Finnvox Studios / Helsinki, April 2011
Last time I wrote a studio diary was back in 2007 after 3 weeks of recording my vocals, hiding out in the deep forests of Finland. No one knew my name as the new singer of Nightwish. Today I read through it for the first time since then, and well, I must say that I recognize a lot and laughed even more while reading it.
Things were naturally a bit different in 2007 compared to today. I went into the studio with a radically different starting position. I am not a secret anymore, I know the songs really well and have already recorded them in a demo session in Röskö. The songs were made for my voice and this time I could sing them with much more confidence. This also made my time in the studio much shorter than last time and we all worked really fast and efficient, like a racing team - we all knew our positions ;=)
We started out on Monday and I took a cab from the hotel, knowing that I had visited Finnvox Studios only once before. Then it was for a listening session for Dark Passion Play. What I didn`t remember was that it was far out in a factory area hidden between lots of other grey buildings. This famous studio looks kinda greyish and not so special when you first get closer, but when you get inside and see all the gold records hanging in the hallway, all the photos of famous musicians in the stairs you know this is the place for big things and big recordings. Of course Imaginarium needs to pass through this pit stop, too!
After hugging and having a short brief with Tuomas about practical things with Imaginarium tour and future plans, he took me to "my room" and when I entered I was so surprised! The room looked like my own little "Shangri-la". Lots of candles burning, pink and red carpets and fabrics that were hung to make it comfortable. Candy, teas, coffees, nuts, fashion magazines, a cosy lounging chair, a big framed poster with us all, and lots of other little things to make me feel at home. Teemu, our dear pyro tech had been there to make me feel welcome and get into a nice singing mood. So thanks to Teemu & the guys, my days at Finnvox got even nicer!
We took a great song to start with and even if my rib still gave me some pain my singing worked well. A little bit of tiredness from flying two days in a row, but still the whole day floated well and it was simply a great start for me.
Our goal was to do one song per day but we actually made something like 1,5 per day and were done in 8 days. We started at 10 and ended around 15 or 16 every day. Took shorter breaks but mainly we just worked and worked. I like to be efficient and when I start to sing I get into the mood and then stopping and taking a long break can just make me loose the feeling and cadence. And Imaginarium has a lot of different feelings in it, different ways for me to interpret the songs. Tuomas, Tero and Mikko were there to guide me to sing even better and to create those little things in every song that make it "historical", as Tero always says, haha!
Every time we were about to start recording a song, I first just sat down and listened to the songs with the orchestra, choir, solos and everything else I hadn`t heard yet, and I must say that I got the shivers every time. From recording the demo to getting the whole package with everything added is just a thrill! And I can hear that Pip and Tuomas just get better and better in using the orchestras, different instruments and voices.
After having listened to a song and heard the new things, I went to "my studio", did some warm-ups and then we started with the recordings. We took it in parts and mainly did the verses first. I sang the part over and over for a couple of times until we felt we had it. Then I doubled and tripled the whole thing if we wanted a fuller sound, as we did mainly in the faster songs. Then it varied if we did the harmonies for that specific part directly or if we continued and recorded the lead parts for the whole song before doing the harmonies. It also depended on my mood and how good my voice felt. I got food poisoning one day and threw up for 9 hours straight, affecting some parts of my voice. I was tired and weak so the day after I didn`t feel my high soft voice was perfect and therefore we didn`t take those high harmonies until the next day.
After 8 days of recording all the songs were recorded and all we had left were some harmonies here and there to fix, and then we just jumped from song to song and added what Tuomas felt was missing. Tuomas is great to work with and he is really clear with what he wants in every song. He is so devoted to the album, to getting every little piece perfect and I know he won`t sleep or rest well until the whole album is mixed and mastered and put into a safe somewhere. When I was done, I felt that little "empty" feeling I get when I have completed something. A little bit sad `cause I had so much fun and I just love to sing in the studio, this album being such a thrill for me. So many songs, all of them very different and I just gotta love the challenge. To get more out of my voice than before and to be part of this massive music where all of us, every musician that plays on it, is the key to make it work. To make Imaginarium come alive! And believe me - it will be one hell of a ride for us all;=)
On we go! Next step for me is to do some acting in the movie, but let´s take it one step at a time. Now I´ll enjoy the summer before all that happens! All best to everybody!
Credits to: www.nightwish.com
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