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Sometime around eight PM on a warm October evening, Matt and I sat in his Parry St studio, exhausted. After a lengthy afternoon of guitar and drum editing, we were approaching something close to what many would call, delirium. The decision was made that only something of the ‘icy cold’ nature could cure our jadedness and bring some clarity to the situation. A situation that was edging closer to final weeks of what turned out to be, a year long project. The ambient and intensely aromatic Eddies, just across the road from the studio, provided the perfect setting to refresh and map out the following weeks. “Are you ready?” Asked Matt, as we pulled up stumps with two frosted glasses in hand.

He was referring to the then scheduled and greatly anticipated vocals day, to which I  answered “Yes… I think”. 

Ready was the key word there, and I wanted perfection. In all of my favourite music, there is an engrained interconnectedness between melody and harmony, something that revolves around the lead vocal. Something that scares the hell out of me. So, I began chasing it. Luckily enough the whole vocal thing had been plaguing my mind since the beginning of the project leaving me somewhat ready. I’d booked as many gigs as I could stomach in the prior months, hoping that the forced practice would help my chops and stamina. All emphasis leaning towards a smoother day in the studio. At each gig, I wanted to push those vocal chords a little harder, push for uniform pitch and ultimately just sound better. It did help, remarkably. I felt more comfortable, confident and composed when singing live. It was the little boost I needed but there was still something unnerving about being alone in a booth with that red light glowing. 

In the weeks closer to the recording date, I decided to take a more holistic approach to the preparation, a meditation routine. I started doing breath work in the ocean baths and did deep breathing every morning and evening. Whether this actually helped or not, the movements made me feel a million bucks. There is something to be said about getting your mind right as well as your body for these kinds of things. 

All of a sudden the day arrived. Do I have coffee? Do I eat? Do I think? The endorphins were pulsing through me like eight AM traffic. I chanced a lemon and ginger tea and headed into the session. Before I hopped in the booth, we had booked my good friend Manuel to lay bass down on one of the tracks. He arrived, plugged in, recorded and left all within a half an hour. Comfortable, confident, composed. It was fantastic to watch, but it left me with the shudders. The unspoken precedent seemed to have been set, in my mind anyway. 

I gulped the last of the tea, leaving a thick coating of honey residue in my mouth and stepped into the booth. 

Matt knew I was nervous, yet he remained positive and encouraging through my many takes. He had done thousands of these sessions, this was my third and his stamina showed. We worked on the songs all afternoon and next thing I knew it was well into the pm’s. I was sapped. It was over, almost.

We didn’t quite finish that day but I came to realise that was for the better. Over the next couple of weeks we worked on the vocals in easy to digest pieces. I had the sobering  realisation over those couple of weeks that this vocal dream I was chasing was a false one. Perfection in music could never be achieved, it was rather the imperfections and mistakes that we as appreciators cherish. I put so much emphasis on that single day that my nerves made me feel inhuman. So, the lesson to learn there is to be yourself in the booth. Be human. It doesn’t excuse an apathetic practice regime or a lack of song preparation, it just means when you’re in the booth, have a beer instead of a ginger tea if that’s what works for you.