Lola’s Theme — Vocals 2.0

Part 2 — Execution

The Setup

At 5pm on Tuesday evening, Adam and I set up the Neve’s control room, while Eugene set up the live room.

Eugene set up the microphones in a pseudo mid-side configuration. The AKG C414 was set to omni and would perform what a bi-directional microphone usually would in this configuration; capturing the ‘side’ or stereo image. The AKG C1000 S would function as the ‘mid’ in this configuration and was set to cardioid, aimed directly at Demi.

Adam and I meanwhile, set up headphone mixes, talk back mics and patched-in a hardware reverb. We returned this reverb signal to a separate channel on the Neve and blended it with the dry signal from the AKG 414. This would serve as a live ‘complementary reverb’ for the artist (which we could send to her headphone mix), but we would also record this signal.

AKG 414 set to omni & AKG C1000 set to cardioid

The Session

Demi arrived and her personality made it obvious she was a good fit for the soulful aesthetic of the song. After a few passes of rehearsals I knew her voice would suit the song too.

We recorded in distinct phases, breaking the song down into repeatable sections, beginning with the “ooh’s and aah’s” of the first 32 bars. Next we recorded both verses before moving onto the choruses and the sustained outro.

We divided the session into two, breaking at the point before recording the choruses. The chorus is crucial to the song’s message and Demi would need all her energy to record the performance we needed.

After the choruses and outro, we recorded small over-dubs to fill in the holes of the recording. We flirted with the idea of recording harmonies, but at this stage in the evening, decided against it, opting instead to use Melodyne to create the layers of harmony we want.

Adam (left) and I (right) mid-take

Lessons Learnt

By the evening’s end, we had accumulated a lot of audio and each section consisted of multiple takes. This is going to require plenty of re-listening and editing in order to comp together the best takes.

To address this, our lecturer Peter Trimbacher, suggested using a tracking sheet in future sessions, to annotate ‘live’ the quality of each take.

Finally, working with Adam in the control room was a valuable experience. He passed on a lot of new knowledge to me and helped augment my understanding of using the Neve and the patch bay.

Moving Forward

We now have all the raw material needed to move Lola’s Theme on to completion. What remains now is two weeks of piecing the component parts together.