Application for Engineering/Producer Position at Online Recording Studio
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read my application and consider me for a position at the Online Recording Studio. I'm excited to have the opportunity to apply!
I'd like to apply for a position as an engineer/producer with you. In additional to these abilities, I also offer myself as a session musician for a number of instruments. I commenced learning the piano at age 5 and have never looked back, becoming a professional pianist at age 15 and getting through 5 years at uni relying solely on piano gigs for income. Along the way I've picked up guitar, bass, and basic ukulele and banjo, as well as playing shakers and tambourine on just about all songs I work on! (It's amazing how many musicians struggle to record a shaker!)
I have been running Island Recording Studios in a serious way since around 2013. However the studio was only run part time while I was also working as a structural engineer until the start of last year when I decided to go full time studio. Over this time though I've worked with artists all around Australia as well as some international artists. As a result I've managed to hone my skills working on a variety of projects across many genres. I'm someone that always wants to keep learning new techniques and tricks and refining my craft.
Personally, I feel as though I'm an extremely dedicated individual and am not happy finishing/releasing a song until it's something I'm proud of and brings out the true essence of the song as much as possible. At the same time though I like to think that I'm quite a laid back, relaxed and easy to get along with individual - which makes most people feel very comfortable coming in to record with me as they too feel like they can relax and we can work together to bring out their best.
Thank you for your consideration for a position with you.
Breakdown of Songs and Process Involved
Cassey Finley - Drowning
Cassey, at just age 15 came to me with this song of hers - a song of grief about her dad walking out on the family. It was my first time working with someone so young and I didn't realise how hard it would be to get any information out of her! The conversation went a little like this:
Q: "Have you got an overall style or sound in mind for your song that you'd like to achieve?"
A: "I dunno"
Q: "Are there any instruments that you'd particularly like to feature on your song?"
A: "I dunno"
Q: "Who are some of your favourite artists?"
A: "I dunno"
Etc etc and you get the point. In the end I just asked if she'd like me to do what I thought was best for her song and just get her to do the vocals and she agreed to that!
This was a really great track to have the opportunity to work on as it allowed for a lot of creativity on my part. I just had a scratch demo of acoustic guitar and vocals to work from so could really push this song in any direction I chose to. Often when starting out production on a song I immediately hear a bunch of instruments and ideas in my head when listening to the demo. For this song I immediately thought it should be an electric guitar as the main guitar, not an acoustic. Especially for a chord progression that has been done a million times with just an acoustic guitar strumming along.
Next I knew that I wanted it to really kick in for the second verse and sound big. But I never like to give it all away at the first opportunity. I love creating songs that continue to build throughout the song but still hit the listener with something new at each turn before coming to a huge climax for the last section. I believe that this song does exactly that. I love using acoustic guitars as almost percussive instruments with two acoustics, often with slightly different strumming patterns to each other, panned hard left and right. This can be heard from verse 2 when the song kicks in. As well introducing the piano to add another texture and timbre to the song.
I thought from the start it would be a very simple drum beat that suits this song best, and that is indeed what it ended up being - just kick and snare, using the other "percussive" elements such as the acoustic guitar to complete the rhythmic flow.
Once I had most of the main structural elements in place for the mix I suddenly heard that other effected vocal "hook" in my head. I added this in recording the vocals myself. They didn't need to perfect as they were going to be tuned to the extreme and then effected heavily. I felt as though this added another quite interesting element to the song, which really became a motif for the track.
The final stage was creating some cool synth sounds to help fill out the soundscape and add some more rhythmic interest. Then just crescendoing into the final section.
River Lane - Where Did You Go
I've worked on two songs with River Lane over the last few months - both of which I have been given very free reign once again to do what I like with them. For both songs Emma, whose project it is, has come in and laid down guitar and vocals to a click track. In the case of this song when she was struggling to lock in with a click I just pulled up a simple drum beat that suited the style for her to play along to. She was able to lock into this much better and really nailed it.
While she was in the studio she had a couple ideas for the song - for there to be some kind of piano/keyboard and also for some kind of solo following the bridge. While she was in the studio I came up with and recorded a bass guitar line, as well as finding a rhodes keyboard sound that suited the song and layed down the keys part. It was then after hearing the rhodes that she thought it would be nice to have a rhodes solo so I did a couple takes of that and it turned out she liked the first take best so that's the one that's on the recording. I also heard that little guitar line that follows the first chorus (and is repeated a couple more times throughout the song) in my head while Emma was in the studio so laid that down while the idea was there, then added a harmony on top of it. She immediately loved it, which was great news! This was all done in around 3.5 hours, at which time she left and left the song in my hands to finish it off how I wanted to.
Next I added a couple more electric guitars playing long open chords in sections to fill out the space a little before moving on to refine the drum beat - adding fills, creating slightly different beats for the verse and chorus to keep the songs moving etc. Then it was time to add several layers of synths to really help the song build. There were synths parts of varying rhythms and speeds that I used at different points in the song to help it continue building. One you may notice is the fast arpeggiated synth that enters in at the bridge and then comes back in for the final chorus to help lift those sections.
Another common production trick I often use is adding in reverse cymbals/cymbal, or reverse guitar or piano chords leading into new sections to help really build it up as it enters. One other "fun" production note on this one is using SoundToys "Little Alter Boy" to add an upper octave to the vocal in the choruses.
Aletheia Burney - Long Way From Home
Aletheia is a wonderful singer and song writer who I've worked with for a number of years now. Originally for this song she imagined it being a laid back "jazz lounge" kind of song. However, I had other ideas in mind upon hearing it and luckily she trusted me enough to leave it in my hands to do what I wanted with it.
Aletheia initially came into the studio and laid down just the piano and vocals, before leaving the song with me. I could straight away hear some nice intertwining guitar lines in my head for this song, which I achieved by laying down 3 melodic guitar lines with different panning, weaving in and out of and playing off of each other.
This was another song where I could envisage a big build up, without being over the top. Therefore the drums kick in at the second verse (once again a very simple programmed drum beat) and it keeps building in energy from there until the climax just before the ending where it returns to just piano and vocals.
It's not a super complicated production for this song but it was a great one to work on and one that I think evokes quite a lot of feeling and emotion by building and falling when it needs to throughout the song.