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GUEST BLOG: Limitations Expanding Creative Possibilities

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Howard - Promo
Photo Credit: Sonya Kitchell

In the digital age of recording and editing, exciting possibilities have opened up that would have been almost impossible to achieve before. These options have lent themselves to new and exciting ways of creating music.

When recording the drums for this record, I had issues capturing the kit as expansively as I wanted because I was limited to working with two channels in a room not optimal for recording. After many attempts and no success, I decided my only option was to think about the drums differently, which ultimately led most of the songs off the album in a different direction.

For example, “Fool” started off as a standard rock arrangement with a guitar riff, a repetitive bass-line, and a traditional-rock drum part. I decided to have our drummer, Chris, play each drum individually and think about playing the song as if he only had one drum. While recording each piece of the kit, I would give him different challenges and possibilities to think about. For example, I would have him play the tom as if he were a percussionist in classical orchestra, have him think about rim clicks tribally, or play his ride cymbal as if he were drumming in the era of acid-jazz.

After multiple performances on each drum, we used an electronic kit and did even more exercises while running the takes through guitar pedals, speeding them up/slowing them down through tape, reversing, and re-amping.

By the end, there were about 50 drum tracks. I decided to construct the part as if mostly one drummer was playing the kit but with different types of sonic possibilities. The editing process for this track took about eight months. A lot of it was deleted but there are snippets of each track that run in and out of the other. This propelled me to use a similar idea for all guitars, bass, and other sounds used.

After recording so many tracks, I decided to remove the original acoustic guitar to create a spacious ambiance for the vocals to float on top of, inspired by Boots’ production on Beyonce’s “Haunted.” This opened up the track greatly and allowed many of the production ideas to have more impact.

Much of Religion was done this way—thinking about sonically sculpting a sound from a variety of elements using mixed sonic media rather than relying on our hands and instruments to figure out the arrangement. In that way, limitations forced me to expand my creativity.

By then end, the song had a whopping 166 tracks. My poor mix engineer…

Howard Feibusch is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the Brooklyn-based folktronica outfit Howard. The trio – made up of Feibusch, Myles Heff (bass) and Chris Holdridge – released their brand new album “Religion” on January 20 via Fashion People Records. You can check out the fourth track “Fool” below and if you dig what you hear, you can stream the full album on Spotify and/or purchase a CD right here.

Keep up with Howard on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud

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Joe Ballard

Occasional writer for Infectious Magazine and full-time Publicist for Muddy Paw PR. 110% nerd. If I'm not listening to Anberlin or finding new music, you can find me reading anything by George R. R. Martin or finding new anime to watch.

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One Thought to “GUEST BLOG: Limitations Expanding Creative Possibilities”

  1. Such an awesome story! I admire the ingenuity and really like the final results.

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