Dilettante - Hatesongs

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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.

Pre Production

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.

1.Ugly Year

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!

3. Beg

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.

5. Shopfront

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

6. Hero

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!

7. Ironclad

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.

Frankie is amazing at making merch. Everything was handmade by her including this very high concept CD. The case has many layers allowing you to mix up the artwork. Very cool!

Listen to Hatesongs now - Spotify

Check out the live session done at the studio with Square One Sessions

The Project - Rehearse - Record - Rewind

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It was a pleasure to have Panos back in the studio. We had worked together over a year ago and I was delighted to hear from him just before Christmas. He is back with a new band - The Project - An Original Jazz Trio.

The plan was to record a live EP in one evening. Once everything was set we ran through the tunes and managed to get four tracks recorded. Getting a good live sound from the band in the room was key, once everyone was relaxed the performance started flowing.

Drummer Josh brought his kit to the studio. The kick and toms were nice and lively so I was very careful to preserve that in the mix. Panos on Bass insisted on recording his performance clean and add the effects later. This worked really well. In the mix session we plugged his pedal board into a send/return and were able to dial in the perfect amount of POG and Chorus.

The band are currently organising the Jazz Cube nights at Wharf Chambers. It is an excellent night of original and contemporary Jazz.

Check the band out on…

Bandcamp

Facebook

Dilettante - (Cry For Me) John

I met Frankie just over a year ago. Having heard about her previous band I was eager to work with her. Just before Xmas I was delighted to be emailed a few demos and we got to work right away.

(Cry For Me) John has a fantastic groove and amazing arrangement. Frankie is a multi instrumentalist and was able to provide all the Piano, Guitar and Saxophone parts. Things got a little crazy in the percussion stage when we decided to add the sounds of a radiator and tape measure… Listen out for those.

For tracking nearly everything was recorded through a Warm Audio Tone Beast Mic Pre running a little hot. This definitely set the tone for the record and didn’t require too much processing in the mix.

I look forward to working on more songs by Dilettante! Find the tune on Soundcloud.

Dilettante Facebook

Dilettante Twitter

Inca Tern - Sub EP

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A while back I had the pleasure of recording an EP for Inca Tern (formerly Standards) a two piece band from Leeds. Sean O plays does guitar and vocals, James H plays drums and some guitar.

I’m a big fan of two piece bands so this was a great opportunity to put to work some of the things I have learnt over the years about getting the most out of a primarily drums and guitar set up.

These two knew what they were doing so a lot of these tracks were recorded live using multiple guitar amps to get the best from the pedal Sean was using. Overdubs were mainly experimenting with multi tracking atmospheric loops. The third track “Strangers For Miles” saw us layering individual ‘micro loops’ to form the main guitar part. Mixing this was mainly automating these parts to build up the track. I was also very pleased with the lead tone Sean got out of his Mesa Boogie for the outro.

Sub EP is available on their Bandcamp

Inca Tern - Facebook

Treeboy & Arc - Midnight Mass

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First post on the blog... Let's go!

Today I'm going to talk about a track the was released recently by Leeds band Treeboy & Arc.  I was impressed when I saw them support Team Picture recently so jumped at the chance to record them when they got in touch.  

 

Tracking

We recorded the song in a blisteringly quick 7 hour day.  This was made easier by the band being very well rehearsed to get the parts done with little fuss.  Initially we tracked the drum kit and bass guitar together.  Luckily we have enough room in the studio to have guitars track a guide part with a fender DI box.  This put us in good stead for the overdubs which was equally as efficient.

Mixing

What really set this mix off on the right track was the Waves Scheps Omni Channel.  After a quick balancing prep mix using the omni on the group channels really does a lot of work.  It includes Pre Amp, EQ, De-esser (x2), Compressor, noise gate and an insert slot to put another plug in anywhere along the chain.  Mixing the order of these components lets you get creative with treating the sound.

Automating the volume of the instrument groups into a Waves J37 Tape Plugin really let the track move.  

 
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Looking forward to recording more with these guys.  Check out Midnight Mass on Spotify Now

Treeboy & Arc Facebook - Soundcloud - Instagram