Interview With Noah Marlowe

April 18th, 2014
Noah Marlowe Celebrating Life w/ Butter Beer

Noah Marlowe Celebrating Life w/ Butter Beer

Noah Marlowe – Age 12

Act One                                    Mossy/Bernie                        Lincoln Center

Fun Home                                Christian                        The Public Theatre

National Tour
Elf the Musical                          Michael                                    National Tour

Boy Stuff
Baseball, Basketball, Skateboarding, Dance Ballet, Dance Jazz, Dance Tap, Singer

Miracle Of Faith                        The Boy                      Watchfire Music

Interview Conducted by Amy Duncan

So Noah, have you always enjoyed singing?

When I was little I’d always sing with my sister in the car…we’d always sing Seussical, the musical, together.

Have you had any musical training? I know you don’t read music, but how about vocal lessons?

I’ve had four or five years of vocal training, which started when I was around seven or eight.

Do you think it’s important to know how to read music, or is it enough to have a good ear?

I think that reading music is a really good skill, but in the projects that I’ve done, I haven’t found it necessary because they’ve always just taught me the music, so I haven’t had to learn how to read it.

So you must have a really good ear, then!

Yes, I try…thanks!

You made your Broadway debut in Mary Poppins when you were ten. Did you do any performing in public before that?

I’d done some regional work before that, but not anything of that caliber and prestigiousness.

Actors and singers often say they perform differently each night because the audiences change. Is that true for you?

Yeah, I think it’s very true. The audiences respond differently every night, and so do the performers. What I find really interesting is that with lines that aren’t even funny, people laugh—audiences have their own way of taking in what’s going on, so I feel like the actors often change their performances due to the audience’s reaction.

I bet you can feel the audience’s vibe the minute you walk out onto the stage.

The first time I was in front of an audience, right when I got out there, I was like, I want to do this for a living. Once you feel the audience’s presence like that, it’s just really amazing.

I see that you’ve studied dance. Have you done any dancing in your performances?

We’ve done a lot of choreography, kind of like jazz, but not any tapping or ballet or that kind of stuff. But in Mary Poppins, for instance, there was a lot of choreography.

Let’s talk about Miracle Of Faith, the project you did with Peter Link. What did you think when your dad told you about the job?

It sounded really interesting, and I looked up Peter, and I was just amazed at how much he did. And at the first appointment I had with Peter I knew that this was going to be an amazing project.

And what about when you saw what it involved? You’d never recorded in a studio before and you don’t read music…how did you feel about that?

It seemed like a challenge, but I knew that Peter and everyone would help me through it. He always emphasized getting into the character, which was really helpful in terms of learning the song. Peter’s a great guy, he’s really nice.

It’s a long song, too! How did you go about memorizing it?

In the recording booth, there was a music stand just in case I needed to look at it. But I knew about 95% of it, because we went over it every night, constantly saying the lines and continuing to go over them. Eventually when you familiarize yourself with it so much, it just kind of gets into your bones.

There’s hardly any information about this boy with the basket of fish and bread in the Bible story. As an actor, how did you prepare for the character?

Well, the lyrics did a lot of that for me—they were very informative and I thought they were very good, and as you get into the character you find the story. So once you get into the character, you just kind of make these acting choices. And Peter did so much, and he helped me so much with making this character what it is, with forming this character for myself.

I listened to the recording, and thought it was magnificent. I kept thinking it would be great if it could be staged—did you feel that, too?

Yes, it was a very powerful album and I thought it was great—that’s very funny you should say that, because I was thinking that before! (laughs)

What about your school? What happens when you’re touring?

Normally I go to public school, but when I was touring, unfortunately they didn’t provide the tutors, so we got a lot of work from our school and did that. But I’m doing a show at Lincoln Center right now, and during the rehearsal process they provided tutors—multiple tutors for the different subjects. There are only two kids in the show.

What do the kids you go to school with think about your career?

I don’t really think that they take notice, I mean I don’t really go around talking about it. When I leave school they notice, but they don’t really have any interest in this field, so…

Getting away from music for a bit, what do you like to do in your free time?

I love to read—I read all the time. I always have a book in my hand. I loved The DaVinci Code, and I’m reading a book right now that I really like a lot called Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. He’s a famous author, and it’s just a really good book about an author and his mentor.

Have you ever wanted to be a writer?

Uh, yeah! Just seeing the process really fascinates me, and I think it would be really fun to write some day.

What else do you do in your free time?

I play video games on my computer and on some of the consoles that I have at my house. When it’s nice out I like to go biking, and, uh… I guess that’s kind of it!

What do you think the best thing is about living in New York?

You don’t really see it where I live, but I love New York because you get to meet so many different people—so many different types of people. And it’s really amazing getting to know all these people. Especially in this business, you get to make your own family in the cast, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to close a show. I keep in touch with some of them…a lot of them have a lot that they’re doing, but I do keep in touch with them.

Do you think you’ll want to do what you’re doing now when you grow up?

I definitely want to do this. It’s so much fun, and you just feel like you can escape from the world when you’re on that stage, doing what you’re doing. It’s really great, so I think I want to do that when I get older, also.

So you really enjoyed the experience of singing in the studio and recording. Would you like to do more of that?

Yeah, it was so much fun with Peter, and it’s just a great experience recording songs, so I’d love to do that again.



Miracle Of Faith – Part 12B

April 11th, 2014

MiracleOfFaith-CoverNote: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-11 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

Installment 12B

So as I write, the masters have just come back from the masterer.  I’ll listen to our album for the first time in it’s finished state in about an hour.  I see that Craig has just emailed to us the finished CD package graphics.  We’ll run a test on them this morning.  There’s proofing to be done and then the manufacturing of the CDs.  We do that here at Watchfire Music and have a factory in a closet with printers, paper cutters, CD burners, and shrink wrappers.

I’ll finish this last post, prepare the pictures in PhotoShop and insert them into the Digi-Book content document that I’ve been working on for Craig for these last 3 weeks.  He will finish up the design and implementation of the Digi-Book today and get it back to me tonight for final check and proofing.

Our staff is already hard at the promotions of this CD on FaceBook and Twitter.  We’ll do LinkedIn blasts and this Blog will become the content of the Digi-Book.  It’s a massive task for our little company, but one we seem to accomplish nearly every week.

I have truly enjoyed every moment of this Musical of the Imagination.  It’s always a great lift to see an idea come to fruition – to hold the finished CD in your hand and remember the countless hours that went into its making.  This one even more so because of the way it all started with an idea of Dora Redman’s brought to me with a hope and a prayer.

I truly believe that God has watched over this project.  It could be no other way.  Far too many things have evolved in grace with relatively little effort on our parts – the development of the lyrics when it was apparent to me from the beginning that it just might be over Dora’s head, the ensuing collaboration, the finding of our boy, Noah, the scheduling resulting in the release of this album the day after tomorrow – April 10, 2014.

Originally I said it probably could not be done.  I was wrong and I’m delighted that I was.

So now it’s all up to you.  It starts with a good thorough listening.  The whole CD runs a little less than 40 minutes.  We ask you to take that first listening at a quiet time where you can really relax and let your imagination soar.  It’ll be worth the ride.  Give it a try.

And then if you have had anywhere near the experience that we’ve had making the CD, tell your friends.  Share the experience.  It’s a story told over and over now for over two thousand years and continues to bear repeating.  A story of some bread and fish – and a boy and his faith – and a man and his understanding.

It’s a story about what most would call a miracle, but we’ve come to understand to be a natural fulfilling of a need.  It’s a story of what could be,  if only we each could have the faith of a child.

It’s the possibility of what lies out there, or in there, for each of us if we just lead a more spiritual life.  It’s the truth in action.


Miracle Of Faith – Part 12A

April 10th, 2014
Craig Wagner - WFM Website Manager and Designer

Craig Wagner – WFM Website Manager and Designer

Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-11 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

Installment 12A

Design and Wrap Up:

In the old days (a decade or so ago) one discovered new music generally by hearing it the first time on the radio.  Now radio has lost its power of communication in the music world to the Internet and its myriad of communication devices.

One thing for sure is that the discovery of new music is no longer just through the audio experience.  Now the visual has become a major factor.  YouTube now makes or breaks acts like radio used to.  Also we have learned that the first experience that many listeners have with much of the music that we sell on is discovered by the eye rather than the ear – discovered first by seeing the CD cover and being intrigued enough with what they see to stop and click to listen.

So we believe that the graphics that accompany a new music work are more important than ever – the graphics being the visual promotions, the CD package itself and the Digi-Book.

In the early days of Watchfire Music as a start-up company, we worked a lot with interns.  One of our first hires was a young man just out of college named Craig Wagner.  Living with his folks in New Jersey, he would trek into the city three days a week and learn the ropes with us and do just about anything we threw at him.  There were times when we actually employed (they worked for nothing) 3-4 interns at the same time.

Interns are tough.  Basically it’s inexperienced help in the process of learning who can help up to a point, but we found that we spent more time teaching than was worth the payback.  For years I ran my recording studio, Westrax Recording Studios, here in NYC on interns, but that was different.  Running a website is simply a more highly technical job than running a recording studio.  In short: Dumb mistakes like a misplaced period in coding can break things.

So over time we found that interns were not worth the effort.

However, Craig Wagner, who interned for us for the usual 6-month period was a different kind of intern.  He simply ate up the information we gave him and turned it back as effective and accurate work.  At the end of his internship we hired him and within about another 6-month period made him the website manager.

At that point he decided to leave home and move with several of his buddies to the beach in South Carolina.  We thought at first that we would lose him, but decided to try to work with him virtually through email, Skype and the telephone.  It worked.

In these few years, Craig has become the backbone of our company.  He’s the turn-to guy for just about everything we do.  Not only does he manage a site selling over 11,000 products with over 3000 pages, but he has also developed into a wonderful designer of flyers, CD packages, videos, banners and just about anything else we throw at him.  In his spare time he coaches a boy’s basketball team and hangs out at his beach house livin’ the life.

I am so very fortunate to have found this egoless and most talented artist in my life.  Working with Craig has been one of the great joys of developing Watchfire Music.  I simply don’t know what we’d do without him.

What I love about his work is first the fearless capacity to tackle the new ideas that we bring to him.  He loves to learn and never seems to be afraid to dive into something new.  On top of that, he’s on time, meets his deadlines easily and seems to breeze through life with an infectious joy.

Most fascinating to me however has been his development as an artist.  One: he has a great eye for balance and composition.  Two: he has a great eye for color.  And Three: he has a sense of humor.  He’s not afraid to stick it out there.

I guess if there was a Four: it would be that he’s easy and egoless to work with – a trait that does not always come naturally to artistic people.  If I correct his work, he does the corrections with no pushback and no ego, yet at the same time is not afraid to stand up for himself if he believes that I’m wrong – which, of course, I sometimes am.

All that said, he’s simply a great collaborator and my right arm.

So I’m a very fortunate producer to have such a special designer to work with doing the finishing touches to my work and putting it out there on a high professional level.

With the Miracle Of Faith project it was, yet again, a creative and happy endeavor working with him on both the CD package and our latest Digi-Book.  As you’re perusing this project please keep in mind his terrific work.

Miracle Of Faith – Part 11

April 9th, 2014
Julia Wade

Julia Wade

Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-10 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

The Session:

The first two sessions of this project certainly had their degrees of unfamiliarity for me.  First recording an inexperienced 12-year old boy and secondly, recording a very experienced myself put me in somewhat of a different zone.  So it was only fitting that the third session would go smooth as silk.  And it did.

Julia Wade is as pro a vocalist in the booth as I’ve ever worked with.  She comes in totally prepared for the work, she’s smart and experienced and has all the chops necessary to accomplish just about anything I want.

On top of that, she loved the song and had been singing it around the house for weeks.

There’s not much drama to this story because Julia simply came in and did her job.  We did 7-8 takes and fixed a few rough spots and were finished in a couple of hours.

The comp was difficult frankly because I had so much good stuff to choose from.  Most of the time I sweat going through the comps praying that I have the takes, praying that I have at least one great take per line to work with.  With Julia, there were always a plethora of choices to choose from.

Also, if I may further praise my artist (and wife), Julia is a committed actress deeply involved with the subtext of the songs she sings.  That, coupled with a great and highly trained instrument, makes her a joy to work with.  People often ask how, as man and wife, we work together both as artists and partners in  business running Watchfire Music.  We also run most of the business out of our home and our studio is also in our home.  This means we spend 24/7 pretty much together.

Well, beside the fact that we love each other, we trust each other.  We don’t spend much time looking over one another’s shoulder.  We each do our parts and run our divisions and trust that each of us will do our jobs well.

Recently she took on a new manager and that was a real lift for me.  I was her turn-to manager for the last 15 years.  I did it out of necessity, but never really loved the job.  It always seemed like one thing too many.  So when her new manager, Reggie Bahl, came on board I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to work.

It’s also interesting to note here that Julia has had a twenty-year fascination with the life of Mary Magdalene.  She’s read many books about her, poured over every mention of her in the Bible and already played her once several years back singing a song of mine named I Was There.  So this experience, for her, was a continuation of the exploration of that character.

Hers is a voice that I can hear in my imagination as I write, so I know pretty much how it’s going to sound as I’m writing – a great gift for a composer.  Also I know her instrument so well that I can orchestrate a song without her having previously recorded a scratch vocal because I can hear her in my head.  This way the orchestra and Julia can work as one.

It’s a good partnership.

And more importantly, we have a great time together workin’ it.

Miracle Of Faith – Part 10

April 8th, 2014
Mary Magdalene - Pietro Perugino

Mary Magdalene – Pietro Perugino

Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-9 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

The Third Song:

As I mentioned earlier, Dora’s and my first inclination was to write this song for the character of Jesus.  I was never comfortable with this idea.  The master’s words are so iconic, so immortal that I did not want to in any way dilute the power of his thoughts.  I decided to let the master be the master and so we switched the character to Mary Magdalene.

Besides, we needed a chick in the band.  :o)

Again, we went to our imagination and suggested that she might have been there at the site of the miracle and also because, in our imagination, she was so close to Jesus, then she might have some special insights as well as a woman’s POV into the whole matter.

We called the work Miracle Of Faith not because of Jesus’ faith, for in our minds Jesus worked much more from a point of understanding  than faith, but really because of the boy’s amazing innocence of faith.  He so easily believed that the master could heal his mother that he was willing to give all he had to feed the 5000.

It says in the Bible (Hebrews 11:1), “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”  If this miracle is not the perfect example of this quote, then I don’t know what is.

Dora and I talked a lot about the “magic” of pulling rabbits out of a hat.  The magic of pulling enough food out of the boy’s basket to feed the multitude.  The idea of the many clowns at the circus all coming out of the tiny little car mush to the audience’s delight.  This image has thrilled people’s imaginations for centuries.

But Jesus was not a magician and what he was doing was not magic, but supremely natural.  The creation of supply through thought.  If matter is an illusion to begin with than why would this not be a natural occurrence for Jesus.  We even considered not using the term “Miracle” in our title for just that reason – because most people see miracles as some form of magic instead of being what they really are – simply God’s laws in action and abundance.  But then again we decided that the title was appropriate for just that reason as well – to clarify just how natural the occurrence of a miracle is.

We saw Mary Magdalene sitting back on a rock watching the whole event and, having seen so many of the master’s ‘miracles’ before, simply seeing the entire event as normal and understanding it all perhaps even on a higher level than the disciples themselves.

The Evidence Of Things Unseen
Mary Magdalene

Lyrics by Dora Redman & Peter Link
Music by Peter Link

And so he spoke
“They need not depart.
Give ye them food to eat.”
Give them food for thought,
The food of light,
The light of sustenance
Don’t send them away in their time of need
Feed the flock

But his disciples were not in the mind of Jesus
They struggled to raise their faith
And though miracles had abounded throughout the days
They were stuck in the world’s worn out ways
They knew not God’s law of infinite abundance
And I watched as they muttered amongst themselves  hmm
“Feed them with what? There’s nothing to eat
No apples, no almonds, no meat”

Then a boy stepped forth
With a basket of bread and two fishes
Well you know the rest
The five thousand were fed
And we all saw the power of his wishes
And the evidence of things unseen
Oh yes the evidence of things unseen

You ask, “What is that evidence?”
It’s the substance of faith
And no seeming dreams that lie in between

There, by his prayer
Pulled out of thin air
In a miracle of such routine
(As I witnessed so often, again and again)
Was the evidence of things unseen
Yes, the evidence of things unseen

Yes a boy stepped forth
With the spirit of “Nothing can stop me”
A boy, just a boy
And five thousand were fed
And we all felt the power and the glory
Of the evidence of things unseen
Oh yes the evidence of things unseen

And right there, by his prayer
Pulled out of thin air
In a miracle of such routine
(As I witnessed so often, again and again)
Was the evidence of things unseen

The man
The miracle
The son of God
And all this from two fishes
And five loaves of bread

The writing of this song was a total joy.  Once we had the lyric locked down and finished, the music of the moment simply poured forth almost effortlessly.

Why?  Because it was the third song in the trilogy, because the moments had been so researched and discussed for many months and we had lived in the shoes and already written the scene twice from different points of view.  Because we understood the characters, because we saw in our imaginations the whole scene like a movie.  In essence it became, for me, like a three camera shoot of the same scene.  I was this time camera #3.

I know that Mary, for instance was over, somewhat behind Jesus, back there on the left, sitting up on that rocky abutment quietly watching it all go down.  I know what she was wearing and I know how the shadows fell as daylight turned to dusk.  I know how much she loved Jesus and stood with him in these oh so special moments.

I know the mood of the hungry crowd and hear the murmuring as the food is passed out.  I feel the incredulity of the multitude and the gratitude and the wonder.  I feel the shame and the pride of Thomas juxtaposing his wonder.  I feel the calm assurance of the master and wide-eyed excitement of the boy.  I dive into the mind of Mary and the music simply comes forth, it passes through me, through pen and paper, through the keys of my keyboard, through the digital zeros and ones of my computer, through the vibrations passing through the air to your ears, through the wonder of the oneness of people connecting through this amazing language called music.

The song does what it is supposed to do.  It ties the knot; it ties the bow.  It explains the miracle as natural without trying to explain the science behind it.  It says that there are things beyond our understanding that are yet to learn.  And that a little boy of twelve can actually work the principles of this science without even understanding the science like the master, but just simply through his own innocent child-like faith.

The song sings itself.

Next: The Session.


Miracle Of Faith – Part 9

April 7th, 2014

Orchestral-ScoreNote: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-8 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

The Orchestrations:

For a couple of decades I worked on Broadway and wrote music for many Plays and Musicals.  During that time I also wrote the soundtracks for a number of movies both in Hollywood and for the Monday Night Movies of the Week on television.

I enjoyed the work and learned to underscore the emotions of the scenes and write the music reflecting the moments on screen.  For Broadway I developed a reputation as the guy people went to when they wanted to underscore their plays – an art form in the theater that really had not been explored all that much.  For a decade I was able to work on a number of Broadway shows and develop that side of my work.  I was nominated for the Tony Award twice for my underscoring work in plays in the Best Composer For A Musical category because there was no category for what I was doing.

Those two shows were Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor and William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing the longest running Shakespeare play ever to run on Broadway.

So when Dora and I were in the middle of the writing of the three songs I decided to imagine the scenes around the three songs and essentially score the scenes of my imagination.

I had also begun to develop this idea in a previous Julia Wade CD entitled, Deep Waters, another 3-song CD separated by extensive orchestrations.  There’s no movie to watch when you listen to the music, so I’ve decided to call it a Musical Of The Imagination.  In short, the songs give you enough information to imagine the scenes of the orchestra sections and the titles of the 4 orchestrations set the scene.

In my own imagination I can tell you what’s happening during every beat of every measure of the music.  I thought that I might describe in a paragraph or two those scenes as I saw/heard them, but then decided that I would be stripping you, the listener, of your own experience in your own imagination.

I guess it’s sort of like if Stravinsky took you through each moment in his Rite Of Spring and told you what he was thinking.  I’d rather just listen to his music and get lost in my own dreaming.

So I’m going to leave it at that.

Here are the four pieces.  Dream on …

The Opening – Orchestra

The Sermon – Orchestra

The Miracle – Orchestra

Celebration – Orchestra

Miracle Of Faith – Part 8B

April 5th, 2014

Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-7 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

Installment 8B

This experience of singing, for me, was a great eye-opener, a great reminder of just how hard it is to sing at your best.  Most people think that if one has the gift of music that it’s just easy, but great singers make it look easy when it’s simply not.  It is an experience where every nuance must be addressed, where every moment of action and drama must be thoroughly understood and accomplished in performance.

In short, if you don’t do it in the vocal booth, there’s no way and no piece of technical gear invented that will put it on tape.  (Yes, tape is a funny and old-fashioned word that does not apply anymore, but you get the point.)  If you don’t truly live the song in the vocal session, you’ll never live in the recording.

After my 10 or so takes I can feel my mind, my focus going.  That’s where fatigue hits the singer who is in shape to record.  It’s usually not the voice, but rather the concentration.  My voice is still solid because I prepared well over the last month and got in shape for this adventure, but my focus is waning.  It’s time to stop.

But I only stop the full takes.  Somehow I know in my heart, in my instinct several sections of the song that I’m still a bit nervous about.  I know I haven’t quite nailed them yet, so I do an additional 4-5 takes of just those sections.  At that point I’ve been in the booth singing for about 3 hours.

I’m done … for the day.

In the next couple of days I’ll take several hours and sit down and study each take and organize what I like and what I don’t like and then build a comp track of a final vocal.  A comp track it a composite of the best of my session.  I can edit (just like in the movies) a verse or a line from one take to another and build a “best of” performance.  For that matter, I can also edit words and sometimes even individual syllables together from different takes to get it right.

It’s important to state here that if this kind of work is to be done right, my 10 full song tracks have to be very close to each other in terms of performance and emotional choices.  That’s why it’s so important for the performer to understand the emotional arc of the song well before the session.  Otherwise I’ll never be able to match style and emotional line.  Singers who come in unprepared on that level are almost impossible to comp.  It is definitely an acquired skill.

OK, perhaps I’ve given away enough trade secrets at this point.

There is a real collaboration between vocalist and producer.  Often, when a comp is finished the singer needs to go back and study the comp and learn all the good stuff that she or he and the producer created together in the endeavor of recording.  This way they can sound as good as their record when they are performing their song live.

In my case I did, several days later go back in and fix a couple of moments that I was still not happy with.  And then several days after that and many listenings later, I did go back in yet again to fix just a word or two.

I’ll have to admit the difficulty of this endeavor.  I’m a real taskmaster with my singers in the studio.  I demand the best of them and will not stop until I get it.  I was doubly hard on myself and needed to be.

The song is finished now and I’m doing the final mix today.  I’ve gone over it and over it hundreds of times and am OK with it.  I say, “OK” because I’m not sure I’ll ever be thrilled with it because I experienced the effort it took to get it done.

I understand why Katherine Hepburn never watched a movie she ever made.

It’s also just very difficult to do both jobs at the same time.  Occasionally we see that some stars direct their own movies.  I have to take my hat off to them.  It’s not easy.  Warren Beatty is a pretty special talent.  Clint Eastwood too.

In the end, it is what it is.  It’s finished and it’s time to move on.

Ultimately it was a fascinating and enriching experience.

Miracle Of Faith – Part 8A

April 4th, 2014

Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Parts 1-7 yet you start there.  This way you’ll get the whole story.

Installment 8A

The Sessions:

So I finally got to the point where I decided that it was now or never.  Are we ever fully ready to do a vocal session?  So much is learned in the session itself.  As the producer listens to take after take and helps shape the performance and direction is taken by the vocalist, the song does grow.  It’s simply a part of the creative process.

I always say that it’s most important to have as much of the technical understood before that session so that the technical becomes second nature and the majority of the focus in the session is on the emotional and logical performance.  In any given moment in a studio recording, if the singer is focused on the technical, it simply weakens the performance – the singer is not living the moment, but rather is standing outside of the song and not “into it.”

When I produce my own vocals, then I have to wear two hats – the hat of the producer and the hat of the performer.  As a performer when in the booth singing, I can’t be listening to myself with my producer hat on.  I must be totally the performer.  If I were to listen to each take as the producer right after the take, I would double the time it takes to do a good vocal and turn a 2-3 hour session into a 4-6 hour session.  A long session like that would simply wear anybody out, so basically I have to just wear the hat of the singer and trust my instincts and hope that I have what I need for the comp.

I believe I did 10-11 full takes of the song.  In my studio I can run my computer and my Apple Logic Recording Software remotely from the booth.  So I am, in essence, singer, producer and engineer.  I need to make sure I get a lot of sleep the night before.

I start out by getting levels – both headphone levels and recording levels.  Sometimes I’ll ask Julia to come in and watch the VU meters while I run through the song in rehearsal and set a level so that I’m well short of distortion.

Once I’m happy with the mix of orchestra and myself in my phones then I spend the next 2 hours recording 10-12 full takes of the song.  I drink a lot of hot tea while I’m singing.  It keeps my throat lubricated and warm and I just like the feel of it.  Every singer is different.  Many won’t drink any dairy products before or during a session.  They say it coats the throat.  Others drink hot water.  Cold water with ice is probably the one drink I would stay away from.  Carbonated beverages are probably not such a good idea either.  Too many bubbles in the stomach.  Burrrrp …

Well, enough of all that …

Basically I try to spend the 2 hours of singing living the character of the song.  In this case it was a more theatrical song and I was playing Thomas, the doubter, but as long as I play Peter, the doubter I’ll be OK.  Even if I’m playing simply myself in a given song, I still have to choose what part of my own character I will play.  I have to know who I am and who I am talking to and most importantly what am I doing.  Basically all these decisions of the actor are made before the session, so once I get into the session, I just let it fling.

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