Electronic folk artist Lisa Schumann takes us through the process of recording her debut E.P. at Tigersonic Studio
Making an EP is like a big spider web. You start crafting the beginning and from there it expands and expands. The idea of making my Debut EP first came up in Felix´ “Smart Musician – Artist Development Course”, a course that shifted my focus and productivity in many ways. Felix is very keen that ideas don't just stay ideas, quickly it became clear that the EP project needed a deadline. I set myself the goal to complete it within 3 month, shortly after that I booked the venue for the launch. This was the first and most important step, a big “YES, I´m going to create my EP and I´m going to do it within these 3 months.”, self accountability the main key. One of Felix´ main tools was; set a deadline and work backwards (What are the single steps you have to do to reach this goal?). My steps to finishing my EP were these:
Select the tunes for your EP. Is it going to be a 3-track-EP, 4-track-EP etc?In that process, stay true to your feeling and only go with tracks you are 100% sure about.If you are not sure about one of them, it will only cause more work and recording time in the end because you and your audience will be able to hear that you were not confident about them to begin with.
Choose a theme for the EP. Brainstorm, make mood boards, get pencils and paper out, craft if you like to, or make a Pinterest Board. Pinterest boards are very helpful as you can share them with the people involved such as the producer. Give them an impression of what sound or atmosphere you are going for, or you can even share it with your followers afterwards, a nice behind-the-scenes-visual!
Lisa kept this picture "diary" of her recording journey - she posted it regularly on Instagram. She also reposted her Instagram pictures on her Twitter account. Really nice engaging way to keep her Frans (friends/fans ) in the loop.
Pick a title! It should not be too long and easy to remember. Would you like to buy an EP with that title? Choose a title that really resonates with you and that you are excited about.
Work on the tracks! Work on their arrangement, instrumentation and production (if you are producing yourself), do as much as you can so you save time in the recording studio. Parts that don't work or need a lot of tweaking will cost you a lot of extra time in the studio!
Be prepared and fully finish the tracks before going into the studio! Don't overcrowd your tracks by adding instrument over instrument. Do you have many instruments taking up the low frequencies or do you have too many synths layering up which take up the head space for the vocals? Could it be that you added another low drum to make the sound bigger? Don't overcrowd it- it will sound "muddy"! In the end, keep it simple, otherwise you will end up using a lot of your studio time to separate sounds and frequencies and make space for the different parts, for example the voice part.
Find a recording studio! Pick a studio where you trust the engineer and producer, be confident that they are able to tune into your style of music and to realize the sound you are going for. I chose to record my EP at Tigersonic Studio because Felix Macintosh is an absolutely fantastic producer and engineer and great to work with. She immediately picked up the vibe I wanted to create with my tracks, was great in leading me through the actual recording and created a warm and creative atmosphere during the sessions.
This is a very short video of Lisa in the studio recording vocals for the third track of the E.P. Bold The tune is called "Standstill." Not all of the people who record at Tigersonic want fairylights .. But a bit of mood lighting can do wonders for us all.
Prepare the recording session!
What equipment do you need? Cables? Check with the studio beforehand and make sure you have everything you need on the day. Software- Check what software they are using in the studio! If it is not the same or not compatible prepare your tracks and bounce the different stems you have pre-recorded or produced. Bring them on a hard-drive or even send them before your recording session.
Print out lyrics and song structures.
Bring reference tracks so everyone in the studio knows what sound you are aiming for.
Buzz! Get promotion!
Blog reviews before and after the release. You can set up a “Secret Soundcloud Link” and share it with people. Send out emails to blogs with the secret link and a nice text! BBC Introducing, Amazing Radio etc.- Upload your tracks to platforms to get radio plays! Do research and find out which radio stations match your style or which shows play similar music to yours.
Write a press release and send it out to local newspapers, tell them about your launch and invite them! There are many press release templates online. Most important; make it yours, be creative!
Twitter is great to connect with other people who are excited about the music that you are excited about. Connect with them, talk to them, see what they like, tell them about your project, give their projects a plug, be active but not pushy. Be authentic, be real and just start a conversation.
After recording in the studio, are you getting your tracks mastered? Felix recommended Chris McCormack who did a brilliant job mastering my Be Bold EP . For a small extra fee the mastering studio will send a DDP file for pressing straight to the CD printing company and you have no hassle. Have you applied for an ISRC number which you can get from PPL It will be engraved in the mastering process so the recording can be identified when played on radio.
Launch What makes your launch interesting to go to? What is different? Will there be a support band or two on the night, or will you be the only band performing? If you are the only band playing, are there other things going on at the night, like photo booths, competitions etc? Have you thought about decoration and how to make your theme/ EP title visible on the night? Could it be a themed night with people dressing up?
Merchandise! Will you sell something alongside your CDs? T-shirts, Cards, Posters? Is your performance well rehearsed? This is crucial to the night! Who wants to support a band that doesn’t care enough to be on top of their performance? Who wants to buy their CDs? Will it be free entry or are you selling tickets? If you are selling tickets is there a fun way to do it so that people get excited about the event? Do you need to rent a PA for the night? Do you need a sound engineer? The earlier you cover all these bases the better your night will be!
Share share share! Tell people about it, don’t hide. If you feel unsure about it, why are you making an EP? After the launch promote your EP and get gigs lined up! If you don't follow up and care about your EP who is going to care? Get out there!
Lisa's E.P. on Bandcamp
Get super excited! It is YOUR EP! What a great project to go through with. Stick to the deadlines and your plan from the beginning. Make it a fun and productive time. Make it interesting by making it yours!
To find out more about Lisa Schumann visit her site here