At least it does when you put it on a timer, on a set of gears perfectly aligned and designed for repetition. What if time was fluid? Can us clock-ticking calendar-bound beings even conceive of this kind of reality? As I reach out in my psyche to all the beings of this earth, beyond my place and even beyond my time I see this reality so clearly. But here I am in a "place" called Canada and a "time" called 2021. The sky is cloudy and things are covered in a light dust of sugar white snow. I have these songs I thought up and captured roughly that have been cycling through my psyche as the music in the background of all these musing of the mind. They form together into collections based on the times and places they emerged. I love recording and releasing them because it concretizes their significance as a record of my journey. They exist as a reminder for me so I never forget where I've been when I get to where I'm going. It requires a lot of Hope and Love. It requires Honesty and Pride. It requires a deep Compassion for myself and all living beings. 

The collection I've compiled so far in this marker of time November 28, 2021 is as follows:

1. Blood Moves In A Spiral (3:44)

2. This Love (3:34)

3. Let Yourself Come Down (4:48)

4. Emptiness Comes (2:49)

5. Five and Nine (4:19)

6. FFFA (fight, flight, freeze, at ease) (3:12)

7. Deep Blue (remix) (?)

(Putting time stamps with that track list is a good reminder that I soon have to register these songs with Socan.) I have demo recordings of all these songs which is why they've made it to this short-list stage. During the last two months I have been showing the demo to some close friends and colleagues to get some initial reactions and feedback on the songs. I've gotten some good insights from people who's own work I admire. Others who have studied the craft of music and can hear and communicate back errors in the enjoyment of it's listening.

Here is some of it:

"I really like the songs. Super diverse vibes."

"My first impression was that a lot of the grooves start and keep rolling throughout the whole songs without pausing or transitioning between the different parts too much. (our drummer friend) is always the best at knowing when to drop the beat out. Half a bar, or some hi hats, or even just one snare gone can make such a huge difference. It helps the song breathe and lets you know you're heading to a new part."

"Might also be cool to replace some of the midi although I saw some videos of Billie Eilish's brother and he makes so much of her music with just the stock logic instruments. It's so annoying cause it always sounded so corny when I tried but they make it work so well, I think by dialing in each sound just right and meticulously arranging the parts to come in and out to build dynamics."

"MG these songs are amazing!!! 

Let yourself be free has awesome vocal harmonies 

This Love is SO Funky. I saw (our trumpeter friend) playing trumpet 

Five and Nine is MY FAVORITE. Fuck ya love that 

And the first two tracks were really really great too. This album is Awesome!"

Verbal feedback from others also included comments about the love of harmonies and grooviness and how the sound would be enhanced with more live instruments (a lot of it being midi stand-ins). I had an in-person listening session with my high school band teacher who leans on Jazz and live music. He said he could hear it was Pop oriented but with a bit more variety and interest. Basically more repetitive than jazz but less repetitive than pop.  The song Blood Moves In A Spiral was also thoroughly vetted but my Songwriting II classmates and instructor so i gained a lot from workshopping that song over a four month period. 

So all in all some really great input from a variety of folks. 

My first next step is to hear back from my drummer friend to whom I emailed the demo. I would like to focus on and track the drums first. He may be able to record himself but we will do at least one session together to get a feel for it and maybe he can add or subtract stuff from his own studio after. Musicians having their own set up to record their own instrument is kind of a sweet deal for everyone which is why I did that for myself as well. But there are factors like quality of room treatment and quality of microphones that plays into it. It looks like we should have access to some good gear and rooms through our musical circle though and I think it will all just be an fun exciting experiment of sound. 

December is for deadlines and drums. 

That's all for now.

See you after exams!

MG

 

Capstone Project Blog 

SO FOLKS! Im almost almost finished my BFA in Music at Concordia that I started back in 2018. I must say Ive been thanking the universe daily that I was set up in such a way to transition easily to online studies during the pandemic as my previous career was a restaurant chef :I Luckily for me this has also allowed me to relocate to my home province (Nova Scotia) to hang around my elderly dad and begin to attend to and rebuild some things that had been neglected. 

The last set of music I released was to be release in May 2020 in Montreal and Halifax before knowledge of future events could be predicted. I released it anyway and did an online show for my family friends and friends of friends. I enjoyed it yes, but apparently not enough to do it again. Its just not the same for anyone involved. I have had the opportunity since returning to NS to do a few small in-person shows and hope to do more this winter as there are some nice local venues even in this little NS town. 

Thats a quick background on where Im headed now. The Capstone Project at Concordia is an opportunity for me to bring to light all that I have been learning and music I have been writing in these past three years of study. Im surprised even by myself so I dont know what you will think at all. As part of the project I will be posting a blog here every month to update my progress. Hopefully they will be as hilarious as the process itself. The project is due in April 2022 so I say all this to say that I MAY have a finished album by that time, if not very close to finished.

My goal for this blog is to strip away some mystery and let you into my process of music creation from creative burst to composition to recording to production. I hope to hear from you along the way :) 

xo

MG

New Album MINIMUM drops in May 2020 

With a fresh mix of old and new styles, MILLAGRAM's album MINIMUM offers a perspective from a life lived minimally in many regards. Co-produced by herself and Montreal's hit song machine Paul Cargnello, she explores the experiences of the past and shares her dreams for the future with words and sounds that will make you think and dance. 

Let me introduce myself 

My name is millagram. People call me other names but mainly they call me MG. I live in Montreal now but I was born and raised Scotian.It's about that time that I start sharing my story, my present moment and my future dreams. It's time to give you a window into the life that I live in pursuit of beauty and of the destruction of my ego. i mean, sometimes i need my ego but most of the time it's just getting in the way of me living my life

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Previous events

millagram live online

the internet

I'll be performing LIVE on Instagram and Youtube to celebrate the release of my album MINIMUM! Please join me!

May 26, 2020 5pm EST

Follow me on Instagram @millagram_inc Subscribe on YouTube www.youtube.com/millagram

Millagram + Trio

Cafe Resonance

Millagram + trio

+Jean-Michel Fredric (keys) +Frantz Celestin (drums) +Fred Doston (bass)

Original . Jazz . Pop . Dance

6-8pm suggested donation $8

filming/recording in progress

millagram @ cafe resonance

Cafe Resonance, 5175 Av. Du Parc , Montreal

Join us for an intimate acoustic concert in Montreal's Mile-End of Millagram featuring originals from previous times and new, never-heard songs from this artists extensive library of compositions.

QRE & CKUT presents Millagram + DJ Seriousblack

Groove Nation, 410 Rachel est, Montreal, QC

QueenRoutine Events and CKUT 90.3 Presents

MILLAGRAM

with special guest DJ SERIOUSBLACK

Join us at GROOVE NATION @ 10pm for a all-levels Yoga Session with music by DJ SeriousBlack

Performance by Millagram at 12am cover: sliding scale $5-$10 including yoga session