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Monday, 30 November 2015

EP Recording Plan

I’m starting to flesh out an idea for my first original solo recording and I thought I would post the process as I go on this blog. I’ll be taking it from the very beginning with the songwriting stage, through pre production, recording, mixing, mastering and distribution.

This has been something that I’ve wanted to pursue for quite some time but I’ve haven’t had the time, commitment or confidence to pull it off. Now, as I’m looking to start performing solo, I figured it would be a perfect time to get my ass into gear and get a decent recording off the ground.

This blog is really just to give an overview of how I plan to tackle each of the tasks that go into the process. I think it’s good to have a basic plan in place so that you can check where you’re at in the scheme of things to make sure you don’t go too far off track


I’m planning on releasing an EP of just 5 tracks. I decided not to do an album, mostly because of the extra time that it will take, and also because I’m looking at having a similar instrumentation for each of these songs and will probably change the instrumentation on the next group of tracks.

My first task for the writing of this album is to get 20 songs written and then choose the best ones from there. I’m going to be trying to use similar techniques as I did for my 1 hour songwriting challenge that I made a few weeks ago. Check out that post here:

I’ve already got the 7 songs that I wrote for that challenge, so there’s only 13 more to go for that section of it. I’ll be uploading the rough drafts of the songs onto a SoundCloud playlist that you can check out here:

Once I’ve finished that section of the writing stage, I’m going to pick 10 tracks to continue with. With those tracks I’ll look more into the lyrics, melody, structure and chords and record slightly more polished demos. 

From there I’ll spend a bit of time listening to those tracks and pick the final 5 that will make it to the pre production phase. This is where things start to get a bit more fun.,

Pre production

This is where I’m going to be coming up with the arrangement of the tracks and really getting a vibe of how the track will sound at the end. Many of the parts that are recorded during this phase will most likely end up on the final recording, so I’m going to go quite in depth. The main thing though is that this will be done just from my bedroom.

First step will be picking reference tracks for each track. I’ve talked quite extensively in previous blogs about the importance of using reference tracks and how I feel that you should use them starting earlier in the production stage. This will take a bit of time as the sound of the reference track should represent a similar sound to what I want to end up with

During the preproduction phase, I will have all of the sounds down that I will want to have in the final mix. The difference will be that I’ll re-record many of the acoustic instruments and vocals in a studio with a nice sounding room and some top notch microphones.

It will be important to make sure the tempo is right, and all the parts are arranged and ready for the studio phase. This means it will take the most time and be the most integral part of the process.

For these tracks I’m going to be keeping a very acoustic instrumentation. Because I’m a guitarist/singer, acoustic guitar and vocals will be the main parts of each track. I also plan to use piano, bass, a stomp pad (instead of a kick drum), a floor tom, shakers and tambourines, and maybe some electric guitar. I’ll be adding string sections, organs and synth pads in the box to flesh out the sound.

Recording Studio

This is where I really get to have fun. I’m going to book out a day in the recording studio that I usually work out of. It’s been many many years since I got to sit on the other side of the glass, so this is going to be really fun for me. I’ve got a friend who’ll be taking on engineering duties with this one.

The place that I’ll be using is a great studio up north of Melbourne. It’s got a nice big live room with church-like ceiling and great views of the hills. It’s the sound of this live room that I’m most interested in. 

I’ll be using this studio to record all the acoustic guitars. There’s a nice big grand piano in the studio that I’ll use for all the piano parts. The studio also has some great microphones for recording vocals that I think will sound great on this recording.

Once those main parts are down, I’ll be looking at recording the floor tom parts as well as any percussion sections that are there too, pretty much anything that involves a microphone. However, because it’s only one day, if we don’t have time for those parts, I don’t have any problem recording them at home.

Mixing And Mastering

I’ll be taking care of all the mixing and mastering of this project at home, trying to keep the budget to a minimum. I plan on getting a lot of the sounds as I want them in the final mix, so hopefully there’s not too much to do in the mixing phase. 

Due to my using a top down approach to mixing (using processing on the mix bus to get the sound you want from your master), mastering shouldn’t need much more than a mastering limiter to bring the volume up to a commercial standard.

I will be creating my own artwork for the EP as I want this to be an all around creative adventure. I’m still not sure in what ways I’m going to distribute it yet, but it will definitely be available on iTunes and all that. I’ll hopefully also print some CDs as well.

So this is the start of my journey producing my first solo recording. Please subscribe to my blog if you want to follow my progress or see what else I have to say. Feel free to make comments, ask questions or tell me about your own creative adventures in the comments below.

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