Exit Strategy: Tracking Session One

February 18, 2014

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

The picture's not the wrong way around - it's your head. Pictures: Bruce Dennill

The picture’s not the wrong way around – it’s your head. Pictures: Bruce Dennill

 

Arriving at a studio to record your own original music is mostly incredibly exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking. Are you properly rehearsed? Will your voice last? Will the sound of a nearby electric gate opening and closing drive you to distraction? Time will tell.

 

Recording set-up for acoustic guitar in Paul Elliot's project studio.

Recording set-up for acoustic guitar in Paul Elliott’s project studio. Note: pedal-board far too complicated to be model’s own.

 

What helps is discovering that every possible bit of preparation has been completed before arrival. Essentially, all you’ll be asked to do is plug in and perform – your lead sheets are in front of you; your warmed-up, carefully calibrated mic cluster is nestled behind a pop screen; and an iPad linked to the main desk allows you to control the levels in your earphones.

 

The control booth. It's not a booth, but it's quite controlled.

The control booth. It’s not a booth, but it’s quite controlled.

 

You know those 10m-long mixing desks they use in those classic rock documentaries? Those are only in those classic rock documentaries. Reality looks more like this – a Mac and some bits and pieces.

 

Paul Elliot (@PaulElli8) tracking tricky picky bits.

Paul Elliott (@PaulElli8) tracking tricky picky bits.

 

What’s he grinning about? Concentrate, you smarmy so-and-so. And yes, ceiling board manufacturer, this is your opportunity to offer Paul a huge sponsorship.

 

The nest of microphones.

The nest of microphones.

 

It’s important than when you book into a studio and step up to sing, you act like you know exactly what you’re doing. When the engineer has set up two microphones – one that’s designed to pick up whatever’s directly in front of it and one arranged all sidey-wise to do peripheral stuff and things – it’s obviously absolutely necessary. So shut up and go with it.

 

Leadsheet for Whole. So now you can ply part of the intro. Off you go.

Leadsheet for Whole. So now you can play part of the intro. Off you go.

 

Whole is a song about realising that you – as in everyone; all of us – are pretty damn special and that anyone who thinks otherwise should get a punch in their pretty damn special face. Or something.

 

Paul Elliot having absolutely not deleted a track by accident.

Producer Paul Elliott having absolutely not deleted a track by accident.

 

Paul Elliott, like most engineer/producers, makes each track a different colour. Firstly, that makes it easier to tell one apart from the other, but also, it makes it look like you’re designing a flag for a country that hasn’t yet been discovered. Which is awesome.

 

A Portrait Of The Artist With Pick In Mouth, Cans On Head And Eyebrow Raised.

A Portrait Of The Artist With Pick In Mouth, Cans On Head And Eyebrow Raised.

 

That light above my head makes it look like I’m in an interrogation chamber. Mind you, I’m not actually looking at the light, so these guys aren’t terribly good at their job. Idiots.

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