Amy Mantis


Recording Music from the Player's Perspective

January 17, 2013

I missed yesterday’s post because I rolled in at 3:30AM and went straight to bed.  I’ll do double today.

The reason I was out until 3:30 in the morning was because my band was in the studio alllll day recording some new(ish - they’ve been played live but not recorded or released really) songs.  They’ll be done soon.

I’ve been in my fair share of recording sessions since I was 19 (that doesn’t feel like that long ago), and I’ve learned a thing or two from them.  Every single one has been different, but they’ve all been valuable.

Here are some things I’ve learned from recording:

Recording music generally takes longer than you think it will.

That’s true for most aspects of life, but especially when it comes to recording.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “That was good - do it again.”  Even when you think you’ve played it perfectly, there’s a strong chance you will hear “that was good - do it again.”

Bring food.

Recording is exhausting.  And it’s exhausting in a completely different way than playing a show is.  I get very hungry when I record because it requires a ton of energy and focus.  Which brings me to another point…

Recording music is draining.

I can play guitar for hours on end and feel fine.  After recording, I’m practically dead.  See the reasons above.  It’s not natural, recording music.  Playing music is natural, but the process of recording (at least to me) is not.

Expect songs to change on the spot.

When it comes to songwriting, I tend to be shortsighted in that I care about three things: the music, the lyrics, and whether or not they go together.  That’s about it.  I don’t often hear other parts in my head like a lot of musicians do.  I’ve gotten a lot better at that the more I write but I still have a long way to go.  We use a producer when record - our friend Brian.  Brian’s really really good at this stuff and we did a fair amount of it during our session yesterday.  All of it was for the better.

At the end of the day, all that matters is how great the songs are.  I don’t care who did what to it - they can have the credit - as long as it’s great, I’m happy.

Be prepared.

Bring everything.  Cables, strings, pedals, batteries, chargers, everything.  Whether you’re recording in your garage or at the Village in Los Angeles, bring everything.  You never know what you will end up needing.

Take breaks.

People get tired, people get testy, people need fresh air.  Breaks are invaluable.

Speak your mind.

If you have an idea, let it out.  Sometimes things don’t come to you until, well, until they come to you.  The studio is a creative space.

Smile and breathe - it’s only music.  And things are fixable in the studio

That’s my life advice in general.  Going back to taking breaks, this helps too.

Unlike a show, once a mistake happens, there’s no going back.  In the studio, you can restart a song as many times as you need to to get it right.  Convenient, isn’t it?

Remember - this is fun.  That’s why we play music in the first place.

Remember to have a good time.  It can be easy to forget when you’re caught up in the moment.