SWAG 4: The last five years pt.3 – Of Flutes and Favours

Summer 2011 to Summer 2012: The entire of this period was just spent with Thomas, Amy and I refining and recording our parts, as well as recording the other instrumentalists who appear on ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’. Cello was recorded in a session shared with Änglagård who used the same player (Tove Törngren) on ‘Viljans Öga’. Änglagård songs in the morning, and Thieves’ Kitchen songs in the afternoon. That must have been one hell of a day for her. With a mixing/mastering session booked at Aubitt, two things came together very late in the day.

We’d tried to identify a flutist to play on the album for over a year with little success. People either ran screaming or didn’t return our emails. In the end Anna Holmgren from Änglagård stepped up. She was aware of the material because Thomas had played the album in demo form to her. As she’d played on the Water Road I really think she wanted to play on this one too. The only reason we hadn’t asked her was that she was extremely busy, first with recording and releasing Viljans Öga, and then with rehearsals for 2012’s Nearfest appearance. Literally a week before Nearfest, she dropped everything, learned the parts, and recorded them in one mammoth session. She was a real star, and her playing is absolutely wonderful.

The second thing that started to cause heartburn as the deadline approached was Amy’s vocals. It’s not always the case with TK music, but on this album all the words were written after the music. With six weeks to go before mixing, we still had not a single word written or a vocal recorded. I can laugh about it now, but at the time this really started to concern me. It all comes down to different people working in different ways. Now, Thomas and I will spend hours in the studio fine tuning what we record. A slightly lower volume piano note here …. a wider bit of vibrato there. We know this, and we start early to make sure we have enough time to be totally happy with our parts. Amy just seems to write something exquisite straight away, and sing it beautifully almost immediately afterwards. Why do lots of takes when you’ve recorded it right the first time? I could moan about project management style things like ‘risk mitigation’ all day long: “What happens if you get a cold?”, “What happens if you can’t think of anything to write?”, “We can’t delay the studio booking, we’re committed”. The bottom line is she came up with the goods and then some.

Rob Aubrey at Aubitt Studios

Rob Aubrey at the controls in Aubitt Studios

Mixing ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ was a breeze. This is normally the point where bands fall out with one another. They’ll argue that the (insert their own instrument here) is too ‘low’ in the mix and stomp off in a mood. Thomas and I joined Rob at Aubitt for a thoroughly enjoyable week of mixing in June 2012. We spent a bit of time at the start getting the drum sound just right which, contrary to current trends, consisted largely of the original kit sound with some ambience added to the natural room sound in the overheads. I think we managed to get a very live and organic feel. After that, the album all but mixed itself. I think the three of us all have ears tuned to slightly different things in a mix so you can be sure that, if a problem exists, one of us will pick it up. I can honestly think of maybe only three times when we disagreed at all, and we always seem to handle these situations very well and quickly get to a good solution. With one extra day in August to do a couple of minor tweaks with Amy in attendance, we had a mixed and mastered album in our hands.