You may have got the impression from my previous blog, I’m a fan of live sound, no I’m devoted to live sound, I’m less a fan of the studio, virtual instruments, syncopated by beats. That’s not to say I haven’t created music this way, I have and I appreciate a lot of good music can be.
Unfortunately, we are living in times where music has become soo heavily compressed, and frequencies manipulated, that “natural sound” is questionable. I’m sure some frequencies interfere with your mental stability! I personally prefer live instrumentals with as little tampering as possible.
When I finish a recording session, I personally edit every one of those tracks, and days are spent listening, cutting, and pasting the best parts into one, but I try not to overdo it.
So, when Carlos suggested recording the album via a home studio setup and using virtual instruments, my heart skipped a beat! No matter the amount of convincing, I wasn’t convinced, and by the time I’d got a band together and we were in the full throes of rehearsal, Carlos declared how ecstatic he was, having missed playing with other musicians. I can be extremely persistent, I call this The Aviv Experience.
The band consisted of Bobby Lee on drums, Louis K-Loe Essuman on Piano, Daniel Mcintyre on bass, with Carlos on guitar. I knew Daniel from the music BTEC course, he’d played gigs at Paper-Dress Vintage with me showcasing other songs. I’d sung with Bobby and Louis before at Jazz After Dark. Daniel was the baby of the band at only 17. Rehearsals were adrenaline and laughs with Bobby’s nuttiness, Loui’s astronaut scattiness, Daniel’s cheeky nature, Carlos’ smooth operator chill, and my zany hyperactivity, we made for an eccentric lot.
Everyone was eager to be involved and considering the fact we’d worked together before meant we had chemistry playing. Just a few rehearsals at Mill Hill music complex and these badass players were soo good, we were soon ready to record. I remember that while recording with Steve, he was blown away by Bobby; “that drummer is brilliant, you have a great band”. I once watched Bobby sing and play drums, that is no easy task.
It was my mate Tony Cannam (“The Soul Naturals” ) who’d recommended me to Steve Honest, a proper old-school producer and sound engineer who set up and ran Hackney Road Studios. He only took on live recordings of music he liked. Being a proper old-school grafter, he’d won over 20 platinum awards for his work, yet still had a chip on his shoulder as he hadn’t done a degree, crazy!
I liked his approach and ethics. “A lot of bands come to me, and they don’t have a lot of money, so my interest is to record as much good quality sound in the budget they have’’.
His take on processed sound resonated most strongly with me: “I don’t like processed sound, or things that have been too heavily tempered, what makes a piece interesting, is the nuances and slight mistakes, take them all away, take away the beauty”.
Kerching, the penny had dropped, or should I say multiple pennies dropped as I experienced a momentary epiphany contemplating Steve’s words “I, yes, I feel the same”.
Recording with Steve at Hackney Road Studios was really exciting for us as a band, as he was as excited about recording as we were performing. Being an old chip off the block in the music world, he had interesting stories and a love of storytelling, I had to pinch myself to not get carried away when recording.
On the day of recording, Carlos arrived an hour late, miscalculating his long trip from North Greenwich, as did Louis, but despite this, when we started, the excitement and buzz of recording kicked us into action.
I had skilfully bought goodies for the day, chocolate chip cookies, doughnuts, herbal teas, pancakes, a succession of unhealthy tasty food. I wanted to keep the band sweet, as it was going to be a long day with 12 hours of lock-in.. and we even managed to go over that!
I recollect how Steve watched me in amusement as I laid out my food ammunition, and stuffed his vegan fridge full of these frivolities. I once watched Steve eat his vegan sandwich and it looked so good, that I was practically salivating.
Humour aside, and the wonders of honey drizzled over microwaved pancakes by Louis, food really was a necessary ingredient, as we were burning up a lot of energy with our multiple takes. In 12 hours we recorded 7 songs with over 8 takes of each, and with the additional vocal takes-my voice was hoarse from singing.
It still makes me laugh when I listen to the song “Infinity”, and I recollect the multiple takes. Look out at the song’s end you hear Bobby’s muffled “yeah it had more, more, salsa” Daniel quietly interjects “yeah, good but I want to do one more of this ”..… how fitting to the song’s title, argh!
If you’d like to hear the final results of these crazy and zany recording sessions, click here to listen to my EP, “Infinity”.
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