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From the pages of RECORDING, here you’ll find thoughts, tips, and classic tribulations from many of our industry’s top Recording Artists, Engineers, Producers, Legends, and more.

Adam Curry
``There's this computer network that has just exploded lately, called the Internet. I'm going to have my own 'site' there, called MTV.COM. I'll put up files about digital audio, music news, artist info, anything to do with music...there are millions around the world who now have access to the Internet—it used to be just for and by academics, and all students are on it, but now you can get there from other networks like Delphi. When you do an article on it, give me a call.” —December 1993.

“We were doing a song, ‘Dead Rat,’ on Yoko Ono’s Approximately Infinite Universe. I had no idea what it was going to be. The music was like, ‘da da da da da da da da da da,’ and then there’d be five seconds of silence. Then the music would start again, and there’d be another five seconds of silence. Finally, I found out what this silence was. It was the dead rat solo. Yoko brings a shoe box into the studio, and inside the shoe box is this freshly killed rat, size large. She says, ‘Okay, you know where the band stops playing? That’s where the rat takes it.’…I put the rat on a stool, and I had my assistant put a [Neumann] 87 over the rat. I ran the tracks, the music stops, the rat takes it. Nothing happens. I turn around and say to my assistant, ‘You asshole, get out there and put the mic in the right place. About four inches up and a little to the left.’ So he goes out and moves the mic over the rat a little bit. We start the music and it gets to the rat solo. I turn around and say, ‘What do you think, Yoko?’ She says, ‘It’s much better like that.’ And she’s dead serious.” —Jack Douglas, January 1991

Bruce Swedien
``I'm a firm believer in computerized mixing. When I start a project, I store the balance levels in the computer--for emotional reasons, not a technical reason. The reason is that's the first time I react instinctively to the music and I want that not to be thought out at all--I want it to be purely instinctive. It's amazing as a recording progresses and you begin to improve it, how that so-called improvement can be a problem. I always store that first tracking date...and almost always refer back to it.`` —October 1995.

“Imagine, in your mix, you have six effects coming back into your console. They are coming back in by regular channels, whereby you can regenerate back to the effects. So you take the first effect, send it to the second effect. You take the second effect, send it to the third. From the third to the fourth and from the fourth back to the first. Then maybe a little bit of the first back to the fourth….because effects are always pitch changing and there are delays involved, you get this very organic result….you actually sit on the controls and turn them up to the point where they start almost getting out of hand—where they almost start to sound like a distant thunderstorm.”  —Daniel Lanois, January 1990.

“Be truthful–again it’s the question of personal integrity. You have to be a little bit obsessive, and a little bit aware of things as a left hemisphere person. You have to know what you’re doing. But after that’s all done, you put the driver in charge as being your soul, your emotion, your gut, your intuition.” —Wendy Carlos, November 1992.

“Let’s make this mindset a reality: People that create musical tools, whether constructed of wood, metal, plastic, or binary data, should be compensated for their efforts. Stealing–whether it’s music, photos, movies, articles, guitars, or music software–is not an option. It’s tempting to take a copy of digital media and easy to convince yourself that you’re not hurting anyone when you do… but don’t be that guy. This community is nobler than that.”

—Brent Heintz

George Duke
Well, especially with the whole rap phenomenon, a lot of people don't care about sound as much as they used to, and I understand because there's a certain vibe about what they-re doing. And it’s cool--I’m into that as well. I put loops within loops, just one conglomeration of a rhythm that you can't see through. But beyond that, you’ve got to be able to play it on car speakers, on little funky television speakers, and rather than have a mastering engineer do all of that, you can save a lot by having a good set of speakers and trying to get the flattest tape that you can get out of there. Musicians have to be aware that whatever they take out of their home studios has to relate to the rest of the world.” —August 1993.
Eddy Offord
“I decided to show my new wife Advision Studios, where I got started. Just as we were pulling up, Roger (Taylor, the drummer for Queen) came rushing out of the studio, looking a bit freaked out...We walked into the control room to find the engineer staring at the back of the room. His eyes were glazed...ketchup and sandwiches were splattered all over the wall... chairs strewn all over the floor...garbage everywhere. When I asked, ‘What the hell happened here?,’ all he said was, ‘We couldn’t get a drum sound.’” —June 1988

“Many engineers today seem to have a highly technical approach to what they do. They seem to feel that hit records are made by the buttons and the knobs, and they’re not. Memorable recordings start with purely emotional values, not technical values. I’ve never heard anyone leave the record store humming the console! And on the other side of the coin, of course it would be good for a lot of musical people to learn as much technical information as they can. That will bring a certain ease of reality, a realization to their musical promise. If you don’t have the technical chops to put together a viable listening medium, all the good ideas in the world won’t get on tape. You know, there’s a happy medium.” —Bruce Swedien, October 1995.

David Kershenbaum
“I think there is a lot to leaving (something up to the listener’s) imagination. Often when inexperienced people try to produce something they just put too much on, and it gets to the point where the person listening has to have really sophisticated extraction tools to figure out what’s really there. The purpose is just to get the raw essence of what the band or the individual is trying to achieve...So many of the demos sound so perfect that often what you do is to go into the studio and try to recreate the original feeling that was caught on the demo.” —July 1989.
Leon Redbone
“I finally figured out one day that most producers don’t have the faintest idea what they’re doing. They simply have the position because of circumstance, or they’ve wormed themselves into it, and it really doesn’t amount to anything! I just make sure that the sound that is being recorded is as close to the sound I want as possible. I don’t want to rely on the engineers to monkey around with the eq afterwards—unless it’s an effect that you’re trying to get.” —September 1992.

“[On the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, one of the first songs to incorporate synthesizers into rock] Keith Moon was not the steadiest drummer in the world. He was all over the place. Now he was being asked to play to these sequenced tracks, so he’s got these headphones on and he’s going out of his mind. How is he going to play his usual wild stuff to these tracks? And we could never get the synthesizer loud enough in his headphones that he could hear them over his tom-toms. There was just a ton of two-track editing.” —Jack Douglas, January 1991.

Jeff Baxter on ‘outdated’ technology, December 1992:

“We live in a world that is almost obsessed with planned obsolescence, bigger and better, and a relentless desire to get to the next plateau in the never-ending quest for perfection. Those of you who have home recording studios and must put at least some money away for food should tear your eyes away from the latest ads for new gear and stop drooling all over your new catalogs for a minute and think about this: just because a piece of gear is out of fashion doesn’t mean it’s lost its raison d’être. State of the art can be a crutch as well as a creative tool. Not having all the cool stuff can force you to push your creative boundaries past your limits. An old sound or effect used in a new way might make you write the next #1 record….the point is to use everything you have in as many different ways as you can and that there are no rules for the really creative.”

Roger Glover
“To what extent has technology helped music? It seems to be a sort of rallying call—some musicians decry the use of a drum machine as being anti-music, or sequences or whatever. But I think an artist will make use of anything that’s offered to him, as long as he doesn’t become the tool. Drum machines can play people—that’s what rap music is all about, people responding to what the drum machine’s giving them. Not that it’s bad. It’s not my music, but it’s not bad. To me, being an artist is a frustrating experience—there’s so much inside, how the hell do you get it out? By whichever means you can find! And a new piece of equipment has a cathartic effect on me—it immediately gives me the urge to create something.” —February 1994.
André Fischer
“I have half hearing in my right ear...I was touring with Rufus with Chaka (Khan). I could never get a proper monitor mix, so I got my own little mixer and some headphones. Something happened one day. I had phones only on my right ear, and some kind of sound came, and I’ve had half hearing ever since. But basically it hasn’t been a hindrance, it’s just something that I deal with, because 80% of what I do is attitude. I know a lot of people who have no physical ailments, but are mentally handicapped.” —March 1992.

“It’s interesting how ten years ago, the mentality was “We gotta go to the greatest studio to cut the great record.” And you know, it’s just not like that any more. Obviously, you want to go to a great studio to mix the stuff (if you’ve got the budget, which we do). But on my last album, I did all my vocals in my bathroom. You’re in a home studio, and sonically it just blows you away. And you find out it was recorded in a bathroom! All my vocals on this album were done in the dining room of my new house….everybody’s going, ‘This is the most incredible-sounding room in Nashville!’ You get all these people spending thousands of dollars, and I’ve got a dining room!”  —Michael W. Smith, June 1993.

“So often you become attached to an effect and you think, ‘Well, we’re just tracking. Once we get into the mix, we’ll really get it,’ but you know, it’s never the same—especially with delays. If I like the effect, I’ll print it on a separate track. I’m very careful that way. The old cliche ‘we’ll get it in the mix’ is bullshit. I don’t leave it for the mix. I say get what you want and get it on tape if you have the tracks, because if you leave the studio and come back later, no one has been in or out or touched the console and yet things sound different. There’s an intangible element involved that’s completely untechnical. It’s the feeling in the room at the time. Getting that on tape is very important.”   —Jane Child, August 1991.

Jon Anderson
``It’s funny--when you're recording, you have wonderful, wonderful sounds, but by the time you compress and all those sounds are on top of each other, you've lost the beautiful sound you had originally. In recording, you need to be careful of how much stuff to put on, because actually, for some reason, there's only so much space. I’d like to think that we’re going to move away from that pretty soon with polyphonic recordings and the development of spatial recording.`` —December 1992.

“You don’t have to go to a studio to get a great sound, to get a performance, to get emotion. It’s exciting to think that we as home recordists can come up with material that ends up on the radio, right next to Sting’s album and all these excellent productions. In fact, some things about recording at home are better than in a studio. You have the freedom to go in and experiment and make lots of mistakes and explore…Experimentation is so important for unleashing creativity. Otherwise, you’ll play it safe all the time. And the clock’s ticking in the studio and you’re thinking about the time, whereas at home you can get up at 4:00 AM, have a glass of milk, and come up with the greatest things before the sun comes up.”  —Craig Chaquico, July 1995.

Nancy Wilson
“Try to stick with simplicity, which is the hardest thing to do. Try to keep it simple and honest. Try to write songs that give something back to the world, that enlighten people somehow. Try not to write songs because they’ll make you money. That’s hard to do. I mean, how many times have we felt pressured to sit down and write a hit so they wouldn’t take our homes away? There has to be a better reason.” —September 1990.
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Mark Mothersbaugh
“Commericals are heavier than film, heavier than rock’n’roll....if I was in opera, I would still be back at the bath Township Playhouse trying to write an opera for Akron, Ohio, for maybe a few lawyers who consider themselves the enlightened ones of the community. People would be stifling yawns, and no one else would see it. Commercials just seem like a more dangerous, more exciting medium to work in. A lot of people see it who would instantly turn off a Devo record.” —June 1989.
Adrian Legg
“I’m at the point now where I get as many women coming up and saying, ‘Oh, I enjoyed that’ as I do guitarists, and that’s a satisfactory balance. If it were just guitarists coming up—although that’s very nice—I would feel that something was wrong. I don’t want to be in some sort of exclusive little club. Music is for people first, and music involves tunes and feelings and not going ‘widdly-widdly-widdly-widdly plang’ as fast as you can!” —August 1992.

Dave Martin on professionalism, December 1995:

“As a studio operator, your job is to have the studio set up, ready for the session to start when the musicians arrive. As a musician, it’s your job to be there on time and ready to play. If you act with a little professional courtesy, not only will working be more of a pleasure, but the music that you record will be better. You don’t have to work in a professional studio to work in a professional manner, nor does working in a commercial studio make you a professional. Ultimately, it’s your actions that determine this.”

The Residents
“The entire pop industry does covers. People think because they change a few notes or a few words, they can say they wrote it, when actually, everyone is just rewriting the same song, over and over again, and claiming they wrote it. The Residents’ point of view is that they rewrite songs as much as anybody else. But instead of changing the name of it and claiming they wrote it themselves, the Residents keep the name of the song the same and credit the original writer. However, it’s sometimes hard to recognize what claim we’re covering...” —April 1990.

“I can remember Sonny Boy Williamson recording this song in the studio that required the drummer to come in at one point and make this big crashing sound. The drummer was behind this baffling, y’know, that keeps the sound of one instrument from bleeding into the sound of another, and just as he got to this break, the whole thing fell down. Wham! It made a real big crashing sound and believe it or not, we kept that on the record. It came in right on time. The drummer fell down, but he was able to keep on playing somehow. A lot of guys on the session still talk about that one occasionally.”  —Willie Dixon, July 1989.

Tom Coster
“No matter how much gear you have, no matter how expensive or inexpensive it is, a really wonderful project can come out of a home studio with the availability of today’s technology. But what it takes more than anything is the individual’s prowess to listen and to hear things. Because no matter how wonderful your equipment is, it’s only as good as you are a producer and an engineer.” —April 1993.

“Print things. Obviously, you’re going to have to print effects on with guitars and drum machines, because you can’t tie up your only piece of outboard gear on your drums. If it sounds good going down, by all means, print it! Print a stereo mix with the effects if it sounds good. Commit, commit!”  —Tom Lord Alge, November 1988.

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Les Paul
``The world today is moving fast. Musicians happen to be at a stage where how fast you can play is the important thing. It's not what you're saying, it's not the music any more--a player is judged by his speed. The criteria should be what the message is, what the story is. What's the bottom line? It shouldn’t be how fast you can play the run, but can you keep time? Do you have a heart, do you have a soul, what’s your message? And that gets kicked aside.`` —December 1991.

“Musically [playing live in the studio] gives the advantage that it’s harder to do. It’s just like the recordings when people only had four tracks to work with, or only three tracks. You had to be a really good engineer; it made you be a better engineer than you have to be now….You can’t do a take and like part of it, and not like the other part. Everything springs from the decision [to record in this way]. In a way it reminds me of the marriage vows. Once you make a commitment to something—if you really commit to it—then it gives you all the great energy that manifests in freedom.”       —Tuck Andress, September 1989

Andy Summers
``It’s important not to take too long making an album, because you lose the flow of it. I think there’s a moment when the energy’s there, and you get the best out of yourself and out of everyone. I can’t stand to be in the studio that long—it drives me nuts. There’s too much time when you’re not playing. When you sit around for hours on end reading a magazine or waiting for a mix, it’s dead time.`` —February 1992.
Buffy Sainte-Marie
“I don’t really approve of mainstream musicians going to grass roots people and ripping off their music—that’s not a cool thing to do...Especially with non-professional musicians, since that’s their daily bread and since that’s the only chance they’ll have to be recognized, I think it’s a pleasure to credit them and pay them.” —March 1993.

“My studio had just installed its first digital reverb and I was still multitracking on a 4-track cassette recorder and dreaming of the 1” 8-tracks I’d left behind at the University. I didn’t own a computer yet; I was thinking about getting an Amiga since most grad students couldn’t afford a Macintosh, and I was eager to try software-based MIDI sequencing for my small collection of synths and drum machines. (Sixteen whole MIDI channels! Luxury!)   —Mike Metlay, on his recording set-up in 1987.

“We knew the song [‘Nobody’s Girl’ by Bonnie Raitt, from the Nick of Time album] was great, and we tried cutting it three or four times and just couldn’t get it to work. It was a great demo, but we couldn’t seem to capture the feel, and we also couldn’t figure out why….I knew it wasn’t Bonnie. So I said, ‘Look, give me fifteen minutes on this track….’ And I immediately started pulling everything out! We were always cutting it with a full band, which wasn’t right for the song. We got it down to the acoustic guitar and pushed her vocal way out—and it turns out she was singing it great, but we were losing it in all the other stuff.”  —Don Was, February 1990.

Pat Metheny
``I think it will probably be possible to have incredible, virtuoso musicians who don't play an instrument, that do everything in the context of non-real-time. But so far it hasn't really happened. Most people who don't play an instrument have come up with things that are kind of catchy, or quirky, y'know, interesting for three minutes, but substantial musical developments that have a long term impact can only come from musicians. We’ll see...we're gonna have a whole generation of kids whose first instrument has an onboard 16-track sequencer, but I really believe that music has no short cuts. Eventually you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty.`` —January 1993.
Alan Parsons
“Changes—primarily technological ones—have caught up with the (Artist Manager’s) job and split it in two. A&R is now an office job with administrative responsibilities, while the producer has taken over the technical responsibilities and has had to learn how to be an engineer, a computer operator and a technician all rolled into one. Personally, I find this very frustrating...I feel I spend too much time reading technical manuals and discovering how things work and too little time actually making music.” —July 1992.
Joe Chiccarelli
“I think having a home studio and having limited technical resources is really invaluable. Or having to work with up-and-coming bands who haven’t really honed their songwriting or honed their sound. It’s good for you to be able to go in and spend time with them in rehearsal situations, you know, help work out a guitar part so it doesn’t fight a keyboard part, help straighten out a drum rhythm so it makes the chorus groove a little more. The more of that stuff you can do....” —November 1989
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