Cool is Better Than Pristine!!

Kenny's Tip of the Day - Cool is Better Than Pristine!!

As time has gone on and music evolves past the point where budgets are lucrative, I’ve been noting a very obvious and significant change. And that is that recording a full band and a big set of drums in a big studio and making them sound big, beautiful and “pristine”, has become a thing of the past. It’s just too expensive and time-consuming.

So what have we evolved towards? Well… What I knew would NEVER happen was that the audience would suddenly be OK with drum machines and drum software or amp sims simply “replacing” their more real counterparts. And they haven’t. Because that would mean that records wouldn’t sound as pleasing or as interesting as records made ten to twenty years ago. But they do. If not more so.

No. What we have evolved towards is making records that sound “cool” instead. What do I mean by that? I mean that music is choosing to instead of making things sound “beautiful” or crystal “clear”, we have instead moved towards making things sound “nasty” or “dirty”. Distorted. Again. We’re making more interesting “sounding” music. Which, of course, is always a good thing.

Nobody cares about your great clean snare or bass sound. It’s all been done before.

So if you can’t afford a great mic or a great mic preamp, it doesn’t matter. Distort it. Filter it. Make it all sound “intentional”. And that’s the key phrase here. Because I have ALWAYS believed you can get away with ANYTHING in your recording productions if you can convince the audience that you did it on purpose. You meant to do that.

If you record drums in a bathroom, you’re going to have a tough time making it sound like they were recorded in a stadium. But what if you “desired” for it to sound like it was in a bathroom? That’s pretty easy. Right?

And, again. It’s more interesting. Who records drums in a bathroom? But if you do. And the production works around it, it will not only be brilliant, it will be original.

The same goes for guitar tones. Matching the sound of a killer Marshall head with a 4X12 speaker cabinet can be challenging. But what if you didn’t try to emulate it at all? What if you just created something that never existed in nature with an amp sim? That would be very interesting and much more original. And it’s also easier because you’re not trying to match anything. And more importantly, you’re not trying to “fool” your audience.

I’ve always felt that recording is it’s own medium that has no need to match what a band might “really” sound like. Who cares? The only thing that matters is that people like it.

So forget about the norms of how records “need” to sound. Break out of that box. It’s already happening. Records sound great. They sound “cool”. And this has replaced making cookie cutter music that sounds pristine.

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I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia