One of the important lessons I learned while recording with John “JR” Robinson (Producer) and Dave Hagen (1st Engineer) is the need to maintain momentum while working. Our entire team was on a roll as soon as we started recording on a Wednesday morning and we were able to continue that momentum through our five-day recording session: nine songs from start to finish.
Traditionally, recording seemed to always take a lot of time. There were many starts and stops and a lot of down time while something was adjusted. In retrospect, nothing killed our performance and the overall vibe faster than my former method of working.
Between JR’s method of having quick or no discussions between takes and Dave Hagen’s unprecedented speed and accuracy at doing everything, we recorded in what seemed like almost one continuous take.
- It was fun! While we were all technically working, it never seemed like work.
- We finished a half day early which allowed us even more time to experiment than we expected. This meant everything from changing the instrumentation on an entire song (Jealousy), adding more vocal layers, and tweaking everything to the point where Steve Sykes (Mix Engineer) will now be able to really focus on our overall mix and the cohesiveness of the album instead of spending time making small performance adjustments.
- We were able to get much better performances from everyone because we fed off of each other’s energy. Dave Ziozios’ performances (drums) led to better and faster performances by everyone including Mark Baldwin (guitars), Lauren Zoeller (vocals), Heather Parrish (vocals) and my own bass performances.
- Personally, I came away with a renewed enthusiasm for improving my songwriting, bass, keyboard, and guitar playing. Thank you to both JR and Dave Hagen for giving me a master’s class in performance including specific tips on what and how to be a better bass player.
What can you do to achieve the same thing in your own endeavours (artistic or otherwise)? Three things:
- People | Ensure that you have the right people. It’s taken me three iterations to recruit the right team. This is not to say that earlier versions were bad; we’ve worked with good people who have moved on to other exciting projects. This time, I really paid attention to finding people who had a complete understanding of our project and brought their own unique viewpoint to it. I also combined my usual focus on bringing together people who had differing viewpoints with a new-found focus on a shared foundational point-of-view.
- Preparation | Our team walked into the studio fully prepared to record. This took us three months (not including writing the actual songs). Everything from finding the right people and studio to creating music demos, rehearsing, and having charts written (thank you Boh Cooper!). And we learned areas in which we could further improve for our next recording.
- Atmosphere | We’ve been good with this area almost from the start. Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio and Robin Crow’s Dark Horse Recording Studio share several important similarities:
- A wonderful team of artists and business people.
- A building that was specifically designed to enhance artistic performance through architecture, setting, and technology.
- Destination venue. This meant that the team at the studio dealt with all the details so we could focus on art.
We’re all excited to share our music from our new album Love or Destiny which will be coming out early in 2017! Here are two behind-the-scenes videos from our sessions at the studio that show momentum in action.
Song | Tomorrow
Song | Jealousy
Videography by Andrew Rozario and Tom Libertiny
Edited by Tom Libertiny
First Engineer | Dave Hagen at Dark Horse Recording Studio
Second Engineers | Jim Taylor and Ali K-Reza at Dark Horse Recording Studio
Engineer | Erik Maluchnik at Tempermill Studios
Drum Technician | Larry Crowe
Chart Maker | Boh Cooper
Special thanks to Robin Crow, Kelly Robinson, Michelle Schreyer, Dave Hagen, Jim Taylor, Ali K-Reza, Larry Crowe, and Andrew Rozario for their support and good humor at Dark Horse Recording Studio!