Category: Recording

The Making of the Emma Cook Voice Instrument

Although my voice is already an instrument of sorts, this week we created an instrument using many layers of my voice, and it sounds dope! (Yes, I just wrote the word dope, and?)

My producer Dean Drouillard and I are trying to get the first single from Living Proof finished so I spent a few hours this week recording vocals. Dean had this amazing idea to make an instrument out of my voice that he can play as an added backing track layer on the album. He got this idea from the iconic 1975 hit I’m Not In Love by 10CC. Take a listen to the first 45 seconds of the original version of the song and you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. There is this really cool sounding effect made up of layering the bands voices and ‘playing’ them so they swell up and down. In order to create this instrument back then, it would have taken days as they didn’t have computers and were recording to tape!

In our case, Dean made tracks for just shy of two octaves and had me sing Ah’s, Oh’s and Ooh’s held for as long as I could and without any vibrato. He then cut off the beginning and ending of each and spliced them together so there was essentially a never-ending sound. I had to do this for each note, going down chromatically from a high A. I was really thankful for my classical voice training for this exercise, because it sure took a lot of breath control to hold the notes and stay perfectly on pitch AND not have any vibrato.

I am super happy about the way it sounds and can’t wait to see what Dean does with it on our first single I Will Stay. Take a listen to the example Dean sent over of how the instrument sounds with my voice.

How I Picked the Right Producer

Emma Cook - Same Old Song, producer Mitch Girio

Same Old Song (2016), producer Mitch Girio

Finding the right producer for an album is quite possibly the most important part of the whole process. The songs have to be there of course, but having badly produced songs is like having mushy pasta: there may have been nothing wrong with the pasta itself, it was just overcooked. I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing producers, including Mitch Girio for my last album Same Old Song. There is a magic that happens when someone brings out the ‘true’ nature of the songs, or can bring forward some truth that you didn’t necessarily even know was there when you were writing them.

Producer Dean Drouillard

Dean Drouillard

I came across producer Dean Drouillard by happenstance. Although I didn’t meet him on Yelp as he likes to joke, our kids became friends in JK at our local public school. An amazing musician and composer in his own right, he is also a sought after guitar player and has played with everyone from Royal Wood to Buffy Sainte-Marie. I asked Dean if he would produce a few demos for me to use to for licensing opportunities and to apply for an Ontario Arts Council grant. Working with Dean for the demos was a pivotal time for me. I hadn’t really admitted to myself that I was ready to get back out there and record another album. I wasn’t sure I could do it with my continuing health struggles, and I felt a mixture of fear and self-doubt.

The songs however, and what Dean was able to bring out of me, told a different story altogether. Listening to the finished product, I heard someone who had both a story to tell and the drive to tell it. I heard power and intimacy and sadness and strength. It was then that I finally admitted to myself that I had to do this. It was Dean who pushed me to apply for the coveted FACTOR Juried Sound Recording Grant which I later received and which is making the dream of Living Proof into an exciting reality.