Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bedroom producing

Slightly cramped...
I've recorded a whole lot of stuff in our townhouse guest bedroom (aka "the studio")- most of the Christmas album, some of the upcoming electronic album, and lots of other random stuff. I guess you could call our second bedroom my "man cave," although maybe it's not your typical cave... I've got some keyboards stacked up on one end, my dual-monitor computer setup against one wall, midi controllers and audio interfaces stacked on the desk...

Sara layin' it down
On the other end of the desk is my other workspace, where I make fishing lures and wooden stuff; my carving knives, coping saw, wood burning tool, nail polish (for fishing lures of course), sand paper, and a variety of pliers are strewn about everywhere. Sometimes the music stuff gets intertwined due to the limited space, so there are wood shavings in my midi controller keyboard, or saxophone reeds among my half-carved fishing lure bodies. I kind of like the combination- it's a physical version of my two main obsessions.

Last night my good friend Ed and my new friend Sara came over to record a demo- in the bedroom studio! This was actually the first time I'd recorded other people at home, and I think it went really well. The musicianship was at a very high level, which is of course the most important part of the whole process.

Ed played guitar and keys (my own Nord Electro 2, far enough away from the fishing gear that there's no danger of accidentally playing a chord and getting stuck in the hand with a treble hook); Sara sang. Somehow we managed to get all three of us in the tiny room at the same time. Ed plugged direct into the computer, but then I sent his signal to the bathroom a few feet down the hall, where I had my Fender Champ Amp (tube amp) miked with an SM57 and my favorite Røde NT1-A. The bathroom has a great sound! I haven't miked a lot of amps, but I spent some time positioning the two mics and am very happy with the sound. I put the 57 on the edge of the speaker, and it has a lot of thick and delicious low end; the NT1 was about a foot away, and provides some high end sparkle and some of the nice reflective sounds of the bathroom. Combined with the direct signal, I think it will turn out pretty swell.

Didn't sound poopy at all!
Ed and his many guitar chops
Sara sang into an AKG-414C (a $1000 mic which I incorrectly told them was a $4000 mic) - an amazing reference-quality mic - which was then routed directly into a $20 tube mic preamp. I suppose it's a little blasphemous to do such a thing, as the 414 is incredibly accurate and transparent-sounding; by running it into a crappy cheap preamp, to some extent I cancel out how nice a mic it is. That said, I really like how the combination sounds! When Sara gets louder, you can hear some tube distortion kick in, which I think is just what their demo calls for.

Due to the lack of space, Ed sat at the computer so he could reach the Nord keyboard, and I sat on my cajón at my wood carving station. Since I couldn't reach the computer without leaning over Ed, I set up my laptop with screen-sharing, so I could control the main computer from a foot away. It looked pretty fancy, all those glowing screens in the tiny room.

We recorded almost two and half hours of music, which once I whittle it down will be 4 songs for their demo. I've been given explicit permission to "to do my thing," so it's very likely there will be some remixes (I'm thinking a cumbia and a dub remix at least).

It was great to get some real musicians in the "studio" (remember, it's actually the second bedroom), and it was a great time tracking them. I've got a lot of Christmas-related stuff to do today, so I may not get down to mixing until after Christmas... But I can't wait to dive in and get to work on this fantastic demo.

It was really great to be the engineer/producer; it's really a different thing than recording my own stuff. I really enjoyed tracking, and can't wait to fully produce their stuff. I'd like to do more of recording other people's stuff, although I might need to figure out a better way to fit more people in the "studio..."

Even Walter got in on the action

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