The first day in the studio with a producer like Mark is all about pre-production. The two of you sit across from each other and talk about your music. You play him a song, he listens to it beginning to end and makes notes about how to make it flow better, trim excess time, tighten up the intros and outros. That's usually the whole day, and then the next week maybe you start recording.
I am proud to say that after about an hour and a half, give or take, we were ready to start recording "Calling You Out." Mark listened to eight of my songs, all of which he felt were already tight enough on their own, all of which he felt began and ended strongly. When a producer and an artist agree on all the issues of flow and time, it's a great start. By process of elimination, we decided to start with "Calling You Out," because it's a very accessible song that will allow us to feel out our process without getting too bogged down in the technical aspects of the composition.
The version we started with felt a little slow to me, but not to Mark, so he made a strong pitch for why it worked. I was ready to acquiesce when he said, "But let's try it faster anyway. Who knows?"
I played it maybe two clicks faster than last time, and it was like night and day. We listened to the two versions back-to-back, and I said, "It's minute," and he said, "Yeah, but wow, what a difference, huh? I'm glad we did that."
At the end of the day, I went home with a reference mix waiting in my inbox, with scratch lead vocal, completed acoustic guitar, bass guitar and shaker tracks, and a fully developed idea for a piano motif.
I spent some time today (two days later) playing with my Zoom HD8, sketching out ideas for background vocals, lead acoustic guitar, and laying in the full idea for the keyboard part. This is invaluable, because when I go back next week, I'll have fully formed ideas for what I want to do, instead of vague stuff that we hedge around.
Dudes, I am so psyched.