Tips for Working in the Studio from Gervais Maillard

A musical workspace

For many decades, the recording studio has become synonymous with the work of professional musicians.

Whether you’re an instrumentalist, a studio engineer, a composer, or a member of one or more bands, you’ll be spending a large chunk of your career in a recording studio space of some kind.

It’s almost the musical equivalent of an office workspace. It’s where the nitty-gritty work actually happens. It’s where ideas are put to the test.

If you’re a younger musician and you’ve never even stepped into a recording studio before, we’d like to provide a straightforward introduction to the studio environment. That way, when you do find yourself going in for a recording session, you’ll be better prepared and less intimidated.

In addition, many of the tips you’ll find below apply just as strongly to home studios. The focus here is on getting everything that you want and more from your time spent recording.

For veteran musicians, this will serve as a helpful reminder of what makes a recording session successful and creatively satisfying.

To help us do all this, we’d like to introduce you to Gervais Maillard, an in-demand professional composer, instrumentalist, and all-around music-lover who lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

Intimidation turns to fun

Maillard has logged many, many hours in professional recording studios, but there was a time when studios felt foreign and almost mythical.

Maillard’s very first experience working in a studio environment was with a funk cover band in Brussels. As he recalled to us, even the processes and the workflow being used were a first to him. This led to an understandable sense of hesitation, which, over the course of the session, faded away.

“Everything about the flow of a full band recording session was absolutely new to me, from setting up for a couple of hours to overdubs and individual punch-ins. I was a little apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect, but we ended up having a really good recording day.”

You don’t need to know everything about the recording process the first time you’re in a studio. Understanding this can really help to cut back on your pre-session anxiety.

Someone else will be running the console and deciding what to do next. Your job, as a musician, is just to know your parts and be ready to work when you’re called on.

This will change later on in your career, but for your first time, if you’re able to relax and focus on the task at hand, it’s way more likely that your feelings of fear and intimidation will fall away. Who knows, you might even start to have fun.

Working together, enhancing ideas

One of the hard truths of working in a professional recording studio is that you’ll be working with other people, including a few full-time studio employees you’ve never met before.

You’re going to need to work well with all of them. You’ll need to be creative together and solve tough problems on the spot.

Even if one person is leading the session and bringing the most ideas to the table, everyone else needs to contribute in some way.

It’s the tug-of-war concept: if everyone on your team is pulling as hard as they can in the same direction, you’re way more likely to accomplish your goals.

‘But hold on Vents,’ you might say. ‘There were tons of great artists who were total tyrants in the studio. Why can’t I be the same way?’

For starters, this is true. The 20th century saw many famous artists leading studio sessions like military dictatorships (Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart come to mind), but this approach is often ineffective, and what’s more, it has long since fallen out of style.

Even if you think that bossy artists created some great work, you have to admit that they made the people working with them very unhappy.

Maillard supports a much more creative and collaborative approach.

“I absolutely love collaborating in and out of the home studio. The studio is definitely conducive to creativity and inspiration. It’s designed to enhance your workflow and your ideas by providing you with all the tools you need. With everyone working together, it’s just a pleasure.”

by Giorgio Chang

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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