The History Of Smooth Generation
By: Marion Heath Moore
Many people over the years have asked me on countless occasions what “Smooth Generation” really is? Why do we (Terry Harkleroad and I) put out and/or release music for sale when we are not a band or even a couple of DJs on the road? What is the point of it all? What kind of music is “Smooth Generation” really supposed to be?
For me “Smooth Generation” was an evolution that came about around 1996 in Nashville, TN. I moved to Nashville in the summer of 1995 from Boston where I was attending college at Berklee College Of Music. In Nashville I attended Belmont University with a study focus on business, music business, and audio engineering.
During the first semester I found a small group of like minded friends (producers / engineers / songwriters / musicians) that years down the road would end up being life long friends and colleges. One of these people was a guy named Tim Parker. As Tim got to know me he found out that I was into the whole synth music world. (MIDI, computers, samplers, keyboards, and drum machines) Tim was roommates with a guy named Terry Harkleroad who was not attending Belmont. Tim kept telling me that I “had to meet his roommate.” Terry was also into the whole “electronic” music world, but in a very different way. His focus was on funk and straight up groove. At the time my focus was on pop, urban, techno, and electronic rock. Most everyone else I had come in contact with at Belmont had a focus on recording “live” musicians and had no use for the electronic / MIDI music world.
At that time I had a very simple “Demo” type of home studio setup. A Macintosh Performa computer (with very little hard drive space and RAM) running a “General MIDI” program called “Trax” and a Tascam Porta 7 four track analog tape recorder. I had all kinds of different synths, drum machines, and samplers that I had collected over the years, but did not have the money to buy the additional equipment needed to synch all these pieces together to make a “Real” project studio. Terry had an Ensoniq keyboard (the EPS-16 I think) and a four track analog tape recorder as well.
The way I was producing my tracks back then was by using my “General MIDI” program for the foundation of the track and then doing live overdubs with my Ensoniq KS-32 Keyboard and my arsenal of different guitars. Terry was recording his synths in stereo and then adding his vocals over top. I also had to employ the technique of “Bouncing” tracks so I could add all the parts I wanted on a song. (Bouncing is simply taking tracks one, two, and three and recording them together on track four. Then you would have three more tracks to work with. You lose control over the mix, but I had to do what I had to do)
When Terry and I first got together he played me some of his work and I played him some of mine. Our styles were “night and day.” I really did not think that we would ever end up working together. I needed a vocalist / songwriter and not someone else making tracks. As time went on I would hand Tim tracks I had completed to see if he was interested in working with them as a lyric and vocal melody writer. He would take the tracks home and would co-write the lyrics and vocal melody with Terry. Terry would then come over to my apartment and record the vocal parts. We just kept doing this time and time again and at some point in the game Terry and I started working together as a songwriter / producer team. We still worked with many different songwriters, but did a great deal of writing on our own.
Around the end of 1997 the world of digital recording was now coming into the price range of the “Common” man. I knew it was time to turn my “Demo” studio into a “Real” pre and post production studio. (Also I was feed up with having to book outside studios and dealing with the studio’s in-house engineers) I went to the local bank and got a small personal loan for $4,000. I then went right down to the local music store and paid in full for the missing items I needed to complete my home studio. Two weeks later I had in my hands a Mackie 1604 mixing console, a Tascam DA-38 digital multi-track recorder, an Opcode MIDI interface, upgrades for my Macintosh, and a Tascam DA-20 DAT two track recorder. (I also added the Mackie HR824 studio monitors and a Fostex CR-200 compact disc recorder to the mix around a year later.)
Now I could use all my keyboards, drum machines, samplers, and guitars together in clear digital sound (Alesis SR-16 drum machine, Alesis Nano Bass, Boss SP-202 phrase sampler, Boss Dr Groove drum machine, Roland 303 Groove Box, Ensoniq KS-32 digital keyboard, Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler, and all my guitars and effect processors)
The name “Smooth Generation” came about when Terry and I were working on a dance track that ended up being “Step Out On The Floor.” On verse one he was just improvising and that name came out. It just stuck in my mind and after a few more tracks we knew that was the name we were going to stick with.
We were working on all kind of projects, but the tracks that had a more global electronic sound I started to put aside. After a year or so of banging out track after track I went through around fifty songs and put together our first release “Drift Away.”
Shortly after getting the album mastered and ready for press everything took a major left turn. I had just completed college, but the digital impact of free music downloading from companies such as “Napster” was putting a tight rope around the record labels necks. In turn that affected all the businesses that worked with the labels. (Recording studios, Music stores, Publishing companies, etc) The publishing company I had worked at since first moving to Nashville was being merged with a bigger publishing company and most of the people I knew were being laid off and were moving out of Nashville.
Terry had to move back to his hometown of Kingsport, TN to look after his son and my intermediate family was moving from my hometown of Fort Mill, SC to Daytona Beach, FL. I really had no reason to stay in Nashville so I sold my condo and headed to the “Sunshine State.”
Once I was fully setup in Daytona I started to work on the promotion of “Drift Away” and doing production work for DJs. As time went on the businesses I was in with my family (Dry cleaners and Rental properties) started becoming more and more demanding. I lost contact with Terry and the music started to fall by the waste-side.
I worked on music every chance I got, but my focus shifted from mainstream and club tracks to working on all kinds of short instrumental tracks to pitch to music houses trying to land placements in film, TV, advertising, web, and game spots. With my long workweek (Around 70 hours) I could only work so much.
Around 2006 I got a laptop, a USB keyboard controller, and a copy of Reason 3.0. That was my “new” studio. (Since then I upgraded to version 4.0 of Reason and still love it to death!) Now I could take my studio anywhere I wanted. I sampled all the sounds from my old keyboards, drum machines, and samplers into Reason. I really had no more use for all that hardware I had collected over the years. (In 2008 I sold it all on ebay) Now I could sit on my laptop with headphones in my downtime at the business and work on music!
On March 2nd 2008 I sold my part of the businesses I had a stake in and took some time off. I wanted to get my web presence up and going with my music production business and get my name back out there.
I got a myspace setup for my production company “ALBM” productions and then decided to put one up for “Smooth Generation.” To my surprise Terry beat me to it. I e-mailed him and we started talking again after eight years of no contact. He was back in Nashville and was working on his movie screenplays, but wanted to get back to doing some music as well.
Terry liked the tracks I posted on the web and wanted to write some lyrics to them. He recorded vocals in Nashville and then sent them to me via the Internet. I then put them together and mixed the tracks. In no time at all we had an album ready to go.
Our second album was originally named “American Revolution” but later we changed it to “Revolution.” Our good friend Jason Bradford (Who did the editing, mastering, and CD layout for “Drift Away”) had an independent all digital distribution company that had a focus on independent music of all types. (Tone Box Digital Recordings = www.toneboxdigital.com) We sent the project to him and he loved it.
In June of 2009 “Revolution” was and is on every major online retailer. We made a decision to only release the album in a digital download format. Terry and I already have an album of remixes and b-sides ready to go and are working on getting funding for three screenplays in which the music of “Smooth Generation” will play a major part in two of them.
The future holds no limits!
Marion H Moore
Marion Heath Moore (ALBM Productions)
Born on February 10th 1976 in the small town of Rock Hill, SC it did not take the parents and family members of Marion Heath Moore long to realize that his life was going to be dedicated to music. He spent hours on end playing a stack of 45s over and over again. All the great Motown artists, disco, and rock were all in the mix. At the age of six he started studying the piano and a year later the guitar. Blessed by having the best teachers in the area they showed him the importance of studying classical and jazz, but also encouraging him to follow his true love of pop, rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, metal, and even techno. While in middle school Marion started to write his own original songs. His father soon noticed that he needed a way to record his ideas. A trip to a local pawnshop provided the basic tools needed to record demos. (A drum machine, keyboard, and a four-track tape recorder.) All his free time was spent composing song after song. After wearing out two four-track tape recorders and composing almost a hundred songs Marion’s high school band instructor entered him into a national songwriting competition for students. There was only one problem; he needed a “pro” sounding recording. His father called the biggest studio in the area (Reflection Sound Studios) and learned that two young college graduates from Berklee Collage Of Music had just opened a small Midi Recording studio called Studio B. (Audio engineer Dave Harris and film composer Mike Lawler) That first recording session changed his life forever. That was the moment when he knew that the recording studio was going to be his life. From 1991 to 1994 most of the money Marion made (A paper route and playing guitar and keyboards in local cover bands) went to booking time at the studio. The guys at Studio B started teaching him the basic fundamentals of Midi and audio engineering. They also told him that if he wanted recordings to be his career he had to go to college. In 1994 he packed his bags and headed up to Boston to attend Berklee Collage Of Music. After a year he then transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, TN. During his first semester at Belmont he got an internship at a small publishing company Patrick Joseph Music that quickly turned into a job. This provided him with the opportunity to work with some of Nashville’s most sought after A-list writers (Kim Carnes, Matraca Berg, Troy Verges, & Tim Mensy just to name a few) and to learn first hand how the music publishing industry really worked. While at PJM he started co-engineering and co-producing rock, metal, and blues bands and artist with producer / engineer Mark Ermlick. (Forty Thieves, John Mohead, Bill Miller, & Hollie Poole) In 1996 Marion also began to work with songwriter / producer / screenplay writer Terry Harkleroad and songwriter / producer Terry Bell on a host of different pop, country, urban, rock, and electronic music artist. (Smooth Generation, Sandy Madaris, Michelle Rentfro, Peter Penrose, & Paula Chavis) Also that same year he started his own production company ALBM Recordings. The focus was working one-on-one writing, arranging, programming, engineering, and producing solo artist. (Keith Urban, Todd Tabor, Vince Melamed, & Greg Barnhill) In 1999 Universal Music Group purchased Patrick Joseph Music. Marion decided it was time for a change and moved his production company to Daytona Beach, FL. His focus is now on working with independent artists / DJs, crafting beats for MCs, providing music for film/TV/games/advertising/web, and remixing. As a remixer his style has touched a wide array of artists. (Marcy Playground, Eminem, Britney Spears, The Crystal Method, Linkin Park, Peter Gabriel, Jason Moran, Snoop Dog, Underoath, Raheem DeVaughn, The Roots, John Legend, and Erykah Badu) In his own words, “The Future Holds No Limits.”
The Next Generation
“The Next Generation” is the side project of producer Marion Heath Moore. The focus is simple: one hundred percent club music. It’s music for DJs and the dance floor. The sound flows freely from House to Techno to Trance to Breaks to Acid to Old School Rave.
Byzant At Sunset
This is a side project from a friend of mine in the remixing world. “Byzant At Sunset” is an experimental rock-fusion project. On this release he got his (us) remixer friends to have a go remixing one of their tunes “No Reason”. My remix is number 5 on the EP and is a blend of techno, trance, and dubstep!
This is the second remix I did for Byzant At Sunset for the “Bang Ur Head” EP. My remix is number 12 and is straight up hard driving drum ‘n’ bass & jungle.