The history of humankind shows that only in recent centuries have we have become less social creatures. I've long advocated in the pages of Tape Op that we all need to find time to get together and talk about the craft of recording music in person. Conferring with our peers can aid in gaining new perspectives, learning new techniques, and even simply just finding out about new recording gear. When I teach my weekend Recording Workshops at Jackpot! Recording Studio, one concept that comes up every time is a way to find a group of like-minded recordists (who share similar skill levels) with whom you can share equipment and discuss your situations and goals. Your peers will most likely be solving the same problems, as well as having similar frustrations and breakthroughs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the world, we've been asked to maintain social distancing. Live music events are at a standstill. Recording studio sessions have been canceled or uneasily postponed. Band rehearsals are impossible. At the moment, I'm trying to figure out when it will even be safe to have two friends join me in the studio so that we can finish mixing a project we should have been done with months ago.
I feel lucky to have carved out a career as a recording engineer/producer. As much as I enjoy my remote mixing sessions with clients, as well as the Mix Reviewing I recently began offering, working in isolation like this can also lead to confusion and even misunderstandings (see my End Rant, "The Guessing Game," in Tape Op #134). What I love the most about helping people record music is collaboration. From my first experiences performing weird electronic music (Ziplok), to co-writing, recording, and touring with my friends (Vomit Launch), and eventually opening a studio in my beloved city of Portland, Oregon, it's all been about working with other creative-minded people and collaborating through music. Sure, I can sit here in this lonely recording studio and create music all by myself, but there is no bigger sense of accomplishment for me than those sessions where a group of us bounce ideas back and forth. I have no doubt that the music benefits from stronger arrangements, performances, and sounds. Pushing each other to excel, learning from every session and interaction, and capturing music to share with the world is my life, and I treasure it.
Right now our biggest collaboration involves staying apart, so that we can help. Eventually the current need for social distancing will begin to relax over time. I cannot wait. I miss meeting up with my friends at a live show. I long for productive days in the studio with musicians I admire and care about. And I'll be so honored to help bring more music into the world.