The W.A.S. (The Just Us League) in High-Fidelity

The Justice League:
A few members of team W.A.S.

Greetings true believers! As you may or may not know, we at the Wondaland Arts Society are hard at work putting finishing touches on the first suite of Janelle Monae (with an accent over the a) ‘s debut album Metropolis. We are a very small team and there are more things that need to be done than there are people to do them. BUT! We are really fortunate to have a team full of multi-talented individuals. It’s like a superhero team where every member has more than one power. For instance, imagine a hero who could run at the speed of sound and become invisible, or read minds and fly. And send members out on missions based on which individuals’ powers are best suited to accomplish the task.

So, my fellow W.A.S. member and I, Wolfmaster Z (aka Control Z) have been entrusted with the task of overseeing the mixing and mastering the music for the Metropolis project. It has been (and continues to be) quite a learning experience for us both. Now, of course it’d be much easier to leave the mixing and mastering to “the pros.” We tried it that way, it wasn’t really working for us. But it wasn’t because we didn’t think that the engineer that we were working with could get the record where we wanted it (What’s up Mouche!) But because the W.A.S. is so meticular (new word; it’s the lovechild of meticulous and particular) about every detail of the product, we realized that it would prove quite uneconomical to pay the engineer every time we felt that we needed to make a change in the mix. Ditto for the mastering. Now, neither of us has really mixed and mastered a full project on our own before, so deciding to do it ourselves was no small undertaking. But we were confident we could get the sound where we wanted it to be, we would just have to learn as we went along. We knew that we had certain superpowers (great ears), we just had to focus and apply our abilities in a way we never had to before.

So we completed (or so we thought) mixing and mastering a few months ago. We were pretty happy with the mixes pretty early on, so the big challenge was really the mastering. Initially, our main focus with the mastering was making the record LOUD! We really wanted the music to hold it’s own against other songs on the radio, and in the club, etc. in terms of loudness and thump. And boy! did we make it loud. We were all excited to have a “loud” mastered version of the songs that we could bump in our cars, iPods, radios, the club, whatever.

From this mastering we created a version of the songs that many of you have been listening to on Myspace, and even CD. All was well in the land of Wonda. However, after a couple of weeks of living with the music, Z was doing some research and discovered that simply making the master loud as hell does not necessarily produce the optimal sound. He expressed some concern with the loudness of the song vs. it’s sonic fidelity, and boy was i relieved. I felt the music was a tad loud, but now we had concrete research and evidence. So what were we to do!? We’ve already begun releasing music and we gotta upload to iTunes ASAP!!? What else could we do? Shoot, we sat our ass down and began remastering the single and Suite, and the product that we came out with is much more to our liking. I’ve been listening to the the VSHH remaster all week as if it’s a brand new record. It just sounds good man! (by the way, it’s now available on Snocap via Jane’s, Deep Cotton’s, and the W.A.S.’s myspace pages and will be on iTunes very soon)

The W.A.S. prides ourselves on creating the most remarkable experiences, and we definitely weren’t going to allow the music to fall short of that if we could help it. I discussed with Control the idea of the W.A.S. being “Post.” meaning Post Hip-Hop, Post R&B, Post “Now” and considering that, we have to realize that we don’t have to compete with the loudness of most recently released music. We chose to pursue a sonic quality on par with the music that we love from The Jackson 5, Stevie, the Isleys, the Beatles, or Lauryn Hill. Music that you could turn up high as hell in your car and still sound great. Janelle Monae is not a hip hop artist, so why try to compete with Hip-Hop records? (On a related note, reading today’s USA today, I don’t know why anyone would be trying to compete with Hip-Hop anyway):

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2007-06-14-rap-decline_N.htm?csp=34

Besides, in my opinion, what Janelle is doing is far cooler than anything anyone in Hip-Hop (Let’s not even mention “R&B”… ahaahahheeheheehehe!) is doing right now.

So in the future, look for the records that you hear from JM (and the W.A.S. as a whole) to differ from the norm not only in style and content, but in sonic quality as well. Man, running a label and trying to build a brand is a new experience for us all, and we’re learning so much along the way, it’s one of the most exhilerating things I’ve experienced. It’s just awesome to see our ideas realized and to have people appreciate our attention to detail after such a short period of time. And shoot, we’re just getting started!!! I can’t wait to see what people are going to say about the rest of Suite I of JM’s album and everything else we have in store!

Finally, I’ll leave you all with some real life superhero footage. Clark, Peter, Bruce, eat your hearts out! (By the way guys, we gotta do lunch again soon. Bruce, your treat. Don’t tell Banner though, he never can take it when we start joanin’. We don’t want an incident like last time!)


Lastly for anyone interested in the topic of the sonic quality of music and/or mixing or mastering, check out some links that Control Z found while researching the topic. These really helped us a lot in completing the records:

http://www.cdmasteringservices.com/dynamicrange.htm

http://digg.com/videos/educational/Video_Demonstration_of_Why_Modern_CDs_Sound_Like_Crap

Well, I hope I wasn’t too scatter-brained for whoever is reading this. There was a lot on my mind. Until next time true believers!

Thanks a Zillion!

Mitchell A. Martian
Mitch Mitchowski
Dr. Martin Muvyer Thing, Jr.

Lord of The Cybersoul Patrol
Rhythm rights activist
W.A.S.

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