Expensive gear, intricate DAWs and state-of-the-art noise cancelling – is what a top-tier musician is used to while recording. Due to the unfortunate events after the Covid-19 outbreak, however, these luxuries have been unattainable for many, barring the most fortunate of musicians. Home recordings are the new norm for artistes, as they come to terms with the limitations, and innovate to overcome them.
"From the fourth day that I started self-isolating, I was swarmed with work," says Kona. "Since I can't directly go to the studio anymore, I had to resort to recording on my phone." Even though the artiste was uncomfortable with the limitations at first, she soon got the hang of it. "Sound designer Ripon Nath suggested a valuable trick to me," she says. "Since phone recordings have undesirable noises, he told me to lock my room and go under my blanket to give my voice takes. It works like a charm!"
Kona recorded over 25 projects – including voiceovers and entire songs – during self-isolation. "I eventually bought a microphone and a selfie-stand for videos, since I know that this will go on for a while. I do miss the times in the studio," she adds.
"It can, at times, be a painful experience to edit and mix some of the voice samples that are sent from home," says singer-composer Khaiyam Sanu Sandhi. "The results are varying, since everyone has a different phone, and a different way of singing." Sandhi has solved the problem by asking singers to sing a few words at a time, as opposed to entire lines. "Even though I know that the artiste has the capability of doing the entire song or voiceover in one take, I ask them to do two to three words at a time and send them to me. It is easier for me to edit that way."
Chirkutt's fiery vocalist, Sharmin Sultana Sumi considers herself lucky in that regard. "All of our band members are very technologically savvy," she says. "Thanks to the isolation period, I have learned a lot more about apps on smartphones that can make audio and video recordings easier. Moreover, since we all live in the same area, we visit our studio from time to time – with necessary precautions, of course."
Chirkutt's newest project, Aalor Gaan, invites singers to record videos of themselves, singing on their balconies and rooftops, and submit the videos to Chirkutt's page. "Since we are indoors, we tend to be deprived from light. This is why we are featuring young artistes, to motivate them during this time, and highlight the importance of 'Aalo' and our exposure to it."
Nemesis frontman Zohad Reza Chowdhury asserts that home recordings are yet to reach the level of a proper professional studio's intricacy. "I own a home recording setup, and we can get by with it. However, I cannot be fully satisfied with the sound, as we are used to the rollicking of live drums and pitch-perfect guitar tones," he explains. The singer is taking the time to record songs from outside his comfort zone. "I have collaborated for an electronic track, which will be out very soon," adds Zohad. However, he looks forward to getting back on the stage with Nemesis.
"Billie Eilish won Grammies with home recordings," says Raef Al Hasan Rafa, who thinks that 'socially distanced' recordings will be more commonplace even after the pandemic ends. "I am used to handling sub-par quality sounds, so all it takes is an extra twenty to thirty minutes for me to mix those samples," he explains.
The AvoidRafa frontman and successful composer feels like technology will slowly allow people to have the flexibility to record properly from homes. "I have done entire recordings in my iPad with apps like Garageband, and recently shot a music video with an app named Triller," he adds. "There is no reason to back down without direct access to a studio. Your work can be mixed and mastered in one with better equipment, but that, too, can be done remotely."
There is no doubt that the local studio landscape has changed drastically over the years – however, the Covid-19 pandemic has worked as a catalyst in artistes trying to perfect the art of recording at home.
Photos: Sheikh Mehedi Morshed