July 30, 2013

New Space, Getting Started

Things are getting real! Here's what's been up and what's going down:

First of all, I just finished my online summer school stuff, so I finally have a substantial amount of time to dedicate to recording!
Second, Hailey and I--and our cat, Fizgig--moved into a new apartment this week. So, we've been busy with all the packing-moving-cleaning stuff, but I'll soon have my new recording space in working order and ready to roll. I'll be cleaning it up and doing sound tests between now and Friday, then I'll set up and start recording over the weekend.

We'll see how it goes. I'm planning to put up some blankets and carpet to catch noises coming from outside the apartment (namely the booming hip-hop bass lines and growling diesel engine noise from the neighbors next door), but I have a feeling some background noise is unavoidable. I'm okay with that, though. My new philosophy regarding music is that it's all about the performance--not the sound quality. Some muffled noise from the neighbors shouldn't spoil the performance if it's good. That being said, I feel there are fewer obstacles/deterrents to recording than there's been before. Which is exciting.

I'll be posting pictures and updates regarding my new space and setup within the next few days, so be sure to check back soon. I'm anxious to get recording so I can share some new sounds with you!

July 1, 2013

Performance and Recording at Home

It's been awhile since I've posted--and it's been a good long while since I've posted about recording. I have reasons. Let me explain.

Honestly, I've avoided the topic of recording (since late January) because things haven't been going exactly as planned. About the time I started this blog, I had the opportunity to use my school's student studio to record, but in the process of doing so I ran into a few problems and discovered some things about myself and my recording style.

While the student studio has lots of nice gear to offer, the workstation proved itself finicky, it was inconvenient to go to because of my work/school schedule, and it's a shared space (messy, disorganized, and the like). On top of that, while recording in the studio I found it really hard to get into the "groove" of things--my guitar work was poor, my vocals were weak, and as a result of that I ended up spending hours at a time just trying to record a single track. Simply: things weren't jiving for me.

So, I spent some time trying to revamp my approach to recording and discovered a simple yet profound truth about myself: I'm not an audio technician--I'm a performer. What I mean to say is that when I sit down to record a guitar track... and then a vocal track... and then a bass track--I'm not performing! At that point I'm just playing guitar or just singing, and the performance is lost--the "groove" or "magic" or "heart" (or whatever you want to call it) just isn't there.

Since coming to this realization, I've done a few test runs with live recording (guitar and vocals simultaneously) and the resulting sound is way more natural and genuine--and it doesn't take me hours to do! However, recording that way is a little tricky. To get the best mix, you want to isolate the sound of the guitar from the vocals and vice versa. They make special microphones that "listen" to only what's right in front of them, but I don't have the money for those. So, I did some research and developed a method using the microphones I've already got--and so far it sounds pretty damn good. Basically, it's a matter of mic positions and sound barriers. (I'll post a more detailed explanation of my process and setup another day.)

To wrap up: I've had a few setbacks, but I've gained a lot from working through them. I'm back to doing everything from home now; it's a basic, no-frills kind of a deal--but I'm digging the sound and I finally feel like I know what I'm doing.

Stay tuned! There's much more to come!