How to prepare for a recording studio session
4 easy tips for musicians by Metropolis Studios sound engineer Alex Robinson
You’re a musician or a band, you’ve written your first Single, EP or Album and you’re getting ready to hit the studio?
Metropolis Studio's head engineer Alex Robinson gives 4 essential tips that every musician should know.
Make it about you.
A lot of young up and coming artists that come to us for the first time are a bit nervous. It’s a big studio with big recording rooms, and quite often they’re working with renowned producers or artists heading up the projects.
That can put a lot of pressure on the young artist. Especially with a recording room of this size. You’re going to the vocal booth and feel like you're on display for everyone – and that’s not easy.
When you go into the studio to record, especially when you’re a vocalist and in the main focus, my main advice is to remind yourself that everyone is here to help you and to help to get the best performance out of you. Don’t forget that!
The engineers and the assistants are here to put you in the best possible position to succeed!
In terms of making yourself comfortable in the booth, if you feel like you’re on display go and turn stuff around you so that you’re not facing everyone. Make it about you – if you want the lights down a bit or if your headphone mix isn’t quite right don’t be afraid to ask for stuff to make sure that you’re feeling as comfortable as possible and have the best chance to get the best performance and delivering the best takes.
Don't bring broken instruments.
Talking about bands, sometimes they turn up with equipment, which I would say is usable. That can mean different things in different styles of music.
Sometimes a slightly broken guitar got that character to it is absolutely right for the style of music. But if you want to record something that is going to be very well produced, or overproduced, you don’t want to turn up with an instrument that is out of tune or slightly broken. Just be aware of that.
Make sure you have fresh drum heads, strings, and picks. Also it can't hurt to bring spares, just to be safe.
Proper rehearsal is key.
Another big thing when we have young bands coming in that are maybe not that experienced - they kind of have an idea what they want to do in the studio and think they're ready to record before the song may be necessarily ready to get tracked.
You know, a lot of young bands going to the rehearsal room and write a song and say: "Cool let’s go to the studio to record it." I cannot overemphasize to do demos before you hit the studio.
You know, they don’t have to be super well recorded or produced, but to be able to hear all the parts in context - not just for the band, but also for the producer - is great and instantly you can start to analyze your tracks and that makes the recording process in the studio so much easier.
You spend a lot of money to go to a big studio, and you want to make sure that the track you want to record is 100% ready.
The worst thing you can do is record something and saying afterward “oh, we should have done that different or we should change parts or maybe that chorus should have been twice the length,…".
You can do that in the rehearsal room and even with basic recordings you can analyze your songs and make sure that they’re ready.
Turning up on time and getting yourself organized with everything you need to know before a session is always critical. From knowing where the studio is to whom you are going to meet in there, and what you’re doing on that day.
Photos © Tom Rowland
About Alex Robinson:
Alex arrived at Metropolis in 2013 and is now an established engineer working across a wide variety of sessions. A busy 18 months has seen him working with a mixture of big artists and breakthrough talent with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Sam Fender, The Cure, Pale Waves, Coldplay & Octavian.
Alex has also taken a lead role helping develop some of Metropolis' flagship studio initiatives including ‘Clash Live @ Metropolis’, the ‘Make It Music’ brand campaign for Ellesse and the ‘Spotify Sessions’ in which he’s recorded and mixed some of the most compelling acts on the circuit – Pale Waves, Band Of Skulls, Samm Henshaw, The Kooks, IAMDDB, Bloxx, Laurel, Maisie Peters, Nina Nesbitt, Roses Gabor, Louis Berry, Holly Cook, Rukhsana Merrise, Anteros, Not3s, Billy Lockett and Fatherson…to name just a few.
Some of his other work includes mixing Chris Rea’s 24th studio album “Road Song For Lovers” along with his regular clients Bullet For My Valentine, working on their last two albums “Venom” and “Gravity”.