Three artists explore the recording process in-depth in our studio as Smukfest gets going over in the forest
By the end of day four, we’d had a massive 65 artists across 23 acts through our studio. We’ve had rock bands, hip-hop artists, acoustic singer-songwriters, electronic music, post-hardcore acts and more – all in front of massed festival-goers looking in on the action.
Wednesday saw established superstar Danish rapper Johnson take the mic. He worked through a track ‘Peanuts’ in the studio, and producer Ashley Shepherd was manning the desk and monitors in the control room.
Taking a different road
Johnson isn’t Unheard by any means. He’s no stranger to the top of the charts, in fact – so the goal here wasn’t to give him experience in the studio, it was to show the audience how the pros do it. Both he and Ashley explained the process in-depth as the track was layered, one section at a time. Vocals were stacked, re-takes were made, and new ideas emerged during the session (“the studio is a place to create, not just to press ‘Record’,” Ashley said at one point).
Johnson’s session highlighted the importance of the artist/producer relationship: being able to talk through the glass, bounce ideas around, display a willingness to experiment (and maybe totally mess it up), and work together to polish an idea into a finished track.
“I’m always open to seeing where it can go,” he says. “You go in with an idea; a sketch. That’s the start – the painting isn’t done yet. And you have to be prepared to go in a different direction to the one you thought you wanted. Every time I go in the studio it comes out different to how I thought it would be. Every time.”
Next up was another #1-selling Danish act, Mattis. He and his producer, Ole Brodersen Meyer (Selena Gomez, Kylie Minogue and more) used their studio time to explore a new direction on an already-written track. “We’ve already done something like 42 versions of it!” said Ole. So, they went right back to the start – a bass-drum beat – and built the piano, guitar, vocals, percussion, more bass, hand-claps and more on top.
Mattis tried different musical ideas, working closely with Ole, who arranged and mixed on-the-fly next to him in the studio. It was an intense session – introspective and focussed. And, just like Johnson’s track, ended with something they weren’t expecting at the start – in this case, a loose, beachy-feeling track with a slightly behind-the-beat vibe that gave it real swagger.
For those about to rock
Our final act was Aarhus-based power-trio The Boy That Got Away (and we can’t emphasise the word ‘power’ enough). They took yet another approach to recording, opting to capture the perfect performance in one take, rather than layering and building.
They’re no stranger to the studio, so they launched straight into it, totally focussed on capturing the live feeling in their recording. Rock music – especially when it’s this stripped-down – lends itself to the ‘rehearse the shit out of it and then perform the shit out of it’ approach. So while the band churned out a technically flawless performance with every take, it was the vibe they were after.
“I was really feeling it until that last section – I wanna see you dig really deep in there. Really get down into it and… and just… y’know… ‘gwaaaarrrgh’,” Ashley said at one point. And you could see the feeling come out in the next (final) take.
Day five is coming
Two acts on Thursday: the mighty DJ Static and the incredible Ida Corr, two established Danish acts who will tax our studio to its limits. Stay tuned…