What a few months it's been!

Not in a "look at all these countries we've visited!" kind of way though. More in a "oh goodness, an end product has been achieved! Look at that!" kinda way.

Yes, the title is a slight giveaway: the Albums are out! They're alive! My babies. You may have seen various phases of this painful birth on facebook, twitter, the PLEDGE page where I tried to get my money back through crowdfunding, for the acoustic foam I bought.

Quick catch-up so there's something resembling a transition between the last Ukrainian post and here: I flew home, Christmas was nice, then I recorded the albums, alternating phases of determination with phases of falling flat on my face. So, life, basically. But with solo Album-recording.

Here's a little breakdown of how it went.

Step 1. Location

Location, location, location! The Jort-Studio Balcony. And only window.

Location, location, location! The Jort-Studio Balcony. And only window.

 

Choosing a place to record your album is a bit like picking a house to raise your child. Where it's done will define the existence of the thing. How it grows up, what sound it has, if it behaves well and eat its spinach, and, if it has a nice relaxed feel to it when you stop, and attentively listen to it.

So, I thought, best do it in LA, America, Eldorado of producers and quality music engineers! I could hire a small orchestra and a brass band. Conduct them myself....

Then, I remembered reality. And keeping that in mind, I opted for a tiny village, in the Normandy countryside, where there was an old house I could use for the neat sum of nothing, nothing being here my renting budget.

Yes the village, was tiny, but there is a "boulangerie" there, where bread is sold from 10am to 2pm, and then from 4pm to 7pm, so that's something. Sometimes they have croissants too. Yeah, I know, right?

So we all headed to the Region of Calvados. No orchestra, no Brass Band, but me, my ukuleles, my guitars, a trumpet, a viola and lots of little percussiony thingies.

STEP 2. PREPARING THE STUDIO

Of course once you know where you next of kin/musical production will become and grow as a physical reality, you'll want to make the place as nice, or as okay-ish, as possible!

Enthusiasm, reporting for duty.

Enthusiasm, reporting for duty.

 

So a room was chosen. Without electricity or heating. Who knew that that would later turn out to be a problem in Winter/Spring, in Normandy?

Anyway, this is where cleaning comes into play. And here's how, from experience, I would suggest you do it:

First of all, you might want to take the big carpet out that hasn't been washed in decades, then try to hoover it, and notice it makes no difference. Then you might want to try and wash it with water and stain remover, only to notice you've bleached it and that it will never ever dry outside. Then confront reality, roll it up, and shove next to the pile of wood in the garden and never use that carpet again, which would have been great for sound-excess absorption. Whatever that means.

Genius.

Genius.

 

After the carpet issue is sorted, and the cobwebs and insect mass graves have been dealt with, it's time for professional sound-proofing. This is to make sure the room sounds good when you play music in it so that the microphones pic up a nice sound, which doesn't sound like a boarding school's toilet.

Don't let the fact that you only bought 50% of what you needed in acoustic-foam, spending your whole "equipment" budget in the process, get your spirits down. You're now ready to move in, realise the electricity and heating don'work, find a really long cable, and then, finally, to start recording. Candlelit and with a big Winter hat. Almost like they do it in L.A. I'm guessing.

This acoustic-foam isn't going to stick itself onto the walls!

This acoustic-foam isn't going to stick itself onto the walls!

 

STEP 3. FEEL LIKE GIVING UP

STEP 4. DON'T GIVE UP

Alternate between steps 3 and 4 as you continue through the process.

Even though it's crazy-lonely in that village and the cold is getting to you, remember, you've no choice, because somewhere between 5 and 20 people have already pre-bought the album on that Pledge website, hence financing 50% of the foam. Probably by mistake, but it changes nothing: throwing in the towel is no longer an option.

STEP 5. RECORDING

This got pretty eventful.

First of all, I must say, recording without heating, with the door sort of opened to pass an electricity cable through it, light by candles, could be thought as poetic. Something to inspire the soul into pouring its romance and experiences through vocal chords and microphones. It could be. Of course, it wasn't, it was just cold. But that shouldn't matter. It could have been!

NIght recording shift. A light had been installed on month two by the studio-electrician.

NIght recording shift. A light had been installed on month two by the studio-electrician.

 

Month four was getting a little heated, both with the weather, and also between recording musicians and staff. The string players got in a tiff with the trumpet players, and the percussionists annoyed the ukulele players by constantly tapping on things with their fingers. The producer was feeling lazy, and the sound engineer slightly nervous. The editor even told the PR guy to go [redacted] himself with a [redacted] [redacted] flavour. The most worrying thing is, I was doing all of these things, alone. So I was having to keep up with all these arguments in my head. A mix of solitude, and overcrowded...-ness. Thank goodness, as all these arguments were imaginary and in my mind, it actually never got too crowded in the studio-space.

STEP 6. SPENDING WAAAAY MORE TIME ON IT THAN PLANNED

Spending much more time with the recording process of course, and also, spending time coming to terms with the technical side of things. Fights between the sound engineer, the web-platform guy and the track-editor-person came to be at this point. But, the good thing about imaginary arguments, is that they're easier to solve. You can just imagine solutions.

No caption necessary

No caption necessary

 

STEP 7. PFIOU. AND YAY!

Every step that lies before you in life, is your teacher.

Yes that's true, it does sound a bit like a crummy cat poster. But it's sort of right too. I'll keep it simple and say that recording 24 songs alone, for two albums [VOLUME ONE, later renamed and shuffled around as Uke full of Song, and the Rômania Album] in the solitude of an old big house in a old small village, is a treasure chest of painful, empathyless, crude teachers. So merci bien to them.

Very much like with  a child (and I'm guessing here), giving birth to an album can be painful, noisy, and a bit messy, and not go accordingly to plan. And even if you do your best, it turns out a lot of the end-result is strangely out of your hands. All you can do is give it your utmost, your kindest smiles, and your deepest love.

The difference being of course that giving birth and parenthood is NOTHING like making an album and my metaphor is really, really dumb, and I apologise, but, it's not like more than 2 or 3 people will make this far down here anyway.

What I meant was, pfiou. And, YAY !!

Inside the Jort-Studios. Or Jort-Studio, singular, as it's one room.

Inside the Jort-Studios. Or Jort-Studio, singular, as it's one room.

Photo taken by the cameraman of the Team. Pictured: the entire crew, and all musicians involved in the recording of VOLUME ONE/Uke Full of Song and of the România Album.

Photo taken by the cameraman of the Team.

Pictured: the entire crew, and all musicians involved in the recording of VOLUME ONE/Uke Full of Song and of the România Album.

 

[Volume ONE/Uke Full of Song and the România Album were recorded in Jort-Studios from March to June 2016]

Sunset behind the Jort Church, where live&acoustic versions of a few songs were recorded (bonus tracks on the România Album)

Sunset behind the Jort Church, where live&acoustic versions of a few songs were recorded (bonus tracks on the România Album)

 

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