Monday, March 5, 2012

Recording Days 9 & 10

It was a busy weekend as far as recording goes. I was in the studio all day Saturday (from about 2pm to 11:30pm) and back on Sunday for an additional 4 hours.

It's such a weird process, recording and really just songwriting and arranging. I start with these little ideas that somehow, eventually become full ideas with beginnings and middles and ends. Then I bring them to Shawn and he hears them and starts playing something on them that is the either a) exactly what I had in mind or b) so completely different yet always so completely better. I usually end up leaving those practice sessions feeling very inspired and excited about songs and writing and collaboration.

Then we get to the studio and you start to put these things down on their "permanent record" and I suddenly get filled with all sorts of doubt. I'm not rolling in dollar bills here and recording costs money and because of that, I know "perfection" is not exactly attainable. But I have to like it.

And I liked what I left with on Saturday. I had grand ideas for one of my new songs and had been saving it for the end because I wanted to make sure it was arranged correctly and that I could explain clearly what I wanted.  So I had created a really shoddy demo for Shawn to listen to so he could have an idea of what I wanted from him for his parts.

And he nailed it.

The track is ridiculous...in such a good way. It's very grand. Big. I'm really excited about it. And, even though it is one of the bigger songs on the album (and by big I mean lots of instruments, longer in length, louder, etc) we got through it fairly quickly and finished pretty much the entire instrumental with just a couple of little flourishes still to add. And we did this after working on two other songs earlier in the session.

It was a successful day.

Then came Sunday.

I planned to record some more vocals on Sunday and record them, I did.

But vocals are such a different beast.

I have no problems (anymore) standing in front of a room of people singing. I would rather do that than stand in front of people and just talk. I love to sing and I think I'm pretty okay at it.

But something happens when I stand in front of that recording microphone. On stage, fine. But recording vocals is so weird. I'm not playing my guitar along. I'm not singing to anyone or for anyone. I'm just trying to get the sound I want for the vocal while standing in a room all by myself. It's really more like acting and I am no actress. You have to get into character so you can convey the emotion you want the song to have...with no setting. I've read stories of people who set up the recording room a certain way or get drunk beforehand or even get naked before they sing. I used to think what the fuck...but now I totally get it. It's really hard to just pull that out of nowhere.

And then, even when I think I've nailed it...I go and listen to the playback and I'm like holy shit turn that off what the hell is that???

I have a hard time removing myself from the listening experience so I can just hear it as a listener and not as myself listening to...myself. No one likes to hear themselves. Like hearing your own voice on tape or a voicemail....it's like seeing a picture of yourself sometimes. You leave the house thinking you look fabulous, all night long you check the mirrors and you think, yeah, I look pretty good tonight. You have a fabulous time in all of your awesomeness and then the next day you wake up and check Facebook and your friends have posted photos of the evening and you look like total shit and it kind of taints the memory of the night. At least for me.

That's how I feel about recording vocals. I hear these really great instrumental tracks and I'm so tempted just to say "let's just leave them as is and put them out without me singing all over them". I'm always so worried that once I sing on them it will ruin them. I just want them to be good. I want them to make me want to shout in the streets "LOOK WHAT I DID!!!" and I feel that way about the instrumental parts...but the vocals...

That's not to say that I've disliked all of my vocals so far. I've done some good ones that I do really like. But yesterday...yesterday was just off and they need to be fixed. Soon.

So, I'm going to try to get back in there soon and fix them. Sooner rather than later. Which is extra studio time, which is extra money, which is frustrating.

And this is the part of the process where I start to get frustrated because we are so close! I'm so excited about these songs and we are so close to the point where I can share them with people, which I'm so excited to do...my patience starts to where thin because I want to get it done so bad so other people can hear it.

But I need to remember not to rush. Rushing isn't good for any of this.

It will take time and that is okay and I'm not on any real deadline...just my own personal one I've set for myself.

I need to stop doing that.

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