Q & A with Magoo

Q & A with Magoo


How much does it cost to make a record?
I’m glad you asked. There are many factors to consider here and the only real answer is, all the money you’re prepared to spend.
I’ve made albums in a week here and have also made albums that took more 3 months and there is a difference, as much as there is a difference in the type of music made. The quicker albums can have a certain immediacy and conviction but also have those charms or some would say mistakes that have to settle in for life. Less time means, no time for experiments, less fine tuning of the songs, fewer alternative takes, less time in recorded music (10 songs rather than 12 for example) and ultimately a few fuck ups (pardon my french). You may be well rehearsed and have great chops, but to get the right sound for the song takes time. The mixes will have less variety between songs and may have less depth and presence that only time can produce. Some music styles benefit from more time spent in the rehearsal room, with pre-production, than in the recording studio experimenting in the “sandpit”.
That doesn’t mean the record won’t be good, just that you won’t have the time to try out all possibilities and fully realise a songs potential. Longer sessions have more time for re-working, experimenting and not forgetting more time for mixing. Consider the time it takes to finish a take, comment about it and then listen back and comment about it again. For a 3 minute song that all adds up to about 15 minutes per take.
It is backward planning to ask how long it will take for a fixed methodology, and then come up with that amount of money. If you guess wrong, you will be caught short, and end up spending all your money with nothing finished to show for it. It is much more realistic to decide how money you have to spend, and then make the record that budget allows, accepting the limitations implied by that.
In short, if you tell us the amount of money you have budgeted for your project and what you need to get done, we will present you with a plan to get it done for that amount.
Tips on saving time whilst recording.

Get your gear sorted!


Do you need new drum heads? (more than likely yes) It is nice to have a selection anyway. Is there any squeaks and rattles in your drum kit i.e kick pedal, lugs etc…
How’s your intonation? Get your guitars setup – all of you. It sucks when one person does it and the others don’t, the intonation between you gets worse. Bring new strings for all guitars. (ask before changing bass strings)
Are your amps cranking? How many years since you last changed those tubes? Make sure all your leads are working!

Now is not the time to give up any vices.
Smoking, caffine, pot, smack, alcohol, and even dairy products and sugar. Giving up your daily six pack and a packet of Marlboros on the day of recording is a bad idea. Singers often come into a session with some half baked notion that they should give up drugs, cigarettes and alcohol but they fail to realize that timing is crucial when it comes to things like this. Give up 3 months before, straight after or not at all. Giving up two weeks before a session will have you performing your worst.

Don’t go out and party the night before.
It’s great to live the rock n roll dream, but it doesn’t make much sense if you are on a budget. If you have a decent budget, you better invite me along!

Bring your own food.
Depending on when your sessions are happening (i.e lunch or dinner or both) bring your own food to the session. Most studios have a kitchen with fridge, microwave, large oven, and all that other stuff you need to go with that. So it makes sense to make up a couple of sangers or even cook up a curry to feed the whole band. There is usually enough time for at least one member of the band to keep everyone feed.

Of course – Rehearse before hand.

Do I have to use a click track?

Click tracks (or metronomes) can be very helpful in the recording process. Not only can they help the artist to record with steadier tempos, but these days, with the advent of computer based solutions for recording, using a metronome can assist the artist in making greater use of many modern techniques such as “cut and paste” editing. If you are a solo performer and have no plans for adding other instrumentation to your project, click tracks are not necessary. Basically, I think it comes down to the session and what works. Some people love clicks and some don’t. I will do whatever works in the end.


What do I get if I cough up the big bickies for Magoo?
Well firstly I will only record a band if I feel I have something to offer the music. So, I need to hear demos. If I’m not into it, I reckon it’s probably best for the both of us, if I help you to find the right producer to work with. From here I’ll listen to the music and see where I think it should go, how it should be recorded and suggest any changes that I think will make the recording better. That’s the idea after all. I make notes of these and hopefully will come to a rehearsal or two and we will all get together and have a yarn about the recording. What you are looking for and how I think we can achieve it. To me, pre-production is an important part of the process. It’s also a great way to get to know each other better.
From here we make the record!
Firstly no two sessions are the same, just like the bands and the music they make. So each session is treated individually. So here we will offer an example of probably our most preferred technique.
Firstly this is assuming you are a band (not an electronic or hip-hop outfit) and we are recording at a studio. Generally I would setup a band in the live room and isolate the instruments using baffles and screens for a live recording of the track. Whether this is completely kept or, say, the guitars are overdubbed depends on the track, budget and other varying factors.
Once the bed tracks have been completed, I like to pack everything up and then setup for overdubs. From here I like to work on things song, by song. A guitar here, keyboard there and the vocals. I try to avoid at all cost, the last few days of tracking being entirely vocals. This is unnatural and inhumane. It also rarely gives good results for the whole time. I like to concentrate on a song and then move onto the next.
After everything is recorded we move onto the final mix. My mixing style is a hybrid of analog and digital. I essentially plug in the outboard gear to make 3 or 4 stereo groups that sound great. Run various things through those groups and sum them together again all using an analogue desk. A lot of plug-ins get used on various tracks and all the automation is done in the computer. No analogue gear gets touched. This way the mixes are all 100% recallable.

I usually mix a song a day (depending on the style of music) and upload the results to my server at the end of the day. The band can all individually listen to the tracks at home etc… Not in my control room, with expensive monitors etc… at home where the music will be listened to. I then ask one person in the band to be the adjudicator and send me ONE email with all suggested changes. Next day I’ll do the tweaks and comment to your comments, then move onto another song. After a week or so, the band can come over for a listen and we can do some tweaking face to face.
I find this process to works really well and I’ve been very happy with the results. All sessions are backed up and I can generally still make changes months after the session has ended.
There it is clear as mud.. not.