For California duo Lovespirals, recording new songs is as much about the process as it is the outcome.
The duo of Ryan Lum and Anji Bee, who have been writing and recording together for more than a decade, often write and revise as they record - something they are able to do by recording in their own home studio. Without the time and budgetary constraints that a traditional professional studio presents, Lum and Bee are able to work at their own pace.
"I write songs as I'm recording them, so having my own studio is essential for that process," Lum said. "I don't have songs all worked out and rehearsed beforehand. Major studios are a dying thing, with more and more closing each year. I've been recording my albums myself since my first one, 1992's "Idylls" on Projekt, long before this trend."
Recording in a home studio does not mean having to sacrifice quality, thanks to computer software an array of specially-selected gear. Lovespirals now records using Apple's Logic Studio software. "I used industry standard Pro Tools for many years, but I switched to Logic for 'Future Past' and couldn't be more pleased," Lum said. "It comes with lots of great software instruments; recreations of vintage Rhodes Pianos, clavinet pianos, Hammond Organs, and analog synthesizers, which were essential for making the album."
The combination of newer and vintage gear added to the unique style of the pair's latest album, "Future Past," which melds vintage sounds into a modern electronica style. Lum cites several pieces as favorites that he and Bee use to record with:
1977 Neumann U 87 - "This is now our 'go to' vocal mic it was modified by the late mic expert Stephen Paul, who made it have an even better, more open, top end. A great mic with nice lows, mids, and high frequencies. For 'Future Past,' though, we used a newer Neumann TLM 49, whose design origins come from several of Neumann's classic '50s and '60s mics."
- Avedis MA5 microphone preamp - "It's a recreation of a vintage Neve 1073 preamp, perhaps the most sought after preamp of all time. It makes just about any microphone sound amazing."
- Lexicon PCM-70 Reverb - "This is a vintage piece from the 1980s and still one of the most gorgeous reverbs around."
- 1968 Fender Bassman guitar amplifier head - "My 'go to' guitar amp. Classic Fender tones. Got it for $100 from a friend cleaning out his garage. It has a nice clean sound and can be pushed into classic tube amp overdrive."
- Fender John Mayer Signature Stratocaster - "The guitar is amazing. It has a very distinct tone; much fatter and warmer sounding than typical Stratocasters, which can be a bit thin."
"We really don't need all the gear a great studio has," Lum said. "We have a nice signal chain for recording, with a few nice mics to pick from, a great preamp, and compressor. And that's all we really need for album tracking since we record one track at a time."
Lovespirals has also chosen not to work with an outside producer. "It probably wouldn't have worked out since I specifically knew the production direction that 'Future Past' was going to take," said Lum. "In fact that's why I've never worked with an outside producer. I'm always fully immersed into each album's production that I've ever made; I know and see where to take a recording. And I think that's one my unique strengths, that my skills at song writing, musicianship, sound engineering, and music production all work together. I wear all these hats at the same time without needing to differentiate among them, and using them all for the goal of making nice music."
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