Today, I want to talk to you about something that has driven me nuts for years—this absurd need to be a purist with recording.
Only Purist Listen to Purist Music – If you’re a pop artist, why the hell would you pitch your music to a purist audience?
Obviously, I need to clarify. There isn’t anything wrong with being a purist. For those who don’t know what a purist is – the purist has varrying levels of playing the song start to finish, no punching in, no autotune, no plug ins, nothing “fake” (or post production) about it. There is something undeniably cool about that! I love the idea of it, no fear, nothing to hide or cover-up. It’s just a good song performed at an expert level.
Here’s the snag though, these bands/artists that do that. ALL THEY DO IS PLAY ALL DAY! Furthermore, they can dedicate a full WEEK to getting it sounding as close to perfect as their human hands will allow them to get. They’re not taking the third take here. They’re using take fifty-three. They practice their scales and shapes/theory every day. They are freaks! I’m not saying your not this! I honestly believe you can do that and get a beautiful, unique, and human sound, something you can’t get any other way.
BUT, and hear me out here… if you’re not putting in that time every day, then it’s going to be excruciating trying to get that take. Is it worth it? Sure! But ask yourself if that’s the real sound you’re looking for in the first place! Because make no mistake, it will have a certain sound even if you play it perfectly.
Let me phrase it this way.
You need to understand your audience. If you record as a purist, you need to pitch your music to purists – Almost exclusively. Because most of us want to hear pop/rock/blues/hip-hop/indie alt/etc music where everything is tight and in tune, and honestly, if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not at the level where you’re ready for that. I can say that because I’m not at that level, I’ve been frustrated in the past because I’m not getting that perfect take, and I end up settling for something that I don’t love because I’m using a purist engineer who likes that vintage sound and won’t comprimise.
If I don’t love it, how is someone else supposed to love it? I’ll tell you what, I’ll never really promote that damn thing. Which means I spent and wasted time and probably a lot of money. AND put a sour taste in my mouth with recording.
If it’s your first time recording DON’T record with a purist. You’re not ready for it, you want to enjoy recording kiddos! The name of the game is creation, not the rhyme, frustration… did I just write a citizen cope song?
Even in the concept of being a purist, you’re embracing the mistakes that will inherently be in the song! So why the hell are you so upset that the song isn’t coming out perfectly.
I think it’s the same way we look at our partners. Sure, at first, we just want the cute little mistakes. Like how you spend thirty minutes trying to decide on which movie to watch on Netflix. Or how he/she always does that funny thing where they say “Aćai wrong or insist that when they say a word adopted from a foreign country, they have to say it with origins accents. You know, the cute stuff. Unlike the racist uncle they have, or the fact they keep tabs on all your ex’s via Instagram. Or that insist that when they say a word adopted from a foreign country that they have to say it with origins accent… wait…
Is there a purist audience out there? Well, sure there is! If you are set on recording as a purist, you must remember that you need to pitch specifically to these folks! Because most people don’t want to have to guess where the two and four are in the song. I’m not saying that’s a positive or negative thing. I’m just saying it’s the truth.
Common things you will hear
- Purists have more emotion in their recordings and are better able to connect with their audience.
I can’t say that this is untrue. Although, it’s not like you punch in, edit, or tune-up that you are not connecting with an audience. In fact, if something is so off, you will not be able to connect with anyone because your song is unlistenable. If someone is pitchy, it’s hard for me to listen to a song. If something is terribly out of time, I don’t want to listen to it. I don’t care how good a song is, if it doesn’t sound good, I don’t want to listen to it.
- This is just my sound.
But if you touch up mistakes and play on the same field as others, is that not also your sound? What about the mistakes, small or big, makes it “your sound.” Now we could write a whole post on this concept. Actually, it’s quite fascinating to try to pinpoint that fineline. Why do we point at one thing and say “that’s perfect, that’s what we should strive for in art.” Music or otherwise… intriguing, this could get crazy, so lets reign it in. Would Ozzy have sounded like Ozzy if he had taken vocal lessons as a kid? So many songs have been written based off of a missed note that ended up defining a sound. Those mistakes are what have shaped the music soundscape, which we all now occupy. Should the final product still have the experimentation? Once again, depends on who you are trying to reach with your music. SO IS THAT OUR ANSWER TO THE FINELINE? Who’s to say it’s right or wrong? Well, every person that listens to your art will answer that question. So if you’re trying to reach a broader audience… it’s something to take into your careful consideration.
*I would love to pick your brain where you think that line of happy mistake/bad mistake is. Leave a comment or DM me and let’s talk! *
- But Queen did it this way, so if I want to sound like them, so should I!
But Queen is a better band than you are! And why would you want to just rip off someone’s sound? Also, they have plug-ins that have settings to make you sound just like them. This isn’t an excuse to not practice or take a short cut. It’s just working smart guys!
- It’s cheaper.
Is it though? You’re eating up more studio time? And who are you recording with? In my experience the purist producers usually charge more. If the excuse is that the producers that have the nice plug-ins charge more because they have more equipment… I don’t know, in my experience this isn’t true.
I have a feeling that the reason most people resort to being purist because they don’t know how to engineer properly. They don’t have the plug-ins that they need or want and so they say, “Well, I just want it this way.” But you don’t! You’re lying, haha! I’m not going to say plug-ins are inexpensive. They can be really highly priced. I am saying that it’s worth the time it takes to learn your craft as an engineer or as a producer and give yourself the ability to make what you have in your head. I know we don’t always make it that easy for ourselves, we need to change that if we want to be at peace.
Above all else, you have to enjoy what you’re doing, you have to love creating your art. Why the hell are you torturing yourself? If you enjoy the purist route and it helps you create by sticking to a strict set of rules. Then, of course, do it! You will get a certain sound that you can’t duplicate any other way.
I just don’t want you to think that you HAVE to do it the purist way. Don’t let anything stop you from recording and making your art. Especially not some snobby opinion from some hipster barista POS.
Break it down like this, if you are not recording because “you are a purist” then, you’re doing it wrong, and you shouldn’t be a purist.
If that’s what the song requires. Well, put the time in son! You can do it, just put the time in!