Extended sessions, complex recording processes and the importance of comfort in the studio… this was day five at Smukfest
Two established acts graced the Dynaudio Unheard studio on Thursday, each getting an extended session to bring a flavour of how the pros do it to the audience.
Famous Danish artists DJ Static and Jøden, flanked by a slew of talented musicians, opened proceedings in the morning. They started with a pre-recorded basic backing track and then spent the next couple of hours weaving an intricate tapestry of live drums, Hammond organ, rapping, more rapping, singing, beats and stacked vocals.
Recording and layering the parts individually showed just how important it is for the producer to plan, anticipate and form a rapport with the artists. Everyone had different preferences for their headphone mix, EQ and so on – and that all had to be accommodated to make them feel as at-ease as possible. Cramming what could fill a week’s worth of recording time into a couple of hours is enough to make anyone fidget, so that was no mean feat for our producer, Ashley Shepherd. (“Usually, it takes 40 minutes just to say ‘hey, how’s it going?’ in the morning,” he joked.)
But this session wasn’t about merely laying down a series of tracks, ticking them off a list and moving on to the next. The creative machinery was whirring nicely, with performances honed, parts refined and reworked, and takes listened to and critiqued – all with a constant dialogue between studio and control-room.
What had started in the morning with a music seed ended at lunchtime in a full, turned-up-to-eleven bombastic funk-rap track. And a very satisfied audience.
Emotion is key
After lunch, star Danish singer-songwriter Ida Corr and her band went in with the mission of getting intricate and intimate with a single song. The musicians were standing close together. There was eye-contact. Effortless talent. Vibe.
Their live take was laid down over a produced backing track, which was then recreated instrument by instrument – piano, cajon, acoustic guitar and stacked vocals, all backed by a click-track to keep everything synced.
But this wasn’t a performance performance. Yes, there’s a huge window in the side of the studio. Yes, there’s an audience. But Ida had the lyrics on her iPhone, and faced either the band to her right or Ashley in the control-room to her left. The show was emotional, not physical – just as it is in pretty much every other studio in the world.
And, in doing that, she was able to capture the raw feeling behind her music. The team in the studio, acting as one, created that feeling. It showed yet another approach that it’s possible to take when recording…
We’re almost at the end of our week at Smukfest, but it isn’t over yet. On Friday we have five artists: Kris Herman, Northern Assembly, Nicklas Sahl, U$O and Johnson, and Djämes Braun… all heavyweight talent.