Relief. Accomplishment. Thankfulness. Over-tired silliness. Impatience. Exhaustion.
Just some of the feelings going on in this photo, which was taken just moments after Amy and I returned to Ross-on-Wye, having just finished recording Thirteen last Saturday.
What kind of a day leads to an onslaught of such contrasting emotions? How can just singing a song for a bit make you exhausted, relieved and impatient all at once? Well, I’ll tell you.
Behind the Scenes of Studio Recording
from the first introduction to the final note
The wooden gates open slowly, revealing a modern-looking stone building with floor-to-ceiling windows. As I carefully navigate the narrow driveway, a casually dressed man with a big smile emerges from the building to greet us. He is David, founder of FFG Audio.
He shakes our hands warmly and introduces himself, before welcoming us through the door. We enter a slim kitchenette bordered by exposed stone walls, and follow him around a corner into a light, open study. A big wooden desk takes centre stage, adorned with two wide-screen monitors. On the left, perpendicular to the desk is a shelf unit absolutely packed with dials, knobs, blinking lights and wires. On top, about desk-height, is a keyboard – the other instruments (mainly guitars) line the far left wall, framing the window.
Edging around speakers as big as me, I head for a sofa set against another full height window opposite the first; unveiling beautiful green fields and grazing horses. This is the FFG studio, where I’ve recorded Invincible God, Who is This King, and – most recently – Thirteen.
An Anxious Arrival
a long-awaited day has finally come
On the day Amy and I arrive to record Thirteen, there’s no denying a little nerves in the air. We play worship music in the car, singing along and praying over the day. I am struck by Amy’s calm composure, considering it was her first time meeting David and even seeing the studio, whereas I had been 3 times already (and feel just as nervous today as the first time)!
When we arrive at those wooden gates though, nerves blur into excitement. Then it begins.
Singing the Same Song, Like 20 Times
and trying to sound just as energetic as the first time
David makes us comfortable, offers us tea or water, and then shows us to two recording rooms, separated by a glass wall and sliding door. Excited, we wave to each other from our separate spaces.
Through headphones, David’s voice rings clearly. He suggests we run through the whole song a couple of times to get into it and make sure the balance in our headphones is right – whilst recording everything, of course.
It’s a bit patchy at first but generally good, maybe one or two mistakes here and there but definitely on the right track. Without lyrics in front of us (which can detract from visualising the storyline and effect the delivery of lyrics) it’s easy to mix up words sometimes!
Then we do it again. And again. And again. Then eventually it’s sounding pretty darn good. Then we do it again.
Then we go through it section by section, guided by David, ensuring every line is rich with emotion, timbre, delivery, volume, pitch. Within a couple of hours, David has a vocal track ready to assemble and work on.
Harmonies and Post-Production
just when you think your bit's done
Finally, a welcome announcement comes through the headphones; it’s a wrap!
But we’re not finished. Harmonies come next, which can take another hour maybe. This time, as Thirteen is a duet with a harmony line woven carefully throughout to complement the melody perfectly, we can skip this time-consuming step.
Then it’s post-production time. This is where David’s skills as an amazing producer turn the raw ingredients into fine cuisine. The title ‘producer’ can cover a variety of roles; from advising with song structure and arrangement; to playing all the instruments; to performing the technical equivalent of brain surgery during post-production; to making the tea. We are massively blessed to have David’s support on Thirteen, because he fulfils every one of these roles, and a whole lot more.
We collapse on the sofa, trying to suppress a mixture of impatience and apprehension, to hear the final vocal track. We love it, discuss it, and may even pop back through the sliding doors to amend or add to it, but it will be a few days before we get to experience the fully crafted result.
The Hard Work is Over
but the waiting game begins
Returning home six hours after we left (not including the extra hour of driving for Amy who lives in Bristol), we share excited memories and highlights from the day over celebratory pizza.
It’s been a big day, but over all the colliding emotions, thankfulness softly descends.
Not only the whirlwind day spent recording, but the whole project has been SO blessed by God; from the £106 already raised in pre-orders, to the fantastic support of Safe From Slavery, to the help of Angela at the Maximise Women’s Business Club conference where we’ll be performing a powerful stage drama to the finished track.
We can’t wait to show the world the amazing handiwork of David and the final result of all our hard work paid off. We hope you’ll be a part of the journey. Please pre-order the download OR your very own CD today, thanks to promodiscs.co.uk who have pledged to provide 50 CDs ready for Maximise. 🙂
And a very, very big thank you to everyone who has already shown their support. One order at a time, you are making this project a success.