For the last several days, I’ve been working on a side project; an entry in a Great Big Sea karaoke contest that Anna wants to enter. The band released some instrumental tracks from the new CD and said ‘get creative’ with the audio and video; the only rule is no lip-synching, it has to be your voices on the recording; winner gets backstage passes and such.

Anna’s in charge of video, and I’m musical director for the project, my part of which just wrapped up tonight after several days of recording and engineering on a tight schedule. I’m not sure they were anticipating extra lyrics written for the bridge, a ten-voice choral harmony brick, or an added irish bouzouki track, but that’s what they’re getting. It’s embargoed until the video goes up – I’ve shot a bunch of video for Anna already, we’ll be shooting a lot more next weekend – but I’m really pleased with it.

I like these side projects because they’re fun, but also because they teach me things. This one taught me more things about timing, a fair bit about really precise level control, and some things about staging. They’re all recording talents, but I need those too. Working with other people’s material lets me learn how to match what they’re doing, which means I learn how to do things I don’t normally do. So if you’re trying to learn any of these skills, I recommend it. It’s educational.

I also got to get some idea about how I deal with other people in the studio. I was in charge here, and the buck does stop with me on the audio, but I really think I did a pretty good job at helping people get their best performances recorded, giving all these different people the levels of help and direction they needed. And I could tell that it helped having a clear artistic direction to communicate to them; I think I got it across most of the time, tho’ occasionally it took a few re-explanations to get it properly out of my head and into theirs.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited. Tomorrow I go back to working on Stars, and hopefully I can apply some more knowledge, like I did with Shout at the Desert (clickie: <a href="http://crimeandtheforcesofevil.bandcamp.com/track/shout-at-the-desert">Shout at the Desert by Crime and the Forces of Evil</a>) after working on the Buckaroo Banzai fan project, “The Diesel-Driven Eight Dimensional Jet Car Blues.”

Next show on the 20th, Juanita Bay asking me back. Back to work!