2/2/2010 6:28 AM
Hopefully you've read and enjoyed the EQ cover story on Norah Jones. If you haven't checked it out yet, here it is: http://eqmag.com/article/norah-jones-producer/February-2010/107315
During the NAMM conference, I had the pleasure of going to a dinner hosted by Universal Audio, which was fantastic. It was a mix of producers and magazine editors such as myself. Sitting across from me was producer Jacquire King, who is not only talented but also very down-to-earth.
The topic of Norah Jones' album came up, and King talked about some of the little experiments they did. For example, they wanted a handclap sound, but they didn't want to go about it the traditional way of using a sample or recording hands clapping. Instead, he and his engineer Brad Bivens decided to grab a washtub and some chains from Home Depot. One of them (I think Jacquire said it was Brad) muffled the tub between his legs, and hit the chains against the tub. I love hearing those little secrets behind recording. You can hear more about it on this video at the Universal Audio booth at NAMM.
I knew that Jacquire also produced the last Kings of Leon album, Only By the Night, and I wanted to ask about how he recorded the vocals for "Sex on Fire," which was pretty much last year's rock anthem. I tried not to act like a stupid fan girl, but any information that helps me record my own vocals better is like candy to me.
So trying to contain my excitement, I listened as he told me that he used a Shure SM7 on Caleb Followill's voice with a Chandler Limited TG1 preamp and Universal Audio/Teletronix LA-2A compressor, then hitting a Universal Audio "Blue Stripe" 1176 Limiting Amplifier with a 4:1 ratio.
But the really interesting part for me was how Caleb sang it. To make the chorus vocals sound like one vocal, but really thick, they tried what I like to call the "shouting sandwich method." (Okay, I just made that up.) Sorry if this is common information to some of you producers out there, but this was actually the first time I'd heard this:
Jacquire had Caleb sing three vocals. The lead was sung close to the mic, and the track was panned dead center. Then Caleb sang two more vocals. Actually, he shouted them, about ten feet away from the mic. Those two vocals were then panned on either side of the lead. Naturally, the shouting vocals were compressed, EQ'd, and effected differently than the center lead. The result was that powerful, awesome chorus for "Sex on Fire." I'd love to get that sound without my vocals sounding like a big stack of me, me, me, me, and me. I'm totally going to try that next time I'm in the studio.