Gradually, I'm upping my engineering game. I have worked out exactly how to get a good vocal sound- mostly by just relaxing and letting my ears do the work, but also partly by getting a good singing performance in the first place. I also have a 'trick of my trade' and it's really brilliant doing it. It makes a Logic recording sound just like a Protools one; there is probably a plug-in that does exactly the same thing, but it is fun putting it together in the first place.
There is so much still to learn- changing tempo within a track... that doesn't matter if you're playing without a click just for yourself, but if you're playing to pass a track on to someone to work on then you need to be really accurate with that. And compression, I need to learn more about that as well.
As I start to record the songs, I can hear what needs to be done to them. Songs I like playing or that I'm attached to because I've learned a new 'lick' are sometimes not the best songs. Then there's that odd thing of a song that you wrote quickly in passing suddenly sticking in your mind and you realise it's a good 'un. And sometimes the structure you thought was just right seems to flatten the whole thing out when its recorded, and you have to wield the editing shears. It's so absorbing, like eating the best food in the universe, and still having room for more.
Working with Robert Rotifer has given me a lot of confidence, because he isn't patronising. Nor is Ian Button, who I have done a lot of recording with, and who has mastered things I've recorded at home. Being patronising is a very clever way of putting people in their place and stopping them from making progress; I remember that from art college.
Last year was a good year creatively, even when everything else was upside down: what a lucky gamble, making our record!