Song: Red As Red Can Be
Production: Cleo (Angelo Thomaz, Juan Manuel Puñales and Mattia Battegazzore)
The session was divided into three parts:
- instrumental session with all the instruments playing live with a live female pilot vocal;
- lead vocal session;
- backing vocal session.
1.1a Instrumental session (set up)
This and the following sessions took place at the Funkhaus’ K4 studio.
The wettest room was used for the cajon and two room microphones were placed at a couple meters of distance in an A/B stereo technique to emphasize the sensation of space. As close techniques, one mic was placed in front and one behind to capture all the frequencies and beats.
The female pilot vocal was performed live in the central room, to give more vibe to the instrumental players and to involve everyone in the session.
For the guitar, a close microphone was placed near the 12th fret and a couple of small diaphragm condenser mikes set with an X/Y technique. This was to achieve a guitar sound on the mix with a strong presence on the mids and not too spacey (X/Y creates space but it is not overly strong).
The bass went directly into a DI box via a tuner pedal. From here the mic signal went directly into the desk while the Hi-Z link output went to a mic preamp and compressor.
A Nord emulating a piano sound was used and its outputs were plugged two DI boxes before reaching the desk mic inputs.
1.1b Instrumental session (recording)
The cajon was recorded first together with the female pilot vocal and, after recording enough material, a quick comp was done to get good playback for keyboard and bass. The guitar player was recorded too but his sound was not sent to the others, to hold back some material for future comping and editing without affecting the other players performance.
1.2 Vocal session
We opted for recording the vocals simultaneously but in different rooms. All the mics were set with a pop filter and a low-cut on the way in. Limited time did not allow to record abundant material but the singers were pretty precise and hard compression on the way in for the lead vocal contributed to reach a good result.
The Cajon was the most delicate, given that its groove is not meant to stick to the grid. After careful comping, beat detective was used only to tighten up the main beats and, after clip separation, it was conformed at a strength of 90% and a tolerance of 10% to keep the real vibe. It was decided to use lots of copy and paste to create the best cajon track possible.
Bass and keyboard were easy to edit: comping was already adequate for dynamic, time and performance. Some gain corrections and beat detective were used to follow the previous edits.
The best guitar parts were selected solely from a performance point of view and, then, a lot of beat detective was used. It was not easy to use this tool here but, after copy-and-paste and some arrangement decisions, the track was good enough for the song.
Working on the lead vocal was a pleasure; because of his timbre and genre, no hard pitch correction was needed and some freedom was taken to leave the spinal vibe. While comping, it was easy to notice he sang some of the takes at a certain distance from the microphone and some up near. This was ideal to create three different tracks: one central, created out of the higher gain clips, and two doubles with the lower ones. This helped for pitch-correction too: the central one was slightly revised in Logic and the others were left at their comping stage to create some pleasant effects, helping corrections to flow more naturally. Only a few gain automation nodes were needed, thanks to hard compression on the way in and to his dynamically balanced singing.
Time correction was needed only on the backing vocals. After comping, pitch correcting and gain automating these, they needed to be slightly moved in time to make a more precise sounding vocal harmony.
3. Mixing and Mastering
Following a rough mix, which was made easily on Pro Tools in an hour, the mixing session started. Each single track was sent through a Trident desk in which all the most important EQing and dynamic processing were done (also thanks to some outboard analog compressors). Right after this, the mix was finished on Pro Tools using all the digital equipment needed.
Mastering was completed in Pro Tools and using Isotope Ozone 6 as the main tool. Some classic American folk songs were taken as references.