Composing a Space Rock Album on the iPad 2: the Story of Kev Ellis — Space Cadet

(Editor’s note: Kev Ellis cohabitates the same worldwide Space Rock scene as myself. He’s played with Bubbledubble, Kev and Trev, and Spirits Burning among others. In fact, I think we are on the same Spirits Burning track from their Alien Injection album. SB being an Internet-based music outfit, we’ve never met in person. I knew he was using an iPad for recording, so I asked him to pen an article for us. He also has some app reviews coming down the pike here at TabMuse.)

Kev-Cat-Equipment

Kev Ellis’s cat serves as his studio manager. Photo by Kev Ellis.

Space Cadet is my first solo CD release after over 20 years of playing in space rock and blues rock bands. In March 2013, I received an iPad 2 for my birthday, and set about writing — without a band — the space rock album I heard in my head.

Equipment Used During the Recording of Space Cadet

  • iPad 2
  • Mackie 1202 VLZ 12-Channel Mixer
  • Pair of JBL Eon Powered 10″ PA speakers
  • Shure SM58 Microphone
  • Fender Music Master Bass Guitar
  • Chantry Acoustic Guitar with Electric Pick-up
  • Korg Kaossilator
  • Korg Kaoss Pad 2
  • iPad Camera Connection Kit
  • Griffin iMic Connector

Apps Used During the Recording of Space Cadet

External devices were recorded on the iPad by connecting the mini jack, via the line out on the Mackie desk, to the Griffin iMic, which was connected to the USB port of the CCK, which was in turn connected to the iPad port. Apps were recorded via Audiobus, or externally from the iPhone, if no Audiobus support.

Kev-connectors

Kev’s intrepid connectors for his iPad-powered recording studio. Photo by Kev Ellis.

A Track by Track Rundown of Recording Space Cadet

1. Guiding Light

I spent an enjoyable afternoon recording wave sounds at Langstone Harbour edge. This track features great guitar from Grunty McNaughton, His guitar sound comes from a clean stack on GarageBand combined with distortion and a Boss Space Echo pedal.

2. Celebrate The Day

The drones and bubbles come from Alchemy and Monotone. I recorded acoustic guitar clean as a line-in vocal track, then pasted it onto a distorted GarageBand guitar amp preset, which seems to eliminate a lot of gain noise.

3. Resting Heart

The dawn chorus was recorded on the iPad from my back door — blackbirds sing in C#! Crowd noises recorded on iPad at Gatwick Airport departure lounge.

4. Super Cosmic Space Age Baby

This was recorded in two segments, with section 2 a semitone up; then edited together. Harps in two keys and live handclaps in the second section — One Two Three Four!

5. Emerald Eye

I’m really pleased with the harp sound on this. It was recorded clean, through the Mackie, line in to iPad GarageBand, as a vocal track, and then pasted onto an effected guitar preset.

6. Sunrise Pagan Bop

This was an attempt to write a tune like one of those great seventies spacey singles. It has a nice chunky rhythm guitar sound — on an acoustic that cost less than twenty UK pounds — recorded clean then pasted onto a GarageBand guitar amp preset.

7. Time Reflection

This one has layers of iKaossilator. It’s a nice app, but just a damn shame it hasn’t got the sounds of the original Kaossilator box.

8. Ancient Flight

I bring an eighties Hawkwind feel on this one. I used the Dub Siren app for the audio generator noises and added some nice iKaossilator action along with harp solos.

9. Morning Raga

This track drifts off to the end of the trip. There are lots of layered Kaossilator along with some nice tabla and gong samples.

Space Cadet was originally sold as 100 off numbered run of CDs and a free download. The CDs just about gone, bar a few I held back for the summer festivals. (ed- Kev regularly plays Glastonbury as well as other space rock festivals in England) The last few copies are on sale from Amazon UK.

Kev Ellis - Space Cadet

The cover of Kev Ellis’s recent album — Space Cadet.

All in all, recording Space Cadet was a totally engrossing fun process and an album of which I am proud.

Trackbacks

  1. […] for a song on my new Space Cadet album. (Ed — check out the making of Kev’s previous Space Cadet album here at TabMuse.) After putting a post up on Facebook, I was recommended by a keyboard playing friend to have a […]

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