I’m so delighted to announce that my longtime partner, since 2012, has agreed to become my husband. I popped the question at an intimate family gathering on Christmas Day. I was a bundle of nerves for weeks, and very shakey during the proposal. It stared with a little bit of a decoy, an anniversary gift I crafted from one of our very first photos together, framed with a little ribbon-tied note attached beneath. On this note, I told a story, and as he read the note, I read a copy of it out loud for the family to hear. Then I ended with “… but there’s just one more thing.” I reached into my pocked, pulled out the ring and fell to one knee. And he said yes. ☺️
Over 100 Songs Available!
Yep, I’ve just added the 100th song to the main library playlist! So including the songs from the holidays playlists, it’s actually over 120 songs. Either way, it’s a helluva milestone! Mind you, it took over five years. Transistor Sandwich, in its current form, began in 2017. This is when I made a commitment to myself to get back into composing and recording music. I had drifted away from it for quite some time. Not from music-making entirely; I was still performing in rock bands as a vocalist and keyboardist. But at one time, many years prior, I had built up a bit of a personal recording studio comprised of modest racks of keyboards, synthesizers, effects and recorders. Almost all of this I had sold off when I decided to move from my home province of 30 years, Prince Edward Island, to start a new life in Ontario. I kept one keyboard, connected to my IBM Aptiva PC, and did record a few songs early on. But when I landed positions in performing rock bands, I stopped writing for myself.
Then in 2016, I committed myself to composing at least one song every weekend, and I did this by scheduling a recurring day and time. Nobody likes to get locked into a routine, but I do find that having a solid schedule or routine can be incredibly beneficial in terms of motivation. I never insisted that I had to complete a song every week, to the point of release, but after some time I discovered that this was indeed possible and even a juicy challenge. The results were very encouraging and inspiring. With the help of my incredible partner, Ross, we slowly began rebuilding my personal home studio setup. At one point, Ross (and avid gamer and streaming fan) suggested I stream my song-building adventures. We bounced around a few platforms (currently we stream on Twitch), all the while composing a new song once a week.
Now, I hear you saying, “But a song a week for five years should be way more…” Okay, yes, if I literally did a song per week, but you know how it goes. Sometimes a song is going so well, I’ll take more than a week to polish it off. Sometimes we have to take a week off for holiday or a death in the family (sadly, far too many of those in the five years). And other times, the song just sucks and I won’t release it.
So yeah, it really does feel like a solid milestone. Five years of persistence has paid off, and I look forward to celebrating 200!
More TranSan in 2020!
Happy New Year, TranSan Fans! We’re very much looking forward to streaming more shows in 2020 on Twitch.tv/TransistorSandwich. The flagship show is moving to Sundays, but now there will be additional shows throughout the week. I’m excited to try my hand at more #transanitized songs, covers of old pop and rock favourites that helped influence me as a musician and as an individual. This means more vocals! 🙂 I’m anxious to try out some vocal-shaping VSTs.
But that’s not all. Also in the works are some scripted shows that I’ll be producing for the YouTube channel, spotlighting the gear used in the TranSan Studio. If you haven’t yet, be sure to Subscribe now!
We’re Not Gonna Take IT… Again.
Back in 2016, Dee Snider partnered with illusionist Chris Angel to release a heartwarming rendition of the Twisted Sister rocker “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to raise awareness of Angel’s new cancer charity. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I became aware of this version. My impression was that here was a song which I had grown up with, which decades later had turned around and grown up with me. I find that as I get older, my musical tastes mellow somewhat (although I’ve always enjoyed some mellow anyway).
Still, I hadn’t thought of playing it myself. Not until I’d received a request from a good friend, who was wondering if I could possibly lay down a piano track to which her brother could add a lead vocal (she was dying to hear what he’d sound like). For a couple of months, I picked around at it, off and on. It was a very different style than what I generally play; not that I’m gifted with any generous estimation of talent, but the minimalist approach to some of the piano parts actually began as a bit of a challenge.
I got the parts down and did the basic rinse-lather-repeat cycle for a while. Eventually, I started hearing other parts in there. Parts that weren’t there, but I could hear them through a filter of my own imagining. How about a cello here? Beef up the piano with some swelling synth pads? Triumphant french horn at the end? Before long, I was laying down tracks for my very own “transanitized” version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Check it out below!
Wanna download a copy for yourself? Below, you’ll find twoversions: one with lead vocals, one without (but backup vocals are still there). I’d love to hear your version! Post yourself singing it on the TranSan Facebook or Instagram, or send it to me at email@example.com.
TranSan Music in the Wild
Ahhhh… at long last, I’ve finally gotten around to bringing the new TranSan look to the website! I’ve been using the new branding on the social media channels, because that’s where the focus tends to be with a live stream kinda show. But it turns out the website is getting some nice traffic lately too! I’m delighted that people are visiting and taking advantage of the free downloads available. This will be my next upgrade, I think, to bring some better functionality to the download page. Search filters, previews and the like. It didn’t make sense before with a library of a handful of songs. But like the tagline says, this is an expanding library. 😉
The TranSan Five Songs of Christmas
Holy Hannah, this one took a long time to render!
On the eve of Christmas Eve, with special guests, my regular in-house studio audience and my wonderful live stream audience, I built a steady-pumpin’ transanitized version of the Christmas classic “Jingle Bells”. With that one wrapped, the Five Songs of Christmas series is complete. At the end of the show, I perform all five songs, including Away in a Manger, Silent Night, We Three Kings and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Check it out on my YouTube Channel, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Download Links Fixed
Holy moly! I just discovered that throughout that big, lovely, wonderful page of Downloads… none of the links worked! It turns out that if you enter an offsite URL into the appropriate download field in the Download Manager plugin, you must also click the plus sign icon next to that field to submit it. I had mistakenly assumed that filling out the field and clicking the Publish button would automatically submit it. Doh!
So now you can download to your heart’s content! All of the songs are available in uncompressed AIFF format. Interested in other formats? Well, SoundCloud permits downloads, so you can grab MP3 files from soundcloud.com/transistorsandwich.
Launch of the Birthday Songs Playlist
On the morning of November 16th, I awoke to a Facebook notification that my good friend and colleague Jen was celebrating her birthday. I immediately recalled baking up a birthday song for her last year, and sure enough, Facebook issued a Memories post featuring that very video. Holy moly, what a change in my home studio in the span of a year! Sparse surroundings, less gear and gadgets. I love Then & Now comparisons in general, and this one inspired me to sing to Jen her birthday song once again, this time from the current TranSan Studio. Of course, I’m thinking: while I’m at it, why don’t I bump up the instrumentation a bit? Give it a beat, throw in some arps… generally modernize it with the help of the latest version of GarageBand on the iPad.
As I said, I love checking out Then & Now stuff, so I decided to start the new video off with a look back at the old one, which transitions into a rising synth intro before the remake kicks in. Immediately you can see the dramatic difference in lighting and colour balance.
The greatest feeling was getting a message from the birthday girl saying that the whole family (husband and three kids) serenaded her with the new video as they brought in the cake. I’m told that the youngest Jen-ling was more enthralled with the video treat than the star herself!
I look forward to revisiting this lovely tune again for a future birthday. Perhaps in a dozen years or so I’ll have re-worked it into a fully orchestrated piece! In case you missed it on the front page, you can check out the video on YouTube. Remember to Like and Share, and if you haven’t already, Subscribe.
Whackin’ a Boom Whacker for Sampling
The new TranSan Live Replay is up on YouTube now, featuring all eight camera angles. Well, until two of those angles decided to take a hike. One camera was connected to a laptop via firewire, and the laptop decided to take a nap after a while. We checked, and indeed the power settings were set to sleep the OS after a time, but usually an active application will prevent that from happening. Since I was streaming directly to the hard drive via VLC, without monitoring the display, it would seem that VLC’s keep-awake setting didn’t apply.
The other camera that took a dive long before the end of the show was suffering from a slight disconnection of the power cable. I had taken the camera off the tripod to insert the SD card, and I guess I nudged the power cable. It didn’t pop out, just pulled out a very little bit, enough to break the connection. As far as I could tell visually, the cable was connected just fine. When I checked it after the show, it did give a slight pop as it slid back into place those few millimetres. Comedy of errors.
Despite the technical glitches, I had a blast experimenting with Ross’ Boom Whackers, a colourful set of tuned percussion instruments. I clipped my lapel mic directly onto the rim and got some nice, clean and powerful samples. I must say, Garage Band does make sampling quick and painless.
For the second week in a row, Julie and I went through my special conversion chart to convert a TranSan fan’s name to musical notes. In this case, the name converted to just several B’s and E’s, some flat, some not. It quickly turned into a calypso-inspired pattern that gradually grew into a lovely tune I call Whackin’ and Samplin’.