Vanity Project Track by Track – Eating an Elephant

As a part of the launch for Vanity Project, I am writing a series of blog entries that give a bit more background detail and making of for each track. All these blogs will be collected together in the Vanity Project area of the site.

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This was the track that I discovered how to work a vocoder on. Instantly, one of the challenges for the rest of the project was not to overuse the vocoder. I think in the end, this track, Hi Vis Ghosts (the drums) and Home 2 (the waves) were vocodered. There might be more I’ve forgotten about.

One of the challenges of making the project that I knew I was going to face beforehand was that to make it work, I was going to have to work backwards. Usually, recording happens with the instruments being built up and then the vocals being added on top. Because all I really had was the acapella melody lines for the songs, I started with the vocals and added instruments with FL Studio 12 that matched.

At one point, I was hoping for a more orchestral, opulent feel for the songs, but that proved impractical. I was also conscious of not wanting to use midi for instruments that didn’t sound right. On a previous project, I had tried to make a saxophone solo that ended up sounding like a honking car horn. This meant that I gravitated towards sounds which were more obviously synthetic, giving Vanity Project its early 80s feel.

The Story Behind ‘Impressive You’

My wife and I are not the characters that I have written about in ‘Anatomy’. However, ‘Impressive You’ is really a little love letter to my wife because it’s the way I feel.

There’s not much more of a story than that really.

So there’s a little time to talk about the development of the audio version. I started it in June 2013 as an experiment to see if I could actually do something which I would think worthwhile. I started learning FL Studio from scratch and there were a few frustrating wasted nights as I learnt how to do what needed doing. I took a break from making the tracks over the summer while I animated the video for ‘Love and Pi’ before coming back in September to finish it.

‘Impressive You’ was one of the earlier tracks to be finished. I think that shows on the saxophone solo that wants to be John Coltrane but is more Harry Hill. I hadn’t learnt how much you needed to use the special effects on offer when I made this track. However, I like the rain and the sound of the number 35 coming up our street that I captured sitting on our front doorstep with a microphone one wet Wednesday morning.