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Finding the Positives of a Recording Process at the National Lockdown Anniversary



One year on and SixtyFour Music went searching for the positives from three national lockdowns and a year of covid limitations

Finding the Positives of a Recording Process at the National Lockdown Anniversary

During the anniversary week of the first Covid-19 lockdown announcement, SixtyFour Music reflects on the last year of covid-19 restrictions and what it's been like for its staff whilst working from home. 

It’s the final stretch! We’re all fed up. We want our lives back! We hope we are a few weeks away from COVID’s limitations being lifted and looking back on the year we’ve had, there have certainly been some real challenges and tests for us as creatives, employees and human beings.

It feels like there’s no going back to the hustle and bustle of working from the office, at least not just yet. We have adapted to managing our own time and realised the importance of staying healthy mentally and physically by taking breaks, eliminating commute stress and being able to say no to extensive work hours and high demand has become a lot easier; banishing constant stress. 

Music has been one of the main sources to keep our spirits lifted in and out of work by soundtracking our new fitness routines, calming us into meditations, putting a spring in our step on our daily walks and replacing the pub or club we’d long for on a Friday. Music needs to be played and music still needs to be made.

For our composer and arrangers, remote working or living nomadically isn’t that simple; there are instruments and equipment, noise levels and space to consider, work-life isn’t portable. But adjustments were made and rather than dwelling on the negatives of the pandemic, let's highlight the positives and benefits they sought as a recording musician, a composer and producer, and a creative at large.  

Dealing with 'particularly strange' circumstances and adapting to strict studio rules as a composer/arranger

Dan from Austen Corbin Productions had just started building a studio just before the pandemic hit so was already well on his way to creating a new space but those future recording sessions now relied on video conferencing and Source Connects to successfully be achieved.

“COVID didn’t stop creativity, we just managed to work around it”

“Adapting to the new norm meant we were able to successfully record sessions over video conferencing which brought us closer and it means musicians had to develop themselves by crafting their own skill, it also enabled directors and producers to join the calls” 

Recording online and with limited musicians in a session brought its benefits! Dan found his focus to be sharper with fewer people around, more control over a mix with the orchestra recorded in sections and still being able to meet and work musicians as a network and to jell with them rather than working alone, “particularly with music you need that connection”.

How was it for the musicians?

“It was a vast relief to get back into the studio where other musicians were, although things are going back to normal, we had to adapt the way we work. When recording a live session we have to be considerate of musicians coming in and out and being aware of the two meter restriction. Musicians are desperate to come in and do sessions, a lot of our musicians survive on live gigs and are incredibly enthusiastic to work with us”

I can only assume the feeling for musicians returning to the stage and studio being an incredibly relieving one, not being able to perform with your skill is like creating an ad for no viewers. It was “more complicated in smaller spaces but the enthusiasm is still there in everyone, we just have to work differently.”

“With Aldi we were given the chance to do video call-ins but we decided against it because it’s so important to have a physical face-to-face interaction so although it’s good to use, we could never trade it in.”

From a production perspective, what effect does the recording process have on the overall sound?

Nick Payne shared his process from the recent Aldi ad. 

“One thing that really stood out to me during this process was how the layering of all that natural reverb created by the size of the room can affect the final sound of the mix. If you imagine what recording in a big space adds in terms of reverb and then you multiply that 5 or 6 times you can end up with a very big sound that you have little control over when you come to mix later. It’s something you don’t get when you record a whole orchestra in one take and not something we’d considered beforehand. Hopefully not too many people noticed”.

Amy McKnight talks to us about the benefits of producing and composing from a homemade studio and exploring personal creativity in her own space, on her own time. 

Amy found it much harder at the start. Her studio was in London but her attic in Hastings became her new office, meaning moving all equipment from A to B. Adapting to the new creative space wasn’t easy until she made herself a schedule. 

Working at silly o’clock in this industry and in the city was a norm because time is hard to manage properly or with care, and it’s hard to walk away from work sometimes! But Amy was strict on her working hours freeing up more time for family and personal commitments. 

“It’s not as tense anymore. Unless it’s an emergency I won’t work after 6, I now have work time, family time and downtime. I got the downtime back which was a huge benefit. I don’t ever remember in my professional life having this type of balance, there’s no anxiety and I’ll push to keep that going.”

Amy usually works alone, but like the rest of us, Zoom has become a place for us to connect and collaborate with others face-to-face. “This was a positive because you’ve recorded collabs with musicians that wouldn’t normally be set up, writing sessions that would never have been set up”. It was a valuable chance to build relationships.

The separation from mainly committing to work meant that Amy had her own time to “just make music”; lockdown was a time and space to build her skill, experiment with sound and create her sound palate which she’s never done before.

Being cut off from society as a creative hasn’t been the worst scenario we all expected it to be. We found ways around COVID to use our time wisely when working and to think outside the box, having a creative brain helped this part function. As life is slightly going back to normal, going back to the studio as a recording musician now after (for some) a year out seems healthy, musicians want their livelihoods back and for others who have been happy to form their new norms, it’s definitely been a time to relax more and focus inwards, for 2020 was the year that taught us about well being. 

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Genres: Music & Sound Design

SixtyFour Music, Thu, 25 Mar 2021 14:52:56 GMT