For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I have three great loves; Music, The Ocean, and Cooking. There is nothing I love more than climbing out of the ocean with the nights dinner attached to the end of my spearfishing buoy, driving home to hit the kitchen to prepare the evenings meal. I clean my catch, I pour myself a glass of wine, I fire up some music, and I begin to to create….
For me, the process of creating a great meal and the process of creating a great recording aren’t all that dissimilar.
Go in unprepared and hope for the best – you’ve got a disaster on your hands. Follow the recipe to a tee, and you’re slightly better off – a fantastic example of someone else’s work. Now, start with a tried and true framework, add some personality using your favourite herbs, spices and garnishes, cook with love, finesse, and attention to detail and you’re well on your way to creating something truly special. A meal that is yours, something that has your stamp on it, something that the world (or maybe just the friends you entertain) recognise as uniquely you.
Allow me to share my recipe for recording success with all of the musicians out there – my tried and true framework (for my secret herbs and spices you’ll need to book a session!).
- 2 cups of Good Song (a song that could be re-recorded for any genre and it would still kick ass)
- 500g Hot Band / Musician
- 2 Cups water (beer can be substituted for water at your discretion)
- 500g dedicated and talented Sound Engineer
- 1 spice rack full of world class microphones
- A generous handful of nice pre’s
- Small bunch of tasty compressors.
- 5 Tsp secret sauce
So you’ve got all the right ingredients, but that gets you about 1/4 of the way there…. its all in the method.
Combine Good Song & Hot Musicians in a large mixing bowl (or rehearsal studio – whatever floats your boat) and stir well to combine dry ingredients. Once dry ingredients are thoroughly combined, add water (or beer) and knead into a soft dough. When you think you’ve kneaded enough, knead more… the successes of your final product is directly proportional to the length of time your Song & Musicians are kneaded. The right consistency is when neither the musician nor the song can be recognised as individual ingredients… they have now become one. Your dough is now ready for the next stage, baking.
(Warning – a dough that has not been kneaded sufficiently will crack and fall apart whilst in the oven – this is a most sad moment for the poor ingredients, which will simply go to waste)
During this stage, your thoroughly prepared dough is introduced to its baker, his oven and his tools of trade. A good baker will inspect your dough thoroughly – an excellent one may even help you find inconsistencies in your dough and send you back to knead it longer. This baker is invested in your product and wants to help you achieve the best result, so listen to his advice. Once prepared, the baker will select the most appropriate oven in which to bake your product – it may be a Hungi, a Tandoor oven, a Webber BBQ, or a traditional oven. Rest assured, your bakers choice (made in consultation with you) ensures the most authentic end result possible – trust me, its hard to char grill a medium rare Rib Eye steak in a Hungi!). He will also reach for his spice rack of world class mics, mic pre’s and compressors to season your dough to perfection before baking.
We now have a throughly prepared and seasoned dough, an expert baker and the most appropriate oven in which to bake our final product….Its time to cook!
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and be sure to check all settings thoroughly. If your dough is not completely relaxed and comfortable in its cooking environment, it will not rise to the occasion and form the perfect bread. Make adjustments if necessary, tweak your cooking environment, change the settings, relax your dough. Your baker has now optimised your cooking chain, and baking can begin. Unlike many recipes, this one is very tolerant to small adjustments during cooking. If your dough isn’t looking relaxed, your baker may stop the cooking process in order to get your dough in the zone. This is OK, and although it may take slightly longer, constantly monitoring and tweaking your dough is the best way to get the optimal result.
Once in the zone, cook for 20 mins or until golden brown.
(Warning – beware the “we’ll fix it in post” mentality. A poorly cooked loaf may be repaired to some degree later on, but it will never be as good as one that was baked correctly in the first place)
The final touches:
You now have a gorgeous loaf, a fantastic raw product. All you need to do know is add the finishing touches.
Fortunately during practice baking sessions you’ve already experimented with additional touches to really compliment and add colour to your basic bread. You may choose to send it back into the oven briefly to give it a nice crusty top, you may add sprinkles, icing, glaze or anything else that may lift if from ordinary to extraordinary. During this stage you may also want to get some feedback from your baker – he’s done this many times before and may know just the right finishes to ensure your final product is at its best.
Once your final touches have been made, you should be able to walk away from the kitchen proud of what you’ve achieved. Thorough preparation, attention to detail and a good choice of baker has rewarded you with a beautiful loaf. Yes, its just a loaf at this stage, but before too long, you and your baker will turn that loaf into a sandwich and present it to your diners.
Stay tuned for the next Off Axis Sound recipe – the perfect sandwich.