New Demo – Just As I Do – Bill Seymour

I would like to share a recording I just finished for my friend, Bill Seymour. Bill is an advertising executive in Nashville and quite a talented songwriter. You can hear more of his music here.

Hope you enjoy. Please leave a comment. If you want to read more about how the song was recorded and mixed, please keep reading.

Bill wrote this song a few years ago for his son. I’m a sucker for a song about a dad and his boy, especially since I am a dad with a boy (and a girl). He had recorded a demo in his home studio that was not too bad. It had some timing issues. Bill felt it was too slow (about 72bpm) and piano driven. He wanted something a little faster (78bpm) and guitar driven.

In pre-production, I decided that the song could really use an instrumental solo after the bridge. I also suggested some melodic tweaks to make the song more consistent. Nothing major, but it’s little things that can make a big difference.

I started with a scratch guitar/vocal demo and sent it to Bill for his approval of the arrangement. Once he signed off on it, I started tracking. I started by programming the drums using Cakewalk SessionDrummer 2 using the stock patterns, plus some patterns and fills I bought from Toontrack.

Bass came next, which I programmed using Cakewalk Studio Instruments Bass. I really like the variety of bass models I can call up. This particular model was called Quick Slide, which slides between notes when the notes overlap as I am playing them in with my midi controller. If there was a slide where I did not want one, I simply went into the piano roll and cleaned up the performance. It really added some realism to the bass part.

Next I tracked the piano using the M-Audio KeyRig software that came with the Keyrig49 controller I bought. KeyRig has a variety of layered piano and keyboard sounds. It also has an analog synth simulator and a tonewheel organ sampler. This has become my “go-to” virtual instrument for piano and organ.

That was the extent of the virtual instruments. I then tracked two passes of acoustic guitar (one in regular tuning, and one capoed up to the 7th fret for a sparkly–almost mandolin–sound) and two passes of electric guitar (rhythm and lead). I even played the electric guitar solo, which I would usually farm out, but this one came together pretty well. I use a Line6 Gearbox plug-in suite for my electric guitar sounds. They offer a great variety of amp, cabinet, and stompbox models with an easy-to-use user interface.

After all the instruments were tracked, I moved on to vocals. I recorded one pass of the lead vocal and wasn’t completely sold on it. After a snack of potato chips and water, I tried again and got a good performance. Then, two harmony passes on the choruses and I was ready to edit.

I exported the vocal tracks and tuned them up using Melodyne Uno. Then I imported the tuned clips back into the session and edited some of the guitar parts to tighten up the performance. There was a spot where I played a passage slightly out of tune so I copied and pasted a clip where the passage was played in tune.

Mixing was fairly simple since there were only 10 tracks. I used some compression on the drum kit, acoustic guitar and lead vocal. I created an aux bus with a distortion simulator and routed the bass through it to give it some slight fuzz. This makes it sound really fat without being too loud. I eq’ed the tracks to make them play nicely together. I then created another aux bus with a reverb plugin. I sent all the tracks through the reverb bus so they sound like they’re all in the same space. Finally, I used a combination of an analog tape simulator and the Boost11 peak limiter to make the final mix nice and warm (and fairly loud).


About Toby Baxley

I am a songwriter, artist, home studio owner, and BBQ chef. Hang out a while and let's have some fun and make some music and food.
This entry was posted in Audio, home studio, Recording and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to New Demo – Just As I Do – Bill Seymour

  1. David Jordan says:

    Good job. Ever heard of Beta Monkey tracks? has some great loops in a couple different formats. I use them in REX2 format because I track in Reason, then export rhythm tracks to Sonar to add tracks and embellish. Enjoyed the mix on this tune, though. Thanks for sharing.

    • Toby Baxley says:

      Thanks, David! I had never heard of BetaMonkey before. I went and took a look. Pretty overwhelmed with all they have to offer but I can see how it would definitely be beneficial. I like using the Session Drummer samples and triggering with MIDI patterns because I can treat each track individually. EZDrummer may be my next drum purchase. Just a note, though, about using Toontrack MIDI patterns in CW Session Drummer. The patterns are mapped just slightly differently than General MIDI standards, so while the kick and snare might be the same, the HH and overheads might trigger a different sound or no sound at all. It was a little frustrating but I got about 900 patterns and fills for $38.

      I also have a guy on board to do custom drum recordings for fantastic pricing.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | Song Demo Tips

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