Recording an album is probably the dream of most musicians. Getting to record your first album with one of the best producers and engineers in the world is a dream come true.
At the beginning of 2016 a friend of Ryan's contacted Grammy award winning producer Jesse Lewis and asked him to take a listen to Ryan's playing; he also asked him if he would consider recording Ryan's debut album. Jesse, enthused by Ryan's playing, got back in touch and said that it was just the sort of project that he would love to do. Thus started a very interesting journey!
Jesse subsequently flew to Scotland from Boston, Massachusetts in May 2016 and spent 3 days with Ryan trying to find a suitable venue with a good grand piano. This ultimately turned out to be the Opera Studio at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland which Jesse fine tuned by relocating the full length curtains to the best positions.
Meanwhile, Ryan started working on the material with pianist James Ross and guitarist Leo Forde. The latter kindly returned from America to appear on the recording. I (John) spent several days running around co-ordinating everything from Health and Safety assessments, equipment hire and collecting loan equipment to arranging 'no entry' signs for the doors. Such is the glamour of the music business.
So on the 28th August 2016 Jesse Lewis, Ryan Young, James Ross and Leo Forde assembled at the RCS to start setting up for a 5 day recording session. It had taken a lot of work and co-ordination to get to this point; not just bringing the musical ideas together but also the equipment and recording space. Jesse loves to work in the best recording spaces in the world and then to capture the sound at the highest resolution currently available. To this end he employed 12 instrument microphones; 6 for the fiddle and 3 each for the piano and guitar together with 2 room microphones capturing the room reflections. Microphones included two Neumann U89's, a Royer R-121 and a selection of Schoeps and DPA microphones. The microphones were connected directly to the Horus audio interface which uses the world's best analogue/digital converters sampling at 352.8 kHz. This is then connected to a laptop computer, by a Cat6 Ethernet cable, running Pyramix software. There is a first sample here.
Ryan, Leo and James
All the tracks were recorded in single takes with the musicians playing together. No instrument separation booths or 'punch ins and punch outs' to replace errors just master musicians recording in one take. A few selective overdubs were recorded on the last day to 'thicken the soundscape' in places; but basically what ends up on the recording was what was played live. On the final Thursday afternoon a small audience was invited (from Newsletter subscribers) to attend and nearly the whole album was recorded live in one take to see if the extra 'adrenaline' of an audience added anything to the already fabulous recordings.
I drove up to Glasgow from South Wales listening to rough versions of the tunes recorded on Ryan's mobile phone and drove back listening to a recording taken off the sound desk. I know thatI can be accused of bias, but quite simply I have just heard some of the best, most spine tingling music I have ever heard in my life. I can't wait to hear the finished version.
Ryan Young recording fiddle with James Ross on piano
In addition to the wonderful music the input of producer and engineer Jesse Lewis cannot be understated. Not only is he a recording genius but he is a producer 'par excellence'; I doubt many musicians have seen a producer doing contemporary dance in the studio to help inspire and 'pull a performance' out of an artist; thanks Jesse!
Jesse Lewis (producer) with Ryan and Leo
Ryan's debut album was launched in August 2017 at Feakle Festival, Ireland. It is available direct from Ryan here.