You Can’t Be In A Listener’s Bedroom To Tell Them How Cool It Was In The Studio Part 1

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One of the stupid things I was very guilty of when I first started recording was wanting to do something cool with all my esoteric equipment. I had all sorts of crazy things like pieces of a console that recorded some of my favorite records, one-off guitar pedals, modded gear etc. I felt that all of this cool gear would shine through on my recordings and when people heard it they would appreciate all the time and research I put in to finding all of this cool stuff. In reality they were never going to be able to really hear what I knew was going on behind the scenes.

I can remember being 14 years old and loving Rage Against The Machine’s S/T
record. The sounds were innovative and new and when you read the liner
notes to find out there was nothing but guitar, bass, drums and vocals
on the record you had all the more admiration for it. The one problem
is this only goes so far. Cool gear is great and doing something new
and unique with sounds is even better, but it has to stand up with no
explanation to the listener. I was able to hear their songs with no one
telling me how it was made and still think it was amazing. Listeners
have to be able to hear a song without you telling them why it is so
cool or else it is going to be disposable.


While finding cool gear can give you great character on your recordings
it doesn’t always amount to cool sounds. Even though I had a one off
guitar pedal it sounded like a Big Muff with less definition. Even though I was recording a synth solo through 12 pedals that took me 2 hours to dial – what people
heard was just another synth solo with a weird sound. When I used the
microphone Robert Plant sang Houses of the Holy through it
sounded awesome but in all reality no one was going to hear the “magic”
outside of a great EQ curve it had. The reality was if I bought the
most generic piece of gear at Guitar Center as long as it made a cool
sound everyone was going to appreciate that much more than a cool story
they are probably never going to hear about the recording before they
first hear the song.

When we are making records it is important to not lose perspective that
listeners need to be able to enjoy the music without any explanation.
If you decided to record your record “live” and all at once it still
needs to be tight, since most people hearing it for the first time
aren’t going to get any context before listening. A listener is not
going to care and appreciate it because it was live and theres tons of
mistakes that kill the vibe. Anyone hearing it without that context is
going to move on to the millions of other songs out there trying to get
their attention. Don’t let your music need an excuse to make it good,
let the context be an explanation that makes someone appreciate your
music more.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.