My Recording Journey: Additional Musicians

When I wrote the songs for my album “I am Free” it was just me and my guitar.  There were times when I  played live that I had the support of a full band, and at other times it was a solo performance. I really enjoyed both ways of playing for an audience. It was an absolute pleasure to practice and play in a band. The memories and stories would probably fill a room, or at least a small closet. It was also a lot of fun to just pick up my Martin, and head down to the local coffee shop and play for the lunch crowd.

Before I ever stepped foot inside a studio, I had imagined what each of the songs I wrote would sound like with additional instruments accompanying me on each track.  As I stated in an earlier blog post, it was difficult most of the time to coordinate practicing with friends.  Most of the musicians who were kind enough to offer their talents on this album, were actually referred to me by friends.  Musicians, whom I have never met before, offered to take time away from their families and other areas of their life.  I never asked any of them the question that I am pondering now?

What would cause a person, to choose to help another person in this manner, with the only promise being I would give them a copy of the final completed project.

I have a few thoughts. They may be right, or they may be completely off base.  Whatever the reason, it is hard to put into words how much I appreciate each of their efforts.  Their skills and contribution has added so much depth to my songs.

I’ll take some time to write a quick highlight in regards to each of them.

John:

John not only did the recording , mixing and mastering of my cd “I am Free”, he also tracked the bass guitar for each of the songs.  I remember on our first phone call, asking him if he would be willing to play bass on the project.  Keep in mind that we had never met.  I’m not sure what his initial thought was?  I do know that he didn’t hesitate to say yes!  Working with John was a blessing.  There were occasions, several of them to be more precise,  where I would get quite frustrated recording the acoustic guitar portion to the click – track.  It needs to be exact, and if it wasn’t after we had been tracking the same song for a couple of hours, he would urge me into taking a break.  That was usually the rejuvenating I needed to finish the song.

Alyssa:

Alyssa’s vocals are a great addition to the music. I have been asked numerous times:

 “Who is the female singing on this song?”

Alyssa was kind enough to take some time away from studying to add background vocals to a number of songs.  I can’t imagine the songs without her vocals now.

Cam and Jim:

My two fearless drummers!  I’m not sure why drummers always get so much flack from guitar players?  It wasn’t that difficult to work with them.  It was just………That constant pounding………At least when you are trying to have a conversation with a guitar player, and they are picking or strumming their guitar. Well, we may not be listening, but at least you can hear yourself talk.  Right?  Anyway, there is no truth to any of that, just the long-standing drummer – guitarist feud.  Each time we wanted to record the drums, it was a long process to haul the drum set into the studio.  Each microphone needed precise placement, and it took additional time to test the drum heads for the best sound, and achieve the correct recording levels.  A lot of hard work from these two guys even before the first beat was played.  Both Cam and Jim have a lot of talent, and it was a pleasure to meet them in this process.  Acoustic Rock would be difficult to record with out percussion.  “I am Free” would sound pretty lifeless without each of their efforts.

Greg:

I’ve known Greg for quite sometime.  I asked him if he would be willing to do some recording, knowing that he had moved into a finger – picking style of guitar playing.  I was more than pleased when he said he would lend his skills to my project.  All of the lead electric guitar tracks on the cd are Greg.  I’ve said it before, in fact just yesterday I believe.  He is the best guitar player I know personally.  You can check out one of his songs here.

There you go.  That is a small highlight, and thank you to all of the additional musicians who helped me create a great cd!

If you are interested in purchasing a cd copy, you can email me @andreomusic@gmail.com, I hope to have the songs available through iTunes and amazon in a week or two. 

Here is one of my songs, I think it showcases everyone really well:

My Recording Journey: Craigslist

Yes, this really was a journey.  It was full of twists and turns, delays and road blocks, and plenty of frustrations.  With that being said, it also gave me the opportunity to meet some great people and experience the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes with recording music.

At this point, I have sold my motorcycle to help fund my recording project.  Recording the songs I have written has been a dream of mine for quite some time.  I have always enjoyed performing live, and meeting people.  On occasion, someone at a show would inquire about purchasing a cd.  I have always regretted that I didn’t have one to give them.  I was more than excited to be able to work on changing that.

I knew of a few bands/musicians from the area that recorded their material locally.  One of which purchased all of the needed equipment off of a popular online auction site, if you do a minimal amount of thinking you’ll be sure to come up with it.  After his band recorded their songs, he turned around and sold the equipment almost as fast as he bought it.  This option did not sound easy or desirable to me.  Another local musician, Greg Gilbertson, who happens to be one of the most talented guitar players I have ever met, recorded at a local studio.  I visited the recording studio and met with the owner.  It was professional, and the artists that I heard samples of sounded excellent.  This option sounded very appealing to me.  Then, we worked out the numbers based on what I had planned for my songs.  Basically, what it came down to was—-I didn’t sell a large enough motorcycle.

Enter now, the first time I remember being frustrated.  I really had no idea how much it cost to record, or the amount of time that went into mixing and mastering a song.  The fee for an hour of studio time seemed reasonable.  A musician can get a lot done in an hour if they utilize their time well and if they are really good friends with this little thing in the studio called a click – track.  If you’re not sure what that is, do an internet search and you’ll find it.

I did some thinking, and I came up with an idea.  I would post an ad on Craigslist to see if their was anyone in the area that could help me out, or knew of someone who may be able to.  I believe I received three or four emails that were legitimate.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the response.  One of the responses I received looked quite promising.  Rather than tell you about it, I’ll share it with you.

I don’t know if you found anyone to do song recording for you, but I’m sure my brother would be able to help you.  He lists on Craigslist now and then to provide sound services to people.  He lives in Eau Claire and has a sound studio set up in his basement.  He plays bass guitar, does recording, etc.  His name is John and his cell phone is 715-***-***.  Tell him his brother Dave referred you to him, he’s a nice guy and could provide what you need.  Good luck

I called John, met with him and agreed on a price that was in line with my budget.  We set an initial start date, and a project completion date.  It all sounded good to both of us.  I think that we may have overlooked a few things.  Just to name a few of them:

  • I have never recorded, except for a few live performances.
  • The click – track proved to be a noble adversary for me.
  • We both have families, and work full-time jobs.
  • John had never taken on a recording project with the number of tracks per song I proposed.
  • We didn’t anticipate how difficult it could be to ask additional musicians and friends to be a part of this project.  Who also have families and full-time jobs.
  • Insert a number of other things here_______________________.

I think John and I can both look back and laugh at the initial completion date we set for about three months after we started.  What do they say about “hindsight”?  I now know that we put an unrealistic expectation on our goal.  The actual time it took us to record all the tracks for each song, with mixing and mastering was recorded by John.  What that looks like in real life time is  three and a half years after the initial meeting with John, we finished “I am Free”.

First Blog post To promote My CD “I am Free”!

Hello!  I am excited to be writing my first blog announcement on the completion and release of my cd/album “I am free”.  It is a collection of 12 songs (including one Re-mix), that I have written over the past 8 years or so.  I would describe the style as Acoustic Rock/worship music.

This first post will be a brief entry.  I hope to post in more detail the upcoming days.

The first thing I would like to share about my journey to record, is that I feel very blessed to be married to a woman who is supportive of my music and of my desire to record it.  I know that God has given me an amazing opportunity to be able to share a passion of mine with others.  The second thing is this:  My Journey started with a question: how was I going to generate the funds I needed to record?  I needed to make a decision, and initially it was not an easy one to make.  In the end, I made the decision to sell my motorcycle.  Besides my initial hesitation, I have never regretted my decision.  I have found more joy in creating and recording music than I believe a motorcycle has ever brought me.

In closing, I would like to share a message from a friend of mine in regards to the recording process.  He also happens to be the guy who added his bass ability to each of my songs, took up my recording project, and mixed and mastered my CD.

A message from John:

To take a concept, which exists only in the mind of the songwriter, and turn it into a song is extremely fun and rewarding.  Jason and I started simple, recording just his vocals and acoustic guitar, to create a clear message and foundation for each song.  From there, he recruited others – talented artists in their own right – each bringing their creativity into the mix.  In doing so, we all took his songs to places that I’d never anticipated.

In the end, I realized that a songwriter does more than write words and notes on paper.  He recruits people that he trusts and in which he shares common vision.  He articulates a clear vision to create the brilliant group of songs that you hear on this project.  I’m thankful to have been a part of bringing these songs to you.

John VanDeVoort,

VDV Studios