If you’ve been following this series about creating and collaborating on a new song, you’ve noticed it’s been a few months since Session #1 at Indaba Music. In the studio, however, we’re coming to the end of Day One after receiving 15 wonderful bass tracks provided by Kai Eckhart. It was a challenge to say the least.
At this point, we’ve butchered and resampled live performance tracks, recorded to 2” tape, thrown it all back to digital in Logic, and are now laying the digital tracks back to 2” tape to record live drums and get ready for vocals. Valence Records Label founder, Gregory James, is sitting patiently as Brain (Bryan Mantia), Melissa Reese and myself collaborate on the song structure and prep for vocals and guitar.
The hard part is done in the song form. Melissa and Greg, who are writing the lyrics, have a chance to discuss lyric concepts with the foundation in place while Brain and I add some live drums.
Brain and I decide to slow down the tape to record a high hat part so that when the tape is played at normal speed, it will give the effect of a tight and intricate part. On the Otari MTR-90 at OTR Studios, we like to record at 15ips with Dolby SR. The nice thing about changing the tape speed vs slowing down digital tracks is that there are no associated artifacts that generally come with digital.
We use this technique to make slight adjustments for intonation, tempo and just doing something different. One thing for sure to write down is what new speed you’re recording at. In another segment I’ll discuss why, but trust me, you’ll want to know at some point what speed the tape was at someday.
We slow the speed of the analog machine from 15ips to 13.25ips. While the tempo changes, the pitch also goes down creating an incredible groove. The accordion starts to sound like a harmonica and the drums and bass are thick and deep. Looking around the control room with heads bopping, you have to ask yourself… is this perhaps where the song is going? You guessed it. There are devious smiles on everyone’s faces… yep, the song gets written in the new Low Slow Groove.
We’re done for the night. We make rough mixes and Melissa and Greg can sleep on the new groove with song concepts. On Day Two we add vocals, guitar and mix.
We’ve got both 44/1/24 bit files and mp3s this time. Again, we want to thank Gregory James and Valence Records for allowing us to create a new song for The Valence Project. Enjoy this new version and feel free to change the tempo again. That’s what we would do!
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!