Being Kevin Bowe: Inside the IPR Sessions – Eric Hohn

Award winning singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist and IPR Instructor Kevin Bowe (photo: Darin Back)

Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist and IPR Instructor Kevin Bowe
(photo: Darin Back)

This blog is part a series of entries from inside the production mind of Audio Production & Engineering Associate Program Chair Kevin Bowe. Kevin will detail the audio production sessions that he and his Production Portfolio class run during the course of the term. This term, Kevin and his class are working with artists like Hot Date, Alexander Young, Jonah Marais, Batteryboy, Hot Date, Maudlin, Jake Ilika, and Communist Daughter.

11/4/2015, Mastermix A

 Today’s class was a good lesson regarding “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans…”. It’s always good to be prepared – it’s ESSENTIAL – but equally essential is the ability to roll with it when things don’t go according to your elaborate and well thought out plans. Which will happen on a regular basis. If you let it throw you technically, artistically or emotionally – you lose.

We were prepared to have a nice, chill day of jazz recording… upright bass, piano, and drums with brushes. But the pianist’s wife went into premature labor, so there you go. Eric Hohn, the upright bassist is a great guy and great player. I’ve known him for many years.  Probably because he makes his living as a live musician, he’s used to plans changing on a dime.

So am I.

We decided to set up “work stations” (see picture) so that Eric could record himself playing the piano part for the jazz standards he wanted to cut. He opted for no click (wise choice for this style) and we got a piano part down for the first song, using the PZM’s inside the open lid and Coles outside. Sounded great, but when Eric moved over to the upright bass station (that beautifully finished Wisconsin ribbon mic on the bass and an RE 20 on his amp, both through the Neve pre’s so we could add some of that nice Neve 60 on the low end, then thru linked Distressors) he noticed some flaws in the piano track. Fixing these with no click requires some of the stuff they don’t teach in books… So that was one of the few times I had to step in and help the students out (see picture). They were trying to fix this the way the artist wanted to, but in this case, a producer needed to swoop in and tell the artist “trust me, try this and you’ll get the desired result”. I did, he did, and we did.

Vocals were recorded on the lovely TLM 49 through an API and the old Summit tube compressor. We did add a little reverb using “ReVibe” to give the singer some atmosphere.

The frosting was provided by Eric’s friend who showed up with a vintage tenor sax, a flute and… a clarinet!!!! I was super jacked because clarinet is one of the few remaining mainstream instruments I’ve never recorded. Another one off the bucket list. You can go ahead and jump out of your airplane… I just wanted to record a clarinet. We used the Royer ribbon mic below the bell and the TLM 49 on the body of the instrument. When in phase they sounded brilliant together, nice and woody and warm.  We used the royer on the sax for the second song, emphasizing the warm side of that instrument that is preferable for jazz standards.

At the end of the day, the artist/client was happy, the students were happy (even though I had to give them their midterm after lab) and I was happy too. Which is good because I have a feeling I’m the one who’s going to mix these songs.

 -Kevin Bowe
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