Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Recording Process.

Just got a great blog from Gary, he asked me about my recording process, something only artists ask each other. I for one, find it fascinating, how different artists go about getting the best sound they can.

I recorded my first songs onto a tape recorder. Then got a second hand Fostex 4 track, things broke on it, but i managed to keep it working. When i stayed in Rachels attic, we recorded on it, there were no buttons to press record, so i would stick my little finger in the hole.
But for a time now, i've been recording on a quarter inch tape, Tascam reel to reel 8 track. Not only have i got this for its unique velvety sound, but also the fact that its a machine and not computer, something that i just have to press once, and clonk, its recording.

Although i'm no technaphobe, i use a loop based computer program called Acid to compose drum tracks, i write these by first finding possible loops from 'Loop CDs'. The only trouble can be the amount of loops you listen to before finding the one that works, the more you listen, the less you hear. But, i don't always use a drum track, sometimes a metranone will do, or more often than not, i'll just record the song without exterior timing, this achieves a more personal, emotive recording.
I record my guitar through two 'Drawmer compressors', for stereo guitar, which i pan each side on the mixer.
The mics are 'SM 58'.
I record my vocal through a 'Focusrite compressor' and a 'Shure Beta A87' vocal mic with pop sheild,and everything then goes through a midiverb unit or effects unit, i usually have my midiverb set very low for a dryer sound. Then i have a CD burner to copy from the 8 track, 'voila la demo'.
If i do use a drum loop, i often record the drums from the computer and the stereo guitar and vocal at the same time. Then as i record, i can see where i am in the song on the computer screen. I then listen to it a thousand times, and start maybe adding some keyboard,strings,bass with a 'Roland VK 7'.
Then listen another thousand times, which reminds me, my headphones are 'AKG', and i love'em.

But recording in the London studio, with my producer 'Simon Townsend',things are slowed down, and we go for a great relaxed performance, whereas in my little demo studio at home, i just want to record the song, primarily to remember the music because i can't read music. So i keep'em in my head.

Writing and recording my music gives me a sense of purpose,also the affirmations in the songs i write help me on a day to day basis, i feel very lucky to be where i am, but i've always made sure i'd be nowhere else. whatever that bloody means?

Hope you enjoyed this blog, let me know?


Blogger Michael said...

Hi Mike,
I have a boss 1600 digital with cosm effects. I havent used all its potential because it is hard to figure out. Sometimes I wish I stayed with the simple boss I had. I cant program the drums, so I just pick out a rythme and go from there, no breaks just play. It burns cds though which is nice. But the friggin manual is 300 pages long full of programming and computer stuff. It is fun though after recording listening to the finished product. To me its better than an hour on the couch with a theropist...michael :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Mike how can I get the vocals to stand out more for some reason it sounds muffled. Im using a condesor mic. Maybe if you go and listen to Drowned on my Blog you can tell...michael

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

Wow, I have no idea what any of you are talking about. I can relate with the sticking the finger in the hole thing, I used to do the same thing in 1986 with my little tape recorder when my friends would spend the night. My record button popped off one day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger zombieH said...


Saw you on the first Who TV gig, and really liked your singing and playing. Remind me, in a distant way, of some of Nick Drake's work. You gotta come out to Los Angeles and play the clubs. best, zH.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Did you have your music site on tuesday? I didnt see it.. I wish I did I cant use realmadia from work so Ill do it from home and download to dosc...michael :) By the way look at my Blog (Sunday) Its from an arguement, actually from my wife yelling at me while I was listening to Quadrophenia

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

Torture is fucking incredible!!!

You guys blow me away.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

You know, sometimes it's really cool when you notice little things like I noticed today.

There you and Rachel were, thousands of miles away, bullshitting, smoking, having a great time...just like so many of us have done with our friends here in the USA. Same sense of humor, but with different slang. Same interests, same language, different accent.

I just notice weird things like that.

You guys ROCK!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Bri said...

Mikey, Today was fun! You really have a good voice, ya know, "Tourist" sounded great. I loved Rachel's "12 Lies" and would like to hear it again.

Contest question was hard, but wow, those prizes are irresistible, so I guessed.

Hope to see you again soon. Say hi to Rene from me, please!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Kenny said...

Do you ever use a plectrum ?


Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Kara said...

Hi Mikey, I enjoyed the show today and your songs. Do you have anything out availible for purchase in the US? I'm not much for downloading songs (don't have an i pod) Guess I'm old fashioned,just got used to CD's. I miss record albums :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Gary said...

Wow, thank you for answering my question so completely Mikey. One thing I do for song sketches is keep a little handheld microrecorder handy. I have one in the car, and one on my desk in my studio, if something pops into my head I can capture it and build on it until I setup the PC to record.

Drums were the most frustrating part of getting a demo done initially for me. I found some really awesome sounding accoustic drum sounds using MIDI, but it would take me hours plugging in all of the beats, even using Pro Tools, so the investment in a drum machine has helped. Like you, I listen to the 400 or so sampled beats, and have to really listen closely before I find the one that works.

The song I'm doing for my wife may end up having a simple metronome, it's a bit like Blackbird by Lennon/McCartney.

It's a shame we live so far away, I bet you and Rachel would be really fun to jam with. I really enjoy the webcasts.

All the best to you mate.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Mark T said...

I may make myself look extremely thick with this question but have you released any of your music CDs? Found the info on how you record interesting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Michael said...

Great show today Mikey!! Do you know witha digital recorder can you record backwards. Anyone?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Seychelle said...

You have a great "sound". Is there any chance you could make your music clips available as MP3 or WMA files (for Mac)?

Thursday, September 29, 2005  
Blogger The Boy Who Heard Music said...

Mikey, you forgot to tell everyone who designed, assembled and built your home studio rig. It took me a week. You wear it well of course. Pete Townshend

Sunday, October 02, 2005  
Blogger musicmikey said...

I'm so sorry Pete, I have always remembered that you completely arranged all of this for me. Although I didn't write it in the blog because I didn't want to be a name dropper, I am massively proud and grateful that you helped me so much, thankyou very much. mikey

Sunday, October 02, 2005  
Blogger Bonfire Jones said...

Cool blog here! I agree about tape machines being quick & easy not to mention smoother sounding. I have a 4 track Tascam Porta Studio (the big one from 80's) & I can't get that sound with digital. I often do certain tracks on analog tape, transfer to digital format & build from there. On vocal I use a tube preamp w/condenser mic & pop screen with compression for air or if levels get hot. I'll be back!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005  
Blogger Delbut said...

Hi Mikey. First time blogging on your site for me although i have watched you on Who t.v. I like your stuff.

I have a small demo studio at home; a nice big shed at the bottom of the garden where i keep my drums and stuff. Interesting what you say about computer recording.

I use the computer with Cubase and fruity loops but i also recently bought a Tascam 8 track recorder, which for the realtively cheap price of £320 comes with enough effects for a numb-nuts like me.I find the vocals are not as up-front on the computer recording compared with the tascam. With this in mind i was thinking of getting a new mic.What do you think of a Rode?? I'm thinking he cheap end obviously! Compared to an SM58 how do the match up.

thanks a lot and good luck tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2005  

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