Ever since I wrote my first song back in 2007, I’d been dreaming of the moment when I’d head to the studio to make my first record! Back then I didn’t even know that apart from albums artists could also release extended play records (or EP for short) and that for a beginner like me it was the most efficient way to get my music out there! Producing a couple of tracks was definitely quicker and cheaper than working on the whole 15-track album and knowing that very few starting out artists rarely make a profit out of their first independent release, choosing an EP format over an album allowed me for more creative freedom and less financial difficulties.

So last year, when I got to record and then release my first ever EP called “Visitor”, I was over the moon how well it turned out and how kindly you welcomed it! I chose 4 of my best songs and recorded them at 13 Sounds Studios in Weston-super-Mare. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that this EP presented me with and for the lessons I’ve learnt while working on it! However, unlike some other artists, I didn’t find the actual recording process to be a bliss. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything as well and as quick as possible, knowing that the studio was hired for a limited time only and that naturally added extra stress to an already challenging situation of being in the studio for the first time.

Over time I’ve discovered that certain things can help make recording sessions less nervewracking and more enjoyable, and as I’m gearing up to start working on some new projects, I thought I’d share a few tips that I’ve picked up that should help you if you ever  find yourself crossing the doorstep of a studio for your first-ever recording session!


My tips for your first trip to the studio

  • If you can, always try to agree on a project fee rather than an hourly fee to avoid working against the clock and feel all kinds of pressure at once!
  • Use metronome! This is non-negotiable!
  • Even if you’re exceptionally talented and can keep the rhythm like no one else, there’ll still be parts that will probably require a bit of moving and fixing. Make sure your sound engineer checks that every instrumental part is perfectly in rhythm before layering any vocals and extra sounds.
  • Tidy up your song project as you go! This is a golden rule that I’ve learnt the hard way! Invest time and effort in checking every part, no matter how quiet it is, and never leave it to the very end. Alining 65 tracks manually because something was missed at the very start is no fun!
  • Following the tip above, don’t delete all bad takes and bloopers as they can add some unique and quirky touches to your songs.
  • Be prepared that not everything that sounds good live sounds as good on the recording.
  • Your first couple of takes are usually your best. When it comes to recording takes, perfection is not your friend! After struggling for half an hour trying to produce a perfect take, you’ll most likely end up with a lifeless mechanical sound that will simply sound off! Instead of obsessing over how perfect your takes are, try to be present in the moment and think of the emotions that you want your future listeners to experience while listening to the song.
  • If you’re stuck on a guitar riff or unable to pitch a harmony, go get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and come back in 5 minutes! You’ll be surprised how much difference those 5 minutes will make and you’ll come back to the microphone relaxed and re-focused!
  • Listen to your recordings on different devices and headphones, and don’t forget to play them on the cheapest, most horrible speaker you can find as not every listener’s going to have professional equipment when they listen to your music! Don’t forget to also listen to your songs somewhere in public as you’ll be surprised how certain sound combinations transform when they get played outside the studio. If you want your music to be versatile, you need to factor in as many potential issues with the sound as possible!

I used to think that the recording process was the most important part of music production and that afterwards your songs are pretty much ready. However, it turned out that recording the songs was just half the problem and that mixing process was equally important and challenging at times.

What’s the best way to arrange the vocals? Where should stereo sound be added and where it’s better to stick to mono?  What effects should be added to the bridge in order to bring up a completely different mood that this part of the song conveys? What sounds should remain in the pause so it doesn’t sound too empty? All of these questions start bombarding your head when you get from the recording room to the engineer’s booth where the mixing process starts.

It took long hours in front of the computer and second by second review of each track to get the songs fully mixed and ready to be mastered. And I suspect that a lot of struggles could’ve probably been avoided if I made sure to follow those simple rules from the very start of the project! However, they say we live and learn and so if I didn’t stumble over those pitfalls back then, I would’ve probably never found out the best ways around the mysteries of music production.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out ‘Visitor’ E.P., you can do it on any of these platforms: iTunes; Apple Music; Spotify; Amazon; Google Play.

If you’d like a physical copy, you can easily get it in my store.