demo-itis adressed

(on facebook? go to www.joshuavt.com for the full post)

Working away today on a new tune and wanted to make a loop of a section that I was looking for a melody for. In doing so I ended up finding something really simple and pretty that I liked a lot, so because I was sitting there surrounded by a bunch of other stuff like shakers, my hands, and a piano I put the mic in the middle of the room and started tracking with no real thought as to what was sounding good or not, if the ideas were actually working (this is the blessing and the curse of computer recording by the way, infinite tracks available to ruin good, simple tunes). It’s a demo of tune at this point so who cares.

Turns out I care because the little loop has a lot of dirt and character that I listen for in my recordings and really try to embrace. I’ve spent the past hour trying to recreate that same vibe and it just isn’t happening. This is what we call demo-istis, which is when we make a demo of a song, and fall in love with how it sounds and feels, then try to re-create the exact same feeling of love but with more…everything and love. It’d be like going on a beautiful tropical vacation, then coming home and heading down to Lake Ontario on a Saturday and trying to get the same vibe, just doesn’t quite feel the same, it’s not you it’s me type of thing.

Here’s legendary producer/songwriter/film scorer Jon Brion’s thoughts on demoing in general – (for the full interview click here)

VC: You’ve said demos for songs should not exist. Why?

JB: I think they’re the worst things in the world. They set people up: Usually every artist at some point makes a bunch of demos at the moment they write the song, which absolutely contains the feel. Then they re-record them for the sake of higher fidelity, or reaching more people, or whatever the fuck they’re doing, and they chase the demo. Because of it, they’re blinded and they can’t see the value of what they’re currently doing. I think everyone should record at the moment they write the song, whenever possible. It’s almost inevitably the best version. Not always, but 95 percent of the time.

I always tell people I’m working with, “Don’t make demos, but always be recording.” If you’re recording the song on your four-track in your kitchen, when you finished writing the song, you’re recording, and it’s cool, and honor that. And maybe that’s the version that should be released. And if you’re recording the song again, it shouldn’t be because there’s a version you love that you’re chasing. It should be because “You know what? I made a recording, but I don’t love it emotionally.” So, okay, then record again. And be in it and take advantage of the buzz and energy of “I’m getting to record right now!” It’s such a beautiful and cool privilege. At any time you’re in front of a mic, think, “Hey, this could be it!” I mean, why not? I don’t mean to go into some crazy showboat mode, but part of the reason demos are often so good is because people don’t think they’re “recording.” If that’s what it takes for someone psychologically to get the good thing, fine, but then don’t re-record for the sake of fidelity.”

Interesting, makes sense for sure. Here’s a bit of what I was doing today, I’ll sleep on it, see if I like it tomorrow, then go from there.

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