I don’t think I’ve let on how amazing my girlfriend is :) In case you wanted to know, let me share with you because this has been quite an unforgettable experience, hehe :)
So, she decided to get my some recording studio time (4 hours!) for my birthday gift, but it had to wait after I came back from Taiwan, which was good because it gave me some time to think about what I would even play… Even better, I got to invite friends to come with me, so it didn’t have to be a solo project, and we all met up last Saturday in Charlestown to record :)
Honestly, I was initially scared when Steph told me of the gift… what in the world would I record?? I have yet to write any material, so the fear paralyzed me a bit haha. So, I kind of put off thinking about it by doing other “important” things, and I didn’t really give myself much creative space to write songs… but in the end, Justin, Young & I decided to do a cover of How He Loves because it was a song we were familiar with when we played in ACF, and it’d be a reunion of Chestnut Hillsong alumni! :P
It was such an amazing experience at Chillhouse Studios because I’ve never had a chance to record in a studio! And, the sound engineer Will really was chill, haha. He gave me so many tips on recording and I would keep asking questions… Gosh, those 4 hours flew by so quickly because I was excited to be able to play with Justin & Young again, and I am so glad we did a cover because I know I would have worried about lyrics & instrumentation if I tried to write my own song.
Let’s see if I remember the process… We began by playing it through 3-4 times. First, we played through for sound checking, and then we played it a couple more times to experiment with how the song would flow. I think we messed up big time on the 3rd time lol, but the 4th time worked out pretty well, which would serve as our guiding track because we didn’t play with a click track/metronome.
Ah right, in case you aren’t familiar with Chestnut Hillsong… Justin played drums/percussion, Young played bass, and I played guitar and sang. Actually, Young plays guitar, but I’m really glad that he could have come to fill in for bass because I didn’t know who else would be around!
So, after that take, I believe Justin was fine with his drums part, but Young had to retrack the bass line. Then, I went to record guitar and vocals separately. I was quite afraid of forgetting the lines because sometimes my mind wanders when I sing… and thankfully, it didn’t happen when I really needed to focus :P I mumbled a couple times during the first few recordings, but that didn’t matter, haha. Next, Justin recorded some percussive elements, i.e. shaker & cymbal rolls. Then, we decided to emulate the DCB version of How He Loves with the piano intro, and Will helped set that up for us. The piano part was kind of difficult for me because I had to be spot on or else the delay would get out of sync… oops. Good thing there’s editing! :P After that, Young & I recorded some harmony lines for the chorus, and finally, we had all four of us, Steph, Justin, Young and I, sing for the last chorus :) I really liked that part, and we actually did it twice so it makes it seem like 8 people are singing!
So, all the recording took about 3 hours, which gave Will an hour to mix the entire thing. He said that he usually doesn’t do this but we were pretty efficient with time, so it would work out :) And from watching Will work on our project and making us sound so much better than we could imagine (I don’t know what knobs he turned to do that, haha) I have a much deeper respect for artists and studio engineers because it must take countless hours to think of songs, write them, record them, and mix them!
It feels amazing to have a final product at the end that we could listen to and refer to for our experiences in that studio, sort of like when you get a painting of the beach that you just went to or a sunset you just saw. More importantly, I’m so glad to have been able to spend it with such great friends, as it seems like everyone has their own thing to do once summer ends… This is definitely not something I would have sought for myself because of my initial anxieties, but I am so glad to have such a thoughtful girlfriend and great friends who are willing to push me beyond my fears and support me :) With all this over, now I wonder when I’ll be back in a studio again, haha. I hope by next time, I’ll have an album ready! :o In the meantime, I think I will practice being creative….