Category: University

Built to Roam

This song came on my iPod today as I was wandering around Victoria – I saw Shakey Graves play this at the Banff Centre a few weeks ago. I’m here for a week for a music festival and then onto Vancouver next week for a business vacation. This is my first venture in search of work and it’s long overdue. I’ve felt that Calgary isn’t the right place for me and I’m in the process of finding my next home. Everyone I’ve talked to has said that they got their job by being in the right place at the right time, and I figure this is putting myself in the right place.

For the time being, Victoria is little vacation and visiting and planning before the big stop of Vancouver. It’s quite weird being back here. Much like every time I return to a place I’ve lived a significant portion of my life, I have an existential crisis about my sense of place. I spent four years here and made a lot of memories with a lot of people. And finally coming back to that – every time I visit or pass these places, I revisit those memories. Some of them I look back on very fondly, some are painful to remember.

This song kinda stuck with me because of the title/chorus “Built to Roam.” As I spent a month and a half earlier this summer wandering through Europe, and now this trip – I wonder if I’m one of those people who is built to roam. And my immediate reaction was that I’m not. I enjoy stability and routine. I do enjoy the idea of travelling and visiting new places and exploring – so when I get to Vancouver where everything is new – maybe I’ll feel better about this all. But for now – I haven’t really enjoyed roaming Victoria.

Victoria is probably going to be the city that I remember most for giving my heart and growing up. I think I learnt a lot about myself and about others while I was here. I look back on my friendships and relationships and know that the people I met were crucial in forming who I am today.

For instance, there’s the CrackDonald’s here that I spent many a drunk night getting french fries. Or the square where I spent last years festival. The bus stop in front of the RBC where I probably spent a good 12 hours cumulatively waiting. Even going to the basement of the music building is weird when you don’t see your old friends sitting at their computers frantically trying to do a theory assignment or write some code. You could probably point to a different building on just about every street and I’d have a memory associated with it and a person.

As always, it’s weird coming back to where you were previously. At the university it feels like everything’s the same except for the cast – everyone else is younger and better looking, and I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser. But I can tell I’ve moved on from here too – coming back doesn’t feel like the home it used to be. So that just means time for bigger and better things!


Here’s hoping!

The Murphy’s Law Of Buses

Murphy’s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.”  [Wikipedia]

Over the years of riding the bus, I have noticed that Murphy’s Law applies very well to the pain of catching a bus. They are as follows:

  • Your bus will always arrive 3 minutes before it’s supposed to. Causing you to watch as it drives away
  • If you leave for your bus early, it will be late.
  • If you choose to leave your bus stop and walk to your destination along the bus route, you will see your bus as you are between two stops and can run to the closest one.
  • If you leave to catch an earlier bus because the bus you usually catch is always full, the previous bus will be late and will negate catching an earlier bus.
  • If you leave to catch an earlier bus because the bus you catch is usually late, the previous bus will have arrived early and you will end up waiting an extra long time for the same bus you normally catch.
  • As soon as you sit down in a handicap seat, someone will need it within the next 2 stops.

Please feel to add more in the comments.

The First Ever Music Track Day

Ben Parker recording in the PTY Hall

Music Track Day was yesterday. It was one of the most ambitious things I have ever done. It was also one of the most successful things I’ve ever done.

The concept is crazy and I am still in awe about how we pulled it off. Inspired by “Hack Days”, which is where people get together and spend the entire day hacking a project and then they show it off at the end. You’re in a room with lots of people and you spend the entire day – usually 10am – 10pm just having fun and interacting. Our Computer Music Course Union ( had done a “Music Hack Day” at the beginning of the previous semester, and I had wanted to do something similar with recording.

I wanted to get in as many bands as possible, spend all day recording them, and have one or two songs done to show off to everyone when we were done. The concept is the same, but we quickly learned that the logistics of a Track Day vs a Hack Day are very very different.

In the works since October of 2011, Thor and I have been planning out just about every thing we can think about. We contacted at least 10 different bands to gauge interest in our idea. I wanted to get a range of sonic groups, so we settled on Bucan Bucan, Ben Parker, the UVic Jazz Combo, and Amy Wood.

The bands had been locked down, and now the logistics of how everyone would flow came next. We were able to book three different rooms for the entire day of Saturday the 14th, so this gave us some options. We decided to do bed-tracking in our Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, doing piano, drums, guitars, and the entire jazz band there. The second room was used for overdubbing and the third for mixing. The biggest challenge was planning how each group would rotate from room to room.

We slotted 3 hour sessions in each room, and surprisingly each group was finished before their allotted time was up. By keeping the drums set up in the hall, with the mics adjustable for each group, we were able to quickly switch from group to group – this turned out to be very helpful in keeping the day flowing.

The schedule went as follows:

Hall (Tracking)

9 – 12 – Jazz

12 – 3 – Ben Parker

3 – 6 – Amy Wood

B037 (Overdubbing)

9 – 12 – Bucan Bucan

12 – 3 – Bucan Bucan

3 – 6 – Ben Parker

6 -9 – Amy Wood

B008 (Mixing)

9 – 12

12 – 3 – Jazz

3 – 6 – Bucan Bucan

6 -9 – Ben Parker

9 – 12 – Amy Wood

The bands and the plan was in place. We had 4 lead engineers, 12 people who were interested in being involved. Each lead engineer was assigned 2-3 assistants to help with their session. Once the sessions got going, people were able to flow and see what was going on in the other sessions happening simultaneously. I was there at 7:45 to set up our 100 foot snake from our mixing studio to B037 where we did overdubs. Unfortunately the session I was running wasn’t until 3pm, so I was a little tired when that came around.

Overdubbing a stomp clap

Bucan Bucan did a rambunctious track with loud horns and shout choruses, whilst the Jazz Band laid down some great tunes. Ben Parker brought in soulful blues song and Amy Wood played a lovely ballad for us. So much great music and great musicians in one place.

I got to work closely with the fantastic Amy Wood as she recorded a beautiful piece. I’ve listened to Amy’s music before and will hopefully be providing a review of her CD “Cinnamon Heart” (which you can get for free – here) shortly!

I can not imagine how an event like this could have gone better, all the people I worked with made things so easy. The bands were great, and were incredibly patient with us as we moved mics and tried out new things. The biggest problem we had was that the coffee I had brought wasn’t ground fine enough, and we had the wrong filters. Other than that, the entire day was great. Our mixing engineer spent 6 straight hours mixing 2 different bands and did a great job with all of that.

For a crazy and outlandish idea, I was so amazed at how well it went over. I will add some of the mixes of the bands as they get posted.

Thanks to everyone who was involved, the bands, the techs, the assistants, Kirk McNally, Shawn Trail and a host of others who had their hands in on this. You can see all the tweets from the day with #MusicTrackDay


Bucan Bucan

Patrick Boyle & UVic Jazz

Ben Parker

Amy Wood