Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Recording Session

I recently spent a day in the studio recording two new tracks for Kristyna Myles debut album, due for release in September. The majority of the album has been ready for a while but it was decided that these two new songs were too good to leave off, so we rushed back into the studio to record them. It was great to be working with Ken Nelson again, the Grammy award winning producer responsible for Coldplay's first three albums, and Paolo Nutini amongst others.

The approach was slightly different this time in comparison with the original album session. The first time round we all played live in the same room (except the drums which were in the kitchen). There were a few overdubs afterwards but a lot of the recording was played live. As we had been performing those songs for a while we were all quite familiar with our parts. Ken made some great suggestions once in the studio, and as we took these onboard we moved from a live sound to a slightly more produced sound. A lot of the songs from this first session had been, in original demo form, acoustic versions of songs with just guitar and vocals, or just piano and vocals. As a band we were able to play around with the songs in rehearsals and through gigging to come up with our own arrangements and parts. 

The difference with these two new songs was that the demo versions had a full band sound built up already. Kristyna wrote both songs with Judie Tzuke and David Goodes. If a songwriter makes the demo of a song sound as close to the finished article as possible, then it can be easier for whoever's listening to grasp the song's full potential straight away. 

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So my  first task was to listen to the new songs and work out all the guitar parts. Sometimes if there are multiple guitar parts it can be hard to distinguish exactly what's going on. A good tip with this is to pan to the right speaker, where it's easier to hear one part in isolation, then pan to the left to hear the other. This also works well when working out how to play old funk records, which often have two guitar parts.

The day before the studio I restrung all my guitars and made sure my gear was in good working order. The session started at 11am. For the first song we worked on- You've Changed, I played the part as I had learnt from the demo, with slight alterations that felt more comfortable within my own style of playing. We spent an hour or two experimenting with different rhythms and ideas before deciding, after lunch, that the part I had been playing originally sounded better as it felt more natural. 

For the second song, Big Love, there were more guitar parts, and some of the parts on the demo had a very distinctive sound. For example, one part was played on a baritone guitar with a tremolo effect. Our challenge was to recreate these sounds and come up with something that was as good or better than the demo. It took a long time experimenting with different guitars and pedals but we came up with some great sounds in the end.

I left the studio at 9pm, fairly exhausted. All that concentrating can be quite tiring. It was a great day though; everytime I go into the studio I learn something new and pick up some valuable experience. Can't wait to hear the two new tunes when they are finished. 

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