What I Learned From My First Time Recording In A Studio

Posted by Matt Richley on 1 May 2015

Working on my first EP over the last few months has introduced me to a series of new experiences and has taught me some important lessons, especially about what it feels like to hand over your songs to someone else.

This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced something like it. I had a couple of songs published in the past, but had no say in the arrangements. I had found it strange listening to the way my songs had changed.

As I started out working on my first proper EP, I knew I’d be handing over a lot of control to my producer and engineer, and I wondered whether things would be different this time around.

Right from the start it helped that I have known Sam Cox - the producer - for a while. We’re mates, and I’ve watched his standard increase so much over the last few years. So I knew that whatever he did was going to be great.

He sent me early sketches to give me an idea of where he thought the sounds and arrangements could go, but even though at first I couldn’t hear my own songs in them, I knew I could trust him.

Once we got in the studio, everything started to make sense. As the songs grew layer by layer, I heard my songs reach a whole new level. Sam, Luke Fellingham (engineer) and the musicians Tim Cook, Jonny Bird and Henry Marsden, brought so much creativity to the project, and it really wasn’t hard to let go.

Instead of feeling as though they’ve changed the songs beyond recognition, I feel as though they have taken them out of a rut and put them somewhere I never could have reached before.

As well as Sam and the others, I’ve also spent a lot of time with other songwriters. It’s really increased my hunger for creativity. Last November I was on a writers’ retreat and listened to Tim Hughes and Nick Herbert talk about how they wrote Set Apart to an Electronic Dance Music loop. I felt challenged to have a go myself. My first attempt sounded just like Set Apart, so I binned it. The second was no good, but the third had something to work on, and it became a song called Christ Will Shine.

The whole recording process of writing, recording and learning about how to get better has shown me that it can be fun to push musical and creative boundaries. I’m left wondering whether I really do need to stay in the boxes that I put myself in. If writing in a certain style works, that’s great, but if not I’m feeling so much freer to start again and try something new. 

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