We all have worthy tomes of sound recording instruction gathering dust on our bookshelves. How many of these books on the recording process have actually inspired us? Well, here’s one that just might. Recording Unhinged by Sylvia Massy is a collection of recording tips, creative ideas, jokes and anecdotes from one of the industry’s most consistently edgy producers.
Massy has worked with the likes of Johnny Cash, Prince, System of a Down, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Skunk Anansie, Tom Petty and Spiderbait. She’a a painter, illustrator, film maker and renowned for her ability to push artists out of their comfort zones in order to elicit unique performances. It’s not all about her, though, as she interviewed a whole bunch of other producers to gather their stories about when breaking the rules made the magic happen.
Working in the box as many of us do, we tend to lose the sense of physical experimentation. We might have an unlimited ability to change something sonically but very limited scope for altering the feel or way the music gets into the computer. In trying to perfect the sound quality and mix we can easily forget to be playful or unexpected. Sylvia’s book challenges us to approach music making and the recording process differently.
If you’re working on Pro Tools, you can take that laptop anywhere! Why aren’t you recording in a subway? Why don’t you hike up to the hop of a hill and record on the hill. Climb a tree and bring the laptop with you in a backpack! Has anybody recorded an acoustic album in a tree? Singing in the shower. There should be no limitations, and there should be a story attached to each record that you do.*
It’s a remedy for the path to sameness that we can often find ourselves on.
Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Recording Techniques by Sylvia Massy is available from all good bookshops for around £15.