Making music is pretty much my dream job. Making music with friends is pretty much...well, whatever is better than a dream job.
AJ Santana has a been a valued friend of Aaron and myself for a while, so when he came to us about recording a brand new acoustic EP, we were really excited.
AJ’s vision for this EP was to create a collection of songs that really tapped into his singer-songwriter side. See AJ has many sides. He is a professional music entertainer and cover-song artist, that regularly plays around town. It’s a pretty amazing compliment to him that he was able to pull off recording an EP of his original music, while still playing the cover scene. It took work and dedication, but those words fit right in with AJ.
THE VIBE STARTS WITH A GROOVE
Many people, in thinking about recording in a “home studio,” are concerned about drums. How can you record drums in a decent way in someone's house? Well, the truth is, it happens all the time. For this project AJ wanted a very stripped down rhythm section.
So we brought in a great percussionist, Josh Benhart, and did a big percussion setup: 2 congas, Cajon, tambourine, etc. We were able to get a big sound by using a few overhead mics and blending those in with the close mics.
It took about a day or so to work through all five songs, but at the end of the day we were really happy with the energy and vibe that this kick started our project with.
GET THE VOCALS RIGHT
Since AJ wanted to highlight his songwriting, we focused very much on getting the vocals right. Every song of AJ’s comes from his life and from his heart. He’s been through some serious life stuff, and if you listen to the lyrics you can really feel his pain at times. His vocals carried emotion which made each track full.
A COMMUNITY ALWAYS MAKES IT BETTER
For AJ, as well as myself, getting your community involved always makes things better. I’ve experienced this for years in the studio. Whenever I don’t try to play every instrument for a song but outsource parts to friends I trust, I am always happy I did and the final product is so much better.
For this project we were able to get many amazing people involved:
- Jeremy Schwanke on keys
- Heather Rayleen on violin and BGVs
- AJ Herrick on Acoustic Lead
- Josh Benhart on the percussion set
The clip below is violin and two acoustics (one played by AJ and myself on the other).
BEHIND THE SCENES
AJ released the project on iTunes and all the digital online stores, and we are really proud of his first major recording project. We hope to work with him more in the future and want to support him in anyway we can.
A final amazing benefit of this project was having Aaron (my brother, co-owner and videographer) come in and capture some amazing behind the scenes videos (we call them minis) to highlight our project.
After watching you can see why we are good friends with AJ.