Thanks, everyone! I don't know how to properly express how much I appreciate your kind words — it really means a lot, sincerely.
mediocreplayer wrote:This is very well-produced. You did put quite some thought into the arrangement. Can you tell us more about the synths and the drums? I am recording myself now and so would like to hear as much detail about this tune (and your process and studio in general) as you are willing to write...
Thanks!! I can tell you from the start, I tend to work SLOWWWWWLLLLYYY
because I spend a lot of time fretting over little details. I'm not saying everything I decide on is a success, I'm saying that everything that goes into each song: the structure, the words, the tempo, the style, the arrangement, the recording process itself, and then ultimately the production is something I labor over. Sometimes I wonder if I overthink or over-render the songs, filling them with too much information, or if the words are too obtuse or too revealing, etc.
Really, it is as fulfilling as it is painful.
Anyway, to answer your questions, I used to try and record acoustic drums, but could never quite get them to sound good in my little project studio, which is just a converted bedroom (and a small one at that), so I began searching for ways to create drum tracks that still fit well for each song, either by sampling or finding loops. After a while, I started feeling like the process was too time consuming and either didn't fit the songs right (forcing me to change the feel of the song to match the loop), or it felt too restricted and robotic without it changing to fit different parts I heard in my head. A couple years ago I bought Abbey Road Drums ('60s) and started programming them. They were...okay. I kind of struggled to make them sound natural or real. Earlier this year I upgraded to Logic Pro X (from Pro 9) and discovered its Drummer plugin, which is pretty damn brilliant. It may not be exactly
like having a live drummer, but it's by far the best option I've ever tried. This song was one of my first attempts at using it, and I'm quite pleased with the results. It definitely takes some getting used to, and it's a bit limited as far as different styles are concerned, but at its base I think they've got something really powerful for people like me, who work alone and late at night.
As far as the synths are concerned, I wish I had a studio full of vintage analog synths, but you know, $$$$. So I've bought a few plugins that are pretty decent, namely M-Tron Pro, Oddity2, TAL U-No-LX-V2 (Juno 6 plugin), as well as a Vox and Farfisa pair of plugins by Martinic that are really great. Like most synths, it takes some fooling around with the knobs to get away from the cheesy presets, but well worth it if you want sounds that are interesting and fairly authentic.
I've got a mid-70s Rhodes and a piano, along with a few guitars (JM, Tele, Martin, ES125, Dano12, and a Hofner Club bass). I record everything with a single mic, if you can believe it, a late-90s Røde NT2, with a Warm Audio Tone Beast TB12 preamp going into a late-90s Joe Meek VC1Q (which I only use for its optical compressor). I almost always record electric guitars through my Deluxe Reverb, and I always record the bass straight in. I have no mixing board, just the outboard gear I listed above straight into my audio interface. It's really a very humble setup, but its simplicity does help in speeding things up as I'm recording.
Mixing is such an art form. I still feel like a beginner but I've picked up a few tricks along the way from lots of places, including here. Brad and a few other members have been very gracious in passing along invaluable advice when I asked for it, and it's gone a long way for my mixes, which I think are getting better. Even within the timeframe of this thread I can hear the improvements from song to song. I don't think I've nailed anything yet, but happy with my progress, generally speaking.
marqueemoon wrote:The whole thing reminds me of some of the songs on Beck's Sea Change (this is a good thing).
You have no idea how big a compliment that is for me.
Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.