I’ve been holding off on doing this for a while, mainly because I felt like it was something I wasn’t notable enough to do, but I’ve been noticing I’ve been getting a lot of repeated questions on YouTube and Twitter in particular so I’m starting an FAQ category here so that I can link to them rather than explaining each time. I hope it’s somewhat interesting and informative!

How do you record your YouTube videos without headphones?

This is a question I get a lot, often presented in an oddly defensive way; I think people think because I don’t wear headphones when I play synth on camera that that means everything’s always overdubbed. I have no issue with overdubs but 80% of the time (including in Break, the video where I get this the most), everything is happening at once. I just hate singing with even one headphone on.

Here’s how I record:

  • USB cardioid mic into Ableton, track muted
  • Synth into iRig Pro into Ableton, track soloed but very low volume. I can hear it enough to sing with but there’s not much bleed into the mic and then I can mix them separately.

See? Fairly simple.

When I film with the Circuit I mostly use visual feedback to keep time, since the lights make it extremely easy. I find singing with headphones really throws me off; I can’t hear the resonances in my own head properly and would rather compromise in other areas.

Why is the lead half-unplugged in ‘Break’?

If I had a pound for every time someone had asked me this I’d have about twenty pounds.

Here’s the answer:

I messed up. It was an accident.

The level came out extremely low, but I didn’t realise until after I’d recorded it (due to the weird way I record vocals with synths, using visual feedback and not headphones).  It recorded, still, and I just added lots of gain in post.

You have to bear in mind that I had about thirty subscribers at the time. I did not think anyone would notice or care. A lot of people noticed and cared. Some of them were angry about it! Some of them said I was faking the whole performance! This made me feel sad.

(Note that I am a wuss, and shopped it out of the thumbnail after I started getting questions about it, so at least people who didn’t bother watching the video at all wouldn’t shout at me for it.)

I am human. I make mistakes. It didn’t affect the sound of the final video, so I didn’t consider it worth wasting worry over. It’s okay for you not to either!

I have a question and/or opinion about the mixing on Staying Still

I did not mix Staying Still. It was recorded and mixed before I had any idea about engineering whatsoever and I had no hand in it; I just sent the stems over and waited for magic to happen. The engineers are credited on the Bandcamp page.

I am happy to discuss or answer any questions about the later records I actually had a hand in mixing, but for some reason Staying Still has attracted quite a few questions and criticisms and I’m afraid I’m unable to answer them because I was so far out of the mixing process.