For the past few weeks and for the next several I’m recording an Irish rock band of brothers in the English countryside in a barn converted into a studio, Angelic Studios, with Ali Shaheed Muhammed from A Tribe Called Quest producing. It’s a great combination of influences and it’s been quite fun with the usual long hours and a lot of laughs. The first challenge for me was to switch gears. The day before I hoped on a flight to this side of the pond I was mixing a Spanish artist that mashed up traditional flamenco with drum loops, samples and horn sections. It was a big gear shift to go from mix engineer to recording engineer in a day, on a different continent, and vastly different styles. Having mixed and recorded both genres many times made the shift exponentially easier, but it’s a big change nonetheless. The focus of each is fairly different.
Recording and mixing are two half’s of the same brain. Mixing drains the creative side, and tracking the more technical side of my grey matter. My approach is to record with the final mix in mind. As the track takes shape, I try to hear the song finished while we’re still recording. I started the tracking session out by creating a template in pro tools to use at the start of recording each new song, complete with input and output assignments as well as group assignments. The group assignments are crucial when doing multiple takes, which we were doing. I set up a group of all of the tracks that constituted the live tracks (drums, bass and guitar) and when it came time for a new take, I simply created a new playlist (with the group activated) on one instrument and all of the other tracks in the group added a new one as well. The file management can get a bit out of control when working with many takes, so careful attention is a necessity at all times. Sessions also get a bit messy as you start to overdub, so I make sure that I keep plenty of notes doth in the comments window and by scribbling on a pad as we go.
I’ll detail the sessions and setup when I get back to NY. As always, it’s been yet another learning experience.