What’s it like recording during COVID?

Hey, all!

I’ve had a really cool opportunity these past two weeks–as well as the next two weeks to come–to spend some productive time with my a cappella group, DJs A Cappella, and the company Liquid 5th in order to record our 1st-place-winning ICCA set from last winter (Think Pitch Perfect).

Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten to take an inside look at how different recording studios are handling the pandemic and the inability to have people face-to-face while recording music. I figured this might be something interesting to some of you, so here we go!

Liquid 5th is the company my a cappella group has worked with for years. Our contact with the company is located in North Carolina, and specializes in working with collegiate a cappella groups. My freshman year we took a road trip down during our spring break in order to finish recording an EP the group had started the previous year, and I can honestly say it’s one of my top 5 college memories.

You can check out that EP here! https://open.spotify.com/album/1vkjsGmjdfUSPqhMegWz1k

During that recording process, we had 5 or 6 members in the studio at once, each in our own sound-proof boxes, and recorded together. Liquid 5th worked closely with our music director and the person who arranged the specific songs we were recording in order to make sure the final product was as close to what we had imagined as possible.


This time around, things are a little different. We’re still working very closely with professionals in order to make sure the outcome of our sessions is high quality, but instead of recording in North Carolina, I have 18 people recording one at a time in my tiny studio apartment off of Liberty Street.

Our contact with Liquid 5th and I had a zoom meeting a week or so ago to install a bunch of super crazy software on my Mac, which not only allows him to control my computer from where he is in North Carolina, but to directly transmit all audio recorded by the equipment here in Ann Arbor to his home studio hundreds of miles away.

Each member of the group has a 2-hour time slot where they are charged with recording their specific voice part for all of the 12 minute set. Instead of singing along simultaneously with other members as we did last time, we sing with a pre-recorded MIDI track of the voice parts on a piano, as well as the vocal tracks of any members who’ve already recorded before us. It’s a little different, but it works.

The equipment we’re using was rented from another contact of the group’s, and we cart it back and forth from the studio to my apartment before and after every day of recording.

In general, it’s meant a lot more of the responsibility for things to go well lands on our individual members of the group. We’ve had to be very on top of scheduling, locations, driving, and drop-off/pick-up times.

Overall, however, we are super psyched to be able to put out new music even though we cannot travel or record like all the past members of this group have in their own respective times as members of the DJs!

If you’d care to give our award-winning set a listen, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D6ok1iWRDU

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