018 MixCoach Minute – My first ten minutes of a vocal session

I had a cool vocal session yesterday and I wanted to recap a very important thing that I did before we ever started recording

Raw Transcript:

Hey guys, its Kevin with MixCoach. It is Saturday. Time for another episode
of the MixCoach Minute. By the way, I am not going to be posting the
MixCoach Minute on Sunday, so today is the last one for this week. Thank
you for tuning in all week. I am actually at my favorite coffee house here
in Murfreesboro, the city I live in, and it’s called Just Love Coffee
Roasters. If you like coffee this is a great place to come. I tend to come
and get a lot of MixCoach-ish kind of stuff done here.

Anyway, what I was going to talk to you about today was I did a vocal
session yesterday with a kind of a big deal client to me. He has been on
Broadway quite a bit. His name is Mark McVey, and I think he said he’s done
3,300 performances of “Les Miserable,” so he is the main character in “Les
Miserable’s.” I still haven’t seen “Les Miserable’s,” so I didn’t tell him
that. But, I need to.

He’s a phenomenal singer, great, incredible range. So I was on my P’s and
Q’s yesterday. But I couldn’t help but think the things that I do about a
session maybe you would want to know about. So, I’ll backtrack just a
little bit and I’ll tell you up until the point we started vocals, and
perhaps that’ll be maybe a different show or something like that or
different MixCoach Minute.

The first thing I did was I made sure my studio was in good shape. I tried
to make sure that the floors were vacuumed. Tried to make sure that
everything was in its place and that nothing was cluttered, more than
normal anyway. I think my studio is a little bit cluttered anyway. I tried
to make sure that there was a tray of fruit, and that the snack box that
I’ve got had some crackers and stuff, and there was drinks, coffee, and
things like that, just you know, water. For singers when you’re doing a
vocal session you want to keep water around and things like that to keep
them hydrated. Made sure that the mic was at the height. I had done
research on him, how tall the mic was, and how tall he was. I had my best
set of headphones out ready for him to listen to. I had my best mic out.
Everything I could think of to do, I did. I pulled up the session and made
sure it was working. Made sure that his headphones were working. This was
all before he got there. Some of it was a day before he got there because I
was putting all this stuff in place before they got there.

You know, I heard Zig Ziglar, one of my absolute big influences especially
when I was out of high school and into college and things like that. He
said, and I’m paraphrasing, the harder you are on yourself the easier
everybody else will be on you. So, I was trying to be super hard on myself,
on my studio, and what I could do so that when he walked in the door he
felt like I was on his side. That was the whole point of me doing
everything like that. I wanted him to feel like when he walked into my
studio, without saying a word to him, that he knew that I was pulling for
him to give a great performance.

And I think that’s something that some engineers don’t tend to do. I’ve
heard stories of guys that their studio’s a mess and headphones weren’t
working. It’s happened to me before. I’m telling you so it doesn’t happen
to you. Try to have your studio set up. Try to have everything ready to go
so that when they walk in they feel like this guy has prepared for this, or
he’s very organized, which I’m not, so I prepare for it.

The second thing I was going to tell you, too, on a vocal session, not
necessarily a vocal session but it’s a session where you’ve got to get a
lot done and it’s possibly the first time you’ve ever worked with someone.
You know the first thing we did when we first got there? We talked for
about 10 or 15 minutes. I listened a lot. I was going to see if I could
pick up on any clues that he could give me like certain microphones maybe
or the way he liked the headphone mixed. My ears are perked up and I’m
listening for every clue that I could find.

So, conversation is real important when you’re working with a new client.
Because you don’t want for them to walk in the door and then boom you’re
off and running recording. Because you’re probably going to end up wasting
the first 10 or 15 minutes anyway getting things set up. You may as well
enjoy that time and try to get to know what you hope to be your new client
for a while.

So anyway, hopefully there are some nuggets of information in there that
you can use. I know that, just a recap, when I do vocal sessions especially
with vocalists I’ve never worked with before make sure your work
environment is clean and it lends itself to being productive. Second of
all, take the first few minutes just to relax. Talk to your client. Make
sure that you’re all on the same page, because chances are even though your
client is a high profile client and a great singer he’s probably just about
as nervous as you are about working with a new producer, a new engineer.
So, take a few minutes. Kind of let the air flow in the room. Let the
conversation flow. Get to know the person. That will always lend itself to
a better and more productive session when nobody feels the pressure having
to jump right in the game and get things done.

I’ll tell you more about this session later if you’re interested. If you’re
interested in learning more about this session I’ve got click the like
button. Let me know that you care about this, you’ve seen it. If I don’t
get any likes or anything like that I’ll just move on to the next subject.
Thank you for watching today. I’m going to drink my coffee, and I’m going
to work on some more content for my MixCoach Member. So, check it out if
you get a chance, mixcoachmember.com.

Until Monday, I will see you later. Or until Monday, one or the other. Bye.

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MixCoach,Vocal,Session