Last night I met with my sound engineer at the studio and made final revisions to the album. We then listened to every song in full, with his big impressive, glorious speakers, and I felt happy. Really happy. And I was dancing along (in my chair), because I personally think a few of my songs are damn catchy. There, I said it.
There are two things that we couldn’t change, but I honestly think I’m being over-picky and a perfectionist – these were “if this can be done, it’d be cool!” and I will be the only one to notice/miss it because, well, it’s my voice and my hands on the piano and my words coming out.
It still feels a bit unreal – I am someone who has listened to music almost constantly since my first day on this earth and I have been influenced by so many artists. I’ve always been fascinated by the art of putting an album together and listening to it as a whole but then appreciating songs in their individuality. I’m hoping some of my songs resonate with people, and if not, that they just love listening to them and singing along.
Recording is a fascinating and sometimes frustrating process. I’ve been a “session singer” since I was about 11, so I’m no stranger to a booth, but it is different when you are in charge, and it’s not someone else’s material or cover material.
Dave was with me on the first day, as was a photographer, Lisa, and I laid down piano and guide vocals for everything that day, in 5 hours. Sadly, by the time the next day rolled around to record with the band, the timings were just never going to be right. I had played to a click track, so that the other instruments could be layered over it, but that meant that everyone needed to keep to this rigid timing.
Rigid timing means that it sounds, well, rigid. Stiff. Unnatural.
So we went back to the beginning, and started again. Playing together as a band, like we had in rehearsals meant that it sounded more natural, the timings could move a little, and it had a really energetic feeling – momentum kept the flow going.
The drum kit took some time to sort. Andrea isn’t that familiar with electric kits, despite having one for the studio, and Keith was using this kit rather than his own, so needed to get used to it as well.
Recording on an electric kit is like recording on a midi keyboard; the drum kits are wired up to the PC, and ProTools matches each drum as you hit it to a specific sound in the software. So the kit itself needed to be physically adjusted, as well as adjusted on the software.
We eventually got it all sorted, and after a few hours we had at least 2 tracks laid down. Once the momentum was there, the rest went by pretty fast!
As my guitarist David is also my bassist, we recorded everything as piano/bass/drums/guide vocals first. I sang and played with the guys doing their bit as well. And then David whipped upstairs and did all of the guitar layers over the top in 50 minutes flat. He was late to meet his wife, and that meant a few pieces were rushed, but only one was cut in the end. So it came together!
It’s amazing to think that 7 songs were recorded so well in a single day. We are machines (and were very well-rehearsed!). 9 hours of recording is a tough day. That’s Keith (drums), Andrea (engineer), myself and David (drums/bass). I’m so thankful to them for all of their hard work.
The following weekend I headed up to the studio to record all of the vocals. We worked methodically through each song, recording the lead vocals, then listening to the take and re-recording if necessary, and then I’d head back up to lay down any backing vocals. I love backing vocals – I think they really add something to a song, but sometimes it’s hard to work out what works best where. I’m pretty pleased with what I have, though, especially on a song called Rise, which has layered backing vocals and has quite a “haunting” sort of feel to it. Other songs have “ah”s, echoes or harmonies.
The next few months all progress was over email – Andrea would send me mixes, I’d send back notes, and repeat. Last night’s revisions were minor, but I left feeling like I’d accomplished this enormous task. Well, mostly. I still have to pay him, get the mastering done, and get these photos taken – next week will be a flurry of activity. And I’m seriously over budget, but it’s being done right.
Soon you’ll have it if you’ve pre-ordered, or you’ll be able to order it! How fancy. I feel pretty special right now.
[All of the photos from recording are here – and yes, that’s the title given away…!]