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:: A Non-Expert Take on the Rise of the Non-Expert ::

Photo: Nathan Cowley

”If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton.

One of the most advanced things about humans is that we are able to stand on the collective “shoulders” of the greatest minds of our kind, past and present, and move forward from where they left off. From that vantage point, with all that knowledge passed onto us and our potential to retain it, we have been able to add and refine and advance. Until now?

Despite centuries of research from experts all over the planet proving otherwise, some people still believe the Earth is flat. Likewise, despite the expertise of doctors and nurses and scientists all over the world some people still believe that Covid19 is some sort of conspiracy. Are we no longer interested in benefiting from each other’s specialized expertise? What is happening?

I’m not a politician. I’m not a scientist. I don’t financially benefit from big Pharma. I’m a singer-songwriter who understands that 2 + 2 = 4 and, subsequently, I appreciate facts. I also know that facts are something that people well-versed in their respective fields, can help me with.

Through the amazing power of human language, we can learn detailed lessons and ideas from every researcher who ever lived. There’s even research dedicated to researching past research with larger databases and updated tools and methods to reach more accurate conclusions. And because of it, we’ve reached an age that our caveman ancestors would be in awe of.

We don’t have to invent electricity everytime we turn on a light or the engine when we want to drive a car. We trust that the experts did that already before we even flick the switch. For almost everything that we do in our lives we stand on the shoulders of the experts who came before us.

What device are you reading this on? Research and science and expertise made the invention and production of this device possible. From electricity to battery tech to linguistics, mathematics, physics, computer chip technology, cooling systems, data storage, lighting, satellites, to literally rocket science to get the satellites up into orbit for communication! Smart, innovative, educated people made those discoveries in the past and now you are benefiting from it in one little device.

If you didn’t have this smartphone or computer which was created by experts and scientists and someone told you or even showed you that it existed, is that person a liar? Are they trying to start a conspiracy because you had not seen such a device yourself? Your entire lifetime of experience tells you that such a thing does not exist so it MUST not! Are they a part of the “Deep State Scientific Establishment” because you heard about that in a video on YouTube (the same place you can upload videos of yourself eating laundry detergent)? That’s how you sound when you claim that the Earth is flat. That is the position you take when you post articles suggesting that the seriousness around Coronavirus is a conspiracy. And even if you caption it with “hmmmm?” or a “🤔” you’re still giving value to ignorance (or more commonly, harmful propaganda) and most unforgivably, putting lives at risk.

Why are we at this point now where we have forgone our previous trajectory of advancement through the appreciation of expertise? My assumption is that people feel so powerless in their lives that they want to get it back (that part, I can totally empathise with). Knowledge is power and sometimes the powerless want to be seen as experts themselves to gain some perceived power or control in their lives. In their insecure minds, it’s a direct attack to imply that anyone else has a more valid opinion or has done more research on any given matter even if they actually have. Yes, I believe it is that emotionally underdeveloped. In that space, a person who feels powerless is more likely to listen to propaganda that speaks to the reptilian, survival part of their mentality. I.e. the opinion that makes them feel better no matter the merit. And here in the United States at least, I believe it is embedded in the national psyche to value standing up against authority, loudly and proudly as our nation was founded upon it and we glorify the martyrs who died for it. So a person longing for power, respect or control in their life would rather see themselves as a hero in their loud rejection of “the establishment”, than live in fear as a “sheep” following expert advice even if they must defy data to get there.

But I’m not an expert. If you have a better explanation (or better yet, some sort of researched sociological/psychological article with evidence) for this most inefficient way for our species to behave, please inform me as I’d like to sleep a little better tonight. Our world is shifting quickly (politically, environmentally and spiritually) and we need a revolution of facts and data and altruism to get us on the same page toward fixing it. I believe the devaluing of expertise is one of the greatest problems of our time and I want to help. But I can’t help if I don’t know why it is happening on such a large scale across many different walks of life. Like, Sir Newton, I enjoy the view from atop of the shoulders. I hope you join us.

In the meantime, I propose that if you want to diminish the nature of science and expertise it only makes sense to do so using technology that was not created using science or expertise.

All the best. Stay safe. Much love. Listen to the experts.
-Lee

QUARANTINE SONG GOING VIRAL WITH IRONIC CLICKBAIT HEADLINE

Hey there. How’s everybody doing? Isn’t this just the weirdest? Feels pretty chaotic at times doesn’t it? So much love to anyone feeling the stress of it. I kind of hope that’s everyone because who doesn’t find this stressful for themselves and/or on behalf of others?

Don’t forget to find moments to breathe and release the tensions in your muscles and your face and your brow as much as possible. Those tensions are your body trying to warn you of the looming uncertainty but you are fully aware of it by now so you can tell your body to relax as the information has been noted and your internal warning systems are toxically annoying until the situation changes. Thank you very much.

It is with all that in mind that I wanted to create a song that would remind me of a few things that I’d like to keep remembering as we go through these next few months of personal and global damage control and reevaluation. What I need to be reminded of is the hope. The strength and the kindness of the human spirit. Hope that people still care about others. I wanted to let healthcare workers know that I care, Because if I care, there must be millions maybe even billions of us. We care and we’re so grateful. I needed to be reminded that no matter how scared I feel at times that if I believe in my free will to create an effect on those around me that it is up to me to direct my energy where I want this planet to go. So I made this. With my wonderful and wonderfully hopeful love, Arielle Moskow. We hope you enjoy, “Sing for Me (a quarantine production).”

I meant to write a folk song but for a few years I’ve been supplementing my income by DJing at the end of some of the weddings I perform for. At first I was reluctant to DJ because I thought it was an insult to my art as a folk songwriter to spin Pitbull and Lil Jon for the people. But then I listened closely to the production blasting through the speakers and subwoofers and I could totally understand why these perfectly dynamic vibrations excited human beings. A sort of extreme energy, joy inducing, sound healing. A happy beast of an art form. And I thought of the times at all of those weddings people rushed to the dance floor for a particular song and I thought I wanted humans to feel that same excitement about the potential in what is happening in the world now. Our lack of attention to leadership and facts, and our degrading of intellect has lead us where it should. Now we are here and there’s lots of people feeling the same thing and eager to help make things better. Let’s keep reminding each other that none of us are alone and that hope grows stronger together. We are the ones who get to bring new ideas and standards into creation with the energy that we each individually lead our lives with. So once I realized the tempo of the song I wrote lended itself to be a pop song, I figured I’d try to use my lessons learned as a part-time cliche DJ to produce sounds that made people instinctually excited about empathy in a pandemic. If that doesn’t get me a Deep State membership. Thanks for checking it out. Thank you Healthcare heroes and everyone playing their part to save lives. I hope you are well and safe or get there soon. Madluv.

Kickstarter Goal Reached!!!

Thank you so much to all who helped Dixie and I reach our Kickstarter goal of $15000 in just the first two days! Now we can afford to take the show to Australia and get our album manufactured! So much gratitude!

Kickstarter-Banner

Live performance on the morning news!

Made headlines on TheMusicNetwork.com

EXCLUSIVE: How an unknown Queenslander knocked Drake from #1 on iTunes last week

#1 Single on iTunes Australia and NZ!

I’m pretty dumbfounded! Friends, check out this press release!

UNKNOWN AUSSIE IN USA TOPS ITUNES AUSTRALIA AND NZ
[Singer songwriter Lee Coulter’s long and unlikely rise to the top] [San Diego, California, August 8, 2018] Lee Coulter, an unknown, unsigned singer/songwriter originally from Logan City, Queensland, overtook the likes of Drake, Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons this Tuesday to earn the #1 single spot on both iTunes Australia and New Zealand.

After 14 years struggling as a full-time “nobody” playing bars and cafes and resorts in San Diego, California, Coulter’s latest single, “We You Me (featuring Dixie Maxwell),” caught momentum when his Gold Coast-based sister, Revie Jane, started a viral challenge from her fitness and lifestyle Instagram ( @RevieJane ).

Revie urged her followers to share the song on their Instagram and the army of young mothers and health conscious women took to the song and the challenge and downloaded the song in droves, helping it land on the iTunes homepage and things took off from there.

With the new awareness of the single and music video, Coulter is now receiving interest from multiple international record labels and management agencies rounding out a classic Aussie underdog story and proving that no one has your back like family.

The song remains in top 10 as of Thursday.

If you would like more information, please email Lee Coulter at  mail@leecoulter.com . Website: www.LeeCoulter.com Instagram: @LeeCoulter

New solo acoustic album “EarthLee” out Thursday.

Hey friends!
So happy to announce that my solo acoustic album EarthLee is out this Thursday January 18 (available here on iTunes and all online stores and streaming services). Please see the teaser below. If you would like a CD copy of it you can buy here now via PayPal or better yet, please come to a show!

One of my favorite things about being an artist is that a large part of my job is essentially to pay attention to the human experience. And when you get to do that a lot, it allows you the breathing space and perspective to zoom out and see how magical it all is despite the ugliness that we need to overcome. I wanted this album to communicate that feeling. To inspire others to keep on loving and having an open heart and know that there always people who are on your side and fighting your fight and living your dreams with you, beside you, whether you know that they are there or not.

EarthLee is a collection of 17 new, raw recordings of both previously released and brand new songs. It is every song I’ve written to date that was inspired by mindfulness, peace and/or gratitude. I wanted it to feel like a reassuring conversation with a friend or just a big musical hug. I hope you feel that. Thanks always for the support. Madluv.

– Lee.
“EarthLee.”

 

Lee’s D.I.Y. Recording, Mixing & Mastering Tips

I just released my new single “Don’t Belong” online and as a video and got a really nice email from a fellow recording engineer asking how I got my sounds to come out so well. This meant a lot to me because for the last decade I’ve been trying to reach a level that impressed my fellow audiophiles and I finally feel like I’m starting to. Since I spent some time and brain power replying to him, I wanted to share these thoughts with anyone else out there doing their own recordings on a budget(ish) because I know how a few helpful tips can save a lot of time when you’re stumped. So below is the song/video and then my response, explaining how I get my sound…  I hope it helps.

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Hi and thanks for the compliment. I have been trying to get to a level the impresses other producers for over a decade so your message made my day. I think what I have found is that you have to acquire a few key mics, pre-amps and plugins and then follow the less is more rule. And yes, I do all the recording, mixing and mastering myself. In just a regular, non-recording room. I don’t have any acoustic panels, sometimes i just sit in front of a curtain. I don’t really think it’s essential to be in a completely quiet room. So long as the room verb isn’t too crazy. I even leave the window open sometimes because it’s hot and I don’t mind that a bird sings in the background of some of my recordings. But I like the indie diy vibe, so that adds to it.
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-59-10-pm(This was recording a different song but using my fav vocal mic, the one I used on “Don’t Belong” Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic)

So it starts at the source. The instruments that you’re recording. If you love a guitar tone, find out what guitar it is and buy it or a cheaper one that sounds as close as possible to it. Same with drums. Make your drummers play your favorite drums. Borrow or rent a good sounding kit. Then pay attention to the instruments on your fav recordings. Is the player playing hard or softly? Can you hear the techniques? Have your players play like that. On your favorite songs, there might be a lot of instruments played sparsely, or only 3 instruments played more constantly. Pay attention to what arrangements move you. Same with vocals. I used to try to sound overly smooth and now I think my old stuff sounds forced because i was trying to sound smooth. So I just relax and sing as close to how I speak as possible. That kind of attention to detail has made the most difference in the feel and emotion of my recordings. For example, I only ended up using 4 mics on this drum kit, 3 of which were more than a foot away to avoid the more modern close miking sound. I wanted the vintage, distant sound.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-05-02-pm(My amazing drummer/percussionist Angela “AC” Cutrone on her custom Vessel Kit. Mojave MA300 and AKG Perception 100 as overheads. The kick has an Shure SM58 and then the room mic is my Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic. I didn’t end up using the snare mic which was an AC’s Audix of some type).

Next… what mic suits the thing you’re recording? I always used to record everything with a condenser but I realized once my ears got better that everything was just too bright and taking the highs down in the eq just killed the air. So I tried dynamic studio mics and a cheapish ribbon mic (Golden Age Project R1 Mk3) and found that the ribbon is great on my vocal. It has less clarity but more character and body and sounds more like the recordings I like. For guitars it’s weird because I have $1200 condenser (Mojave M300) and a $100 condenser (Akg Perception 100) and I love the more expensive one for bg vocals and overheads and voice overs and recording hip hop vocals but for some reason I just like how my Taylor sounds through the cheaper mic. It’s that sort of paying attention to the feel and sound instead of what my mind wants to think (i.e. expensive equals better). And PLACEMENT! Record and take notes of each mic at various angles and distances and then LISTEN. Which angle and distance one FEELS the best to you? Notice I keep saying “feels” instead of “sounds” on here?  The feel is more important than the audio precision. Never forget that music is about emotion and only nerds like us care about the clarity or audio perfection. ****Update: since I posted this blog I bought a Peluso P-28 Pencil condenser for my guitar because it’s allegedly modeled after the vintage and super pricey Neumann KM56 which has been alleged as the mic on most of Nick Drake’s guitar (which is my fav tone ever).****

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Preamps… I don’t use the Focusrite Voicemaster anymore unless it’s for a second mic on a stereo guitar or drum room or something. My goto preamp is the D.W. Fearn VT-1. And i have that on all my vocals and guitars. There’s a bunch of tubes in that preamp so it warms up and opens up the sound a lot. It costs $2700 so it was definitely an investment but it added a subtle, more expensive sound to my tracks. I would say that it’s not key because the average listener doesn’t have the ear to notice the difference, but I believe now that it’s not about the ear. All of these improvements may not be noticeable to the average ear, but I firmly believe that they all add up to reach them on an emotional level. The hardware upgrades, the attention to tones and performance style etc. They all matter. Even if the average listener can’t tell why.

FYI I think the computer, Digital Audio Workstation (DAW aka audio software e.g. ProTools or Logic etc) and digital audio interface you use are pretty interchangeable so long as they are not super dated. I use the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 as my  interface to get all my analogue signals into the USB of my Macbook Pro which is running Logic Pro X. Obviously there are PCs and other interfaces and the super famous ProTools. I imagine they all work fine.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-43-20-pmFinally, the plugins. The way I produce, in the box, DIY, no studio, little money etc… I think you have to have some key plugins, especially on the master channel, that really do their job and then be minimal with the individual channels. Mastering was the bane of my existence. I could not get the volume and high end presence to match hit songs without making mine sound squashed and harsh. For 10 years I hated mastering. And this might sound like an ad but I swear IK Multimedia’s Lurssen Mastering Console Plugin changed the game for me. It’s one of those key plugins that without it, the other plugins, and guitar tones, and mics and preamps don’t get to shine. It just makes everything loud and clear and keeps those important dynamics.

I also add to the master channel (in this order) Waves Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670 and Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher (which is crazy cheap at around $50 and frequently less on sale), all in very subtle enhancemnent amounts and all above/before the Lurssen plugin. I think each one of them is a great product and adds to the quality of the sound but the Lurssen is the only one that isn’t replaceable as far as I’m concerned. That’s where I get the massive volume.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-44-39-pm

So that’s the key part of the software. This might be sacrilege but I think it’s mostly about how you master, how you add that volume and sparkle in the end can make or break or absolutely destroy a great mix. But of course the individual channels are important too. If you record the source well, you won’t have to do much at all on the individual channels. I just use the stock Channel EQ in logic X if it needs to cleaned up. I also pretty harshly cut the low end of all my channels. Where I cut depends on the instrument. Approximately: Kicks at 30hz, Bass at 40hz, Vocals at 50hz, Guitars and pianos at 60. So there’s no rumble at all. Also, a lot of sources have that mud in the 140-220 range that I dip 1-3ish db in many of my channels too. That allows for more volume and clarity in the end too. To really hear where the mud is, I like to listen to my mix on my little portable Bose speaker because it is so unforgiving in the muddy sections of the mix. It tells me exactly where the problem areas are. Listening on my expensive monitors is great when I need to hear everything clearly to see if there’s anything obvious but once that’s good, mixing on unforgiving bass enhanced consumer speakers make me confident that it will be good across the board.

Now in saying that about keeping the channels sparse, I must admit I have come to love the Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher on all of my individual channels as well. It seems to be good at giving them their own space in the mix. I use the presets for the instruments that come with the plugin and then tweak them as needed. So unless you get great separated sound from your mics and preamps I recommend something like that (Greg Wells has a line of Waves plugins too that are supposed to be good for enhancing mixes and individual instruments) is helpful too if you can’t get your instruments to stand out from each other. I’m sure Native Instruments have some channel enhancers too. Anything with the equivalent of some sort of exciter, compressor, eq etc. A lot of them you can try before you buy.

Also for individual channels I have some of the Waves Abbey Road Series plugins that I love. Their Reverb Plates is such a good and familiar reverb that I use as a bus reverb pretty much on all channels, very subtly. It has that sound that everyone has heard before so I think it subconsciously makes a new song familiar. I have their J37 Tape Emulator that I put on my vocals to warm them up and boost saturation and even add a subtle tape slap delay. And then I like to send my vocal to their Reel ADT in a bus and it can give a subtle stereo boost that makes the vocal bigger, punchier and more modern.

And lastly, I’ve been trying to use no compression on individual channels at all. But if there is a vocal or guitar or anything that has one section that is way louder than the rest, it might be necessary to keep it reigned in. On “Don’t Belong” I only used it on the strings and I chose the Waves CLA-2A for it’s smoothness and warmth (the strings were naturally quite thin) but I also like the stock Logic compressor with it’s many options.

So that’s where I’m at now. That’s how I’m getting my sound now and I’m sure it will change as it always does. Thanks for reaching out and I hope that helps. Happy music making!

Cheers,
Lee

***UPDATE: Since I posted this song and blog a few weeks ago I purchased Waves Audio’s “Center” Plugin and love what it does to the punchiness and focus of the master channel. I put that right before my Lurssen plugin with the “punch” nob all the way to center. And “low” slightly to the center and “high” slightly to the sides. I also have the sides volume pulled down a couple DB. To me it adds a mastering focus that I have been after for years. I keep the rest of the channels and master channel settings pretty much the same as this original blog states except I removed the PuigChild from the master channel as the Center adds a similar but more focused punch. You can hear an example of it on this live version of the same song here. *****

(MORE SCREENSHOTS FROM THE “DON’T BELONG” SESSION):

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-04-33-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-45-10-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-43-49-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-45-23-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-46-23-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-47-05-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-5-48-33-pm screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-5-48-12-pm
Equipment list for “Don’t Belong”

Acoustic Guitar: Taylor 110e
Electric guitar: Kay Speed Demon K571 (1961)
Drums: Vessel Drums Custom
Piano: Native Instruments Maverick
Bass: Logic Stock Instruments (Strings: Basses Pizzicato)
Microphones: Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic (vocals, violins, drum room), AKG Perception 100 (acoustic guitar, drum overhead), Shure SM58 (kick), Mojave MA-300 (overhead mic).
Hardware: D.W. Fearn VT-1 Preamp (vocals, guitar, strings), Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (audio/digital interface for everything).
DAW: Logic Pro X
Audio Channel plugins: Waves RDesser, Logic Channel EQ, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Waves J37 Tape, Logic Guitar Amp, Logic Pedalboard, Waves CLA-2A (on strings).
Mastering plugins: Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates, Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Lurssen Mastering Console.

New single and video! “Don’t Belong”

Hi friends, I have new music for you and here is the video. Shot by talented, jet-setting Sharisse Coulter… except for the shots of her which were by me and a hand full of friends over different trips. Check out her photography and writing at http://sharissecoulter.com

Official video for my single “Don’t Belong.” Shot by the talented, jet-setting Sharisse Coulter… except for the shots of her which were by me and a hand full of friends over different trips. Check out her photography and writing http://sharissecoulter.com

I wrote the song and then recorded it with the help of my magical band Josh Bonas (electric guitar), Angela AC Cutrone (Drums) and Evan Bethany (strings).

Equipment list:
Acoustic Guitar: Taylor 110e
Electric guitar: Kay Speed Demon K571 (1961)
Drums: Vessel Drums Custom
Piano: Native Instruments Maverick
Bass: Logic Stock Instruments (Strings: Basses Pizzicato)
Microphones: Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic (vocals, violins, drum room), AKG Perception 100 (acoustic guitar, drum overhead), Shure SM58 (kick), Mojave MA-300 (overhead mic).
Hardware: D.W. Fearn VT-1 Preamp (vocals, guitar, strings), Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (audio/digital interface for everything).
DAW: Logic Pro X
Audio Channel plugins: Waves RDesser, Logic Channel EQ, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Waves J37 Tape, Logic Guitar Amp, Logic Pedalboard, Waves CLA-2A (on strings).
Mastering plugins: Waves Abbey Road Plates, Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Lurssen Mastering Console.

CAMERAS: Canon 5D MIII, Canon 7D, Sony RX100 iv (for slo-mo).
Video software: Final Cut Pro X
Video Plugins: Pixel Film Studios PROLUMA, Pixel Film Studios PROLENS, CrumplePop ColorKit, FilmConvert Pro, Pixel Film Studios COLORIST.

DON’T BELONG
(words and music by Lee Coulter)

She likes to wander near and far
She likes to go where the wild things are
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
She found the only thing she could trust
A passport and a wanderlust
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so but
She don’t belong to me

Because she’s free when she’s flying
Beyond the sea past the horizon
From her toes to her nose to her golden curls
She belongs to the whole wide world
My girl don’t belong to me

She likes to ponder everything
Take it in while traveling oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Belizean days and Parisian nights
Venetian waterways and Northern Lights Oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so but
She don’t belong to me

Because she’s home out on the road
All alone in travel mode
Now I don’t take it personally
She belongs to nobody
My girl don’t belong to me

From town to town and coast to coast
She tells me I’m the one that she loves most Oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
On a plane or a train or a boat or a bus
Everyday I know she’s choosing us oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so ‘cause
She don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so ‘cause
She don’t belong to me

Encinitas Showcase with The Lovebirds

The Studio Encinitas is my new favorite local place for music and I get to host a showcase there this Friday with the incredible duo, The Lovebirds. Click the poster below for the FB event page.

All ages show. $15 at the door.

The Studio Encinitas
1057 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA

Lee Coulter Lovebirds