This picture was taken while we were recording strings. We all look so weird, and it makes me laugh every time.
A year ago, we were in the process of recording my EP. I was in the studio for 99% of the recordings, and it was such an incredibly fun experience to watch and hear the thoughts and melodies that went from my head onto a piece of paper come to life in the studio!
Here are some things I gleaned from spending time in the studio. They are not rocket science, but for those of you who have never been there, it gives you a little idea. And for those of you who would like to do it, I hope it helps.
1. Feel the dynamics in the room
When you are in the studio with a bunch of people, it is good to keep a schedule and work with a plan, but also to be aware of what is happening with the people. I mean, we are all human beings with our own stuff going on and it is good to be sensitive to that. It is human decency, but it also just helps the performance.
2. Know when to stop
Studio work is pretty intense. You are very focused and you give your best. Sometimes you think you can still do better and push yourself too far. That doesn’t help anyone: not the people in the control room, not yourself, not the project. While I really like working hard and pushing myself to be better, sometimes it is just more helpful to chill out and take a break from the die-hard routine.
3. Know when to throw out the plan
So there you are with all the preparation and for some reason it is just not working out. Sometimes it is good to push and get it eventually. Other times it is better to take a step back and think: “Is this the best way?” Well, there were 2 songs on the EP where we changed small parts of the plan. And I’m so glad we did. On the final song on the EP, “I Come to You”, we gave one of the musicians complete carte blanche on one take because something just didn’t feel right. And man, it was just like everything changed! We were in the control room literally floored at amazing it was and how it just breathed the right feeling into the song. And when that happens, everything feels right and good and you thank those pheromones for doing a mighty fine job.
4. Come prepared
Studio time costs money. The better the preparation, the less time you need in the studio and the less expensive it becomes. While we did have the luxury of fine-tuning some things in the studio, it is definitely something I would tell anyone who considers recording.
5. The happy place
I have jokingly said that recording my own vocals in the studio was better than therapy, because it shows you in a short while how you treat yourself. When we started recording “Dance”, I had drunk 6L that day just to get my voice sorted. Sickness and fatigue and not enough rest are not good for your voice. And we all go: “Duh”. Anyway, it was 10 pm when we started, but it was such fun! When I nailed the bridge and I saw some really hilarious reactions in the control room, it was all worth it. Yes, goofiness galore.
Then there were a few times that I knew the technique, I felt the song, and it just didn’t sound right. I became frustrated with myself, which was completely counterproductive. Then it was great to have the guys there to point out that it might be a good idea to give myself some grace.
One of the most fun lessons I learnt was when I discovered that I could find a happy place for each song. I asked myself which memory or place would help me sing that song well. And those memories or places came. Then you go off into your happy place, close your eyes, put on those headphones and just sing. Oh, the joy…