It’s finally here! As of October 4th, Northwest Florida two-piece, Sunny The, finally released their debut self-titled EP. I had the pleasure of meeting these two dudes for the first time earlier this year in May to make plans for their 5-track release.
Guitar and Cajón
We hunkered down in the studio to lay down the foundation of all 5 tracks in one day. We wanted to keep it lively, so I had Ryan and Jason play acoustic guitar and cajón together in the old live room. Sacrificing only one or two takes per track and stopping midway for a few mean banh mis, we were done by the end of that evening.
This was my first time working with a cajón, so I kept it relatively simple: a beta 52 halfway into the rear cavity, 57 on the front near the top right to capture the snares and hits, and two small diaphragm condensers in an X-Y pattern in front. For guitar, I was using a 90 degree X-Y pattern with large diaphragms placed above each other to reduce phasing.
By the next day, we were able to cobble together a bunch of our friends from the scene and throw down gang vocals for the album. I tried a new technique here, using 3 mics spaced around the room, one in center and two on the far left and right. This worked well enough for our goal, but it caused a few issues in the mixing process to deal with the heavy room sound. Probably wouldn’t try this one again in the future, but it was a learning process.
Either way, we had a ton of fun hanging out, learning the songs, and meeting a few new faces.
Vox and Other Instrumentation
After a few weeks of getting our schedules and bearings straight, we were able to coordinate ourselves back together in the new studio. It was mostly Ryan and I working on the tracks from here on out. The songs themselves have a fairly simple instrumentation relying heavily on the primary guitar and cajón tracks. Still, we needed to add bass guitar and electric guitar in a few spots. We mostly relied on straightforward micing techniques and tones here, utilizing an e609 and Champ for guitar and a RE16 and Bassman for bass. Additionally we recorded some extra acoustic tracks for doubling with the originals in a similar fashion but in a more isolated environment.
Vocals took a bit longer to get just right. Relying on our TLA tube pre and large diaphragm, we were able to get some nice texture out of Ryan’s voice, but as usual, we were both being very persnickety about every take to get it just right! I think the final results speak for themselves with the extra time we put in, though.
In order to contrast where they’ve come from as a band to where they are now, Ryan had the great idea of starting off the album with a very lo-fi intro and throwing it straight into the nice crisp work that we’ve been doing. In the new studio, we have a long hallway that runs along all of the rooms. I set up a dynamic omni-directional microphone at the opposite end of the hall from Ryan and let him take it at his pace to play through that first verse. I think we ended up with a very natural sound that is kind of eerie in some ways. By the way, I was convinced that the high pitch tone in this segment was some sort of noise issue, but it turned out to be the ubiquitous sound of all the crickets outside of the studio leaking into the hallway. I attempted to remove this initially, but decided to leave it in because it reminded me of a crappy cassette recording without any noise reduction which aided the whole effect that we were leaning into.
Since the tracks were relatively simple in instrumentation, I decided to handle quite a lot of the mixing process through analog gear. Nearly all of the effects, equalization, and bus compression was handled by my Fender MX5200 mixing desk and outboard rack units. Working with all the tracks in one project and with similar effects busses/configurations made the whole album fairly cohesive.
The one place I experimented the most with here was using a Moog MF Delay as a vocal slapback on most of the tracks. I’ll admit it, I may have gone overboard here, but it put a nice stamp on the whole album.
After a month and some change of going back and forth with revisions, we had finally honed in on the final tracks. I kept the masters simple with tape emulation, master bus compression, and limiting, not much to talk about there. By the end of it, I think came out with an interesting release that will be a good launching pad for Sunny The to take off from. I’ll be interested to see how they expand their sound in the future.