Figment is a social role playing game based around a virtual music industry.  To play the game you wear the hat of a musician, recording engineer, producer, label chief, graphic artist, tour manager and any other music industry hat you choose to put on.  It’s fun, because it’s all in your imagination, but what’s it like to actually wear one of these hats in the real world of music?  We thought we’d find out in a new feature here on Figment News called “Industry Insiders.”

Industry Insiders is a series of interviews with music professionals who work on both the creative and business sides of the industry.  We’ll talk to the people who help musicians create, market and distribute their music to give you an idea of what it’s really like to work in the music industry.

Let’s kick of this new feature by talking to Mastering Engineer, Ellen Fitton. Ellen is a music industry veteran who has worked at some of the top recording studios in New York including Right Track, Atlantic, The Hit Factory and Sony Music Studios, engineering recording sessions with artists as diverse as Ornette Coleman, Firehouse and David Byrne among others.  She began her career as an assistant to legendary Atlantic producer Arif Mardin, honed her craft engineering classical recordings, and has become a sought after mastering engineer with credits that include “The Complete Motown Singles” box set series, the 40th Anniversary Edition of Derek and The Dominos “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, and a Grammy nomination for her work on “Sony Music 100 Years:  Soundtrack For A Century” box set.  Ellen now has her own company, Ellen Fitton Audio, and a new home at the legendary Masterdisk studios in NY.

We recently sat down with Ellen at her home to discuss what it’s like to be a mastering engineer.

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To find out more about Ellen and her work we suggest you check out the following:

Check out Ellen’s Album Credits.

Follow Ellen on Twitter.

Follow Ellen Fitton Audio on Facebook.

 

 

As you know, Chris Mars just helped us out with our 2012 Figment Album Cover Design Contest.  Now it’s time for us to return the favor and help him out.  Chris just released his first single since 1996, “When I Fall Down”, to benefit his old band mate Slim Dunlap from The Replacements.  Slim suffered a stroke on February 20th, and Chris is trying to help raise money for his hospital bills.  You can listen to the single on Chris’ Facebook page and buy it for 99 cents on his website.  All proceeds from the single will go to help Slim and his family with his in-patient rehabilitation and treatment.  Let’s do our part to help a friend of Figment help a friend in need.

This year’s Figment Album Cover Design Contest has been a blast.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with a great artist, Chris Mars, we’ve continued to receive great support from our good friends at Adobe, and most importantly we’ve seen the quality of our player’s entries continue to improve.  We’d like to say thanks to all of you for making this year’s contest not only a success, but a fun one to boot.

But enough of that, let’s get to who won!  For that honor we turn it over to Chris Mars…

Chris:  “In picking the winner, I thought about my own days of record shopping, trying to find music that I would be into – the kind of music that wouldn’t be on the radio. I’d dig through the racks and I’d look for covers that had the right “look”, telling me it was something I might be into. Punk had a definite aesthetic attached to it, but so did new wave, prog rock, metal. I needed the spirit of the music conveyed to me visually, cause I might not have a chance to hear it before I committed to buying it. Of course, I’d attract to cool looking artwork in general…but if it was misleading, I’d be pissed about it. And if the artwork didn’t “fit” something I might be into, I might miss it. Then again, if the artwork was too obvious or cliché, I’d figure the music inside might be too.

Creatively, aesthetically, all the Figment finalists looked great. I was really impressed by the quality of the artwork and design overall. Every cover looked really good. So to pick the winner, I imagined combing through the rack, and wanting and needing the artwork to tell me what I needed to know about the music inside.”

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1ST PLACE

Sinthetic

“Binary Empire”

Design by ChildofAlma

Chris:  “I think the cover that best suits its band/genre is Binary Empire by Sinthetic.  It’s a cool cover, and if I were to guess what kind of music it would be, I would have hit it spot-on.  This one is a great marriage between visual interest and visual information.  It’s my big winner.”

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2ND PLACE

Let’s Not and Say We Did

“The Night We Didn’t See Carl Sagan” EP

Design by poppinfresh

Chris:  “First runner up goes to The Night We Didn’t See Carl Sagan by Let’s Not and Say We Did. I think this is a really beautiful cover, and it also hits the mark for the music inside. But in this case, I had to read the band description and say, “Yeah it fits,” versus the big winner, where I was able to guess what would be inside before I read anything.”

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3RD PLACE

King Fu and The Shank Punch Pow

“How To Get Away With Murder”

Design by Raybo

Chris:  “And the second runner up goes to How to Get Away With Murder by King Fu and the Shank Punch Pow. I really like the incorporation of the type, and I really like how this one looks. But it feels more punk to me than the musical description.”

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Every year, we look for a guest judge who we think will share his/her perspective, talent and experience with you our players.  Chris Mars has been a terrific judge and we’d like to thank him yet again for all his contributions to this year’s contest.  Here’s what he had to say.

“Again, all the covers looked professional, the quality was really high.  My top three hit the mark closest without being something I’ve seen before.  I think all ten contestants have bright careers ahead for them if this is something they choose to pursue.  Thanks for the opportunity to view the work, I really enjoyed it.

Chris Mars

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So congratulations to ChildofAlma for his winning design.  We’ll be sending him a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS6, an autographed copy of Chris Mar’s book “Tolerance”, a Figment t-shirt, and 10,000 pieces of Lucre!  He’ll also receive a Album Cover Design Contest Winner icon on his album page.  And to our runners up, don’t worry Lucre and prizes are on their way for you too!

 

Every year the job of narrowing down the entries in our annual Figment Album Cover Design Contest to the 10 cover designs that will passed on to our guest judge for the final round of judging seems to get harder, and this year was no exception.  Even last year’s winner theHoseman was involved in this year’s selection process, and he can attest to just how hard a task it is.  So congratulations to everyone who submitted an entry on making our job a living hell!

Now here are the 10 finalists (in no particular order) that will be given to Chris Mars to judge.   Check back on June 15th to see who Chris picks as the winner!

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Sinthetic

“Binary Empire”

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Let’s Not & Say We Did

“The Night We Didn’t See Carl Sagan” EP

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Vapid

“Hunt The Monster Down”

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Pragmatica

“Sacred Geometry”

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Hot Water Burn Baby

“Killing ‘Em With Kindness”

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Tucker Jackson

“Modern Day Cowboy”

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King Fu and The Shank Punch Pow

“How To Get Away With Murder”

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Fragile Agony

“Audiophobic”

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Lambs to Lions

“Through Her Eyes” (Single)

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Lucifer and The Long Pigs

“The Badlands”


As you know, we’ve been slowly but surely “building a band” together.  So let’s take stock of what we know about our band.

First of all, we know that our band is called Victor Rossi & His Big Fat Posse and that they play Shock-And-Awe Sensory Assault Blackened Deathgrind music.

We also know that the band is made up of Victor Rossi (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dmitri Carlson (lead guitar, background vocals), Ryan Drako (bass), and Tina Nelson (drums) – all of whom love quality musical equipment!

Lastly, the band has a strong visual identity and a killer tagline!

So we’ve got a name, genre, band members and our marketing all lined up.  What’s missing?  Who the hell are they?  That’s right a back story!  Leave it to algoreyou to fill in the blanks…

And don’t come back!” Those were the last words Victor Rossi heard as he was thrown out the door onto the cold Oslo streets. “Great, that’s the third band this week.” Rossi lamented as he was ejected from another black metal band. He didn’t get why people were so opposed to the idea of heavy production. The son of a record producer, Rossi had grown up seeing what a could achieved behind the table, and loved it. Growing up in Norway however, he had been quickly immersed into the Black Metal scene, and found himself dreaming of being on stage, done up in corpse paint, shrieking for a living. He began to listen to Emperor, Celtic Frost, and study the guitar work or Ihsahn and the “singing” of Per “Dead” Ohlin, fashioning himself into a hell of a musician. However, he never lost his love of major production, and that ran him into trouble in the Norwegian underground. Everyone wanted to be “troo” and have nothing to do with the “commercializing plague ruining the real spirit of Metal”.   And now we find ourselves back where we stared, with Victor sitting on the street with his Dean guitar hanging on his shoulder. His luck was about to change however, for it was then he heard a message from an angel, “What the fuck are you moping about you little fitte?!” He look up and saw this blond girl, couldn’t be more than 5’5”, standing in front of him with a scowl that would have given Satan shivers. “Who the hell are you?” Victor asked, more confused than anything.

“Tina Nelson, your new drummer.”

“Do I look like I have a band?”

“Which is why we’re going to form one. Look, you sounded like the devil incarnate in there, and I think that enhancing that evil would be the way to go. That, and the pikk who just threw you out was my ex, and I would really like to stick it to him.”

Rossi, getting over the initial surprise of the encounter, started to take her offer seriously.

“Alright, let’s do this.”

And thus they formed a duo, calling themselves Whorehammer, with Victor on guitar and vocals, and Tina handling drums. They entered themselves into a battle of the bands up in Trondheim, driving in a van that may or may not have been stolen from a local church. Arriving early, Victor and Tina started conversing with the other band members. Well, Victor started conversing; Tina punched a guy for staring at her. It was then that Victor met Dmitri Carlton, guitarist of the deathgrind band Scornfire and fellow Ihsahn fanatic. They began discussing the intricacies of stealing some Jägermeister from the bar, when the competition started. Rushing to the stage, Victor and Tina, in their best looking corpse paint, started setting up their gear, when suddenly the announcer said, “And for some added fun, every band will be playing at the same time. May the loudest be blessed by Satan.” And thus, all hell broke loose. Every band was doing their best to overpower the others, but no one could get their amps to 12. Then a loud crash erupted from the left of the hall, and everyone stopped, just in time to see someone pull their head out of a bass drum and smash a cymbal against the drummers head. Then all Hell REALLY broke loose. Fists, drums, and beer were flying everywhere. Victor, pulled off the stage, was brandishing his guitar like a sword, fending off what can only be described as a demonstration of why the zombie apocalypse is going to kill everyone. He found himself back to back with Dmitri, who was doing to same thing. Dmitri threw his guitar and screamed, “Run for it!” Hurling themselves through the throngs of now bloody black metallers, Victor and Dmitri managed to escape, only to find Tina and someone with a broken ax bass sitting in the van. “Drive! She screamed, and the four of them got out of dodge. “So who’s this?” Victor and Tina asked simultaneously of the others companion. Victor introduced Dmitri, and Tina introduced Ryan Drako, the very imposing 6’5” solo bassist who had lifted her on his shoulder and brought her out of the brawl. “So…” Victor said, “Now that we’re all here…want to start a band?”

“What kind of band?” Dmitri asked.

“Something different, a mixture of black metal and deathgrind, but with amazing production to make it a wall of sound. Who’s in?” After a quick look around, everyone agreed and set about coming up with a name. Jokingly, Tina said, “How about Victor Rossi & his Big Fat Posse?” It stuck.

So there you have it, we just “built a band” – Victor Rossi & His Big Fat Posse exist!  Anyone up for creating their first album?  Let us know is you’re “in” by leaving a comment and we’ll assign tasks!