Then There Were Three

 
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Over the last few weeks here at Ladd Studios we have had some incredibly talented musicians come to record with us. Reaching out via Facebook and Instagram has paid off for at least making some connections as we are in the process of building our business from the ground up. The three musicians who have stopped by here to record a song each have absolutely blown us away – they have almost left me thinking that it might be time to put my Fender away and call it a day. They’ve all been that good!

The first musician who came by was Timothy Li, an absolutely incredibly talented piano player, singer-songwriter and local music teacher. He approached me via email after finding some of our posts on Facebook. Tim was looking to record his original song titled Home, a piano piece accompanied with incredibly intimate vocals. He told me that he wrote this song for his then-girlfriend, now fiancé, as his proposal song – citing that she makes him feel like home. In the first few bars you can hear that emotion in his playing. We had done three live takes, as a metronome would’ve restricted this performance and not allowed him to softly pull the tempo back to emphasise the phrasing of the vocals in certain spots. The magic take was the third one; third times the charm, right? We were left with a really great and emotional performance, showing that some of the best songs are written from the heart. I am looking forward to getting Tim back in here as soon as possible as well as getting to know him more as a musician and friend. What a standup guy and musician who sits in a league of his own. Such a pleasure!

The second musician that came in was Sean Orr, originally from Echuca, Victoria. He has been a gigging musician for a few years now, frequenting places around Bendigo, Echuca and other local Central Victorian towns. Sean approached me to record his original song titled Run Down The Hall. Sean has a really unique voice and this is what piqued my interest to record with him in the first place. His voice is raw and raspy, yet haunting at the same time – not to mention his style of music, which is a laid back acoustic style that tells a story in the vocal phrasing and delicately finger picked sound of the strings on his capoed guitar. Like with Tim’s track, we decided against using a metronome in favor of a live performance. This was captured perfectly by two Shure SM-81s in a V formation – one pointing at the sound-hole of the guitar and the other pointing at the twelfth fret to capture all of the nuances of his playing. Topped off with our trusty Avantone CV-12 to capture all of his vocal magic, we had a beautiful live recording. We were left with a really great recording of his performance that rainy Sunday morning, with a hauntingly beautiful tune that still sends a wave up your spine. I am truly hopeful that Sean will come back in time to record some more great stuff here at the studio!

The third musician – and absolutely most surprising – was local Bendigo musician, Lilly May. At just 16 years old and having never had experience in a recording studio, Lilly was an absolute star of talent. My advice – don’t ever get complacent in your songwriting because sometimes you meet people who blow you away and Lilly did just that! She approached us via Instagram to record a one-off song titled A While Ago. What drew me to this song right off the bat was the fact that it was in 6/8, which is one of my favorite time signatures. Lilly had something really simple but she made something so simple seem really non-repetitive by her idea to use different guitar parts for layers to break up the ascending and descending main strumming part. Unlike the other two projects, we decided that using a metronome was an absolute must, especially if we were going to add any other layers on top. Once we had recorded our main track, we got right into the layers. There are two different parts that flow in after the choruses featuring a coolly subtle electric guitar part that was double-tracked with the neck pickup mixed to the left and the bridge pickup mixed to the right. We were really happy with that as well as her vocal part that she ended up putting on top. We were coming to the end of our recordings when something caught my ear – Lilly started humming along in the instrumental breaks. I quickly had her do a take of her humming through the whole song and figured that was the magic that was missing from the song. We chose to add it in the instrumental breaks and what we got was an incredibly haunting feel that when you listen back, to me, is the part that makes this song all the more special. I plan on working with Lilly again in the near future and if I can say one thing, it’s to keep at it – you have something truly special!

Overall, I have not only had the great privilege of capturing the magic of these three incredible musicians, but more importantly had the opportunity to build a connection with them as well. I am beyond pleased with the songs I have had the chance to record so far, and am hopeful that as time goes on I will have the opportunity to record with and meet more extremely talented musicians. I’ve started reaching out to more, so hopefully the next blog post from me will be writing about more great artists, bands, singers and songwriters. If you’re reading this and you’re a musician and you want to work with someone who loves music just as much as you do, please reach out to me and let’s work together!

That’s all for now.

To hear the tracks mentioned above, please follow the links below.

 

Timothy Li – Home

Sean Orr – Run Down the Hall

Lilly May – A While Ago