About Zed

Zed PhotoZed has had 30-odd years in the music industry, mostly as musician, songwriter, studio engineer and producer, with only slightly less time teaching others about audio.

His day job is at MAINZ (Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand) in Auckland, where he is head of the Audio Department. To retain his professional practise, he spends time each year recording, mixing, producing and mastering other people’s projects, and has his own professional audio company – Brookes Audio Design.

He is a recognised expert in Logic Pro, and also has experience with Pro Tools (lots) and Ableton Live (a little). He runs Logic Pro short courses, and “Introduction to Production for Songwriters” at MAINZ.

He has recently completed his Master of Arts in Music, based around enhancing creativity in the home studio, and has his associated “Deus Ex Machina” Masters album release coming up shortly.

His main interest is in songwriting and song production, and has a number of collaborative and band projects in progress. Zed sings, plays bass, guitar and keys, and is a dab hand on the tambourine.

 

Deus Ex Machina Album

I’m currently trying to complete my album project “Deus Ex Machina”. It revolves around the idea of the organic and the machine converging.

It began as my Masters project, but as these Masters projects tend to be based around experimentation of various concepts, the songs are not generally as “listenable” as they could be. My experimentation was around the idea of enhancing creativity in the home studio, primarily when working solo, something that’s becoming more and more common in our technology-rich musical environment.

So although the album was submitted early in the year (and got a pretty good mark by the way), I am going through each song fixing the list of items that I flagged up as needing more work done before general consumption.

Here’s the title track (unmastered as yet) “Deus Ex Machina” – an instrumental.

  • The universe is a big relentless machine – also links in with the song “Getaway”.
  • Experimenting around the tension between machine-like characteristics and more human instruements – eg guitars.
  • How many instrumental layers can play the same riff before it loses its definition? Main riff has 3-5 synths layered with a live-played bassline.
  • Overall feel: instrumental, dense, driving, a relentless machine
  • Contrast ideas: Legato bends in second “B” section vs rigid pumping defined riff elsewhere. Move to minor chord in 2nd half of B-section, guitars change roles per section, the real bass switches to more legato slides in the B section. Legato vs clean changes.
  • Main real bass riff is clacky and textural, while the synth basses add the body and substance.
  • Guitars add conversational elements – there is a kind of dialogue between panned guitar parts, one side hopeful and preachy, the other a cynical “oh really?”
  • Some synth sounds are deliberately “laggy” to simulate reverb.
  • Tempo was adjusted slightly per section to amplify groove and overall feel of song (this turned out to be a real pain in retrospect – I can see why most people prefer to drop the click completely, or just stick to one tempo).

 

Here’s another track called “Getaway”.

“Pressure chamber’s running red, the stones are bled

dull ache between the scrutineyes, and our sense of humour’s fled, so lets…

Getaway now, start the motor, get inside

Getaway now, turn it over, and drive

 Hammer horror office lives, us zombies never fed

put a spanner in the gears my friend, put the monster in its bed

and lets…

Let’s drive forever, never slow, on roads that will not end

drop the top and mind the bats, wave goodbye to daily grind and lets just…”

  • Brain-dead and burned out? You need a solipsist road trip. Get in the car and drive.
  • Introspective dark verses vs a big dreamy hopeful chorus.
  • Mirrors a sense of isolation and alienation you sometimes feel when on a long car drive without stopping.
  • Detuned glissando keyboard parts to create tension, and simulate cars passing
  • Lots of vocal harmony parts with tension created by melodic/harmonic movement between the parts.
  • Lush, floating, almost the hypnotic drone of the car interior – pulsating. Actually added some car drone SFX as well.