• Published 26th Oct 2017
  • 2,486 Views, 127 Comments

Adventures in The 6ix - Wiz Ahmad



After a malfunction with the Crystal Mirror during a demonstration, the Mane 6, Spike, Tempest, and Skystar get transported to another world - Toronto.

  • ...
16
 127
 2,486

PreviousChapters Next
Chapter 22: A Road Trip with Zack and The Breezy Studio

XAVIER POV

WESTLODGE SKATEPARK

PARKDALE, TORONTO

“Hello?”

“Sounds like you just won a trithalon by two inches, bro!” Zack chuckled heartily. “Hi Breezy. My mom’s coming in about five minutes, are you home?”

“We’re at WestLodge Skatepark. I think I can get home in about that time. If not, just wait and I’ll be there before you know it. Bye.”

“Who’s that?” Fluttershy inquired.

“Zack,” I replied, picking up my board. “Now let’s go, he’s gonna be here soon and we’ve gotta be waiting at home for him.”

This time, I dropped the board onto the road and skated all the way back, weaving around the large potholes and wide cracks that were ever present on Toronto’s old, unkempt streets.

“I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of cyclists around here during the times we’ve been in and out to the shop all week,” I began, carving around a corner onto Glenavon. “Well, Zack’s a bike fanatic, and he’s more than willing to invite you, Pinkie, and Skystar to join in on the fun. He rides BMX, which involves riding a different type of bike. It’s not my area of expert knowledge, so when he gets here I’ll pass the microphone to him, if you know what I mean.”

“I see that,” Twilight smirked. “What will you do in the meantime?”

“Spend some time at home with my mom,” I replied. “She’s out due to having to work overtime, but she’ll be back soon. I’m going to quickly buy a microphone so we can work together and try and create some songs together. My mom loves to play the piano, and also enjoys other cultural creative arts – sewing, beading, etc.”

“Do you think you could hold a stable future in music?” Twilight suggested, as the others headed inside, while Skystar and Pinkie stood by my side, patiently waiting.

I shrugged. “I dunno. It’s something I picked up fairly recently, so I don’t know too much about it. But I’ve grasped the basic concepts, which I studied hard in my free time. I’ll show you some of the beats I’ve made later. Any of you know music theory?”

“Ah remember Rara teaching me how to match tempo and chord patterns in summer camp,” Applejack added. “Helped me greatly to play the banjo and greatly improve her song ‘Equestria, The Land I Love’, which turned out to be her first hit single.”

I grinned. “Sounds impressive! Do you know the lyrics? Like, in the same tempo and pitch sequence?”

“Stuck with me since the first day we performed it together,” Applejack replied proudly.

“Great! We’ll can try and record some demos,” I declared joyfully, noticing a white Toyota Prius V rolling up. “Look, Zack’s arrived.”

“Hi Zack!” I said excitedly, running over to the side of the car. “Glad you could…”

I trailed off into silence and awe at his attire – black-and-pink bike shorts, rainbow-ringed knee high socks, and a longsleeved purple Adidas training top.

“Wha?” I murmured in bewilderment for a moment, before some weird memories clicked into place.

“Sorry,” I turned sheepishly to my pony friends. “I forgot to mention… Zack is… a bit of a femboy.”

“Huh? Come again?” Applejack asked.

“Darling, it’s like a tomboy, but the other way around,” Rarity explained, and my eyebrows shot up. I was surprised she knew about such a word but then again, when you’re a fashion designer and seamstress you meet people of all kinds – all weird, cool, and wonderful.

“Yo, Pinks and Skye!” Zack called out, gesturing to the car. “Let’s go shopping. I’ll explain on the way.”

Meanwhile, I was struggling with my overbearing smile that was threatening to turn into a mocking chuckle at Patricia’s (Zack’s mom) almost overbearing joy and fanatical love for Pinkie and Skystar, who were just starting to step into the back of the Prius. At her insistence, they sat back in the seats like a person would, and I showed them how to buckle their seat belts, as I had done with Tempest.

“Have fun you two, and Pinkie?”

“Yessssssss?”

“Follow what Patricia and Zack tell you, and stay disciplined. Okey?”

“Okey dokey loki!”

“That’s the Pinkie I know! Now head off on an adventure!”

Patricia put the Prius in gear and off they went, Twilight and all her friends waving, even Tempest.

“All right everypony, I’m going to get a quick bite to eat and then quickly buy a mic. Then we can get started.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Spike replied with a shrug.

We all headed inside and my friends settled down, while I set up my new computer – syncing my data, installing apps and plugins, and setting a nice desktop wallpaper of a lake. It was an iconic photo – one my mom took when we went camping together as a complete family – back when my dad was, well, my dad.

Before the tears could arrive, I quickly turned away and darted into the kitchen, where I filled up a glass with some cool water and plopped a stack of biscuits onto a small plate.

“Don’t you ever get tired in here?” Twilight asked, closing a book she’d just read. “Like, feel enclosed?”

I nodded. “Yeah, sometimes. That’s why majority of the time I’m out and about. Work is hard, but enjoyable at the same time.”

“Um, Breezy?” Fluttershy asked, and I could already hear the worry in her voice.

“Do you think… we’ll ever be able to return home?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. But for now, let’s try to enjoy ourselves with the free time we have. We’ve worked all week and it’s time for some fun. I will try to deduce a way to at least point us in the direction of a probable cause of your initial arrival, I promise.”

After chowing down on the last biscuit, I grabbed my skateboard, dashed up the steps, and out the door. My destination was the same place I’d bought my keyboard – Long & McQuade. Hopping onto the streetcar and slipping some coins into the slot, I sat back for a brief ride that I hoped would be very rewarding.

ZACK POV

THE OPEN ROAD

“Alright, let me break this down,” Zack began, pulling out a large sketchpad and pencil. It took quite a level of erasing and refinement, but after fifteen minutes, he was done.

“Here you go,” he said, reaching behind the front seat to hand them the completed sketch.

“Oooh, okay! So that’s the frame…” Pinkie began excitedly.

“And that’s the handlebars,” Skystar added, pointing.

Zack smiled as he watched them eagerly come to know of the different parts of a BMX bike. “Ready for the talk? I need to explain a few things.”

“We’re ready!” Pinkie and Skystar crowed excitedly.

“Okay, notice how the frame looks like a diamond that’s really stretched out? That’s how you know it’s a BMX frame.”

“Ooooh,” Pinkie awed.

“Yes. Now the handlebars are higher up and wide, so you can reach them easily and are easier to control and spin.”

“You can spin the bars?” Skystar squealed.

“Oh yes!” Zack replied with a little chuckle. “Provided the front wheel isn’t on the ground, that is. It’s called a barspin, obviously. Now onto the wheels. Notice how the rim – the metal part of the wheel – is thick and strong? And the rubber tires are thick? That’s to absorb the shock from landing hard after jumps. Notice how in the second smaller sketch the L-shaped bracket, with a flat black squar-ish piece attached to the end of it? That’s the crank, and the pedal. One of each on each side, as you can see in the sketch. The cranks are always at opposite ends. Your feet go on the pedals, and you push down and over in a circle to turn the main gear in the middle – see?”

“Yeah.”

“That turns the rear wheel and thus you move forwards. There are two types of rear wheels – freecoasters and cassettes. Freecoasters have a hub – the central part of the wheel – that causes a little slip before the wheel begins to actually turn, so although that makes it easy to go in reverse because you don’t have to actually pedal backwards, it take a little time before your pedaling actually engages. With cassettes, the hub is fixed, so you have to actually pedal backwards, but when going forwards, your pedaling engages the rear wheel immediately. Pedaling backwards out of a trick helps keep your balance, actually. The one big con is that your legs often can’t keep up as fast.”

“Interesting,” Skystar cooed, leaning in as if to hear more. So Zack kept talking.

“Now the brake uses a wire inside a thin tube that’s attached to the frame to pull small pads in a lever action so they press against the back wheel and thus slow the bike down. The wire can tangle during a barspin, so some cleverly thread it through the stem – which is the bracket that connects the handlebars to the frame and the front forks. The forks are what hold the front wheel in place.”

“Very intricate yet simple,” Pinkie noted. “You should’ve brought Twilight. She’d love to study this.”

Zack chuckled. “If I did, there wouldn’t be someone to manage your friends amongst themselves. Sure, there’s Breezy, but nopony knows your friends better than another pony who’s been with them from day one. Face it, Twilight’s kind of your… leader. She doesn’t always act that way, but when she does, it’s clear as the sky.”

Pinkie rested her chin on her hoof in a thinking pose. “You’re right.”

With Zack’s BMX presentation over, everyone sat back and enjoyed the ride through the upper communities of Toronto. The destination was Harvester Bike Shop – a place Zack knew well.

As usual, Pinkie sat close to the window, her face alive with awe and anticipation, gazing at the world speeding by.

XAVIER POV

LONG & MCQUADE

“So this will be a better one for vocals but will need a good stand to work properly?” I asked the saleslady.

“Yes, but it works better for vocals all around – which is what you want, right? Right?” she reiterated.

“Absolutely. So what’s the best stand?”

“Anything from Yorkville or K&M sound be fine.”

I end up choosing a Yorkville mic stand with a medium-length boom, a proper screw thread mounting tip, and heavy feet, so as to avoid unnecessary vibrations or jerky movements during recording sessions, to go with my NT2-A. Additionally, I purchased a separate XLR cable, as well as another pair of headphones, an extender cable, and a channel splitter. Total came to almost $750. Ouch. I just had to hope that I could come up with the next Toronto Billboard 100 hit, or at least something catchy and popular. I now had barely enough money to tip the balance if an extra was needed for the Forester – given that Maverick could find one, of course.

“Hey all, I’m back!” I announced, carrying the boxes down the stairs. “Let’s go do this.”

After a quick hand wash, I wasted no time unboxing the new toys. Twilight and Rainbow Dash set up the stand, while Applejack, Rarity, and I pulled out the microphone.

“Whoa, darling, that looks absolutely divine!”

“It sure is, Rarity – but it’s also very delicate. Can you slide it into the opening, here?” I asked, pointing to the shock mount.

Rarity, who was more precise and dexterous with her magic than Twilight, lifted up the mic and gently slid it into place.

“There, nice and snug. Now for the pop filter, which will help reduce the ‘punch’ of the harder parts of vocals. Like the letters B, P, D, and T.”

I gently screwed it onto the shock mount and adjusted it so it was at a reasonable distance from the microphone itself. Finally, Twilight screwed the mount onto the end of the stand’s boom pole and I plugged in the cable, configuring the microphone's little built-in switches to the right setting.

“Okey dokey, let’s get this show on the road,” I declared joyfully, powering up the MacBook and opening Logic Pro X. I opened up the audio hardware settings and added the mic.

“Let’s begin by recording a few short vocal sessions, just so I can figure out where your range is, and thus I can tweak the normalizing and compression levels a bit and save some presets. Who’s first?”

“I’ll go,” Fluttershy offered.

“Me too!” Rarity quickly raised her hoof.

“Ah’m not much of a singer, but I’d like to try anyways,” Applejack said sheepishly.

I smirked. “Alright. Fluttershy it is.”

Before starting, I played a quick track to test my speakers and ensure they were emitting sound equally. Turned out they were just fine, and it was great to hear them playing again.

“What about the neighbors?” Twilight suddenly asked.

“Many are out for the holidays, and upstairs is hardly home at all, so we should be fine,” I reassured her, before turning to Fluttershy and handing her a pair of headphones.

“These are so you can hear your own voice properly and adjust accordingly,” I explained, plugging it into the audio interface and quickly configuring it. “For this session, I won’t be using the speakers, so we will hear Fluttershy in the raw from the speakers, so to speak, while she hears her own voice. Then afterwards, I’ll figure out the best normalizing and compression settings. Rinse and repeat. Take it away, Flutters!”

Fluttershy slowly slid the headphones onto her ears and began to sing.

What is this place

Filled with so many wonders?

Casting its spell

That I am now under

Squirrels in the trees

And the cute little bunnies

Birds flying free

And bees with their honey

Hooooonneeeeeeey!

Oooh, what a magical place

And I owe it all to the Pegasus race

If I knew the ground had so much up its sleeve

I'd have come here sooner, and never leave

Yes, I love ev-er-ythiiiiing!”

Twilight and her friends were just gazing in pride and joy, given how they’ve heard her sing many times before, but my eyes lit up like saucers with flashlights in the middle. I never knew that Fluttershy could sing so well.

“That was… insanely good,” I breathed, still in awe as I tapped a button on the keyboard to end the recording. “Now, I need to tweak this to make it sound even better.”

I shut off the mic and headphone signals, then slipped on my own pair of headphones and plugged them in. Pulling up Compressor and Channel EQ, I got to work on tweaking Fluttershy’ vocals. It turned to be harder than I thought, given I’d only done this a few times with samples. But after watching a few tutorials going back and forth, I managed to produce a crisp, clear vocal track with only slight reverb, given how soft Fluttershy’s voice naturally was. However, smoothly increasing it with the “Hooooonneeeeeeey!” line made it sound really fluid, as if your ears were floating smoothly through a canyon before gradually coming back up.

“Looks like this is going to take some time, but it’s going to be a load of fun as well," I thought, turning to my friends with a smile.

Author's Note:

Sorry about the wildly long chapter name.

If you wonder what's Breezy's setup, check out beatmaker PatRyan's old setup on Instagram @_patryan. All that's different is the lack of speakers and the monitor (and the chair, of course!)

PreviousChapters Next