Here you can read the diary of the recording
session in Denmark in 2001, which were then updated daily. The recording session took place during a
4-week stay at the North Sea island of Fano.
This diary has been written by h.key.
In the German section you can find m.vocs diary.
Friday, March 30th
In the evening we loaded our complete studio into the car (Mitsubishi bus). It took over three hours and we tried hard to use every spare inch of the car. This was absolutely necessary:
Even so we hardly managed to take everything with us.
Saturday, March 31st
Basically, everything went fine until we missed the ferry to Fanoe by a few seconds and had to wait for half an hour until we could take over to our "studio island".
Being very excited about being almost there, where we are
to spend 4 full weeks on making music from break of day until late at night I didn't pay attention to the funny noises the car produced - until the engine died in full speed and we stood there in the pouring rain with nowhere to go. Michi and Markus pushed the car from the street to a camping ground nearby.
We then hurried to the house-rental-station which of course had closed by now. Fortunately the keys were left behind for us, so we ran back through the rain to the camping ground where a friendly woman asked if she could help us; and she could: her husband towed us to our house.
Thank you Denmark, very nice people out here!!! And after all, we were lucky the car didn't leave us alone an hour earlier: with all the equipment in the car we would not have been able to just park it somewhere and spend the night in a hotel. And running through the rain is something almost romantic we so often cite in our songs.
When we were at the address that stood on our reservation document we were quite shocked: This house had nothing to do with the pictures of the one we had booked - very small and old. Fortunately
the key didn't fit (what a relief) and we found our house nearby. It was great and it is great: A bedroom for everybody, a nice kitchen with up-to-date cooking equipment (more about that
later), a large living room and an additional bedroom where we intended to build up Studio B.
But as it turned out, the acoustics in the living room were quite bad so we decided to put up Studio A in the spare bedroom. This required some planning but once we discovered it was very easy to deconstruct the bed everything was fine.
We carried up most of our stuff and fell into bed.
Sunday, April 1st
We were so engaged into connecting all the cables and finally plugging into current that we completely forgot to make the "April 1st jokes".
I think this is a good sign as it shows that it only took a few hours to leave the common world behind and dive into our recording holidays.
The clouds have been blown away by the wind that whistled all day long and we faced the sun for the first time since long ago (who has experienced this year's winter season in Germany knows what I mean). We went for a first quick walk to the beach where it was still foggy.
Around dinner time everything was ready but it took until midnight until we had checked each and every connection. We undertook this effort so we could avoid as many technical interruptions during production process as possible.
When Michi cooked dinner we were very surprised the stove tried to outsmart us - we took so much digital equipment with us that we know to deal with but this machine just was too much: After some water spilled onto the surface it started beeping - and it didn't want to quit beeping; did it want to promote itself as a sound generator? No way, we have enough of those :-) the only way to silence it was to pull out the fuse. Reinserting it after one minute started the beeping again - damn it!
Monday, April 2nd
In the morning we walked into town to get the 3 most important things done:
Firstly, reinserting the fuse this time had no other effect than putting the stove back into function - no unwanted beeps this time. Secondly, find a repair station to get our car fixed and a computer store to buy an adapter cable from our modem to the phone plug in the wall (different format than in Germany). We were roughly successful: although we found a gas station with repairing capabilities and made agreement they would pick up our car from our house they never showed up.
But we got a cable for the modem. We got connected to the internet with some minor problems to solve (internet software from danish supplier didn't work with Windows ME, no dial-in number of internet provider was available). At the moment we can only work with email but soon hope to have full internet access again.
During the day we listened to all of the songs we have that could be recorded while we are here. We agreed on 12 songs that could make sense. Out of this pool we will decide upon the next choice every time we have finished on song. We agreed to start with "From time to time", a song that was composed in late 2000 in a very rough version. It is rather simple but catchy. We have performed an acoustic version live in Muelsen in January 2001.
Dinner cooking (Michi again!) again forced us to take out the fuse of the stove - it went crazy again and tried to take control over us...
Tuesday, April 3rd
The guy from the car repair came by to get our car. He knocked and must have left immediately - when we opened the door we could only see his taillights. I called the repair station again and the guy came over once more. What can I say, he had magic hands. He started the car and it all worked fine. I must have looked very embarassed but finally it's better this way than to have to pay a lot of money for repair.
During the day we worked on the song in Studio A. It's always hard to tell what you've actually done the whole day long but the small adjustments here and there are very important.
Markus and Michi also started a new song in Studio B. This one sounds also very promising.
Wednesday, April 4th
Slowest start into the day so far. Noon had passed when breakfast was finished. We'll have to discipline ourselves to get up in time - not the nicest thing for a holiday!
Both Studio A and Studio B songs are developing fine. In the evening we recorded vocals for 'From time to time'. I think we will manage to finishe the song on Friday morning which we also have to achieve if we want to keep our goal to produce half a dozen songs!
Technically everything works fine - only the problems with the stove remain. Dinner today was barely warm and a little bit too much 'al dente'. Maybe we should ask for some cooking lessons?!
Thursday, April 5th
The diary entries will probably get shorter and shorter from now on as there is not so much happening. We have been working on the song over 12 hours today and progressed a lot. All the right melodies, sounds and a nice arrangement have been developed now there is only some mixing left.
Only?! This is very important to me as it can do a lot of damage as well as bring out the best of a song.
I will suggest that we will upload a short mp3 file of the song soon so people know what I am talking about here all the time.
Friday, April 6th
Another day spent in the studio completely. But I am not complaining, this is exactly what we are here for! We have now quite a good routine in using our time efficiently resulting in that we don't have any activities with three persons except breakfast and dinner so we can get the best use of time available.
Before coming here I had wondered a lot wether we would fall into a kind of container syndrom like big brother. This is quite an experiment to put 3 guys in one house for 4 weeks! But we get along very well.
I only notice a complete loss of feeling for time both during the day and within the month. On one hand time flies by (we are almost one week here), on the other hand the days seem endless - not because I am bored but because there is no destraction from our focus.
Not to go completely nuts Michi and I undertook a walk to the beach today. It is rather windy and slightly raining. Won't help our songs to sound less melancholic ;-)
Saturday, April 7th
Addendum to yesterday's diary: when I wrote the text around midnight I expected we would be through in a minute. Actually we worked until 3am and had to solder some new cables and adapters to eliminate some problems with our master insert chain.
This morning we got up with the help of an alarmclock for the first time since we are here because we wanted to finish the song before lunchtime. Since our PC felt it wanted to become more actively involved in our music it started making crackling noises every once in a while.
Finally we managed to record the song properly. After having listened to it a few hundred times during production process I will now be happy not to have to listen to it for a few days. But as the past shows in a few days I will have enough distance to be eager to listen to it again. And I am sure I will like it. Have a try, there is a mp3-example-file available.
Sunday, April 8th
Another day has flown by. We are working on a song with the working title 'Zwei Welten' (means something like 'two worlds') but this title is subject to change. The song is mainly sung in german.
Although we like the song so much we decided to produce it here we have deleted lots of stuff. We want to concentrate on the key elements. Our focus today were drum sounds and drum programming. We are all excited to see where the song will take us, which direction it will take.
By the way, we are still carrying out our private war with the stove but more and more often we are on the winning side, now. Only very few times the fuse is our means of quieting the mean machine.
Monday, April 9th
Business as usual; with the time passing by the days become more and more equal to one another. Today, we have been working quite a lot.
The best moment was probably when I came walking down the stairs from Studio A and I could see Markus working on a new song (with headphones) and Michi on a guitar riff (with headphones) for our current song. They were sitting next to each other but were not communicating. Still we were all working for our common goal - fine music.
Michi has developed a very cool line for the new song, we will implement it in Studio A tomorrow. It will be great, promised!
Tuesday, April 10th
Another day like all the others - it's astounding how quick new situations turn to be normal.
The song undertook some dramatic changes. Although we had already two days before thrown away quite a lot melodies and sounds we did the same today. But there have been plenty for replenishment. E.g., the guitar has been added (for all of those afraid of guitars: added very gently!) and Markus has reworked the vocals. The song is getting an interesting sound now and I am eager to go on with it tomorrow. The only problem is that the changes take a lot of time and we have fallen behind our schedule.
Wednesday, April 11th
Today we recorded a few guitar riffs for our song. The recording was the toughest test for our ability to live and work so closely together since we have been here - we had some opposing opinions as to what had to be played and when. But I think we passed the test because finally we agreed on certain takes and managed to keep the discussions on a professional level.
In the afternoon we got quite surprised: while working in Studio A all together it suddenly gave a noise and then nothing. Silence. There was no more electricity! Or better: almost no electricity. Funny thing was our old friend the stove still was working but that was the only thing in the whole house. No lights, no studio, nothing.
We changed all the fuses, bought new ones, called the rental company where we have rented the house - no progress. Until an electrician turned up and told us some heavy gear from street repair had damaged some central electricity unit and we would be powered up in two hours. Fortunately it was as he said.
We used the spare time to prepare BBQ dinner. It was not really the weather for it although it was nicer than normal. But the wind helped perfectly replacing the hair-drier to fire up the charcoal.
The evening was the best so far - after 'work' we turned up the volume and listened and danced to old and new favourites all night long. I am not sure if we should publish the photographs taken.
Yes, we had a few beers - why?
Thursday, April 12th
No catastrophes today.
We recorded and worked on the vocals for our song. Also everybody introduced a few additions to the song which is starting to sound better and better.
In the evening I recorded some bass guitar lines for the song we are working on in Studio B. It's a song with a very catching guitar riff.
Studio B is something that surprises me. Every year we are spending one weekend in a small flat with the equipment we now call Studio B: guitar, bass guitar, a keyboard, a microphone and a computer (basically for drumming and HDD recording). There we manage to compose and record one song per day. Here, we have only some beginnings but no song completed. Before coming here I had expected we would create one song every three days. But it shows we spend a lot of time in Studio A and for the breaks in between the sessions it's better to do something else.
I think we should look to complete a couple of songs on Studio B - it's always a fun thing, production is not so important.
Friday, April 13th
Today we have recorded a mix of the current song. Tomorrow in the morning we will listen to it with 'fresh ears' and hopefully decide everything is ok. Usually there are some minor changes ('Couldn't we turn up that beep-sound a little bit', 'Shouldn't the bass bounce a little bitte more', etc.)
Tomorrow we will have spent half of our time here - terrifying thought.
Saturday April 14th
Yes, we have finally recorded 'Zwei Welten' and renamed it to 'Du siehst mich nicht' (which means 'you don't see me'). An extract of this song is available as mp3file from this homepage.
Immediately we started with the next song, called 'Here's my life'. We expect to finish this one much quicker as there is a lot less to change from the demo to the album version, just optimizations.
It is snowing in Denmark! I regret I couldn't get through with my proposal to record the album in the mediterannean area like South France.
Sunday, April 15th
Easter Sunday! As a special surprise the computer in Studio B went down unable to reboot. Markus spent the whole day trying to restore the system while I was busy in Studio A. Michi played some acoustic guitar riffs and we recorded both via Pickup and microphone. The sound from the mic (Neumann) was incredibly convincing and the guitar now has a very important role to play in the song.
I am afraid we have rehearsed the chorus line from 'from time to time' to often where Markus sings 'We are like ice in summer' because it was snowing here today! Even if it is only spring it is not supposed to snow and besides we are spending our summer holidays here.
Monday, April 16th
Markus was still occupied with the computer but finally managed to reinstall Windows after he had taken out all the cards (SCSI, Pulsar,...). But we were able to record vocals for the song and late at night the mix was almost finished. We expect to do the final recording tomorrow morning. So this time we were much quicker in the recording process. This we had expected because the song was much more developed than the first two songs we did, so we didn't have to change quite as much.
Michi prepared the best dinner we have had so far: Salmon baked in its own juice and a red wine sauce. The only problem was the oven: We hadn't used it so far and didn't know what surprises it had in store for us. Well, it didn't want to start. No way, it just didn't heat up. Until, finally, we managed to set the clock (Excerpt from Manual: If you press buttons B and F together while turning wheel M...) and then it worked. Very digital world, really.
Another digital problem: My digital videocamera still doesn't work, all our efforts were in vain. That means we will not be able to add any more photos or videoclips to the page. Sorry!
But you will have an audio example of 'Here is my life' soon...
Tuesday, April 17th
'Here is my life' has been finished successfully. We had to make some minor adjustments but then it was done - the quickest production here so far.
We then decided upon the next song. Our choice was 'Walking through the dark'. This song was originally composed and recorded in 1998 and is more of a dancefloor-song than the ones we have done here before. Obviously we will need some more time on this one as more changes will have to be made. For one thing we have changed some equipment since then, so we don't have all the original sounds any more, secondly we want to change a lot of sounds to ameliorate the song.
In the evening we tried the sauna here in the house - very relaxing!
Wednesday, April 18th
Most of the time Markus worked on the song today while I took some time for reading and writing letters.
The highlight of the day was our late-night jam-session: we started around midnight to play an all-live (guitar, voice, bass) song Markus and Michi had started some days before. This was great fun. It's amazing that this was the first time we performed all together after more than two weeks while this is something we do at home more frequently.
Thursday, April 19th
We have chosen the most important melodies and sounds from the song and reworked a lot around it.
No big news today, even the weather hasn't changed the slightest bit over the past two weeks, it's still raining, snowing, etc. Really nice here, in Denmark! ;-)
Saturday, April 21st
We recorded vocals today and enjoyed the nice weather (!) when we were not in the studio. But we were there most of the day and sometimes I wonder what I am doing there - after 3 hours in the studio it is often hard to tell, what you've actually done. Probably the best explanation is something like this: Adjusted some drum sounds, programmed effects for the drums, found the transition from verse to chorus not smooth enough, tried to add some drum sounds, took them away, tried to reduce drum sounds instead, find the drums not guilty, try to add some melodic phrase only to take it away again, listen closely, dislike the drum effect added an hour ago (see above), get confused with the connections from the sampler ("why the hell is that hihat on channel x when I thought I had connected it to channel y?"), spend half an hour to check output programming and connections, correct the equalization on the bassline, program a noisesound on the Nordlead, try it on the MS20 instead·
It's a process like 2 steps ahead, one step back, maybe another back, one step ahead, and so on. But surprisingly, after a few hours there is something building up, the essence of the song shows, there are new or better melodies, and all the efforts pay. Seen this way, I am very happy with the day, because we have made some major improvements.
But don't ask me how we did it...
Sunday, April 22nd
We are in heavy delay again! We intended to record the song tonight and to check the recording tomorrow morning but we were not satisfied with the beginning of the song so we tried different versions until late at night. So we will work on the details tomorrow during the day and finalize the recording on Tuesday. That means, on Wednesday the next mp3 should be online.
Hopefully we will be able to finish the fifth song in the remaining few days. We have already chosen 'Remember', a ballad.
Monday, April 23rd
There was not too much to add to the song and we quickly agreed on a new introduction to the song. It is shorter than in the demo version of the song.
We have recorded the song and will check it tomorrow morning if it still sounds ok. Usually some minor adjustments in level are necessary because after listening to the song for a whole day the ears are not as objective and effective as they should be.
Michi took advantage of the spare time today and recorded a song on his own on 4-track-cassette ('Studio C'). It is singer/songwriter style and conveys feelings and emotion very well.
The day ended with another little jam session.
Tuesday, April 24th
We succeded in finishing with 'Walking through the dark' and I think we are all happy with it. Immediately we started on our last song in this session, called 'Remember'.
It always takes some time to find and restore all the sounds that have been used on the demo and to get to a good starting point for mixing. This time we were lucky, the song consists of very few sounds, and the most important ones were there. The ones where we have sold the synths in the meantime are lost, though ;-)
Wednesday, April 25th
Today I was the recording engineer, recording acoustic guitar and vocals over several hours. Even though you're mainly sitting there and the others have to perform it is still exhausting because you to be concentrated and on alert the whole time. What if the best take ever is spoiled due to unwanted overload ?!
We worked until late at night. It is very important to keep the atmosphere of the song (a slower one, again) yet fill it up appropriately so it doesn't sound thin.
Thursday, April 26th
The last working day! Tomorrow we will get our things packed which is a horrible thought because for the studio we will need the whole day. And: We will have to put it back together at home, which will take another day or two.
We have not finished the fifth song as we felt it doesn't make sense to push it too much. We will try to finish it as soon as possible when we are back in Hannover.
Hannover - that also means going to work again etc. and we will have much less time than here. Until we now have 7 songs for the album; we will have to record some more and it is evident we will have to postpone the release a little bit, early summer won't be possible any more.
This is the last entry into the diary from Denmark, tomorrow there won't be a computer to transmit. The resume will be added when I am back home.
Fanoe Diary Resume
Now we have been back home for a couple of days. It was exciting to listen to the songs for the first time in a different atmosphere - but I still liked them. For me it was a very good experience, we got along very well and we have had much fun. It seems as if the songs are the best ones we've ever recorded - I know, that's what everybody says of his newest babies...
4 weeks was a long time but we used it well and we took our time. That is why we recorded 'only' 4 songs in the time given.
We have not yet put our studio back together, I figure it takes a few days to get a little distance. Michi's last words when we said good-bye are the best resume I can think of: 'Next time I would like to join you, again'.
Hopefully there is a 'next time' !