ubk museletter

The Vaulting

Below is how I’ve NOT been finishing the 8-song record that Sneaky Little Devil has been working on for nearly 5 years.

Five years. Does the following process look or sound familiar to you?

ME: “Man, this song is DONE! Mix sounds great, time to bounce!”

Bounces mix, feels happy, starts on next song.

ME: “Man, this song sounds EVEN BETTER than the last! Let me bounce this, then tweak that last mix using these new tricks!”

Tweaks last mix, re-bounces, feels happy, starts on third song.

ME: “Holy crap, the low end is so tight! I gotta tweak those last two mixes to tighten up the low end like this!”

Tweaks mixes of last two songs. While tweaking second song, discovers a new trick for smoother highs, needs to tweak 1st and 3rd song for smoother highs.

And round and round I go, perpetually improving mixes on “finished” songs that until last week couldn’t possibly be improved upon. It never ends.

A Mix In Session

Now, the more rational, less OCD among you will suggest that this absurd escapade will only end when I decide to end it. And there’s an appealing simplicity to that logic, it’s practically bulletproof. Except it’s not, because: me.

I’m a huge fan of staying connected to reality, and the reality of Gregory Scott has very clearly shown itself to be this: I am genetically incapable of making the decision to finish a Sneaky Little Devil song and leave it alone, to forever let it be whatever it is.

So accepting the reality of me, the question then becomes, “How can I actually finish songs without ever tweaking them again?”

The answer, it turns out, is brutal in both its simplicity and its irrevocability.

The way I stop tweaking mixes is by deleting the sessions from my hard drive.

Wait, what? I know, I know, this is not how it’s done in 2020, people haven’t deleted data for a couple of decades now. But I do it all the time, and when it comes to songs I’ve done it many times before. In fact, I’ve done it for almost every song I’ve ever written and mixed. I have the mixes, but I don’t have the tracks. Nobody does. The songs are immutable, permanently etched in their one and only form.

For these Sneaky Little Devil songs, though, I’m going to be slightly less drastic and use a process I call The Vaulting. The Vaulting looks like this: I back up the sessions in 2 different places on the cloud and on 2 different hard drives. I’m then going to hand over the hard drives and the cloud accounts to different friends, all of whom I trust completely. They will take the hard drives, they will change the cloud passwords, and that will be that.

These friends have agreed to never, under any circumstances, give me access to the session files unless it is absolutely necessary for the licensing of the music to film or tv. Maybe Netflix needs the stems and a vocal-down mix for their latest Dark-style dystopian future series. Maybe the Grammies need an instrumental loop of a bridge for the segment where they award the album “Best Bedroom-Engineered Recording of All Time.”

A man can dream.

A guitarist at work

Here’s the good news for all Sneaky Little Devil fans: The Vaulting has already begun. 4 songs are uploading to the cloud as I type this, and when they’re uploaded and copied to hard drives, I’m deleting the sessions from my studio computer. Those 4 songs will then be done, I will not be able to touch them again thanks to the help of some amazing people who have no more patience for this particular manifestation of my OCD.

These friends are tired of hearing about the record, they’re tired of hearing me talk about how amazing it’s sounding, how cool the arrangements are. They want to hear the music, they want to hold the vinyl in their hands.

I want that too, more than words can express. And, finally, I’ve figured out how to make it happen.

Although, as I think about it, those uploads aren’t quite finished yet, and I do have that lovely new Pultec sitting there with it’s magic 12k filters…