FEATURE: Shamu – Five Things We Learned Making Our New EP | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Josh Ingledew

Like all of their recordings to date, Shamu‘s debut EP was produced by James Haselhurst at The Grain Studios in Newcastle. Here are the top five things they learned during the making of the EP.

Listen to your producer.
We’d had these songs written for a long time and we spent ages working on them before bringing them to the studio. We can often get quite attached to a specific idea or sound, and when your producer makes a suggestion to loose that sound or tweak the part to better fit the song it can be a little hard to swallow. We’re lucky enough to have a producer who we’ve worked with in other projects for many years and he totally understands our direction and intention so there’s always a very open dialogue when it comes to stuff like this. It’s important to remember that it you’re working with an experienced producer, they probably know a lot more about making a record that you do. Letting go of a few minor details you might be really in to can make way for some real magic, and during the recording of this is EP, that happened on every track.

It doesn’t have to sound like the demo.
A lot of the sounds in our music come from the characteristics of the gear we use to write the parts, whether it’s a synth, a particular guitar or a certain kind of effects pedal. We get a lot of ours textures and ambience from pedals. When we were in the studio making the EP there was a lot of gear at our disposal that we normally wouldn’t have access to. James suggested guitar sounds and different approaches for the parts that worked for each song in a way each song needed. Even the way the part was played – digging in to a riff a little more or phrasing a specific word in a slightly different way when recording vocals – ended up having a huge impact on the way the songs developed during the whole process. We’ve started to look at a demo and a “final version” as two completely separate entities and this approach encourages us to find something sonically new every time we record a track.

If it’s not working don’t force it.
When we write parts for a song, we’re always asking ourselves (and each other), “Is this adding something, or taking away from another part?”. We try to be disciplined and considerate of the entire song rather than wanting to show off some kind of ability or technique. This approach always seems to be magnified during recording. This is another time when it’s important to have a great relationship with your producer – James has no qualms over telling us something isn’t working, and that is extremely valuable. Making this, we tried to never shoe-horn something in to a song. The absence of something is just as important as the presence.

Making a record is hard.
We’re all very passionate about this band. Personally, it’s an escape route for a lot things going on inside my head which are otherwise very difficult to articulate. Lyrically, this EP is very emotionally charged and it’s born from an incredibly difficult year of my life. The whole thing represents a kind of mental journey I went on, starting out in desperation and ending, quite literally, in “letting go” of it all. The idea of creating a permanent and final representation of all of this was both exciting and daunting; revisiting that place in any context opens a lot of emotional doors. Telling a story about these experiences isn’t something that is easy to do, but now that it is done, I can say the whole process is almost therapeutic. Creating and releasing the EP feels like I’ve compartmentalised that time of my life and thrown it in to the sea, and set myself free of all the anguish it brought me.

There’s never too much coffee.
There just isn’t, is there?

Shamu release their new EP today.

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