Most of our songs are a result of improvising, and we try to keep the improvising character in the final version.
Usually, everything begins with Robin having some guitar riffs, recording some drums and a bass line, and I’ll try to find a melody that somehow fits to this raw structure. My first lyrics are always a strange mixture of existing words and something that sounds more or less like words, however, the most important thing is that it sounds good. We always record the first draft to catch some unexpected twists, lines and expressions, which is a lot of fun and after that we tend to think that the rest will be as easy as it has been never before.
The next step is the hard work: the fine structuring of the song, cutting melody parts in ProTools, then testing the final melody and lyrics, until we come up with a version that could work. Then we start recording, which is most of the time a disappointment, because the elaborated version always lacks the energy of the first improvised recording. This is followed by great frustration, normally a good fight, testing different microphones, buying some futile equipment, and various statements that can be summed up to “I’ll never do this again!” or “Why do I do this to me?” or “Why do you do this to me?”
After that, and the conclusion that whatever we do, we’ll be dead in 50 years anyway (quote from Music & Lyrics), we go on with the song. After another day of recording we change everything while improvising and declare the song as finished. Robin then does all the final arrangements and the mix, I usually complain about my voice sound, which drives him in a constant state of madness, and when we reach the point that both of us really do not care about the song anymore, we publish it on some web sites.
Once the song is online, we start to listen to it for the first time, which is always followed by several remixes and so on. In consideration of this devastating progress, it is a miracle that we have meanwhile finished nine songs (however, most of them will be re-recorded with a new microphone next week), and that we also produced our first own music video during Christmas in our living room with no budget and no professional help. Hope you like it!
Did you ever wonder, as a singer, why all the sounds and fine nuances you can clearly “hear” in your head never make it to the final recording?
If you do not know this frustrating feeling, good for you. But I had to live with this my whole life, until I came to the conclusion that my voice is somehow “complicated”, “cannot be recorded”, that I have to accept that I am a horrible singer that has no control over soft and powerful tones, sibilance, and that I’m simply unable to express what I really want to express. Before I finally quitted singing for several years, I had been recording in several studios, different equipment, different musical styles, different technicians, but no way, my voice never came out the way I wanted it to be.
This nightmare has finally come to an end. I still can’t believe it, and writing this makes me feel really nervous. This weekend, we recorded about 8 songs with the best microphone that ever came into our hands, and for the first time, every little tone that I produce is on the recording. I can’t believe it.
My new love is a Neumann U 87 Ai that we have rented over the weekend. It is not that I had never heard about Neumann microphones before, they are known for being excellent, but also extremely pricey, and they are so omnipresent in music studios that this could not be the right choice to create a signature sound.
Well, it is. I simply love it. For the first time ever, everything I want to express is on the recording. Nothing is missing, everything is there the way it should be. If someone now says that he or she does not like my voice, they had at least the chance to hear it the way it really sounds. That is such a relief.
I know I’m not a natural born soul talent like Aretha Franklin or Beyoncé Knowles, voices that would probably come out good even recorded with a Shure SM58 and a cheesy tape recorder. I like my voice, but I can also understand that not everybody is a fan of my style. However, I always thought that if it is possible to record rather mediocre singers like Madonna, Courtney Love, Deborah Harry, or Roisin Murphy, there must be a way to get my voice on tape in an acceptable manner. And there is.
Thank you Robin for convincing me trying out the Neumann, even if we cannot afford it. I know that song writing won’t be easier with this one, I know that equipment is no guarantee for success or at least being heard, I know that I’ll still have to struggle with my incapacitates when singing, but what the hell, at least the mic is on my side.
Recording again, what are Sundays for, anyway, this time a second version of an older song that we were not satisfied with. To Loose Her - the only song we had given two years ago to the Gula Studio in Sweden for mixing - is now Wildest Dream, and much much better.
After some improvising during one of the last sessions, the idea of complete new lyrics, instrumentation and arrangement came up. We were not happy with the Gula mix (fortunately they had a great service, pay only if you like their version), neither with our new re-recording, and the scratch version already sounded well.
So this Sunday, we recorded Wildest Dream, and it really sounds great, although my throat was hurting a bit at the beginning of the session. Sometimes, it is a good idea to go over old versions again. We have done this several times, for example with Beauty, Am I Worth it, and now with To Loose Her or Wildest Dream, and the new version is always better.
On the picture, you see a DIY approach to solve some room resonance issues that occurred, and hopefully some of the ugliest frequencies have been successfully extinguished.