What’s your primary microphone?
I use a condenser microphone for vocals. I used to use an Electro Voice RE20, that’s a dynamic microphone [that] was used primarily for radio broadcasting, and it just sounds really good, it’s definitely one of my favorites. It has no proximity effect, which means that depending on how far you are from the microphone, it doesn’t change the way the sound is recorded. I always really liked that because I get really close to the microphone, but sometimes that’s not always the vibe that I want. The Electro Voice also just sounds good on anything, it’s a really good kick-drum mic, it sounds good on amps. I also have a regular condenser microphone that’s a clone, but not a true clone, that’s handmade by this company in Canada called Advanced Audio. It’s based [on] the Neumann U 87, [which is] probably the most famous pop-vocal microphone. It’s also like $3,000 [but] the one I have was $250, and it sounds great! I use it all the time and I love it.
Awesome. Speaking of microphones, I recently read a Reddit thread in which someone asked Alex G what his recording process is like, and he said “I use GarageBand and the Samson Q1U microphone.” I looked up the mic and it’s like $40 new. That kind of blew me away and made me reconsider the recording process.
Wow, yeah. That just goes to show you that it’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do with it. You can make anything into music, it’s just organized sound. It doesn’t have a price tag on it. I just buy gear because I’m obsessive and depressed. [Laughs] No, that’s not really why. I think I’ve hit a point now where I definitely have everything I need, but I just like experimenting.
And you primarily go into that Tascam 388?
Yeah, I got that last year. It’s an eight-track quarter-inch reel-to-reel. It’s basically like a portastudio model but it weighs 80 pounds and is reel-to-reel and not cassette. It has a mixer built into it, so it’s really easy to record to tape if you don’t have a console. I recorded the Florist EP, Holdy on it, and the full-length, The Birds Outside Sang, was recorded on a Tascam 38, which is basically the same thing but it’s half-inch tape and doesn’t have a mixer attached to it. I use the 388 for Florist stuff, and I use it for my own stuff, but it’s not always the easiest to work with. Florist songs are fairly simple and don’t have a lot of tracks on them, so it works for that, but if you’re going to work on a song with 50 tracks, it’s too much trouble and not really worth it. But I prefer it, and do think it sounds better. But it’s just preference. The workflow is fun and I like doing it on tape. But I usually mix and edit on the computer because I’m a child of the 2000s.
And you don’t want to drive yourself insane!
Yeah! [Laughs] And I basically grew up on a computer, so it’s so much easier on a computer. I’m a hybrid. None of this really means anything, also. It’s important that people know they don’t need fancy gear to make nice recordings. It’s like Alex G’s microphone—you can literally make do with one microphone. The first Sufjan Stevens records were one microphone on digital. Listening to myself talk about this stuff, I don’t believe that I need any of it! I just do this because it’s what I like.
Either way, it’s just cool to know about what’s out there and available to record with.
Yeah, and in the same way that I got really excited when I switched from the built-in microphone to the USB microphone, I still feel that way when I get new things to try out. Like when I got those three new preamps [she points], they’re the highest quality preamps I’ve ever had. They’re from Seventh Circle audio, and the ones I have are the N72 and the A12. When I first plugged it in and we started recording Gabby [Smith, from Eskimeaux]’s voice, I was like, “Oh yeah, this is sick.” [Laughs]
I’m sure it was a natural process, but how did you decide to start recording other people? You said you’ve just recorded new Eskimeaux tracks?
I just love recording and this is what I want to do. When I’m 35, I see myself having a recording studio. I don’t see myself touring much. I’m always going to make my own records, and I’m always going to play my own music, but I don’t want that to be my career. The thing I’ve always wanted to do, and still want to do, is record sound. And I’ve been recording people for a while. I recorded my friend’s brother when I was still living at my parents’ house, we recorded him in one of the sheds back there, and it sounds…fine! [Laughs] I was learning. I played drums, and it sounded basic as hell, but it was fun. I just want to learn more about it. It’s amazing how the littlest thing can change the way a sound sounds. ♦