Well it’s happening. I’m back in my playground. Walking on air. Living in a dream. ( maybe walking on a dream?- another favorite song of 2013)
I started recording some songs from Song in Your Box. And even some songs NOT from song in your box that you’ve never heard before. Yeah I’m sorry- I’ve been keeping secrets. I have some songs that are new that I didn’t post. Mostly because they aren’t finished so that’s a good excuse, right? But they’re going to get finished now!
And I LOVE being in the studio. It’s the place where songs come alive! Where the songs I wrote in my room on the floor with a guitar find their place in the world of sounds. Where the acorn of an idea grows into the oak before my eyes (or ears to be more exact).
Its so exciting because there are literally one million directions any song can go. Yesterday I recorded a song I heard as a rock song but we put a drum and bass beat to it and now it sounds like an electro-POp song. And it’s so much fun!
So for you musicians out there who are embarking on the recording process I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned along the way. Tips that some of my dear musician friends have bestowed upon me throughout the years and some I’ve come up with on my own.
1. Do your research- when choosing a producer or someone to work with, meet with at least 5 producers to see who fits best. Remember you’re hiring them! A couple times I just went with the first person I met with and while it turned out great, in retrospect I wish I had interviewed a few more people to be sure. This time I did a lot more research so I could compare how I vibed with each person.
2. Do as much pre-production as you possibly can
This has probably been the most useful advice I’ve ever gotten. Not only does it save on costs ( those studio hours can really add up) but it also helps you have an idea of how you want your songs to sound.
Do you want a full band sound? A trumpet solo? Do you want to make a pop record? Country album?
AND it’s really good practice for recording to a click track so when you do get in the studio, you don’t have to do 100 takes.
If you’re someone who doesn’t play an instrument, then here’s the time when you get your brother, friend, neighbor to come over and help lay down the tracks.
Don’t have anyone like that? Hire it out! I’m sure there are people out there who would lay down the guitar or help you set up a program to do it yourself for cheaper than the price of a studio. You can even use garage band- nothing fancy. The idea is to play around. Sing some background vocals. Bust out the kazoo. The more you prepare the better the studio experience will be. There’s no such thing as doing it wrong. Have fun!
3. Do MORE research
The last month or so I’ve been listening to a shit ton of music. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be new music. But I’ve been listening with different ears. Paying attention to the sounds- to the snare sound I like- to whether it’s syncopated, to what the background melodies are doing.
Listen to your favorite Songs. What is it you like about them? Is it fully produced with a big sound like Florence and the Machine or is it more raw like Regina Spector? Make a list. Bring it to your producer/ production team.
4. Trust your gut!
I hate this one. Cuz sometimes I don’t know if it’s my gut or if I’m just hungry:) but honestly it’s your best bet in making the final decision. I met with some people and I left saying ” they were cool but I want to meet with some more people”.
I thought “I want guys that are a bit older and experienced.”
And then I met with the two guys I’m working with, and we started listening to music and getting amped about it, and I could’ve stayed and hung out with them listening to music all day! And guess what? they’re 20 something guys from Scotland. But I just knew I wanted to work with them. It felt right. I left the meeting walking on air.
5. Be open.
So after you do all your pre production and have an idea of how you want your songs to sound throw it all out the window.!
Well, to an extent. Remember that being in the studio is just another form of creation and you’re collaborating with these people. That’s how I think about it anyways. And you hired them because you respect their opinion and their point of view.
Doesn’t mean you have to do things you don’t want to but it just means be open to trying their suggestions. I wouldn’t have thought strings would sound right on the song we started yesterday. But we put them in, and they’re the best part!
I remember in some of my first recordings there were things that really bothered me but I didn’t speak up. And still when I hear those things, I cringe.
So I’ve learned my lesson. You still have the final say but be willing to try things before you veto.
So what about you? Do you have any useful tips for people about to go into the studio? Please share here and help a sister Out! I’d love to get this conversation rolling.
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All my studio recording love,