One thing that can help a recording session is simple: bring food. Sometimes, studio recordings can benefit from things that don’t involve recording music.
When I was just out of college, I co-produced my first full-on recording session, helping direct a band of veteran jazz musicians as they laid down demo tracks for some Brazilian music that I’d written. My co-producer was an outstanding musician and bandleader, a friend and mentor who’d helped me find the players and get everything ready.
When he came in for day one of the session, I was surprised to see him carrying a gallon container of hot coffee in one hand and a bag full of bagels and donuts in the other. His explanation was simple but memorable: “When you’re producing a session, the $50 you spend on food for the musicians and engineer will be the best $50 you spend on the entire project.”
Since that day, I’ve produced and played in quite a few sessions of different shapes and flavors. Regardless of the situation, food always helps. Most recently, when co-producing my new Michael Gallant Trio album, my wife/co-producer Rachel and I made a point of bringing dried and fresh fruit, nuts and granola bars, pretzels and hummus — all sorts of tasty (and relatively healthy) things to share with everybody on the team.
Not only did showing up with food for our colleagues show implicit respect and gratitude for their time and talent, it also helped everyone stay energetic and focused within an inherently exhausting setting. Whether you need to rally and nail a tricky arrangement, solo over a rough set of changes, or lay down vocals that you hope will break hearts, every extra bit of focus helps.
The next time you organize a recording session, think about budgeting a small amount of cash to bring nourishment for everyone in the recording studio. Be conscious of dietary restrictions, of course, and shop accordingly. Chances are your session, and your recording, will be the better for it.
Michael Gallant is a musician, writer, and entrepreneur living in New York City. His debut album for the Steinway & Sons label, Rock Rewind, features solo piano reinventions of Pearl Jam, U2, Halestorm, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and more. Read his recent article for the National Endowment for the Arts and follow Michael on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant and Facebook.com/GallantMusic.
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