Last weekend in the home studios

I spent all of last weekend recording with Emelyne. On Friday and Saturday we worked on one of her songs on my 4-track. We made a lot of use of our new cajon and shakers. Saturday afternoon, we headed to Allen’s house to finish I Fall Hard.

The original plan was for me to add drums to the song since I wanted a really simple beat. After some brief playing around on them, I thought that the beat I’d imagined wasn’t going to work on such a relatively hi-fi recording environment — i.e. you could hear too much of the badness. I might have been able to pull it off with cheaper mics on a 4-track in a closet. But in a living room with lots of space and nice mics going into ProTools, I could sense disaster and frustration.

Turned out, though, that Allen is a really great drummer. He played through the song a couple of times while I was there. While his drummer was great, I wasn’t hearing what I wanted. I laid down the bassline and we had to leave.

This is where it would have been great if I’d have written about this earlier in the week. I was really feeling like my experiment of recording this song a little more hi-fi was not going to work. I was wondering if we’d try a drum machine or the cajon or maybe even just stick to the acoustic version of the song. But…

Allen did a couple more takes on his own and sent me a premix this week where he’s been testing levels. His drums on this mix sound perfect for the song. (Listen below. Download over here.)


I’m happy in so many ways. I’m happy it sounds good but I’m also happy that I ran with my decision to turn over the drumming to Allen. A few years ago, I might have sweated it out on the drums for a couple of hours frustrating everyone involved because I couldn’t get what I wanted. Or I might have settled for something crummy. I know I made that decision not to drum based on experience, on my resolution to collaborate more and on my generally more relaxed state of being. Knowing what you’re bad at helps you be creative with what you’re good at. And knowing that helps you make decisions and produce.

Sunday, Emelyne and I worked on a cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. We got pretty far, but I think we’re going to scrap it and re-do it this weekend. We learned a lot about my 4-track and its limitations so we’re better prepared.