When you are trying to get a really high quality recording or mix, your creativity will often get you much farther then all the technical knowledge you have (or lack there of). In reality having both technical knowledge and creative taste are both important. But over time I have found that creativity usually will trump the technical stuff.
How an EP Made at Home Landed a Record Deal
Did you know that the very first EP from the band Fitz And The Tantrums was recorded at a home studio?
On a live taping of Pensado’s Place (with legendary mixer Dave Pensado) their guest for the segment was founding member and lead singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick.
Dave was probing the band leader about their very first EP. What happen was, Fitz recorded the entire record all by himself with on old version of Pro Tools LE and and just one microphone. That EP ended up leading to performances on talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and that then lead to a record deal.
Now as I relate to my past experiences, I used Pro Tools Le version 6 and from what I remember, it can’t do half of the things that Garageband can do today. It was a great Daw for basic tracking and editing, but there weren’t any of the awesome tools like virtual instruments, Beat Detective, Beat Detective, high end plugins or automatic delay compensation. It was also restricted to only 32 tracks where as nowadays it’s multiple of that. DAW’s nowadays make that version seem so infantile.
The funny thing is that with all those limitations, it still didn’t stop guy from creating an album that led him to getting a record deal. And actually Fitz mentioned that he just recently upgraded to the newest version of Pro Tools because he didn’t care. He really just wanted to get down to making the music. Awesome!
Getting Right Onto It
In fact, he mentioned in that interview that “creativity trumps technicality” relating to recording and also when mixing music. He really had no idea what he was doing when he created that EP. All he knew how to do was make good music and he turned to the tools to capture those sounds.
He says that he really had no idea what he was doing. He had slopping editing techniques and plugins were just thrown up at random. It seems like a primitive kind of workflow but to him it was more about just trying things to see what happened. That is an essential attitude for all engineers. If he had an idea, he would try it and if it worked, he just kept doing it.
So Don’t Wait, Go Practice Now!
So if you are sitting around and waiting to make some really awesome music, don’t! Go now and start making some really cool stuff. You might be waiting for high quality gear or maybe you think you haven’t learned enough techniques to make a really pro sounding record. It also might be that you don’t have a schedule or deadline set.
Whatever it is that’s holding you back, you have to try and just let it go. You shouldn’t wait a second longer to get to work in your home studio. Look at it this way, Michael Fitzpatrick is just like you and I. He didn’t have the best recording set up but what he did have was some great songs written and a desire to make music. If he can do, so can you!
Watch this video for the basics of mixing techniques: