During my time here in Baltimore, I have been working hard to clean up all the files in my album. I am planning on mixing in New York, and there is no reason to pay for edits, when I can do that work myself! This is probably the least exciting part of the project: adding fade ins/outs, splicing overdub takes, bouncing edited files, choosing versions of songs, picking a song order.
Though I have diligently taken my time with slow, detailed work, I believe it is now all finished! I am heading north to Maine for a week. While I am there, I am planning on exporting my final bounces, and then I will be ready to schedule some studio time in New York. Additional Maine projects include a tango writing project, reading, and photography. It will be excellent to return to Vacationland!
On June 10th, Sean, Miki, and I came together to begin an audacious project: record basic tracks and overdubs on 10 new compositions, over the course of 3 short days in the studio. We were all set up by 1pm, and then tracking began. Tuesday’s session had the additional pressure of being a short day with the full trio, necessitating a 5pm stop time. My plan was to work on overdubs in the evening. Of course, this also meant that we would be tackling the project’s most challenging music on the first day. Though this made for a long first day, I was confident in my playing throughout, and the band sounded great!
After a very long day of tracking, I was ready to turn in for the evening. I decided to not listen to anything that first day. I figured that my exhaustion would only cloud my judgement. In part 1, I talked about the benefits of recording at a destination studio. One of the chief ones is pictured below!
After a solid night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we were ready to hit the studio again in the morning. Despite our limited time on Tuesday, we were able to accomplish all the tracking I had hoped. We started Wednesday morning right on schedule. The trio was energized by the positive vibes so far, and we flew through the remaining five songs! We were playing well together and being highly responsive. We were even able to work through several technical difficulties in both the keyboard and bass set-ups efficiently. By 2pm, we were ready for a lunch break. Over our grinders from the local pizza shop, we listened to the recordings so far.
My perception of the sessions was pretty accurate. I was so pleased with how it was all coming out! While listening back, I noticed a few parts that we had missed, and a few that could be better. With just a couple more hours of work, we had all the basic tracks done! I recorded a few overdubs before dinner, and the project was reasonably “in the can.” In celebration, we enjoyed the rest of our Mexican food and a bottle of Scotch that Miki picked up earlier that day. Robert joined us for dinner, and we had an after-dinner hang to listen through the record. This was the first time we listened through all the tracks together!
Though Thursday was budgeted for more tracking, we didn’t need to use that time. Sean and Miki both hit the road by 10am. It was a job well done, and I am incredibly thankful to their contributions on this record. Mark and I spent another several hours doing some edits, and then bouncing the entire project down to WAV files, so that I can continue editing, and then mixing, over the summer.
I had the good fortune to return to Signature Sounds Studio to lay down basic tracks for my upcoming record release. Sean, Miki, and I camped out for two days of basic tracking. I am currently editing at home, and I hope to head into The Bunker Studio later this summer to mix with my good friend John Davis. This is the first of a pair of posts dedicated to the process of putting the record together.
We all arrived at the studio bright and early on a Tuesday morning. Unlike my previous recordings, this session was at a “destination” studio. Though this destination was only 3 1/2mi. from my country cottage, it was almost an hour from home for both Sean and Miki. With plenty of beds for everyone, a full kitchen, airy communal space, a great microphone collection, and a quiet & contemplative vibe, it was the perfect spot to delve into the project fully, without the regular distractions of daily life.
I have not previously had the luxury of working this way. If money was no object, I would always work like this! I didn’t feel “on the clock” the way I often do in a studio. I had done a lot of pre-production before the band even arrived—arranging melodies, planning overdubs & orchestrations. This certainly streamlined my decision making during the session. However, the fact that we were all staying at the studio also bolstered this feeling. If we wanted to take a coffee break, or to make a snack, or walk outside to clear our heads, we could! I knew that there were things I could do after dinner or during down time to keep the project moving forward.
The studio is on the site of the former Hocus Pocus Artist Colony in Pomfret, CT. The big, converted barn contains the energy of many years of creative projects. Robert, a musician and friend of the arts, has been living on the property off and on since the late 80’s. Currently, he owns the land and inhabits an apartment below the recording studio. In addition to maintaining an ambitious garden, one of his latest projects is raising chickens. When we were there, he was installing their new coup outside. I spent a lot of time observing these birds and wandering around the vegetable garden. Robert is an earnest soul. It was great talking, eating, and listening to mixes together.
Good food also featured prominently in our time at the studio. Each day started with a nice full breakfast of coffee and eggs, or oatmeal, or pancakes! Each day ended with burritos, and then hours of hanging on the back porch telling stories and enjoying scotch. When I turned in around 11, I was able to relax after an artistically productive day, while being excited for the day ahead. In part 2 of this series, I will dive into the recording process itself.