Last week in the studio is what I define as being on the grind. In a total of 4 hours given to me by my mentor to record vocals with my newly acquired performer, I woke up that Thursday morning with my game face on. Prior to our session, I met with my new friend Celeste a couple days during the week in which we rehearsed in depth. I made sure to warm her up thoroughly, reciting my days at choir using techniques such as scales, singing the words do, re, me, fa, sol, etc. Once I felt our warm up was complete we went straight into the mix. I listened intentively making sure that her pitch and timing were on point, that her cues were not missed, and above all I paid special attention to her energy. You see to me, a vocalist can hit everything right in their performance but if the energy lacks, it's as if the track falls flat on its face. I would rather have some body who sang flat on one or two notes in the song but possess such intense energy that the song becomes unreal, than to have someone who hits 100% perfect pitch but sounds like they're bored. It is partially because of this reasoning that I had to switch out vocalists for this particular track. Originally I had a male vocalist named Noly who had an incredible voice but lacked in commitment, drive, and necassary octave levels. His voice was bright but when came time for the chorus he struggled hitting specific pitches which in turn made him loose confidence in himself. This is something I have no time for. In an industry like this it is a necessity to trust yourself. This is what seperates the people who make it compared to the people who don't. If you have self-doubt, you tend to quit or put less effort into something as opposed to someone who will give their heart out because they truely believe in what they're doing. So I replaced Noly with Celeste. The difference between the two was huge. Where Noly lacked commitment, Celeste demonstrated devout devotion. She asked for no money in return for her time and unltimately just wanted to utilize the opportunity that was put in front of her. Upon recording in the studio there were some intial bumps. As soon as she set foot in front of the mic she became extremely nervous which in turn made her sing quite terribly. Her pitch was way off as well as her timing. I was stunned by this at first because the time we spent rehearsing I was confident that we had this down to the T. Immediately the producer in me had to develop a strategy. I had Patrick leave us so that she didn't feel intimidated by the big time producer watching her. I had my friend Sam work the computer as I watched her in detail to try and identify why she went from singing perfectly to singing like a 6th grader. As time went further her pitch got better but her timing was still off. I would repeatedly talk to her over the intercom, intially sounding calm and at peace to continually getting more and more aggravated as a means to try and motivate her. Then something dawned on me. The time we spent practicing outside of the studio I had been with her every step of the way. I had been right by her side conducting and because of this she had developed a comfortable situation which had now been stripped away from her. So I immediately solved the situation at hand. I went inside the booth, stood face to face with her and for the remainder of our 3 hour session I conducted in front of her staring into her soul. The session was a success! Not only did her pitch and timing become more accurate but the energy had been brought back. Sure she did not hit every single pitch correctly but it was close enough that a simple editing tool like melodyne will remedy the problem. On top of this we took so many takes that I have an abundance of samples to work with in which I'm sure I can get the pieces to fit together perfectly. It was a triumph for me. I felt like an accomplished producer. Almost like the great Napolean I came into battle and when things went south, I became the grand strategist. Creating a solution that could not be challenged. I am burning with anticipation to return to the studio and edit what was created last Thurday.
Nigel Dean — Poway Recording Connection
More Blog Entries from Nigel Dean
These passed few weeks have been insane! First, I performed at my first music festival out at the La Jolla Indian Reservation... Read More >>
Yesterday in the studio I spent my time tracking guitar. This was a first time for me since the majority of my lessons have been spent on mixing, it was a nice break to finally learn how to track actual instruments... Read More >>