The week had finally come to head into the studio and start recording the bed tracks for the album. The beds are the main instruments that lay down the groove and feel of each song, in our case drums, bass and keys. They provide the framework that everything else is built on. For me this week was when it really home that I was able to make this record. My producer Dean Drouillard helped put together a top notch group of musicians: Mark Mariash on drums, Robbie Grunwald on keys, and Dean on bass. We were recording at the Lincoln County Social Club with the Juno nominated John Dinsmore at the engineering helm.
Dean took the gear and I walked up to the studio. It was a beautiful sunny spring day and I put my earbuds in and listened to our recording demos on the way up. I remember looking up and letting the sun warm my face and feeling like I would burst. Being a mom, it’s often hard to have those moments where you are totally and utterly doing something for yourself, so I let it wash over me.
The guys writing notes and looking very serious
When I got to the recording studio the guys were almost set up and we had a meeting about the first song. We listened to the demos, we played around with the tempo, and Dean gave some direction about other recording artists we could conjure up as influences.
Recording Studio Art – Some of my favourites from the walls of the Lincoln County Social Club
My job for this part of the recording process was singing a ‘scratch’ vocal along with the band. Although I would go back in and record my final vocals later, it helps to have the singer so the band can feel the arc of the song, the push and pull of emotion, when to scale back and when to really give it. Once I had done one scratch vocal for each song, I was then there to listen, give notes, look at John’s many odd posters on the wall, get coffee for the guys, and search the internet for obscure musical gear with Robbie.
Three 10 hour days later, we had successfully recorded all the bed tracks and I was more exhausted than I had been since having my youngest child! I was able to record some footage of us in action so here’s a little video for you to enjoy with a sneak peek of some of the songs from the album.
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.
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.
A chronicle of the recording of my fourth studio album Living Proof