W&W : It’s been about a year since your first interview on Work & Worry. What have you been up to since then? How’s life treating you?
Life’s been really busy, Ray. I wish I could say I’ve been busy making more music, but a full time job and young children aren’t always conducive to a musician’s lifestyle! I just need to find a better balance. That being said, I am trying to move the music thing along.
I reconnected with Alana Mark, an old friend from high school. Facebook is amazing sometimes! We’re writing songs together, which is new to me. I’ve always been a singer, but lyrics have always escaped me. We’ve started recording together, and have a couple of videos on Youtube. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve both been really busy this summer, so I’m looking forward to getting together with her in the near future.
There is a CD compilation, by the members of the Acoustic Guitar Forum, that came out last fall. There’s another one coming out in August. I wrote a new tune, which I recorded and released just a few weeks ago, called “Squish”. I have a friend using my music in his Youtube videos to promote his T-shirt company. Another music library has offered to add my music to their roster for use in TV and movies. Youtube is still going strong, and a couple of guitarists out there have decided they like my music enough to cover it in their own videos, which is nice and still a bit surprising to me. I guess I have been kind of busy.
W&W : Are you still playing your Larrivée L, or have you moved on to one of the new Forum guitars? Please describe your current instrument.
I still have the LS-03, Forum III custom, mahogany back and sides, Italian spruce top. It’s a great guitar for just about anything. Late last year, some of the members of the Larrivée Forum were mulling over the idea of a custom. It was only supposed to be 4-5 of us at first, but it quickly snowballed into 28 guitars, a Forum IV. It’s a 00-03MT, a smaller, all mahogany 12-fret beauty. I sold the 00-50 thinking I didn’t need 2 mahogany/spruce instruments and the LS was the one I really loved. I’ve been an all-mahogany fan for years, too, having owned a Martin OM-15, 000-15S, that little Larrivee parlor I used for the “Little Martha” video on Youtube, etc. So getting the 00-03 was a no brainer. It’s a warm, vibrant instrument that just sings. I’ve been playing it a lot lately.
W&W : Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to move through your Larrivées pretty quickly. Would you say you’re experimenting to find your sound, or is it more of a GAS thing? Are you searching for “the one”?
You know how it is, Ray. Guitars are addictive!!! I am a Larrivée fan, that goes without saying, but when these custom guitars starting coming together from the members of the forum, I was really interested. Last year, it was the LS-03 with Italian spruce tops and this year, all mahogany 00 sized guitars! Both are full scale, 25.5″ with 1 3/4″ nut and 12 fret necks. I wouldn’t have ever thought I would go for this type of instrument, but once I sat down and played them, I was hooked. I think my addiction is not particular to Larrivée. I love a good Martin, Taylor, Collings, etc… but these customs are amazing. Something about the 12 fret neck, with the bridge closer to the middle of the lower bout… so punchy! Both are very unique instruments with a unique sound. Larrivée makes OM and dreads, but their L shape is totally unique to the brand. The LS is a smaller version of that and making it a 12 fret puts just adds a new twist. Right now, that all mahogany 00 is the one I’m addicted to. I play with nail and skin with a fairly sturdy attack, and using this technique, that little guitar pumps out so much volume! Not sure I’ll ever find the “one” but these “two” are pretty close.
W&W : So your partnership with Alana has you concentrating more than ever on songwriting and singing… do you plan to present these types of songs alongside your instrumentals, or keep them as a separate concern?
Alana isn’t just a lyrics person, she is a truly gifted songwriter, but is just as much at ease with instrumental music. She’s a McGill University graduate with a degree in music. She’s been writing and recording scores for films for many years. That being said, for now, we are concentrating on the songs and not instrumentals. We want to record and release an album in the very near future. We have about 5-6 complete songs so far. They aren’t recorded yet, but this fall we want to spend more time concentrating on that. There will always be new “Denis Turbide” instrumentals but for now, I want to spend more time concentrating on collaborations with Alana. I’ve always been a singer and the songs we’re writing just feel great to sing.
W&W : Talk a little more about some of the compilations that you’ve been featured on this year.
Last fall, I submitted some tunes to the Acoustic Guitar Forum after J.R. Rogers, the founder of the forum, put up a thread saying that they were accepting submissions for upcoming releases. He answered back saying he liked what he heard and used “After the Battle” on AGF#3. I had that disc in my car’s CD player for weeks. There’s a lot of excellent music on there and I’m really happy to be part of it. The level of talent on the forum is amazing! Great songs and instrumentals all over that disc. The fourth compilation is out on August 17 and will have “Samuel” on it. I can’t wait to hear the new disc.
W&W : How about your recent experiences with home recording… what are the challenges? Any tricks or techniques that you’re finding particular success with?
Well, Alana and I live 200 km away from each other. We have full time jobs, responsibilities, lives… so it’s not always easy to get together. She’s been a Mac user for a long time and was trying to convince me to get one as well. We did some recording on her Macbook Pro, using Garageband, and I saw first-hand how easy it could be. My PC wasn’t doing the job, so when the new generation Macbook Pro came out last spring, I bought one. I just needed a mic and interface to be able to get some decent sound. I bought an Audio Technica AT2035 side-address condenser mic, and a Shure X2u signal adapter which supplies the 48v phantom power for the mic. It’s a pretty simple set up, but for recording vocals and acoustic guitar, it’s really all I need. Now we can record separately, upload it to her MobileMe account and add tracks, effects…anything! She uses a Snowball USB mic which is really nice. I’m still learning the ins and outs of all this but it’s so much fun. I used this set up for my latest tune “Squish”. I’m no sound expert by any means, but I think it sounds pretty good.
W&W : Any upcoming gigs or other projects you want to talk about?
Alana and I have some work to do, that’s first and foremost. I will be spending a lot of nights in my spare room with the Mac and Larrivée. We’ll get together to jam out the tunes and work out arrangements. It’s not easy, with busy lives and the distance between us, but I’m very optimistic about what we’re doing. I think the songs are really good. I know I love singing them. Once we’ve had more time to polish our act, we’ll get some gigs in the Ottawa/Montreal area and we’re looking into so festivals for next summer… I’ve never toured, that would be fun.
That new compilation CD from the AGF comes out in August. With over 47,000 members on the forum, it could mean a lot more listeners!
I’m still active on taxi.com, submitting my tunes whenever I see listings that match my genre. That latest offer from a music library came from a listing I’d submitted to over 18 months ago. I’ve had plenty of forwards over the last couple of years, so there might be more offers in the future, we’ll just have to wait and see. I would love to hear my music in a movie. It’s another side of the music business I had not thought about before. I’d love to get into it. Hearing my music in a film would be pretty cool.