This week we head into the studio with Andrea Marchant, a singer-songwriter who started writing music much before hitting double digits. Born in Nashville and raised in Denver, Marchant taught herself to play acoustic guitar and headed to Los Angeles to really pursue her music. Read on to find out about her recording process and how her songs take shape.
Without using the words “alternative,” “pop,” or “rock,” or “hip-hop,” describe your sound
Organic. It’s raw, not over-produced.
Describe your ideal studio environment.
I have to say, I recorded half of my record at Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood. The Rolling Stones finished recording the day before I started, and I got to use Mick Jagger’s vocal booth to record one of my songs. It was like a dream. If they’d move that studio to the mountains of Colorado, it’d be absolutely perfect. Dream studio in a dream setting.
What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
As cliché as it sounds, inspiration finds me in odd places and just about everywhere I turn. But two that are huge musical influences on me are live shows and nature. There is a band called Carney, which Reeve Carney founded. There’s something supernatural about his performances, and I’ll never forget a single one of them. There’s another band that has a similar effect on me: The Daylights. They have something to say, and they never shy away from it. Every time I see either of these bands in concert, I go home and write music for hours. Also, I’ve been rather obsessed with the mountains since I was a kid. Being outside in the mountains, where not a sound is heard, is a huge inspiration to me. It’s calming and extremely conducive to writing and playing music.
How often do you try to put in studio time?
Whenever a song’s ready, I’m eager to record it. Living in this day and age, the age of Apple, independent artists can more easily record and put out music. I don’t have a bunch of money to pay producers and what not, so I record with my brilliantly talented musician friends. It’s worked well and is a BLAST!
What kind of studio equipment do you use to record?
Oh goodness, my technology knowledge is lacking. I make videos on iMovie for my YouTube page, and I record rough demos in GarageBand, but I leave the REAL recording to my producer friends. I show up with my guitar and piano and am ready to sing, play and add my insight. I have a lot to learn about the technical aspect of it. One of my life goals is to write, play, record, mix, master and release a record COMPLETELY on my own. We shall see…
How do you approach recording a song?
I usually lay down a live version with just my voice and my guitar (or piano) and see where to go from there. I like to have a mental picture of how I want the song to FEEL when it’s finished. Sometimes that can be determined within the first shot at recording the song. Sometimes it won’t be determined until you add other instruments and harmonies.
What do you do if you’re trying to record and it’s just not working for you?
I generally step back from it and take a break, whether for a few hours or a few days. If you’re trying something, and it’s not working, it’s good to step back and let it rest. Sometimes you can’t see how to fix it when you’re so deep in it.
How do you know when it’s right?
It’s a feeling. It’s magic. It’s funny, Johnny (John Gilbertson, my friend who produced the record) and I almost always agreed about the right takes. I’d step out of the booth and he’d say with contentment, “That was it. That was the one.” You just know.