First recording session

Finally got in touch with Andrew last Tuesday, who texted me to say that he and Matthew were starting to record the tracks the next day… “Hang on a minute…” I thought, “…where do I fit into all this?” Turns out they were planning to do the session without me. Anyway, I promptly texted back to voice my desire to be included in the process, after all, these are my songs, and I want to be involved in the sessions. So it was then re-scheduled for Friday morning. I have to say that I’m used to having complete creative control, and “letting go” is very difficult.

Once I arrived on the Friday morning, it was revealed that some of their ‘artists’ don’t actually get involved in the recording side of things at all, they just turn up and sing, and let Matthew and Andrew sort out the rest. Now I’m not that kind of person at all: I’m a very ‘hands-on’ guy, and especially since to date I have recorded all my own instrumentation. Still, I have asked for them to tell me when they are next scheduling in sessions, and to invite me along.

So – We started with the track I had sent across to Matthew: Watching the Rain. He has put all of the audio tracks I’ve exported into Cubase, and roughly mixed them. Then he had Andrew, with his steel strung acoustic, playing layered guitar over my backing track.

First impressions: I must say, Andrew’s style of playing is more than a little different to mine. I just got the impression that he felt restricted with me being there, listening to him playing along to my DI (direct input) guitar. It sounded a little awkward with Andrew trying to emulate my style of finger-picking. At one point Matthew asked me to record my guitar part again over the top of Andrew’s parts using his steel guitar, but he faded this low into the mix, so I’m not sure if he really wanted to use this, but perhaps it was an attempt to include me in on the session. I really felt that they just wanted to record all of the session themselves, and I was in the way.

Anyway, with several layers guitar parts recorded, strummed, some flourishes added, a few other textured guitar playing, mostly double-tracked, and with time running out (I think they’d only scheduled in and hour and a half, and this was running to two hours), Andrew started to play cajon over the guitar, quite a vigorous pattern of playing that, to me, didn’t suit the ‘feel’ of the piece. All the time in the session I found myself saying “Keep this gentle… Keep this simple…” as it’s a gentle song. Again I feel they have other ideas for this. 

Anyway, to save us clashing here, I have concluded that I will let them run with this one. How else am I going to find out what they’re capable of? At the end of the day though, I’m here to learn the processes, and to pick up the recording and mixing side of things for myself. The recordings then are a bonus. I guess if I want to record my music in my own way, then I can still do this at home.

Further to this session, Andrew has asked me if I want to work on my live performance. My task for this week is to come up with some covers that I might want to play at an ‘open mic’ night… I told them that my last stage performance (some 30 years ago) was pretty disastrous, and this put me off performance. I said I wanted to work on building some confidence first.

Neither Matthew nor Andrew are very much about prompting students to book sessions, I’m starting to learn that it’s very much you having to chase them, rather than the other way around… 

Addendum to this entry is that I’ve contacted Andrew and now booked a couple of lessons, to work on stage performance coaching, and I have an open mic to visit and watch next Monday evening… I guess it pays to not be afraid to chase people up!