Yesterday morning at around 3am I woke up and headed off to my personal session I booked regarding The Howls, as seen in earlier posts. This session was a re-amping session, and I'll briefly explain that before I move on. Re-amping is basically taking a recorded sound and running it through an amp, miking the amp and recording that as a new track. I didn't use amps and microphones though, but pre-amps. I was able to get away with this because of the way that Digidesign pre-amps are made, which are very "invisible", and don't add much tone to the sound. If you record first with a pre-amp that doesn't add a lot of tone, then you can do more with it later, like send it through another pre-amp, which is what I did yesterday morning.
Anyways, I sat in the studio clicking the chicken head knobs up and down to get whatever tone I desired. It was my unannounced artistic feel that led me to each decision. Drive the pre's, back off the pre's, which frequencies to use on the Germanium Tone Controls, and EQ on the Neve 1073. While the musician/client is always in mind, and what I am doing is only emphasizing what they want, without anyone there with me at that stupidly early hour of the morning I am artistically visualizing what I think the client wants. Also, I had my "so what" moments when I felt like the pre's were driving too hard for their taste. It sounded awesome to me.
From the moment you set up a microphone, your name is all over that recording, no matter who is spittin' over those fat beatz. The level that you commit to multi-track, the amount of compression, or EQ, it's all you. These things are subtle, definitely, but over time they amount to a giant signature, and no one else can duplicate it. Every year, during a certain season at a specific time of day under exact weather conditions, people come with all of their camera gear to the exact spot where Ansel Adams took one of his famous photographs of Yosemite and the Half Dome. I can guarantee you that even if someone where there with Ansel Adams with the exact same camera and film even, they would not be able to produce the same photograph. If you want to be like Ansel Adams, don't join the hordes of photographers to take pictures just like someone else, but go off in your pick-up truck that you fashioned into a dolly of sorts and live photography.
The same holds true for recording. You can't make your tracks sound like his or hers. You may have the same style, but striving to be someone else will only hold you down. Great leaps in art are made by people doing something completely different. This is up to you, I suppose. Do you want your tracks to sound like radio trash that has no feeling or life left after it's been pushed out of the beat-detective and auto-tuning tube, all factory ready? Or do you want to alter the way people think by employing such heinous techniques that people would only see it as pure genius? Alright, maybe not heinous, or pure genius, but different, and skillful. We're still engineers here, so let's not get carried away, but the principle still remains.
So now I hope you can go out into the world of audio engineering and define you. I thought up a really good analogy for this earlier today, but I just watched a Mystery Science Theater 3000 and completely forgot.