New year, new studio, new recording.
Today I’m heading to Kamil Govender’s Jet Fuel Studios to start the first full-band session of my song “Warrior Poet”. If you’ve heard the acoustic track or know the story behind it, you’ll want to start getting excited about the studio version – cause it’s gonna rock… I’m just sayin’.
A few years back, a good friend of mine, Stephen Butt, was managing the University of Cape Town’s Rugby 1st Team a.k.a. The “Ikey Tigers”. He chatted to me about possibly writing a song that the guys could relate to and use as a bit of a “pump-up” track. Having studied at UCT myself, I figured why not!
Of course it’s a little difficult to write a “pump-up” track armed with only acoustic instruments, but that’s all my home-studio could provide – so I recorded the song above, tailoring the lyrics to have significance for the team, and they’ve used it ever since as their team song.
But I’ve always wanted to record a studio version though, and finally I’ve gotten round to it. With a little practicing to be done, I’ll head off later this afternoon to start the process – I’m really hoping this is going turn out sounding epic!
Will keep you posted as to how it goes.
>> UPDATE #1 – Thursday 16th Feb
The first session at JetFuel Studios with Kamil Govender went extremely well. We decided to increase the tempo a little – just to make things more powerful and decrease the length of the song. Some epic progress made on the acoustic guitars and drums…
>> UPDATE #2 – Monday 20th Feb
Second session was unbelievable! We’ve made so much progress and added such cool epicness to the track (especially on the intro). I think it’s sounding ridiculously pro – all thanks to Kamil at JetFuel Studios.
Really hoping the Ikey Tigers are gonna dig this! Back in studio on Thursday – #WatchThisSpace
>> UPDATE #3 – Thursday 23rd Feb
Sadly today’s session has been postponed to Monday next week. Kamil wanted more time to tweak things before our next session, which obviously will make things better in the long run, so that’s where we are on that. With so much excitement for this track I’m definitely going to find it hard to wait til Monday!
>> UPDATE #4 – Monday 27th Feb
Now we’re talking! Today Kamil and I took some time to carefully listen to what we’ve got down so far and spend a lot of time ironing out the kinks. It also gave me time to reflect and ask the question once again – “What do I want to achieve with this version?”
The answer was the same – “I want to take the original acoustic track that I recorded and give it the full power that it was always meant to have, such that the Ikeys, as well as any UCT student, can really feel the “gees” that this song was meant to provide”. In order for me to do that, I need to make changes that will ultimately alter and enhance the track.
Not only does that mean a fuller sound by way of electric guitars, bass and drums, but it also means a slightly faster tempo and possibly some “30 Seconds to Mars” fury. At the end of the day, the spectators need to be able to belt it out along with the song, and the players need to feel that energy as they run onto the field.
Of course, in all of that, my biggest fear is that people will listen to this version and feel like it’s too far removed from the original acoustic track – so I voiced concern that perhaps we needed to be careful about trying to get too much out of this version.
After some debate we scrapped some of what we’d done in the bridge section and went back to the drawing board – this time adding some epic strings and a completely new lead guitar, a long with pretty much the same acoustic guitar that I played in the original acoustic version.
I think the symphony sound really compliments the “30 Seconds to Mars” feeling that we’ve got going in the rest of the song – I’m just hoping that most of the people that will listen to this track also like “30 Seconds to Mars”.
All in all, there was a lot of work done today – especially on the keyboard and drums – and a whole bunch of great new ideas were thrown around, which we’ll work on in the next session on Friday.
I’m more amped than anyone to get this finished, and I promise that we’re working as fast as we can on it – I’d say 2 more sessions and we’ll be ready to unleash.
In the meantime, I’m wrestling with the idea of releasing a little 15 second teaser, but I’ll discuss that with Kamil from JetFuel Studios to see what he thinks.
What do you think? Would you like to hear a little teaser, or prefer to wait until the track is wrapped, before hearing it?
Post your answer below, or send it to me on Twitter: @AndrewSchar
I’ll catch up with you on Friday again.
Marishka hargitay, marishka hargitay.
>> UPDATE #5 – Wednseday 29th Feb
As promised, here’s a sneaky teaser! Would love to hear your comments and feedback. What do you think?
To me, after listening to it over and over again, I’ve realised how different it sounds if you’re listening with headphones on, or simply using your laptop speakers. BIG difference! That needs to be worked on.
>> UPDATE #6 – Monday 5th March
So today I met with Kamil again at JetFuel Studios. I asked him over the weekend if we could try get in a session every day this week, so that we can get this track done a little quicker and also keep some consistency going. Kamil very kindly agreed and here were are.
The weekend was also a time for me to get back a whole bunch of comments on the rough edit I sent out to a few friends, some in the music industry, some talented closet musicians, and some tone deaf peeps! The result was an epic response of great feedback that Kamil and I ran through at the start of today’s session.
There was a lot to think about. Most of the comments referred to the drums and an overall lack of “fullness”, which would in part come from better drums. But there were loads more comments, all extremely useful, and today we spend a lot of time working on those issues.
The result was that we now have a much better picture of the song in our heads, and what we need to work on to get it sounding right.
I also decided that we needed some piano in the track. We weren’t too sure how that would change the dynamic of the song, but after laying down a little piece here and there, I’m SUPER STOKED with the outcome. It’s really allowed the track to come into it’s own and give it a “fullness” that it was lacking before. Let the good times roll.
>> UPDATE #7 – Tuesday 6th March
We were in good spirits today! The song is really taking shape now. With the Piano from yesterday locked down and Bass added today, we realised we’re finally on the right track. All that’s left to do now is add vocals & proper drums and then it’s simply a bit of mastering and we’re done.
I wanted to see if we could get the Ikeys to do some of the “warrior” chanting, but unfortunately the studio isn’t big enough to fit the whole team in, so the only other option would be to record the guys singing on the field with a hand-held mic, or get two or three of the lads to come into studio and just get them to shout a couple times at different pitches.
The hand-held recorder is preferable, but I don’t have one, so the only option is to rent one. We’re looking into this…
Other than that, it’s vocals tomorrow!