Recording “on the road” in NYC

As the apartment door opened, a cloud of marijuana smoke greeted me. I didn't think that boded too well for our recording session, but I told myself not to be judgmental.

I’d found this “home studio” in a trade paper – the rates were fair and I just needed to record a couple of projects for clients while traveling.

There didn’t seem to be a booth in the one room apartment, but my host assured me it wasn’t necessary. His studio had a great sound. So, I got behind the mic and we got stuck in. The buzz and hum coming from his recording equipment had me a little concerned. I asked if we could do a quick test and he assured me we should just go for a take. So, we did. And the results… were shockingly bad.

I suggested that possibly I needed a slightly more professional set up, which offended him. In his defense, he told me he’d recorded an entire album with the exact same equipment. He would play me a song from it. He was sure it was going to be big – really big.

I listened, dumbstruck, to him singing a ditty about his cat, Jake, accompanied by guitar (plus hiss and hum)  Jake’s picture hung in a grand frame on the wall next to us.) He was – alas – no longer living. (He’d probably suffocated in marijuana fumes or had a brain embolism from listening to his master sing.) I extricated myself from the “studio” as fast as I could and went for plan B.

As I entered the second studio on my list, I felt reassured. It was clearly a professional studio with quality equipment. My relief was short lived. I entered the reception area and found myself interrupting what seemed like a rappers’ gang meeting. I wished I were wearing a medallion, or at least a baseball cap turned sideways to blend in.

After what seemed like an eternity, the engineer arrived to take me to our session. (We’d spoken on the phone, so I thought I’d try to build rapport, maybe downplay the English accent and try to sound a little hip…)

“So, Dave” I said, as he led me down a winding corridor, bopping as he went to some music only he could hear, “Basically, I just have a short e-learning script for one client and a few pickups…” He interrupted me: “It’s not Dave, it’s Daze – like Dazed and Confused.” I wished I could counter with something like, “Actually, it’s not Susannah, it’s Deja Banana,” but I let it slide.

I’ve recorded with engineers who spoke a completely different language from me, and this was no exception. I could see, with each word I spoke, that none of it made the least bit of sense to Daze. There were no rhymes, there was no rhythm. He kept waiting for me to get to the good bit, but it didn’t happen. There wasn’t much juice for him in the script about ocean ship navigation systems. I left the studio 45 minutes later with my project in hand and my engineer looking truly dazed and confused.

Meet Susannah

Hi! I’m Susannah. It’s nice to virtually meet you!

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