Recording Stevie Ann on the streets of SXSW (Video)

Come March each year, roughly 100,000 music industry professionals, bands, brands and music fanatics descend on Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Music Festival. Each and every potential venue within the city limits, ranging from the 2000 seat club to the pizza joint on the corner, all feature nearly every variety of music on a near 24 hour cycle. The streets are packed with street food vendors, sidewalk performers and festival goers moving from one venue to the next. It’s organized chaos and we of course took that as a challenge. 

Those that have been to South By Southwest can vouch the festival’s culture and consistent theme is that anything can happen, anywhere. This is why we thought it would be a fantastic idea to test our product MiC 96k by recording a quiet singer-songwriter on a street bench on 2nd Street in downtown Austin using only MiC, GarageBand and an iPad. Our featured artist, Stevie Ann, an incredible singer-songwriter from Holland, is an absolute professional with a beautiful voice and a great feel on guitar making our challenge that much easier. But as one can imagine, recording quiet music on a city street in the middle of one of the largest music festivals in the world is not easy and requires an experienced performer, great gear and great mic placement.

Given that MiC 96k is a mono microphone and the iPad has a single dock port, we decided it would be fun to record Stevie in one take with one MiC. No overdubs. We placed the MiC aligned with the top of her guitar, roughly 10-12” away, and slightly angled towards her voice. In this position we were able to find a great balance between the two while still capturing the full body of the guitar and the detail in her voice.

During our recording, buses were passing by, the breeze was consistent, pedestrians were stopping to check out her impressive performance, pedi-cabs were ringing their bells and there was a distant rumble of at least 5 music stages in our area. Initially our thought was that these elements were ruining our recording but as we powered through we realized each “intrusive” sound was actually contributing to this awesome and unique moment. 

Upon returning to our hotel and listening to the results we were quite honestly amazed. MiC captured both her guitar and voice in balance and with great detail while also feeling full. The ambiance of the street and the SXSW environment added a great feel to the recording showcasing that great recordings can truly be made anywhere. It all comes down to the performance.

In the end this recording took us less than 15 minutes. We picked a location, fired up GarageBand on the iPad, found a mic placement and began recording. It was an experiment and thanks to the easy and minimal setup of GarageBand, the iPad and MiC we pulled it off for an awesome result.

Gear:

Apogee MiC 96k

Apple iPad Air

Apple Garageband

Stevie Ann – http://www.stevieann.com/