I just picked up the new album by my good friend and colleague Paul Tauterouff, entitled Audio Chocolate. Paul is a perennial pro instrumental guitarist who is branching out into new territory with this latest project by inviting several guest musicians; namely guitarists like Nick Layton, the incomparable violinist Pete Hartley and several pro vocalist, to be part of the project this time and it produced great results. I was fortunate to be one of those guest vocalists and I wanted to tell you about my experience.
A few months before he finished the music for the project, Paul asked me to write lyrics and record guest vocals for 2 of the tracks on his album; Voices (track 2) and Rebel (track 5). Of course at the time, neither of the tracks had titles, only basic guitar riffs and melodies. For both songs Paul gave me an idea of what he was thinking each song could be about but beyond that, he let me be as creative as I wanted to be from there.
Rebel was the first song I wrote. Paul said, I want this to be a tongue in cheek tribute to the south and southern rock. The only thing I keep hearing over and over in my head is the phrase, I'm a rebel son! So from there, I ran with a barrage of clich southern phrases and southern cultural activities, to come up with a silly homage to the south.
It was actually a lot of fun to write. It brought me back to my college days as a bright-eyed Colorado boy heading to a prestigious southern University in the state of North Carolina. I had never been anywhere but Colorado at that point in my life and boy was I in for a major culture shock! Turns out I would recall some of my Tar Heel experiences to help me create the song Rebel. Verses like, we like honky tonkin and shootin just for fun! Sittin on the front porch, sippin shine, watchin fireflies on the Mason Dixon line, were just a few of the lines I came up with. Pretty silly really, but that was the idea and Paul loved it, so I ran with it.
Next came Voices. A much harder edged song but one that Paul wanted to tell a story with too. I think this song is talking about a girl whose a bit strange. She dances to her own drum and she really doesn't care who knows it, Paul said.
This song was a bit tougher to write from a personal perspective, since I'm not a woman but I've been in situations where I've felt like I was the outcast and didn't give a darn what people thought of me, so that's where I began to write from.
Secondly, I've got a very good female friend who is the perfect model of eccentricity, with no pause about who she is, so I used her as my template for the girl in Voices. (She was totally stoked when I told her the song was about her by the way.) Some of the lyrics that made up the skeleton of the song were lines like, Misunderstood, diamond in the rough, the world for her can't move fast enough. I basically tried to paint a mental picture of this girl for the listener.
So I had my lyrics all finished and now it was time to record the vocals for each track. The best part about this project was the ease and convenience that came from recording the songs in my own home studio. See Paul lives in New York and I live in Colorado, so recording together in a studio was not an option. But it was also not an obstacle. in this day and age of high quality recording software and recording technologies working with other pros in other areas of the country or the world, is not a problem.
Everything I needed to record a professional studio quality sound is right in my home. And it didn't cost me tens-of- thousands of dollars to do it either. I used Ableton Live 8, a popular recording software ($300) A Mac Book Pro laptop ($1200), an M-Audio interface ($50), a shure sm58 beta microphone ($100) and a pair of stereo headphones ($30). All of which I can use again and again for future recording projects, so if you look at it that way, I really used my investments to record these 2 songs for Paul. The only expense I really had, was my time and some electricity. Pretty cool! Especially when you consider what it would cost me to record my vocals at a local professional recording studio. You're talking at least $150 to $300/hour and they're not going to take the time and effort to make the quality of the recording near as good as you would yourself because they simply don't give you the time. Unless you're willing to pay for it that is.
Each song took me a day to do. Recording the main vocals, then the harmonies. From there, choosing certain vocal effects that the recording software offers and getting all the volume levels right is usually the next step but for Paul's project, I didn't even have to do that. He preferred that I leave all the vocals and harmonies dry so he could manipulate them on his end when he got to the mixing end of things with each song.
Once the tracks are complete and ready for shipment, I just imported the files as WAV courier service for sending large files to anyone anywhere vial email.files, and emailed them to Paul via YouSendIt.com, a free
All-in-all a very simple and fun process that I learned a great deal from. And each time I do session work with/for colleagues I learn something new about long distance recording collaborations and recording in general for that matter. Lessons that make each new recording session I'm involved with that much better because of my past experiences. recording engineer to make great recordings! If I can do it, anybody can!You don't have to be a professional
Bottom line, Paul Tauterouff's Audio Chocolate turned out to be a successful, ambitious journey of sounds and textures that will please many musical tastes. And I'm so proud to be a part of it!
You can purchase the hard copy version or download your digital copy of the album at PAULTAUTEROUFF.COM. Don't forget to let me know what you think!
**Do you have any thoughts or comments on this article? I'd love to hear what you think about recording, music or anything that comes to mind. Please leave your comments or questions below and I'll get back to you asap!
** Johnny Ryan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and session musician from Denver, CO. To contact Johnny, email him at: email@example.com or visit his website at:JOHNNYRYANMUSIC.COM