Recording my voice
I get anxious when recording my voice. My voice is like my hair – I just can’t trust it. When I really need it to shine for me, in a recording studio or a photo shoot, I just don’t know how its going to behave.
My voice works for gigging – it’s solid, on pitch, listenable – but it in the mayhem of live performance, there’s not a lot of room for subtlety. On a record, though, all of one’s vocal charms and puzzlements are revealed. Hence my anxiety.
Singing the Title Track
I have never liked the way I sing the title track “Motel”. The vocal line takes a melodic leap right out of the gate. And this is the hook of the tune, so I want to get it right. I dream of a gentle, invitational quality, but the result is always strained and a trifle unpleasant. And now its time for recording my voice and I don’t have a plan!
My husband said “Can i give some advice?” while i was practicing my vocal delivery (WORD: bad time to jump in on a woman) and in my frustration I tore him a new one. “NO! THAT’S THE LAST THING I WANT YOU TO DO!” He scurried off. Turns out he was going to suggest I get more “vulnerable”.
Maybe back off a bit?
In the studio, we ran through some passes with the usual cringing harshness. all my doubts about recording my voice came down, my heart failed me, and in despair I told the engineer that basically I didn’t know what I was doing. He said “Maybe just back off a bit?” WORD: Women will hear things from others that she will not tolerate from her husband. The auto mechanic can correct her shifting technique, but some advice from her husband could result in injury.
The magic world of the studio
Usually when I sing, backing off isn’t effective because i couldn’t hear the results well enough. But in the magic world of the studio, one can whisper a word and it is captured, for good or ill. With a good balance in my headphones, and voice front and center, I heard the way my words broke off, low growls as words rose in my throat, the raw human edges to my voice, the elements that reveal oneself and draw people in. I sank back further and into my cuddly couch of a Neumann 87 mic and warm reverb, til I was slurring my consonants like a drunkard. It felt wonderfully comfortable, instead of nerve-wracking. And the result? A rich, creamy, understated, NOT ANNOYING, vocal. To my great surprise and delight, I discovered that like any other human, i do have a voice.