Pernilla and Johan Tailsway

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The recording process of Obsidian

Tailsway’s debut album was recorded during a few years with long breaks between sessions. Johan and Pernilla had to concentrate on other things every now and then and the album progress was put on hold from time to time.

Everything except the acoustic drums was recorded by Johan and Pernilla at home or in a cabin in the woods. The drums were recorded in two days at a bigger rented space. The recording spaces weren’t ideally suited for recording acoustic music. A lot of makeshift acoustic panels were used to control the ambience and the noise levels.

Started out simple

All songs were recorded as outlines back in 2016 with only fiddle, Irish bouzouki and an electric bass guitar. We used the same type of microphone setup for both fiddle and bouzouki, namely a spaced pair of condenser microphones with cardioid patterns. One large- and one small-diaphragm microphone. For the bouzouki we also used a third channel from its built in contact pickup through a separate pre-amp.

After that we started developing a bigger more unique sound for the album. While the arrangements mainly stayed the same, we added new elements to the production and built new soundscapes. The new added elements consisted mostly of percussion and drums, fiddle doubles and harmonies, keyboard sounds and other melody instruments.

Creating soundscapes with the fiddle and vocals

We found that we could create interesting landscapes and sounds with adding weird and morphing effects to acoustic instruments like Pernillas fiddle and to her vocals. This made the songs come alive and made them what they are now. When we used these sounds our music became warm and organic.

In the beginning we refrained from adding synthesizers and a lot of keyboards to the tracks, but when the acoustic sounds got their effects we felt a bigger sound suited our songs very well. So we decided to just go ahead and add some.

As the production of the tunes grew we felt that the lead fiddle and some of the bouzouki tracks we recorded in the beginning didn’t really suit the production anymore. The melodies and chords however still worked perfectly with the new sound so we decided to re-record the melodies in a playing style that was better suited for our new sound. This is basically what became the final product after some mixing and mastering.

Mixing the album

As we did all of the production work ourselves we sculpted the sound and mixed it roughly as the project progressed. So we had a basic sound and mix to just refine in the final stages of the mixing.

We both worked together on the mixing and focused on different aspects in different ways. Johan focused on the bigger more sound-shaping mixing while Pernilla did an amazing amount of fine-tuning and refining of the sound on every channel. Working together meant that the mixing process was a fairly quick and easy process, even if some of the songs had well over 100 tracks.

The main goal of the mixing was to produce a warm but clear lead sound that didn’t disappear somewhere in the background as it is the main and most important part of any song. The other thing we focused a lot on was to make the rest of the production sound warm and full, still leaving space for the lead.

Every track on the album has its own unique feel. While we wanted to let each of them have their own sound we still wanted them to work together. This process worked out naturally most of the time, but some of the tracks needed a bit more work to blend in with the others.

The last stage: Mastering

Ideally you would have someone else master your music as it is always a good idea to get an extra pair of ears to check for problems and fix them. But as we felt pretty confident in the sound and wanted to keep the project under our control we decided to master it ourselves. Johan did the main mastering and tweaked it by input from Pernilla. We control listened to the tracks in as many different environments and systems as we possibly could find and adjusted our music accordingly.

We hope you like the music we have created and we invite you to join us on our muiscal journey! Our debut album Obsidian will be out November 5.

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