A new technique is driving me into creative block

I got this genius idea of recording directly to tape for some parts of a new song I’m doing. I know that does sound like the most original idea but the way I’m doing it is unique. This video should make it clearer.

The idea is that I listen to a click track and play my part directly into the tape player. This particular player (the Sony TCS-450) has a stereo microphone mounted to it. It’s a stereo microphone on a cassette recorder so I expect a sound with depth but also a lofi quality to it.

Things to look out for

Now most people doing this would connect the headphone output to their interface and record directly to their DAW as they play. This is a mistake. When you’re monitoring your mix on any portable cassette player what you’re hearing is what the preamp is hearing, not what actually gets recorded to tape. So in a lot of cases it’s going to sound really good and you might as well have just used a stereo pair of regular microphones to do this. The trick to this is that when you’re done recording you have to rewind the tape and play it back into your DAW. This will introduce issues with timing and such but it’ll also give you an amazing lofi sound that is much different than what you heard coming direct from the line out/headphone jack while you were recording. This is because of the quality of the tale itself, saturation that might be happening, and a variety of factors.

In my case my recorded guitar parts were mostly in time but not enough to make them the main focus of the song. My plan is to use them as ear candy and sort of like pads in the background. I forgot to mention I slowed down the playback speed when I went to recorded my tale into my DAW.

But the process is so draining and time consuming that I forgot why I’m even doing it and it’s creating writers block for me.

I need to take some days off from recording to mull over how I’m going to use these absolutely amazing sounding homemade tapes in a way that enhances the song without being the main focus of the song itself. Maybe they’ll end up as pads. Maybe I turn them down real low in the mix and it’ll be one of those things you don’t notice until it isn’t there anymore.

In any case, this has been fun and I’m excited to starting take in this new experimental technique with me all over. I just have to find out how it ties it to the music making process in a coherent way first.