Recording the vocal for my new single 'CobaltBlueLight' was a unique experience. Chris (engineer) used 2 mics - one with valve to get warm sound, and another kind to get clean sound. I was slightly nervous as I never sang with 2 mics before, but then I had a pop shield so I couldn't see them (as you can see above!). Then I sang with all I had - like this was my only and last chance. I repeated that 3 times, then we picked the best bits amongst the 3 tracks.
My plectrums – actually a classical guitar model, so these wear down very quickly on electric guitar strings. Hello Kitty bag was a present.
I didn't say 'cobalt' quite correctly and thought about re-recording the bits, but in the end we decided to keep it as it is. It just sounded good and right in terms of emotions and feelings, plus, it adds 'personality' - you know, only someone like me can do that :). Well, if Chris was singing the tune on his way home, our decision couldn't have been too wrong?
With this song I wanted to do something new - I wanted to create a unique, atmospheric sound with doing minimum things and without using lots of effects. There were more guitars when I first wrote it but I removed them one by one over the months. In the end I decided to do complete different things from what I'd done in past. Overall there is lots of bass in the sound but despite that it sounds so ethereal. Very contradictory, and that is exactly what I wanted!
Only A Dream
The lead guitar of Only A Dream was an improvisation done in one go at home and luckily I was recording it. It was like a virtual jam with the bass, drums and rhythm guitars I'd already recorded in my home recorder.
I quite liked the improvisation so decided to use it. Really easy - all I had to do was practice it until I could repeat it, then go to the studio - how wrong. There is a certain riff I still can't repeat. Because it was done in such a casual, care free manner the timing was slightly, slightly out that I thought created a really nice, free feeling. But I just can't play it exactly the same.
My 10 track digital home recorder – I use this a lot for song writing and practice.
For some reason I used the tremolo arm a lot – I just grabbed it in the beginning to sustain the sound, then for some reason I kept holding it and started bending the notes whenever I felt like it. This is the song I wrote after about 4 years' break – like I'd been sleeping and suddenly got up and went, 'OK, I write some songs now!'
Sebastian doesn't exist. It was chosen because the pronunciation fitted the lyrical melody. - Well actually he does. Part of this song is about a holiday and he was the guy at the travel agency who booked it. But that's as far as it goes. I'm now slightly embarrassed about the lyrics although there is nothing to be embarrassed about. So I've decided not to put up the lyrics and keep them a bit vague!
Sound wise, I think it's the best quality in a conservative way. While I think 'CobaltBlueLight ' has an almost 'hazy', surreal sound, Sebastian has the old school sound that's warm and clear ( I have to thank Eden Studios for this). I just wanted to write a simple guitar pop and make it sound like a simple guitar pop. I think the mega-powerful rhythm guitars almost drive the song. The power apparently comes from the strumming, and the sound from the amp, not from any sort of digital enhancement in computer - . It was so satisfying to leave a slice of energy like that.
Sometimes it can be a fight to have what you want in a studio even if you're producing it because it's a norm these days to add lots of digital enhancement to make it sound 'big, bright and punchy'. I mean, it's fine, but from my point of view, if every element in the song is made to sound big and punchy then it's not big and punchy anymore. Some engineers also want to make it sound too perfect, correcting every mistakes by computer software, erasing all the subtlety and personality of the performer. I think in this way your music can end up sounding like computer game music.
But then, I hear that's how most chart hits are produced, and computer game music sells too (I confess I once got hooked with Mario Kart), so of course - they're doing the right thing in that sense.
It does have a vocal - I did make a mastered track with a vocal too. May be I put it out next time. In fact I wrote this song so that I could have a rest in a recording studio. I mean, being a multi-instrumentalist you need a break! There are no hard strumming guitars or guitar solos with weird timing and stuff, and I did have a rest when I recorded it - even the vocals. May be that's why it has such a free, relaxed, almost languid feel to this song.