Recording Roller Coaster – A diary of recording a first album in solo
Mar 13th-16th: Drums tracking
Mar 17th-31th: Drums editing
Apr 3rd-8th: Bass tracking
Apr 8th-10th: Bass editing
Apr 11th- : Guitars tracking
Recording Roller Coaster #1: Joy.
2023, Mar 13th.
It’s the second time in a 8 months that I’m hitting the studio to record drums tracks. My first time ever was in August. Even before the end of the 5-day session, I knew I was hooked. Each day, I would wake up and think: today, I’m doing nothing but playing the drums, nothing but to make music. In the evening, the sound engineer and I would have dinner. Then we would watch some videos on Youtube about sound engineering, and listen to music, and talk even more about music. Music, sleep, repeat.
On the first day, there is joy in unpacking my acoustic drum kit in the studio. I don’t have much opportunities to play on it, because well, it’s a noisy instrument and I live in an appartment. I delight in the luxury of sitting each morning on my seat and have nothing to set up, not the heigth of the snare, not the cymbals , not the kick pedal. Just some fine tuning before the sound engineer hits on the rec button. Playing on the instrument that is mine – it’s not really a sense of property which I revel in, more a sense of comfort and everything’s clean and set where I decided I wanted to.
This week is the second time I’m recording in the studio. Stress, apprehension, fear, and anticipation enhance the feeling of excitement. And when a song has been tracked, when I have recorded what was planned for the day, I’m both relieved and – yeah – truly happy.
Recording Roller Coaster #2: Failure.
2023, Mar 14th.
Fear, fear, fear.
On Sunday, one day before the start of recording session, I felt it. The fear. As I am all alone in this project, I can’t project my anxiety on anything else. If I fail, there will be no one to put things in perspective. It will be me failing in front of myself.
Each time I record a new track, it is the same feeling: worry about making mistakes. Each time I listen to the session, this accentuates my tendency to see all in negative, the glass more than half empty: if one drop is missing, then it is not worth it.
Fact: I do not perfect takes.
Take 1: garbage, always.
Take 2: starting to get the feeling.
Take 3: better. Again.
Take 4: starting to get there. Again.
I’m getting a bit tired and a bit tense. It’s time for a break. Listen to what I’ve got.
I move to the control room.
Now is the time to focus and find all the flaws I can hear in the tracked song. I’m good at hearing the bad, bad stuff.
Yet, as I have to be practical, I need to be able to recognize for what’s good enough. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I shut the voice that keeps wondering if “good enough” is just an illusion that I thinkI’m hearing. Everyone else will see through right away.
Fortunately, comping is my friend, editing is my savior. For compensating my flaws and inability to do perfect takes.
Fear of failure is never far: it is what makes me worry I will not have enough time to record in the studio, even if I am early in the schedule. Oh you’ll see, for some reason, the very last song will be a nightmare to track.