It has been a while since I had a few moments to relax and write. But with the upcoming release of this EP I felt it was necessary to write this blog ASAP!
The making of this EP began with seeing them play in a local venue in Gouda. I saw their energy and potential so I wasted no time and talked to them after their show.
After a very enthusiastic introduction it became pretty clear we needed to work together!
After some debate we decided the EP would consist of 4 songs. Even though they had so many good songs ready to go we all felt we had to focus on 4 of the best and spend all hour time and energy to make them the best we could. Why record 10 songs if they will all sound unfinished right?
Rehearsal Sessions: transitions, transitions, transitions...
We met up in Leiden for two rehearsal sessions in total. Their songs already had all the right markers:
- catchy melodies
- great energy and dynamics
- good structures
It was up to me to bring them to a new and more finished level. What I usually do is let the band play the songs a few times and I will write whatever comes up first in my mind. Usually this gut feeling is something a listener will have the first time they will listen. I need to put myself into the minds of a new audience. What did feel right and what didn't?
The most common thing that bands don't do is go into details. The song has an intro, couple of verses, a bangin' chorus and a bridge! What else do you want man??
Well.. transitions. I mainly focus on maintaining the vibe of a song and make every part connect better. In the minds of a writer it makes sense, cause you wrote the damn song and in your mind all these choices make sense. But for a new listener this is not the case. The time they need to get adjusted to a new sound, new hook, new riff is way different to how you experience it as a writer and performer.
So we worked on making sure a new listener could follow everything right way and won't be put off by any changes in the songs.
Recording in a new fashion
We recorded the drums (Bob) first with some guiding tracks they made at home. This is always a great time saver + the artists are already used to playing to that sound. So this is highly recommended! Bob brought a custom made DW kit with more snares than we could ever need. As a producer this is the best possible beginning for sound...!!
We tracked the bass DI (also a Bob, from this moment on called Bebop)together with all the drums.
In order to keep our schedule I edited the drums and bass at home before recording the guitars. This is also highly recommended. I edited with slip editing, beat detective and elastic time. Say what you will about stretching audio.. for some cases it works like a charm!!
The guitars were very fun to do with Ezra. He seemed to have bought a whole guitar shop before coming in the studio. And was on his A game! We recorded all his parts and had time to spare to experiment that loads of extra guitar leads and sound effects. This really gave every song a way bigger and finished end result!
After the guitars we re-amped the bass guitar to fit in the brick wall of guitars and slamming drums. This is what I started doing with Reino and I was so happy with this way of working! The sound is easier to make because you're shaping the bass into the rest + it saves a lot of time when tracking everything separately..
Vocals.. to the nitty and gritty
After trying a couple of mics for Erol (the lead singer) we finally chose the Brauner Valvet X. Even though some dynamic parts were better with a SM7 we still felt the Brauner gave him a more natural and bigger sound that the SM7.
Linda (girlfriend of Bebop) came in and sang along on Insomnia. Which gave the whole song way more depth and meaning. Especially this song was important to Erol so we took as long as we needed for every word in that song. It really was worth every bit of energy we spend on it..
Backings were mostly done by Bebop and were close to all one takers..! Well done Bebop!
Playyard's EP was the first I mixed with Sonarworks Reference 4. The hype is real ladies and gentlemen.. I have since mixed more than 20 songs with it and I am never going back..
Even though it helped me straight away I was still struggling to get it just right in the beginning. My way of hearing and mixing was so used to my room I spend more time mixing than I usually did. But it was all worth it. Since then my mixes have had almost 0 comments from artists and the time I spend on mixing has been cut in half!
I will be back soon cause since Playyard I have produced and done SO MANY THINGS I can't really keep up with everything.. It might be time for an assistant or two...