We book recording sessions by the day, and on average recommend at least one day of recording time per song. For more complicated productions with many overdubs and experimentation, it can take longer, and for well prepared less complex productions it may take less time. However, allowing at least a day per song is a great rule of thumb as there is nothing worse than trying to stay creative under extreme time pressure.
Below are 2 different scenarios for our productions and the choices that are commonly involved during recording.
01: Bands with mostly live instrumentation
We love recording bands, and our live room has been carefully designed to have a great balance of acoustic ambience and control which gives us lots of options for recording drums and other acoustic instruments. A carefully planned out system of connections means we can also use other spaces in the building for recording - our main hallway is magic for backing vocals and a favourite for harp, while you could even record vocals in the bathroom if it took your fancy.
We often record songs with all band members playing at the same time in one room, guitar amps and drums blaring, with or without a metronome to keep time. This is extremely fun, but also requires the right preparation and right performances from the band members.
Given how loud a band can be, the vocals may often be replaced afterwards to put less pressure on the singer, or the vocalist may be isolated in the control room away from the rest of the band during live takes. We also have the option of sending guitar signals from the live room to other rooms in the studio, so the band members can play together in the same space but remain acoustically isolated in case we need to edit or redo parts.
On other occasions, tracks are built up with one or two instruments at a time. sometimes this will start with drums and bass, using a guide vocal or guitar, or often in the case of acoustic singer-songwriters, we may record all the vocals and guitar for a project first with minimal added instrumentation, and then gradually add in other instruments after, shaping them around the main performance rather than starting with a set band sound as a default.
02: Pop Production/Writing
We love working on pop music, and while some pop sessions can happen as described above, most take quite a different form and don’t involve a band playing live.
Many of our pop sessions are for artists who are primarily vocalists, so in studio Brian will typically play most of the instrumentation and or program drums/synths depending on the sounds the artist is going for. Often such sessions will start with us sitting down to refine a rough song idea the artist brings into studio. We will often begin jamming on the song with a single guitar or piano, refining the songs structure or developing lyrical ideas.
Some songs will need little or no tweaking before we start putting down instrumental parts, while on other occasions most or even all of the song is written in the studio.
Usually a guide vocal is recorded early on when the structure and lyrical ideas are fairly set in stone, with the final vocal takes usually happening towards the end of the process, giving the singer plenty of time to get used to any changes and really deliver the best performance they can. Often the initial writing and production will take place during one session, and another day will be set aside for finalising the music and working on the vocals. Working on music this way is incredibly fun and collaborative and is a great way to really zone in on the sound the artist wants.
Both approaches above sum up some of the most common recording scenarios we work on, however as previously stated there is loads of ways to approach recording, and its important tous that we find a way that suits the artist and gets the outcome they are looking for.