Recording My Latest Single, Love You!
February 13, 2021
Over the summer of 2020, I released the first song that I recorded entirely by myself at home. That song was my most recent single, Love You!. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started, and even though I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out, I know I have a lot more to learn. That being said though, I learned a lot from the experience.
When I’m not inspired, I’ve found I just need to try something new.
Love You! started off as a simple drum beat I was messing around with in my DAW. I had just downloaded a sample pack of sounds from Cymatics (they have loads of free-to-use samples! I highly recommend) and was just having fun seeing how much percussion I could have going at once when I realized I actually had the beginnings of a solid song. I laid down a two-note bass line in midi to get a feel for the chords, then got my ukulele and started improvising. I put that original demo on YouTube if you want to see how the song started. After that, I left the song alone for a few days and when I came back to it, I kept only what had been stuck in my head. I repeated that a few more times to come up with what became the final melody.
Collaboration makes things exponentially easier.
I almost released Love You! at less than half the length it is now. I didn’t think I could add anything to the song at that point. This is where Evan Kolvoord, the featured artist on the final song, came in. He asked about working on a song with me, so I sent him what I had for Love You!. After listening to it, he sent over some vocal and harmonica improvisations, and within three days, I had finished writing the song. I’m so thankful that he reached out to me to see if I would be interested in writing music with him - this song wouldn’t be what it is without him!
However, even though I had finished writing the song and had all the parts recorded, that didn’t mean that the song sounded the way I wanted it to. This is where YouTube came in.
YouTube is a great place to learn.
There is so much free information just floating out in the void. It might just be one directly useful fact in a ten-minute video, but from watching YouTube channels like Andrew Huang and In The Mix I was able to at least get an idea for what I needed to do to mix and master the song. Some things that are pretty obvious but I didn’t realize before watching the videos is that you can and should automate the volume of your tracks - it’s important to get them to roughly where you want it overall, but sometimes, the melody might need to be a bit quieter or softer, and you should just make a small edit to the volume in just that place. Another thing was compression - I ended up putting some degree of compression on all of the tracks, which helped make them sound a bit better and make them easier to work with in the mix. None of them were higher than a 30% wet/dry mix, but it made a big difference.
You’re never going to be 100% satisfied.
One final challenge was being done with the song and releasing it. I always felt like there was something else I could fix, something to add, or whatnot. While those feelings helped me out the first few times, after a while I was just fiddling with knobs and not even sure if I was changing anything at all. When I realized that was all I was doing, I knew I was finished.
I hope this helped the home-recording songwriters out there, especially those of you who are new to it like I am! Best of luck, and keep strumming!
P.S. If you’re not familiar with the song I’ve been talking about, here’s the finished song on YouTube.