I have a totally new respect for any artist in the recording studio after this recent experience. Its a lot of hard work but also a truly inspirational time working with such superb musicians and seeing songs develop from literally a few notes in a moleskin diary to a fully structured completed song.
There are many moving parts to consider in these situations all of which determine the final outcome of the session. In many ways its quite a cathartic experience to have these tracks finally recorded after hours of practice. Some songs evolve over a period of time, which others remain fundamentally the same as when they were first in demo form. One of the joys of recording is that although we may have plans and aims, ultimately none of us know exactly how things are going to turn out. The role of the producer is also crucial in these situations as they are looking and listening to everything from an entirely different position.
There is also the need to make creative and practical calls with time restrictions and when band members can only make certain recording slots. The major lesson for me is that with The Small Change Diaries we need key members for two consecutive days to maintain continuity in maintaining a natural momentum. This is very similar in my experience to writing. When the person or group is in the best flow state, that’s the time to get work done. Yes its possible to add and amend existing tracks but in my experience its best to record batches of songs in specific periods of time.
It’s also important to prepare for the unexpected. Yesterday I laid down some ukulele solos which were originally going to be guitar solos. Carl the producer strongly advised this, so we by day two had seven excellent first mixes. The alternative would have been to have lots of half-finished tracks. Its quite a challenge to work on the fly in this way, but everyone seemed very pleased with the results and we maintained “the feel” that is crucial in these tracks.
Later this week I will meet up with Jessica Bowie to start work on the next batch of songs. We have another fourteen currently from which to choose and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how these new tracks develop. The plan is to have some of these first seven recordings available on “Bandcamp” by the end of this year if all goes to plan!