I’m used to making my own music alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in bands before. As a matter of fact, I’m in two right now; playing bass for both the worship team at The Garden UMC and for a soul/funk project with a friend of mine. I’ve also produced rap and R&B records with and for local Virginia artists for the better part of the last 10 Years. But when it comes to recording my own work, I’ve done the lion’s share of music production and songwriting on my own for so long that I can’t remember ever getting outside help (at least, if you don’t count sampling other artists). I love the songs I’ve created for people to rap on, but if you’ve read any of my other work on medium, you know that my heart belongs to rock and roll.
Even though Hip Hop is collaborative by nature, I tend to think that beat-making in the Internet age is isolating. I get more emails from clients for stems then i do visits from artists who want to work with me. Rock, however, typically requires other people. At the bare minimum, you need a guitarist, bassist and drummer for your standard three chord punk band. I've seen incredible solo guitarists make great indie and emo records with just an acoustic guitar (or a telecaster in the case of the phenomenal Julien Baker), but for the most part the rock is in the rhythm section. More and more of the back-line is being digitized; between the amazing amp models of Line 6 Helixand Kemper and the drum plugins and samples from brands like toontrack, it’s easier than ever to make tracks that sound like live recordings with a Digital Audio Workstation and a little bit of outboard gear. In fact, I’m working on a record that makes use of the Helix’s amp and effect modeling for my guitar and bass tracks, and programmed drums that use toontrack’s Ez Drummer and a few other samplers. This enables me to essentially produce an entire rock record with no other people.
The question I have, though, is “Should I?”
I’m super impressed with the sound that I can get from the equipment that I’m using and the mixing knowledge that I have. I’m also very confident in my bass playing, my drum programming, and my ability to arrange songs well (although that’s just, like… my opinion, man). However, I’m not as confident in my guitar and keys playing ability. I’d love to have a trusted team of other players to run my mixes and ideas by, and who could translate those ideas into stellar guitar or keys parts. And even though i’m constantly sending my finished mixes out to my musician friends, most of them are already in multiple bands or working on multiple projects. Some of them I can’t afford, even if they were available.
I’m going to make the goodnotsafe record. By myself, if need be. It’s been a dream of mine since I started recording back in the early aughts. Soon musings on amp modeling and recording/mixing techniques will take over my page here. It’s not a question of ability, either; i can record the same guitar part over and over until I get it down perfectly, and then delete all the evidence of my failures. After all, I’m not charging myself for studio time. I’m more concerned with running out of ideas, or playing the same four chords on every song. But what do you think? How collaborative is music for you?