Don’t read the following if you don’t produce music - you’ll be bored, trust me!
The most interesting part about the recording process for this song was the way the form evolved. I’m talking about the AABA stuff - the way the various parts are arranged. Originally, it had an additional “verse” section, that was soon to be cut. Oh no!! Why?
I tried recording every instrument all the way through, because I had been reading a book by the Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerich, and I was inspired to simulate the “live tracking” technique. I was secretly hoping this would give my music a more organic feel instead of my usual chopped/looped and copy/pasted brand of electronic rock that I’ve gotten to accustomed to creating.
I was left with a near finished song after recording the last instrument. But every time the verse section happened, I was always slightly disappointed and bored. Originally, the “rock out” section didn’t happen until the very end of the 3 minute recording. And the lyrics “Drink this holy water…” were going to be the chorus of the song. I never opened up on the cymbals or the full kit until the last 30 seconds, because I wanted it to be a huge surprise explosion. But I liked listening to that part every time it happened, and I found myself fast forwarding through the verses to get to the ending!
As much as it pained me to start my usual chopping and pasting, I decided I had to be honest with myself about it - after all, if I find MYSELF fast-forwarding through my own song, then everyone else would probably do the same. So I chopped up the end section and pasted it after the first A section as a “chorus.” It immediately felt better, more structured, more rocking, and clearer. So I added it after the second verse and so on.
Finally, I got up the guts to cut out those verses that I had spent so much time writing. I just lifted it right out of the pro tools session. DELETE. It was so painful, but it needed to happen. I saved a backup of the session with the verse so it would be easier to come back to it if I needed to (though I never did). What was left was the A section (which was originally my chorus!!) followed by a chorus (which was originally the surprise explosion at the end).
The lesson I learned from this was about being honest with myself and not trying to achieve some false notion of an “ideal” - I desperately wanted to try “live tracking,” and I wanted the song to be “real.” I didn’t want to “cheat” with computers by chopping and pasting. I wanted to record the song as if I was using tape. Ultimately though, what originally felt STALE and INORGANIC was the live tracking session that I had finished. The chopping and pasting made it feel MORE ORGANIC, raw and real. I don’t know why that was the case, but it all comes down to using your ears and believing them, trusting them. It’s hard to be honest and true with yourself, especially about your own work that you’ve spent so much time crafting. And it’s easy to get into a mindset that you need more “professional technique” to make your recordings more “legitimate.”
This is all bullshit.
There is no such thing as legitimacy or fidelity or reality, only music that sounds good to you, and music that doesn’t sound good to you. Some of my favorite recordings of all time were made on garage band by Louis Cole with 15 dollar microphones that most engineers would scoff at. They would say something about how these mics didn’t have a flat enough frequency response because they were attempting to boost the high and low end of the spectrum to compensate for clarity and craftsmanship, in an effort to appease the public’s ear with that lovable “smile curve” on the EQ graph. Well, they’re wrong. At least to my taste, to my ear, to my liking, Louis’ music sounds better TO ME than most everything they’re ever made in their entire lives with all their fancy equipment and studios and $20k mic pre amps and such.
Skrillex made “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” on Ableton Live with a set of KRK Rockit 5s (which I’ve decided to call the “people’s speaker” because I’m sure it will be a famous monitor 50 years from now). Those monitors are $150 a piece. Oh, and he used a MacBook Pro. No analog gear, no frills, no fancy stuff. Just a hefty set of ears, some cheap speakers, and a lot of hard work and creative energy. ROCK ON, BROTHER.
FUCK money and fancy studios. FUCK pristine analog boards from the 60s. FUCK that thing that I need to buy to make better music. No excuses! We live in the greatest, easiest time to be creative in history. We have the tools we need. Now we just have to put in the time and be honest with ourselves.
79 Notes/ Hide
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