Recording Diary: Day 7 – “Idiot Take”

Gee we were so much more PUMPED today than yesterday. I dunno what it was about yesterday. We got a lot done, but the vibe wasn’t as pumping as last week. Today we were back on track. We smashed it!


Dirty Harmonica: I kicked off with some harmonica parts for two bluesy tracks. That got us into the vibe today. Gee, maybe we did too many slow songs yesterday? My goodness the bullet microphone adds some serious attitude to the harmonica. It surprised me. Hahhaha. What fun. Some of the best takes are when I’m just relaxed, jamming, and just goin’ for it. Love a bitta harmonica. It’s one of my most enjoyable musical moments, imaging I’m on stage, diggin’ into the harmonica while the blues band goes off!


I busted out 6 tracks worth of vocals, and some with backing vocals today. Crazy. Gotta be careful not to wear the voice out. A different approach is needed here and there, though, and I’m happy to take instruction from Sean. Sometimes how I normal sing is fine for the song and the recording. But other times, what I’ve now realised, is that some things that I believe work live, like my emphasis on words, slowing down, and delivery of words, DON’T always work in a studio recording setting. In many cases where I PUSH the vocals out to create intensity at a live gig, it wasn’t necessary in a recording sense, as the music takes over in creating intensity. The quicker I learned what Sean was asking for in some vocal takes, the more I could apply it to others. As we get to know each other, the process becomes more streamlined 🙂


I love the sensitivity of the Neumann U87 mic. You can bring the voice right down to this intimate level. Some somehow less … is more.


I sang the end of “Pockets” through the bullet mic to create some dirty sort of telephone voice. Very befitting for the song. I love how weird stuff just comes up in the studio. One minute we’re doing “Roger that” impersonations through the bullet mic, the next came the idea that I should not only do dirty harmonica through the mic… but… the voice too. It’ll break up the rest of the voice on the album 🙂 add a bit of variety.


“Somebody to Love”:

I did an acoustic version of this song on my Little Treasures album. But it never really came out the way I dreamed it in my head. Now, working in the studio with Sean, the track has come to life. I love Sean’s approach. On a previous album, I attempted one of my rocky songs, and it came out NOTHING like I envisaged. It came out rather clinical, perfect, and perhaps plastic. But Sean’s approach to Somebody to Love is incredibly befitting. He wants it to sound like the three-piece rock band, jamming, goin’ off at a party. He wants it to be loose. It doesn’t matter about playing notes perfectly, or singing like Mariah. I got on the tele to record this rockin’ 12 bar blues, with a bit of distortion for edge. And today I added dirty harmonica. We didn’t edit out accidental feedback from the harmonica microphone. Somehow it makes you ears prick up when you hear it… and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I got into the vocals. Then there’s this thing called an “idiot take” (news to me) – a take where you just sing however/whatever, make noises, yell, laugh, let loose, be an idiot (hence the “idiot take”). At the end, we’d scrap anything we didn’t like. The weird thing was, Sean used the moments when I was “loosest”. He kept random bits of laughter, feedback, yelling, and my dramaticised approach to the last chorus. I love his approach. It’s created this rockin’ track that sounds like a band rockin’ out a party. All it’s missing is some “Huhhhh” noises from Barnsie. What fun. Tomorrow, a bunch of friends are comin’ in to sing “party” backing vocals. Loose and carefree. Let the fun begin!

Extra Guitars:

In between vocal takes, Sean did some extra guitar parts. He did some simple backing on the tele, and some atmospheric slide on the Gretsch. It’s funny, you’d think I could play the guitar parts. They were simple enough – not designed to be complicated, but more so as atmosphere and texture. But Sean played them better than I ever could. So soulfully and open minded. Sometimes you’ve just gotta give the song up, let it go, and give it over to someone else to add their creativity. He did an amazing job. Especially on the slide guitar. It’s like the guitar is telling another part of the story. My brain couldn’t come up with that stuff. Gee. I love the heart and soul he puts into it. He doesn’t rush through it. He plays on it, asks me for guidance, and re-takes it if he’s not happy with his performance. His foot taps away and his body gets into it, and I can feel him loving the music that we’re creating. And that’s the perfect kind of producer…. 🙂


The next few days will be about dressing up the songs. Adding some more colour to the picture 🙂