Monday, August 15, 2011

8.13.11 Lydia Kavanagh at Leopard Studio

Worked with Lydia Kavanagh (of Golden Palominos) on a beautiful Christmas song she wrote called "It's Christmas" at Leopard Studio over the weekend. The song is so moving, both joyful and mournful, really tugs at my heart strings.When she first sent me her demo of this song, it's beauty actually brought tears to my eyes.

After picking her up at the train from the city we drove out to Leopard, arriving shortly after noon. The primary accompaniment for the song is piano so I set up a stereo pair of AKG C414s under the piano lid in an X-Y placement and I put a third mic, a Sennheiser underneath the sound board. All the mics went to API 312 preamps. The 414's were also mildly compressed through the Distressors. It had been so long since she had recorded the demo that we had to re-learn the piano part. There was some debate as to whether or not to play to a click track, beacuse of several tempo retards during the song. Lydia played through it without a click, and then I learned the parts and played through with the click, mindful to retard insomuch as possible with the click. We decided to use my piano track so that we would have option of using the tempo grid's editing options later.

Next I set up for tracking Lydia's vocals. I choose a Neumann TLM103 and patched it to the Avalon VT-737 with mild compression and no EQ. Lydia's voice doesn't need any help, really. She always sounds wonderful and the Neumann sounded very natural on her voice. We ran through the lead vocal track a few times and then listened to the various takes, taking notes of which takes we liked best. Once we were both happy we'd got it I made a comp track from all the best bits, and we moved on to backing parts, which went very quickly.

We were about to break for dinner when Lydia noticed that her dog (a darling little cockapoo) that she'd brought up with her, was acting a bit listliss and disoriented. We were both gravely concerned, so I rushed them both to the vet's office. Turns out the poor pup had gotten into something toxic while romping in the yard that afternoon, perhaps some rotting compost or a poison frog. It ended up being a long and difficult night for us all, with her dog needing overnight hospitalization. It turned out OK in the morning though. Doggie's fine. I brought them, both exhausted, back to the train and then headed back to the studio to to a rough mix, backup the files and tidy up the studio.

We may add some counterpoint or rhymical elements at a future session, but the song is incredably powerful on it's own and could easilly stand on that alone.

I have to say that despite the doggie drama it was a wonderful session. I have known Lydia since we were in high school together, had worked with her before, many years ago, and have wanted to work with her again ever since. Many thanks to her for making the trip upstate, it is truly an honor and a privilage to get to work with her on such a beautiful project!

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