AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - April 7, 2021

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The PNW Section tried a little different Zoom for its April meeting, using the Zoom Webinar to host musician, producer and writer Caspar Babypants, also known as Chris Ballew. Chris may be best known from being a member of the rock trio, The Presidents of the United States of America, and now spoke about his career as a solo children's musician. About 50 persons attended from around the USA, although some had more than one person on a connection. Something more than 17 were AES members.

AES Western Region VP Alex Kosiorek ran the Zoom. PNW Chair Greg Dixon started with Section business, and Committeeperson Dan Mortensen spoke about the ongoing "Tea Time Topics" casual PNW Section Zoom meeting held every Saturday. PNW Committeeperson Matt Stearns acted as Q&A host.

Chris spoke for about 15 minutes describing his process and setup for recording his Caspar Babypants albums in his home studio. He recalled as a teenager doing overdubs by the means he had available - playing a boombox behind him while recording on another machine. His next step was a 4-track cassette. By college, he was using 8-track cassettes, and had few outboard effects except for an expensive compressor. Soon enough, The Presidents success exposed him to big studios, but he was never into acquiring much gear or working in big studios. When Sir Mix-a-Lot introduced him to ProTools, it was a revelation to his creativity, and he loves working in the box. He uses a laptop with Mbox interface and a Rode NT2 mic in his "studio" - the backyard outbuilding. He does not use MIDI, but likes Garageband beats.

He likes working alone, and letting the creativity flow. He figures he was meant to do children's music. He may work on some songs for months or even years, but he has a lot of them, letting him do regular releases. Chris has lately started doing some adult ambient music, too.

Next, PNW's Matt Stearns fielded over an hour of questions submitted with the Zoom Q&A system. A few questions came from (off-camera) attendees under the age of 6. Questions ranged from his work shack (big enough for his guitars, laptop and one mic, plus storage and a "nap area"); his Beatles song covers and tuning of his 2 and 3 string guitars. Other questions covered his tracking process, his mastering, tinnitis, songwriting, licensing, his favorite song he wrote (Lump), and even whether he sits or stands while working (he generally sits).

Meeting media will be archived on the PNW Section site:

Seattle-based artist Caspar Babypants has released 18 albums of clever, catchy, and irresistible music for children ages 0-6 since 2009. Caspar Babypants is also known as Chris Ballew, the three time Grammy nominated songwriter and lead singer for the four times platinum Seattle band The Presidents of the United States of America. In addition, he writes children's books with his wife Kate Endle. Kate illustrates the books and creates the cover art for the Caspar Babypants albums.

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