Parlour Steps, In The Studio

We’ve spent a few weeks at Ogre Studios, deep in the heart of East Van. You would never know that there’s a recording studio housed in this tall, faded borderline run-down building at the corner of Quebec and 2nd.

I certainly didn’t, and in fact walked past it several times before I realized, yes, this was indeed the right address.

But then, when I got inside and saw all the gear I was pretty stoked.

I really love recording. It’s so much fun – and so much hard work – to play piano for hours and capture the parts I’ve been practicing and working on for months. I feel fortunate that Parlour Steps are such lovely people to hang out with. If you have to spend hours and days with the same people in a small confined space, it’s much better if said people are relaxed and funny.

Julie and I played with Rob while he recorded his drum tracks.

I had two sessions with Caleb to record all of my parts. We did piano, rhodes, wurlitzer, and vibraphone on the first day. My adorable husband Mike is a much-loved employee at Backline Musician Services, and he arranged for us to borrow a wurlitzer and rhodes from their vast gear inventory.

Vibraphone, you might say. I didn’t know you played vibraphone, Alison. Neither did I, my response would be. I mean, I had to learn the basics when I was at music school. But it’s not like I rush home from work every day and bang out my favorite tunes on the vibes. Caleb asked if I could though, and it turns out I actually can play some pretty mean vibraphone parts. Vibes are very closely related to piano, they are both in the percussion family and structured very similarly. But instead of playing one key with one finger, you play each note with a big fuzzy mallet. Much bigger muscle memory, bigger motions than piano. Very tricky, especially playing chords. A really skilled vibes player (and there are plenty) is amazing to watch. You can hardly believe how fast and accurate they are.

One never knows what’s going to happen in the studio. I think that unpredictability is one of my favorite aspects of recording. For example, who could have predicted I would learn sign language vocabulary for various animals while hanging out in the control during the making of “Miraculous”?

I’ve been loving all the songs we’ve been working on together, so I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the album in its final form!

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