The Perks of Working in a Recording Studio

By Ian Beabout, Online Editor

It’s not uncommon for me to easily spend 9-10 hours in the recording studio. I’m not sure if it’s the result of perfectionism to a fault, or simply an addiction, but when left to my own devices – the hours just evaporate in an instant.

When I tell people that part of my major involves music technology, I usually get a “huh?” No, I don’t spend my time making EDM (Electronic Dance Music) or robot-voice laden Daft Punk rip-offs; at least not all of my time that is.

I’m more of a microphone guy. The idea of capturing a performance, forever locking a moment in time, is something that fascinates me to no end. I’m also fascinated by the artistry that goes into recording. Just capturing the performer alone doesn’t really cut it in 2016, you have to make your recordings stand out at a time when just about anyone can make an album.

As the man behind the desk, my job is often that of an arranger, talent scout, mediator, diplomat, and techie all rolled into one. I also can inhabit the role of a performer, producer, coordinator, and engineer. What obsesses me above all is finding the best possible presentation of the art.

To me, there’s not really a whole lot of difference between bad sounding music and bad music. If good music is presented poorly, who’s going to know or care to listen to the actual quality? But with this in mind, you’re also in danger of making your mixes sound too ‘clinical’ or clean, thereby zapping the humanity right out of it.

I try to avoid this the best I can – I leave buzzy strings and cracked vocal takes in. It’s all about the feeling, the emotion, the performance, life. We also experiment with effects and reverbs, as well as practical effects such as sending an instrument through an amp that isn’t traditionally treated that way. This is all about identity, finding a sound that is unique.

I can tell you that studio work is one of the most rewarding activities in my life, but it really becomes incredible when you begin to involve the talents of others. Friendships form and through the share of creative thoughts and ideas, amazing things can happen. Collaboration is such a beautiful, beautiful thing. It’s not about ego, it’s about artists gathering together and bringing their talents to push the project to be the best it can be.

As an admitted average musician, working in a recording studio gives me the opportunity to make music in an entirely unique way. I love music, spend most of my time listening to and discovering, thinking about, and agonizing over music. What working in a studio gives me is a chance to exercise my musicality (a very different thing than technical proficiency), my creativity, and to give others a chance to be heard.

Photo By Sam Wilson