Recording—Simplified: 5 Tips from Soul Musician Kyle Thornton

June 26, 2017 | by Jon Simmons

Kyle Thornton by Ariff Danial

Kyle Thornton & The Company | Photo by Ariff Danial

Recording music shouldn’t be complicated. In this ongoing series, we’re asking musicians to offer their tips for simplifying the recording process. Kyle Thornton, lead singer and guitarist of soul-hop band Kyle Thornton & The Company, shares fives recording tips.

1. How do you make recording less intimidating? Start by recording alone.

"I think that recording is important, but it's not complicated and shouldn't be intimidating. The process is such an intimate one and recording alone is a great way to break out of your comfort zone. And then eventually recording with other people whose company, you enjoy."

2. Use simple, yet quality hardware.

"There are also many different recording softwares that are easy to operate, affordable, and quality. Erykah Badu recorded her vocals from New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) on GarageBand, and The Internet's Steve Lacy recorded his whole debut album on the software’s mobile application. You just have to jump in, read some articles, watch some tutorials and get your hands dirty."

Kyle Thornton by Josh Parra

Kyle Thornton | Photo by Josh Parra

3. How do you reconcile perfectionism with the need to release songs? When you start feeling proud of a song, you’re done.

"I feel as though every artist has to come to terms with the fact that as an artist, you're never going to be 100 percent satisfied with a song, mix, lyric, etc. Or maybe you'll become satisfied and then at some point change your mind. It happens all the time. The best artists know when to walk away from a song because it doesn't need anything else, or keep going because it has potential. You'll know it's finished when you find yourself listening to a mix or recording of something over and over and you're really proud of it."

4. At what point do you make the decision that a song is ready to record? When a live audience loves it, you’re ready to record.

"Usually I take rough demos (iPhone voice memos) to the band, and we expand on some of the sections and tweak here and there, but after we finish learning the song, internalizing it, and making sure it's right, that’s when we take it to the studio. Sometimes even before the studio we perform the tracks live for our fans to gauge what parts need more or less energy. If the energy in your song is right, then recording should be a breeze and it will show on the record. Internalize the song and become a part of it."

5. Try a minimal and familiar recording environment.

"The perfect recording environment would be a small studio or room, with my producer, Johannes, and an engineer. And snacks. I like to make the studio a calm place. A place to think. With minimum opinions and a place that feels like my bedroom or home."

Be ready to record your song ideas wherever you are. Download the Spire app, a free, multi-track recording app for iPhone.