After two and a half years of being a band Corita finally took the time to go into a proper studio and commit our songs to tape (or digital files, in this case). We were in luck to work with Joel Hamburger at Godelstring studios in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
It’s a beautiful, well kept studio that Joel build up himself over 7 years. An incredible engineer (and Physics student) who also plays a producer’s role he knew what we wanted to achieve and made our songs sound like they always have sounded like in our heads. He was relaxed, confident and reassuring, setting up the environment to be as natural as possible so we could relax and concentrate on playing our songs. He also knew the flow of the recording day so well he knew exactly when to suggest we take breaks, get food, and even (towards the end of the first day) have a beer.
I learned a lot being in the studio. I always dreaded recording, thinking about it as a tedious process that was mired in frustration and unhappiness. In Joel’s capable hands it was long, for sure, but immensely satisfying and even fun!I also learned a lot about being a musician. I realized that the more I relaxed the better my playing and singing became. This is not surprising, but important to recognize.
Recording vocals is always very revealing and at certain moments I began to over think my singing and got progressively depressed about it. That was when it was time for a break. What I realized when we listened to the tracks back was that I was over singing before. In the studio there’s no reason to push your voice over a roaring sound system because you can hear everything.
I realized I was pushing my voice to be too theatrical and it was creating music that I didn’t want to listen to, which is a real problem because I feel like I should always write the music I want to hear in my own band. It was real revelation to realize that in the studio I could relax and let my voice be its own, limited self, and that the songs sounded better that way. That’s a lesson I’ll carry out of the studio and on to the stage.
It was also a very validating experience to spend two full days concentrating on something I create. After six years of working full-time in “the arts” I’ve started to think of myself less of a creative person and more as someone who supports other creative people. Lately I have been telling the artists I work with that I am a writer and musician just to make myself sound more “for real” to them.
Two full days in the studio felt like my very own weekend artists residency and I realized that I have to take this kind of time to take my own work seriously. What I love about my band is that it gives me a focus and there are three other people to push the project along. But after seeing what a weekend can achieve I feel energized and more able to value my own creativity and projects. And that makes me more valuable to the artists I work with as well.