Vocal Cords: Elodieo On Crafting Her Signature Vocal Sound

As the voice of the French experimental-pop duo Elm, Parisianborn New Yorker elodieO had two albums’ worth of recording experience under her belt, and with it, plenty of time to perfect her vocal tone. She learned quickly what she liked best, and when starting the process of recording her debut solo release, Stubborn, she had a very specific sound in mind.
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“I’m very particular about recording my voice,” says elodieO. “I did a lot of the vocal recording at home, where I felt most comfortable singing, and where I could tweak the vocals over and over. It was just myself—no producer. After a bad studio experience, I bought a laptop and a Digidesign Mbox and started to learn Pro Tools so I could edit sessions myself. I learned from scratch, and I called friends who are Pro Tools engineers to help me along. I asked a lot of questions!”

Capturing a voice as dynamic and versatile as elodieO’s required a special touch, but, surprisingly, that touch didn’t involve high-end microphones and boutique preamps. Instead, elodieO found that less-expensive gear suited her vocal style much better.

“I brought home a Neumann U67 and an Avalon 737 preamp, but I didn’t care for the results,” she says. “I have a very difficult voice to record, and I ended up liking the vocal sound I got using only the AKG C535 microphone that I like to use live routed through my Mbox.”

Aside from her home-recorded lead vocals, many of the album’s choral-like harmonies—along with lead vocals on three songs—were recorded at Popcorn Studios in Paris with producer Boris Persikoff, who used a Neumann U87 and an Avalon 737 preamp. But even with the many digital tools available for vocal manipulation and artificial doubling, all of elodieO’s intricate vocal layering was done naturally, with her singing each part. After tracking was completed, elodieO sent off her work to be mixed by a studio in California, where, in elodieO’s words, “they flattened the mix.” After some trial and error, she found Jason Corsaro at Barber Shop Studios in New Jersey, who worked closely with her to produce a final mix for release.

“Jason did an amazing job,” says elodieO. “I finally heard everything as I envisioned it. And I’m making sure my vocal sound translates to my live shows by bringing a TC Helicon VoiceTone Create pedal to re-create the effects on the album. I want to get it as close as I can. Of course, I’ll also have my trusty AKG C535 with me, too.”