Many people have asked us when, where, and how we record our projects. The first two answers are simple. We record whenever we have a good opportunity and we are able to record anywhere that has a power outlet and is reasonably quiet. The third answer is a little more complex, and is far more interesting! Let me start by saying that all of our projects are “homemade.” That is, we do not go into a third party recording studio and all of our albums are produced by us under our own independent record label: Dayspring Music Ministries. There are only two aspects of the process that we do not personally handle; the instrumental tracks and replication of the finished product. Everything in between is done by us.
The process seems simple, but takes many months from start to finish. The first part of the process makes the biggest impact on the finished work – we select the songs. After all, you wouldn’t care how we made our CDs if you didn’t like the songs on those CDs! We do our very best to ensure that the songs we select are interesting and beneficial to our listeners as well as Biblically sound. If our songs have a catchy tune, yet lead someone away from Jesus Christ, we’ve failed miserably. Once the songs are selected, we find a good key and vocal arrangement for them. That is, we decide how we want to sing them. We determine who should sing the lead, when harmonies should be added, when it should be solo, how many choruses and repeats to do, when to add countermelodies or more complex synergy parts, and basic arrangements like that.
When the songs have been arranged, we send them off to a professional musician to record custom instrumental tracks. Sometimes we leave it at their discretion to make the music in whichever style they think fits the lyrics. Many times, we will send them a demo of another song that has a style we’re looking for. This process usually takes a while. People that are good enough to make professional tracks at a good price are usually in very high demand. Once we receive the instrumental tracks back, we begin our least favorite part of the process, the recording. This also seems to be the part of the process where most people’s curiosities are peaked.
We’ve saved many thousands of dollars over the years by recording the vocals ourselves. There are some pictures attached to show some of the hardware and software we use. We use a lot of the same equipment to record that we use to produce our live sound and any additional equipment is part of Jason’s home studio. The microphones are medium-line Audio Technicas. They serve their purpose very well to deliver crisp, clean vocals. The pop filters in front of the microphones help reduce sharp consonant sounds and hisses from the recording. The semi-circles you see behind the microphones help keep noises from around the room from bleeding onto the microphones. Soundproof rooms and booths can be very expensive to build or rent, so this is a quick and easy solution to help produce a similar effect. While recording, we sing through each song several times. The idea is to have many different recordings and then pick the best.
When the vocals have been recorded, Jason compiles the best takes for each person and combines them into a single “composite take.” He then goes through these composite takes note by note to ensure there are no pitch or rhythm errors. Once he’s satisfied with these “polished” takes, he sends the completed vocal tracks to Michael. Michael then mixes the vocals with the instrumental tracks. This process includes volume adjustments, equalization (adjustments to bass and treble), panning, and effects (such as echo or reverb.) Once a song sounds the way they want it to, they “mix it down”. This takes all the many different components of the song and converts them into a single digital audio file. Before calling it a finished product, the guys listen to the song on several different mediums. They might try computer speakers, earphones, car speakers, or anything else they can find to get a feel for the sound. Some mixes may sound good in headphones, but terrible in car speakers. Obviously, their goal is to find the best sounding mix overall. This part of the process can be tedious. All three guys listen to all of the songs and make suggestions about changes they’d like to make. Sometimes, songs seem to come together after the first mixdown. Most of the time, however, there are many different remixes. Once the group is in agreement and the best mix has been established, all the tracks are mixed down for the last time.
The artwork for the CD is then put together. The guys spend a day or so in photo shoots. Michael’s wife Allie is our primary photographer. Pictures are selected to go onto the CD cover and liner notes. Jason handles the graphic design for each album and puts the pictures, song titles, lyrics, and other information into a format that can be printed along with the CDs. This master copy is then sent to a third party for replication. This process usually takes about 3 weeks. From the master copy, several boxes of completed CDs are shipped back to us. We put them on the table and, if our music has touched you, you take some of them home with you. After several months, we all get tired of hearing and singing the same songs and the process starts all over again!
Start to finish, this entire process can take as little as 6-7 months or as long as a year and a half. It is very tiring and pretty expensive, but we consider it an honor to bring you the great news of Jesus in song. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our friends, family, and fans. Thank you all so much for your support of our ministry, we hope our music has been a blessing to you and your family. We pray God’s blessings on each and every one of you.