I’ve been in the studio lately and I’m so happy to talk about this based on my current experiences. Vocal production can be daunting to say the least but here are some ways to get over the anxiety of finally having the chance to record your songs for an album or EP project.
1). Prepare Vocal Arrangements Before Sessions
I asked my producer to bounce instrumentals of the tracks for me to work on at home. Being sufficient in a DAW like Logic Pro X is so helpful when you can do some vocal arranging and record too. You need a microphone, an audio interface and your preferred software. I was able to sort out the vocal arrangements for all the songs and practice how I wanted to sing them. I figured out cool harmonies and thought up cool ad-libs for choruses all in my bedroom. So by the time I got to the studio to do the actual vocal production, I was fully prepared and knew exactly what I wanted to sing. Always leave wiggle room incase your producer has a few good ideas.
2). Stay Healthy
A vocalist should be a stickler for good health on a daily basis. Leading up to a Recording session, pay attention to what you eat and be wise about your intake. Eat right and exercise often. It makes a huge difference. Rules like no dairy, nothing too spicy etc. still stand. Stay hydrated.
3). Warm Up the Right Way
Vocalising everyday is important. On the day of a recording, don’t over-do anything. I would wake up in the morning and vocalise about 4 hours before a session to make sure I’m fully warmed up but not strained or vocally tired before the actual session. During takes I would do lip trills and downward sliders just as a way to maintain my vocal focus.
3). Eat/Drink Appropriately In The Studio
Packing your own lunch so you don’t eat junk inbetween takes or on a studio break is a good idea. I realized quite quickly that it wasn’t wise to eat anything too heavy no matter how hungry I got. I stuck to light salads, fruit and hot water/honey concoctions. Know what works for your voice and be careful not to eat or drink anything that will ruin the session. Drink plenty of water throughout the session.
4). Hire A Vocal Producer
If you can afford it, hire a vocal producer who can be with you in the studio while you are recording. I have never actually done this before but I have witnessed it lol! The vocal producer is a great second opinion to have because we as vocalists tend to be in our heads a lot. We tend to think more about the technical stuff than about the actual listener’s experience. A vocal producer helps you to connect to your lyrics in a deeper way and make sure that the way you are singing them is creating an emotion for the listener. Are your words understandable? Is your phrasing appropriate? Is your breathing making or breaking your performance? All these points can be addressed by you or your producer but a vocal producer will be the best 2nd pair of ears.
5). Have Your Lyrics Printed Out
This goes hand in hand with the proviso point. You may be the songwriter of the songs you’re recording and you may know the lyrics backwards but there is something about having the lyrics in front of you that makes the meaning jump out at you from the page. It makes you interpret the songs a lot quicker when you have the words right in front of you.
6). Think Good Thoughts
Every vocal session is plagued with mistakes. No one vocalist is perfect. Yes, there are some vocalists out there who can record a song in one take but most need to break the recording process into sections or a constant pep talk. Be confident and positive. Sometimes anxiety can be inevitable if you’ve had several takes that are not the way you want them to sound but being anxious isn’t good for your voice. So make sure that you are speaking positivity into the atmosphere and know that every time you open your mouth, it is one step closer the right vocal.
Vocal Production and Recording sessions are the gateway to a great record. Take them seriously and know that it is a process. The more and more you have, the better experienced you will be each time.
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