My son Jake is doing the AQA Baccalaureate at his college. It involves the usual A-levels (he’s doing Philosophy, Music Tech and English Language), an extra AS-level class in Critical Thinking, 100 hours of extra-curricular activities, and an extended project. The extended project can either be a 5000 word essay on a topic of your choice, or an artefact of some kind with a 1000 words explaining what you made and why.
Jake’s chosen to go down the practical project / artefact route – and for his, he’s recording an album.
He became interested in producing electronic music a while back, and wanted to improve his skills on that front, so this seemed like a good idea. And in order to get better at it quickly, he decided to record a song a day for 30 days.
This is not Jake’s album, exactly…
What you see above isn’t the finished album, as such. This is more like the sketchbook for that finished album. The idea is that he’s going to select and return to the songs that he’d like to develop further for a final product, which he hopes to put out on vinyl as well as a download.
Not only has he composed, performed and produced all the music on this recording, he’s also done all the artwork and developed his website around it.
And I was the first person to buy a copy.
Get yourself a copy
It’s a really impressive bunch of work, and he’s pretty much dedicated his whole holidays to getting it to this stage. He’s made it so you can download the whole album for whatever you want to pay for it – whatever you think it’s worth – from zero to infinity.
If you can’t pay, or would prefer not to – please download it anyway. He says he’d rather you had it than didn’t have it – but any money he does get that way is going towards buying microphones and other music-making equipment, so he can pursue this further.
And if you pay £15 for it (50p a track, in other words) – when the finished ‘Extended Project’ album comes out on limited, numbered vinyl early next year – he’ll send you a free copy.
If you’re curious, the image on the album cover is from a photo taken by his girlfriend Hannah on her recent trip to Malaysia. Other people who have helped out include my young nephews Shay and Zac, Jake’s friend John – and some other musicians we know (Clutch, for instance) have given some really great, practical advice.
Intensive learning experience
In doing this 30-day project, Jake’s skills using Ableton Live (the software he uses to create the music) have improved out of sight – and at the end of the month, he went back and fixed up the stuff he was less than happy with in the earlier tracks.
He’s been posting works-in-progress at Dubstep Forum for other producers to critique and give feedback on – and they’ve all been really amazingly supportive and helpful.
He’s now going to be getting lessons from the internet’s leading Ableton expert, fellow kiwi Tom Cosm.
I’m totally biased
Yes, I’m his dad, and of course I’m going to say it’s awesome. But I do think it’s good on its own merits too.
Apart from anything else, it’s all intelligent, thoughtful and inventive music. There are some amazing sounds in there, some clever approaches, and even some dubstep in odd time signatures. You don’t see that everyday…
Whatever you think of the music – whether it’s your cup of tea or not – when you consider there’s basically three albums worth of material in there finished, released and in the public domain – that’s not a bad achievement to get under your belt before your 18th birthday.
Go check it out.