Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The GDArch John Mayer Epic

Those who know me are aware of my musical allegiance to John Mayer. In a non-indulgent way I won't go too much into why I like John Mayer's music, and instead focus on the graphic design orientated things I've produced in the past that holds a John Mayer theme. In chronological order...

Winter 2005:
The Blues Mix

'Try!' by the John Mayer Trio is a great album, I appreciate a lot more now for some reason (probably maturity and a greater enjoyment out of blues music), but I felt that a lot of the tracks on it didn't do some of the 2005 winter tour the disc was made from the justice it needed (the subjective thoughts of a 15 year old). The previous live release 'As/Is' compiling the best performances of the 2004 summer tour was (and probably still is) my favourite official Mayer release. The Trio tour was when I first discovered etree.org and audience taped shows. I managed to collect all of them and was inspired by the slight disappointment of not having all the performances I wanted in the one place (on 'Try!') to make my own.

The artwork was made from one really high-res promotional shot I found online. Embarrassed to look at the front cover now and my awful choice of font. The back cover remains not as embarrassing...

Download The Blues Mix here.

Summer 2006:
2006-04-06 Hotel Café - West Hollywood, CA (Secret Show!)

Not really a story behind this one except for someone asked for some cover art on the MSM (mystupdmouth) forum. This was a "secret" intimate show in a 140 person-capacity venue previewing "Continuum" material. John Mayer was publicly billed as "Bill Buchanan." The show has a brilliant atmosphere and credit to the taper who not only managed to get to the venue with equipment at such short notice, also made a really clear recording. I'd definitely change things on the cover if I were to make it again today, but it does the job well enough.

Download the show here.

Winter 2006
Webster Hall DVD


This was a really great piece to do. Byran Opfer (again from MSM) takes charge of capping a lot of TV performances and shows, and made a request for some DVD cover and menu artwork for the DVD of this show. I was excited about this piece because as I made it I knew anyone who downloaded the DVD would see my artwork. At the time my photoshop skills were limited and my obvious use of some filters can be seen in the menus still. I pushed myself to do something I wasn't familiar with though, and despite some visible errors I think the composition of the cover still holds today.

This is harder to find these days. The score1more4me.com bittorrent tracker occassionally has it but it's rarely seeded (got uploaders).

AOL Music Session 2006
This was a web performance done for AOL Music Sessions, promoting Continuum. I capped the audio from the online stream and put some artwork on it. At the time JM had tonsilitis he got from Jessica Simpson...apparrant in some places...classic.

You can download the AOL Session here. NOTE: The acoustic first half is in fact the 2003 AOL music session that Mayer did when 'Heavier Things' came out.

Stripped: Raw & Real

Another internet promotional performance (considerably better than the AOL Session above). The artwork was rushed and I personally don't like it anymore apart from the colour scheme. This recently got uploaded onto a Bittorrent tracker which I thought was cool due to it still being traded around places. What was great was that the filesizes didn't match my originals, meaning it had been burnt and rerippd from CDs who knows how many times...

You can download Stripped here.

There's Something About Sheryl

Another best of compilation accompanying the co-headlining tour with Sheryl Crow when 'Continuum' first came out. I had trouble on the Blues Mix getting permission to use recordings from certain tapers (which I still haven't got despite its obvious release online) so stuck with one taper who had been to most of the first leg of the tour (Debbie Ocoboc...though I later discovered that Vultures was taped by 'Geneva).

The mixes were edited in Acoustica mixcraft. All the shows were traded in lossless flac which I encoded into 192kbps mp3 to listen to. When I re-edited the tracks with fades in and out I essentially transcoded the track and it lost more quality. Not the finest hour of audio encoding. As all the tapes were from the same taper, and my experience with the software was basic I didn't change any of the sound levels on the tracks. It's a varied listening experience.

The back cover is basic and quite poor, but the front cover I still really like. I spent a while making sure I was using all the right fonts that matched the 'There's Something About Mary' poster.

You can download There's Something about Sheryl here.

Summer 2008
Channel Hopper

What I thought would be another two disc compilation mix became a much greater undertaking though a really good way to pass the Summer by. Out of about 35 shows, 32 were taped and the number of different songs played totaled at 45. I always insist on having one of every song in my mixes so I dug my own grave deciding to keep the same on this release. The final product came to five discs and every track was mastered from the original lossless into the highest quality mp3 (no transcoding this time!). It's easily the best JM release I've made and the time that went into it really paid off. The people who download them are always really appreciative which is a nice drive.

I was lucky to get a really nice high res photo online taken by a fan at one of the shows (got permission to use it never fear) which I used accross all of the artwork I made. The set is simply and is nice and consistent.

You can download Channel Hopper here.

Winter 2008
2008-12-06, John Mayer On His Own - 2nd Annual Holiday Revue, Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

This was a really last minute release to go with the 2nd Annual Holiday Revue show JM did this year. There was talk on the MSM boards about making a recording from the live stream and I thought I would make my own as a backup in case others had errors or encoded it at low bitrates. Live streams i've found always need the exact same birate as broadcast otherwise you're losing quality from an already low bitrate source (it varies). Mayer came on stage at 5am (UK Time) and then played a 2 hour show. I made the artwork whilst the support act was playing and I was poised over the 'record' button. There's a few different copies of this floating around but I hope people eventually find their way to mine...though I'm biased in saying mine's the best.

The cover art was inspired by one of the t-shirt designs that had been put up on the John Mayer blog. I found the same logo and a t-shirt label and things went from there.

The show can be downloaded here. (my copy ^_^)


That's everything to date, apologies for length. If you want high resolution cover art (as the versions in this post have been lowered in size/quality for web upload purposes) just leave a request in the comments and i'll get it to you when I get a chance.

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