Recording Day

Sunday morning I got a car service to Soho, picked up Daniela and then made our way to the recording studio in Brooklyn. Traffic was light and we ended up arriving a good half hour early around 10.30am. Lane, the producer was already inside and he let us in to drop off our equipment before we headed to a local coffee shop for breakfast. It was a nice opportunity for Daniela to talk with Lane for the first time.

For the recording session I brought my Fender Jazz Bass American Special (Lady Starlight), My Martin DCME acoustic and my homemade Telecaster. The studio uses mainly vintage equipment in an effort to create a warm live sound and had all the instruments you could possibly need but I wanted to use my own on this particular day. Daniela brought her own sticks, brushes and symbols.

We spent most of the initial time setting up in the morning miking the drums. If you don’t get the drums sounding right nothing else will. The studio had a beautiful Ludvig Vintage Drum kit from the 1960’s which Daniela fell in love with. She said that it was one of the best recorded drum sounds she’d ever had and I have to agree, it sounded amazing. There was a skylight just above her which meant that the only piece of natural sunlight shone down directly upon her. I was not jealous, not at all.

Daniela and her drums steal the only sunlight.
My set up was a lot more simple. I sat in a corner of the studio by the door with a condenser mic for vocals and a stereo mic for the guitar. I had my music sheet holder and monitor to my left.  Everything would be recorded live. No over dubbed vocals or running the guitar through an amp. Everything live. We would be recording as we rehearsed, sitting across from each other so we could make eye contact if needed. After running through a song a few times and making minor adjustments we were recording in just under an hour after walking in the door.  
My setup
We started with This Other World which is also the main runner for E.P. title. It’s a song about luck, chance and creating the best out of unforeseen circumstances. It took me a while to relax so even though this is the easiest song to play we actually took many takes and two shots of whiskey before we got the take we were looking for. 
The second song we recorded was Wherever We Are. This is a love song. Nothing much else to say about it. This entire song grew from the lyric “Love is a stray dog that follows you home” that entered my head two years ago on the corner of Spring Street and Greenwich Street in the West village while daydreaming and manifested itself into an entire song. The rest was written at The Noguchi Museum in the coffee shop. With Daniela’s input at rehearsal the song finally settled in its current format.
Everywhere was third and one of my favorites. I have no recollection of writing it which is weird. I wrote it about fourteen years ago. I like this song as I have a false sense of not being responsible for it. Daniela brought amazing dynamics to it with her drumming and her enthusiasm in general put fresh energy in playing an old song like new again. Another fine example of being open minded when collaborating with someone. 
Infinite Sound Combinations
This Grenade Will Love You is a song that wrote itself very quickly. There is a lot of guitar work in it. I just put my guitar in D tuning and whack it out. It’s a song about addiction. We turned the air conditioning off during each recording but at this point of the day the heat wave was making its way into the studio. It got quite hot and after several takes experimenting with different drumming styles that didn’t quite work I got a little frustrated and suggested it remain a guitar and vocal song. Daniela disagreed and pushed for several more takes. She nailed it and when we listened back I was really impressed with what she had done. It may actually be my favorite now. We took a shot of whiskey and decided to go for lunch. Note to self – never think you’re right when you’re tired, hot and hungry.  
LUNCH! 
View from mixing room into studio.
After lunch we tried Goodbye Old Friend, this was not a particularly strong song but Daniela suggested we play it faster and that made all the difference. It’s a bit of a toe tapper now methinks. It has an Americana feel to it I like. I put some additional guitar on it later but it most likely won’t be used as it’s such a simple straight forward tune. It’s a basic song about losing a friendship.

Blue Skies (The End) followed next, I like this one although my voice was on its last legs as I sang it. Daniela worked with brushes which I think is her strong point. Overall no problems but I don’t feel I sang it as strong as I did on the demo which I recorded alone at a rehearsal studio after downing a bottle of wine. It’s not all glamorous in music folks!
Haunted House This song was written for another band I play bass in called Single White Band. It’s a classic rock cover band but we tried writing a few original songs for fun. It was a throw away song written purely for fun which it always is when we play it. Daniela wanted to try it for the E.P. It turned out very well although it’s so different in tone from the other songs it won’t end up on the final record. Perhaps we’ll put it out as a single or something later. It was fun to play it and a great tune to end the day recording on.  
Mixing desk and studio beyond 
After all the songs had been recorded we retired to the mixing room and I recorded all the bass lines. Daniela had to leave for the city by seven but I stayed behind and finished the additional electric guitar parts and helped down the remaining whiskey with Lane. We discussed the next step in the process which was me hiring Lane’s services as a keyboard player to work on some arrangements and piano parts. Over the next few weeks we will correspond via email resulting in a studio visit to tweak the final mix. Then we have a record.  Tah dah! 
Starting at 11am and finishing at 9pm resulted in ten hours of recording time that resulted in seven songs, six or perhaps five of which will end up on the E.P. Not a bad days work and a fun one too.
We put in a lot of work before hand and it made the day itself easy and fun. I think we got the best we could possibly get considering the time we had. It was also interesting to hear the songs recorded at a professional level as opposed to demos created in my apartment. Having an open mind and listening to and working on Daniela’s suggestions resulted in huge improvements on the songs. Lane was a great help in guiding us through the session with his infinite patience and knowledge and I would gladly recommend him and his studio to other musicians. 
In the meantime I am contacting an artist about the E.P. cover. We are huge Wes Anderson fans and were looking to design a cover in his style. Hopefully we will have everything complete in the next few weeks and then perhaps our first gig as Supersmall. 
Like all things creatively with me, even though the E.P. is not finished I am already working and writing songs for the next one. Hopefully that one will be even better. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s