Dane Sickmeier

Fantasy Band

The rhythm group I have chosen for my fantasy band is Stuff. With Steve Gadd playing drums (who has worked extensively with Steely Dan), along with bassist Gordon Edwards (who also worked occasionally with Steely Dan), and keyboardist Richard Tee (another known collaborator with Steely Dan) they prove themselves, individually and as a whole to be more than capable of providing, almost effortlessly, a flawless groove that satisfies not only the amazingly high standards that Donald Fagen set (and continues to set) for Steely Dan, but for all other artists they have worked for individually and as a given preset of musicians.

For my main performer, I seriously considered Dr. Dre as a front man, as he would bring together two seemingly alien styles of music and no-doubt has the talent to make any jazz-funk groove into something amazing. However, I have chosen James Taylor as the face of my fantasy band. James Taylor will bring a folky, but blues-funk inspired air to add to the already jazz-funk heavy influence of Stuff.

I would like this combination of amazingly different yet oddly similar-in-thought musicians to play a mixture of James Taylor’s classic songs with a newfound representation of the original musical interpretation, while also creating new music together in order to display the wonderful ideas and unconventional genius that can be achieved when one steps away from what may not be their comfort zone.

James Taylor is no stranger to soul/blues music, as proven by his Covers album, however, the addition of Stuff will provide another very strict style of groove to his repertoire.

I would call this collaboration album James’s Stuff. James Taylor will clearly be the leading force in marketing, using his social presence on Facebook and other avenues to create awareness and interest in the album. In addition to that, I have no doubt that James Taylor’s current record label will launch it’s own marketing campaign involving Twitter and YouTube advertisement.


Quill, G. (n.d.). Covers: James Taylor | Toronto Star. thestar.com. Retrieved September 27, 2014, from http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/2008/10/28/covers_james_taylor.html

Steely Dan still feeling the groove. (2008, June 30). Steely Dan still feeling the groove. Retrieved September 27, 2014, from http://www.canada.com/topics/entertainment/story.html?id=8a592154-548a-4c8f-88ef-f93a4b11b0d9&__federated=1


Independent Research – Red Hot Chili Peppers / Blood Sugar Sex Magik

On the 24th of September in 1991, Red Hot Chili Peppers released their fifth studio album title Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The album, produced by Rick Rubin, would go on to top the charts and become a springboard for other musical acts looking in desperation for proof that multiple genres, even those separated by decades of time, could be successfully orchestrated and created while still garnering commercial acceptance and prosperity.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik was recorded in a relatively unconventional venue. A mansion in Laurel Canyon, near Hollywood, California would replace the drab setting of a recording studio for the quartet. Although drummer Chad Smith was not interested in spending the night the supposed haunted house, there is no doubt that the temporary residence of the remaining three members and Chad Smith’s daily appearances for recording sessions fueled the creative genius that is Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

As one whole unit, Rick Rubin and the members of Red Hot Chili Peppers had a vision of what they wanted from their sessions in the house, and went about the process in an almost self-actuated but peaceful battle between objective and subjective ideas of what should be done with each track and each song as a whole. The intrepid group used their surroundings and spaces in the house as inspiration for lyric and music writing as well as tools to achieve the sounds that were necessary to complete the complicatedly simple ideas they had in mind to make Blood Sugar Sex Magik the album that they wanted it to be.

This album was not only a landmark recording in it’s time, but it still holds it’s own against anything that is produced today. An album that employs a blend of funk, punk, rock, and borderline hip-hop without any ground-rules for doing so left a significant mark on myself and surely (read “obviously”) millions of other fans of music.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik has been a favorite album of mine since I was old enough to comprehend what music could be without following what my mother had graciously introduced me to as an infant and young boy. These memories of classic music and what Red Hot Chili Peppers accomplished with Blood Sugar Sex Magik will always be a reminder of what can be done when a recording session can become when you refuse to do what is expected and instead do what you know is needed in the community of lovers of music.


Anthony shares his memories of making Blood Sugar Sex Magik. (2011, September 1). Red Hot Chili Peppers News Forum Fansite Im With You News. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://stadium-arcadium.com/01-09-2011/anthony-kiedis-memories-making-blood-sugar-sex-magik-mtv-news-interview/red-hot-chili-peppers-news/article10695

Bowden, G. (Director). (1991). Funky Monks [Documentary]. USA: Warner Reprise Video.

Grammy Producers Project




Electronic Music Innovations

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, electronic music and DJing was at its peak of technical innovation and public acceptance. Or was it?

Richard Meliville Hall was born in New York City in 1965, and even though he was a small child in a rough neighborhood, he came to fame on his own accord and we now know him as Moby (a not surprising nickname given to him by his parents, seeing as how his great-great-great uncle, Herman Melville wrote the classic novel Moby Dick, which Moby has mentioned during an interview, saying “I’ve tried to read the book several times, but I never quite got through it.”

Moby took the acceptable and wide spread recognition of electronic music and DJing to the next level by incorporating vocal harmonies into the music. Moby transformed a style of, by nature, pure electronic sound, into an electro-dance meets pop-vocal phenomenon.

In a notably successful recording, alongside No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, Moby turned the otherwise (and initially) plain electronic beat based but musically harmonic instrumental track South Side into a radio and public acceptance success. Moby says of his time recording and eventually collaborating on the song with Gwen Stefani “…So I couldn’t figure out why she’d want to go into the studio with me. She was a big rock star and I was a has-been. She came into the studio, she recorded the vocals and she did a great job. But my mixing skills are limited. I couldn’t get a mix with her vocals that worked. I tried and I tried. So the first album version didn’t have her vocals on it. I went back to it a year later and handed it off to a friend who was a good mixer, and he was able to actually do a mix with her vocals that worked. So, that’s why there’s two versions.”

Not only to me, but clearly to various well-known music-business dynamos (ie. Gwen Stefani), Moby has changed a droning drum and bass loop into a melodic and publically accepted form of “real” music.


Weingarten, C. (2009, July 2). “Play” 10 Years Later: Moby’s Track by Track Guide to 1999’s Global Smash.Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/play-10-years-later-mobys-track-by-track-guide-to-1999s-global-smash-20090702

Idris Elba’s How Clubbing Changed the World YouTube. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9CudHK2Mss&feature=youtu.be


The German electronic music outfit Kraftwerk was a defining force in the eventual worldwide appreciation and use of electronic sounds being used to create effects in recorded music, as well as creating entire song scores and full albums using no real instruments, but only electronically produced sound.

Kraftwerk began their residency as the newest of the new style of music by using unheard-of techniques to produce sounds and also by creating a theme for most of their multi-track works. For example, their 1974 release Autobahn was lyrically based around the idea of travelling by road, and featured a lyrical concept that describes (and/or hints at) the initial and lasting mental thoughts and memories that can be formed while traveling a long distance by road.

Employing a similar but ideologically different theme compared to Autobahn, Kraftwerk realeased Trans-Europe Express in 1977. Trans-Europe Express used a more vague lyrical approach to conveying the meaning and heart of the album, and instead used customized sound to impart unto its listeners the feeling and ambiance of traveling around Europe by rail. To be specific, the sound of a train’s wheels clicking and clacking along a railway produced a rhythmic feel to Kraftwerk. While the idea of making this sound into music was one of true genius and creativity, the sound would later be reproduced and modified into a more beat-friendly, four-beat-per-bar configuration.

The only two true members of Kraftwerk were Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. While other musicians have come and gone from their association with Kraftwerk, Ralf and Florian are certainly the only two names that will live alongside the title “Kraftwerk”, and the unforeseen musical revolution that they started.

I find Kraftwerk’s vision and unorthodox methods of producing music to be not only a story of what can be done to change how people feel about music, but more importantly, a testament to what any producer can do to change things up a bit if they are willing to put everything on the line in order to do what they think needs to be done.


Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution. (2013, July 9). YouTube. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4JhwDa2Wvc&feature=youtu.be

Doran, J. (2009, March 11). The Quietus | Features | A Quietus Interview | Karl Bartos Interviewed: Kraftwerk And The Birth Of The Modern. The Quietus. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from http://thequietus.com/articles/01282-karl-bartos-interviewed-kraftwerk-and-the-birth-of-the-modern

Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On

Before What’s Going On, Marivin Gaye was one of the most respected, yet boringly typical R&B artists that everybody was enthralled with. His songs were the usual love songs generally associated with R&B. Marvin began to tire of the normal and wanted to expand his catalogue with songs bearing deeper meaning and significant substance. Almost a wish come true, in 1969, Renaldo “Obie” Benson of The Four Tops presented the song to Marvin after failing to convince others to record it, and said “Marvin was the perfect artist for it … Marvin already felt like this. He was a rebel, and a real spiritual guy. The first time he sang it, I was playing guitar and he was playing piano, and it was so beautiful. I finally put it to him like this: I’ll give you a percentage of the tune if you sing it, but if you do it on anybody else, you can’t have none of it. His wife told him, ‘Marvin, this is a perfect song for you.’ I’ll love Anna forever for making him see the truth of that.”

What’s Going On was the last thing anyone expected from an R&B singer, and it wasn’t an easy song, or album, to get off the ground. The song’s lyrics discuss and question the state of our (then) current national problems: Racism, poverty, and most importantly, the war in Vietnam and its consequences. The lyrical content, along with beautiful, but unusual instrument choices for the R&B sound at the time were very hard for Marvin to sell to the straight-laced and conservative executives. Many record executives and “higher-ups” were less than thrilled with the idea of releases what they called a “protest song”. Marvin and his people eventually convinced the powers-that-be that the song was only posing questions concerning national compassion and promoting neighborly love. The song was finally released to great acclaim.

What’s Going On is a one-of-a-kind record that opened the door for other artists in many genres to explore the world outside of lyrical expectation for their given genre. This album is one that not only makes you think about life, but the life of music and its inevitable changing.


Marvin Gaye Biography: Life and Career of the Soul Singer. (2012). YouTube. Retrieved September 11, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6gYcdQSIG4

Edmonds, B. (2001). What went on. theguardian.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/dec/08/extract.

Peer Comments

You mention how Marvin was getting tired of merely being a sex symbol and “…was becoming disillusioned with the face of things, and more interested in their soul”. That is not only a great way to word how he was feeling, but also springboard idea that can make one think of other artists that started out reveling in the glitz and glamor of stardom that went on to tire of the “Hollywood” grind and instead of focusing on songs about cars and girls and parties and what-not, wrote songs involving more introspective and/or political thoughts and ideas. The songs of the band Muse, for instance, have recently started to get away from their original poetic ramblings, and have sometimes been rather politically charged.

I can certainly see how too much can become tiresome in that setting.





Hello Matt,

I think your analysis of Krfawerk and their effect/contribution on modern music is spot on. When you say “Kraftwerk’s music was not your typical melody laid over a drumbeat with a standard chorus and verse. In fact some of their music at the time didn’t sound like music at all.” you really sum Kraftwerk up into the trailblazing and misunderstood revolutionaries that they were.

I too realize how it would be difficult for people of that time to accept seemingly random noises as music, but through this class, I’ve been able to really appreciate what they did for modern music, no matter how unwilling or skeptical they might be to associate themselves with what is popular these days.







Week Four

This is another fine example of excellent work from you, Damian. Illmatic was and still is an iconic record that not only defined what hip-hop/rap was back in 1994, but also, in it’s old age, provides newcomers to the vast and diverse world of music a great starting point to realize what an impact influential hip-hop and rap can have on the entire music industry as a whole.

There is certainly no shortage of famous music gurus and other celebrities from many areas of entertainment that agree with everything you said about Illmatic being a “blueprint” for today’s popular music culture. It was (and still is) an album that crosses many borders as far as listenership and content are concerned.



Brian Eno

Brian Eno had a great deal of influences that affected his thought-process and work, including (but not limited to) conceptual art, performance art, American music that he intercepted from nearby U.S. Air Force base, and what I think is the most important influence of all, random noises. More clearly, Brian Eno would listen to and record random noises (animals, nature, etc.) and manipulate them using tape decks and the like into “sound sculptures”. These seemingly non-musical arts and sounds gave him not only a unique way of thinking about music and art, but also a brilliant concept for producing his music and art.

Eno’s Oblique Strategies card deck, while clearly not musical at all, it gives us an example of how he works in his mind and in the studio. If we look at his work on David Bowie’s 1977 album “Heroes”, one of the Oblique Strategies stands out to me: “Faced with a choice, do both”. While not written by Eno, the idea and concept of not having to choose between two likeable options can easily be noticed in the sonically full and (tastefully) over-produced “Heroes” album.

Eno’s experimentation with, and use of mechanical manipulation of sound played a large role in bringing that art/science into the world of popular music. The mighty ship of reversed recordings and other techniques that weren’t musical on their face made it’s way into many studios around the world, with Eno at the helm.

Eno’s 77 Million Paintings installation(s) has given him yet another feather in his cap of unique accomplishments and works. Many musical concept art works have been done, as well as many more digital visual works, but 77 Million Paintings combines the two and presents each with unrivaled concept creativity and presentation.

To me, Brian Eno’s work is a great starting point in realizing what can be done if you have an idea so weird that it might actually work. Listening to his early music, it’s nice to know you’re hearing something that was one-of-a-kind in its day, and that with enough passion and creativity, maybe someday, I too could pioneer a new set of rules as Eno did.


The Acute Strategies. (n.d.). Homage. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/Acute.html

Howard, D. (2004). The Minimalists. Sonic Alchemy (p.186). Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp..

Multimedia Presentation. Brian Eno.


All media is used for educational purposes.

The Beatles – Revolver

Prior to the release of Revolver, The Beatles had become wildly popular for their poppy and sweet love songs, not including Rubber Soul, which was (in many ways) a stepping stone and gentle segue way to the amazingly creative and different sound and mood of Revolver. The band had a welcomed break from the non-stop life of international superstars between the end of the Rubber Soul tour and the start of studio work for the soon-to-be Revolver, during which time they had a nice amount of time to really get into writing songs that were less about love and girlfriends, but more attune to their own personalities and views of the world and consciousness as a whole.

During their time off, George Harrison (especially) spent a good amount of time with renowned sitar player and yogi, Ravi Shankar. This bond gave George a better understanding and respect of Indian music and coinciding themes, as well as a talent in playing the sitar, as is apparent in the songs “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Love You To”. Also during the interim between Rubber Soul and Revolver, the group partook in the use of acid (L.S.D.), which led to “John Lennon’s lysergic acid sojourns”.

During the recording of Revolver, the band and producer George Martin used a number of techniques that transformed the studio into more of an instrument than merely a place to record their music. Among these unique ideas was using compression and valve limiting on Ringo’s drums, as well as stuffing the bass drum (and moving it’s microphone closer) to achieve a fuller, yet deadened sound without requiring him to play too heavily. Another is George Martin’s idea to record John’s voice from a rotating Leslie speaker normally used for Hammond B3 organs at the time. These examples and other trailblazing innovations make Revolver, and other The Beatles albums stand out from other equally funded albums from the era.

As a lover of all music, young and old, I certainly enjoy and respect Revolver for its unique mood changes and recording techniques, while also commending the band and George Martin on their courage and pursuant wherewithal to break the mold in order to create an album that shuns the norm while staying a very The Beatles-y album, mostly in thanks to the stepping stone that was Rubber Soul.



Howard, D. (2004). The Pioneers. Sonic Alchemy (p. 23). Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp..

PRX.org. (2006). Everything Was Right: The Beatles’ Revolver. PRX. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.prx.org/pieces/15368-everything-was-right-the-beatles-revolver