You can never EQ heart. There is no plugin that adds passion to a track. It is there or it isn’t. If you have it, it’s almost impossible to do anything that pulls away from it. If you don’t have it, there is nothing you can do to put it back in. Let me clarify that authenticity is not perfection. Authenticity is heart and soul. It is absolutely the hardest thing to get. The radio is full of perfectly tuned vocals that are completely and totally lifeless. While grids and quantization are great tools but they aren’t law. You don’t have to follow them. Listen to the Black Keys record. There is no perfect tempo or no grid on that, but the record has vibe – it breathes. It has life. Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean that you should.
Some things to consider:
What is your song about?
This might sound silly, but how many times do you really think about what you are singing/saying when you record the song? Most often you throw up the mic and start singing right? Take a minute, pause and consider what you are trying to convey and draw on the emotion that those thoughts evoke.
Bleed baby bleed
While we love a good isolated vocal or guitar, sometimes you’ll have more life when you are singing AND playing. Do you best to get the track right, but if the overall track is going to be better with the bleed – go for it. Just a tip: Use two mics with figure 8 patterns – you can use the null points to get great isolation. Recording a band? Stick them all in a room. Here’s a great video where they recorded a 4 piece band with an 8 channel interface.
Josh Doyle Effect
To me no one exemplifies this more than Josh Doyle. I met Josh through work. Josh fronted a band called the Dum Dums from 1997-2001. They exploded on the scene and quickly rose to the top playing sold out shows across the UK including playing a packed out Wembley Stadium. Fast forward to this summer. Josh was in town for a concert so I went to see him at a local pub. He was in a 20×50 room with about 15 people. Letdown? If so you couldn’t tell. Josh was going for it just like I’m sure he did at Wembley back in 2000. Listen to any of Josh’s recordings it’s there. He just goes for it and puts it out there. He puts out a really great recording and isn’t working in a million dollar studio. More than anyone I know he understands what a song is about and how to convey that message in a way that grabs you and draws you in. Give him a listen, you won’t regret it.