Hatesongs is a collection of eight tracks I have been working on for a while now with Dilettante. Frankie Pidgeon is an incredibly talented songwriter and musician who has been a pleasure to work with. The songs are a mix of Pop, Jazz and Musical Theatre. Together we have put in many hours to finish these and we are super proud of the finished album. I have decided to do a track by track description of what went into them.
Frankie is a prolific songwriter and it was definitely a big help that she is super capable of recording guide tracks at home. She doesn’t shy away from recording loads of instruments as a guide to where the tracks are heading. Best thing for us to do was export the stems into the studio computer so we know where to start.
This might be one of my favourites to record. The first half of the song is free time so all we had was a guide guitar track to work with. So many overdubs give this track a rich texture that reminds me of something out of an old film that you watch at your grandparents house on a Sunday afternoon, quietly epic. The strings were the last thing to be added to the mix. They came from Frankie’s friend Jed who came up with something really magical.
2. Cry for Me John
Already spoken a bit about this song in a previous post. This was one of the first tracks we started working on. I love the play between the drums and the raunchy piano riff. Jack (Drums) and Aaron (Bass) did a fine job!
Another tricky free time track. We recorded the free time verses and drum choruses separately and squeezed them together. One day at the studio there was a noisy crane outside the live room so we moved into a hall outside our units and recorded some percussion. Clicks, hand claps and a mug sounded great in this big open space so we also did all the BVs there too. I think there are about 16 tracks of vocals all weaving together at the end. Finally in a last minute idea I sent Frankie to shut a door to the kitchen at the end of the hall and it stayed in the track.
4. Broad Daylight
A last minute addition to the album that we recorded near the end of one of the last sessions. Frankie was keen for a nylon string guitar on lots of the tracks and I have secretly wanted one for ages. As well as placing microphones traditionally I also plugged it straight into my Fender Blues Jr on full reverb to give it some lo fi sound. Vocals and Guitar were recorded live together.
Perhaps the trickiest song to finish for the album. Frankie is excellent at coming up with little bits of ear candy and this has the most. We added bits at a time over the sessions and also had Adam from Caro send us some synth parts. I think we broke the studio record for most tracks on a single song (over 200!) Many things going on and because of this the song keeps on giving many listens later
Something I learned from my friend Neil at ATA Records is to record a drum kit with one microphone placed near the hi hat foot looking up at the snare. This song pretty much uses mostly that in the mix. It helps if it is a Ribbon mic running very hot through the desk for a punchy lo fi sound. An angry drum sound for an angry song!
This is my favourite of the singles. I love all the hi pass lo pass filters we used to make a lot of things sound like a radio speaker. Frankie had some great clips of radio shows we added. We had a great discovery in the middle section by recording the nylon string guitar through an old Digitech Expression Factory. I had totally forgotten about this pedal but layering up it’s Wah, Rotary and Univibe effects made a great texture. Frankie’s Bit commander pedal is the star of the show at the end on the lead guitar.
8. If I Was
This track was recorded in the early “(Cry for Me) John” sessions this was our first experiment in recording piano and vocals live at the same time. A lot of the extra sounds are bits Frankie brought over from her original demo. To be honest I’m not sure what most of them are… except the sound of Frankie banging a big metal shutter at the hall when we were outside recording the “Beg” percussion.
Mixing and Mastering
The tracks were slowly being tidied up between sessions. When we were approaching deadline day Frankie came over for a final session. We strapped ourselves to the beast and went through every track until we were happy with the mix. Such a great feeling to look at each other after a couple of hours on a track and say “Done, move on…” We met up the next day and listened with fresh ears through the mastering chain previous singles had gone through, made some notes, made the changes and had one last listen before a final bounce.