We’ve generally been of the opinion, at odds with much of the wider a cappella community, that we want to sound exactly like we do on stage on our recordings. However, many of us have being doing this for a long time – for me it’s been 12 years, and In the Smoke has now been going for almost 8 years (a good chunk of us have been there from the beginning) and in that time have recorded 4 CDs.
So, we thought, why not give a more technological approach a try? This time we recorded people’s voices one at a time, carefully edited and tidied up each layer of the texture, and spent a good bit of time mixing it – with all of the production toys such as EQ, reverb, compression and a teeny-tiny touch of autotune (but only for creative effect of course).
Some things to note:
- This is Nine Inch Nails – we deliberately didn’t go for an ABBA classic for this – we wanted the music to be intricately constructed and a little dark, to help fire our imaginations
- At the time of writing there are 17 people in In the Smoke, and all of their voices feature – it’s going to sound dense (and intense) at times!
The song starts with an gradually building and thickening intro, which cleverly moves from 3 to 4 in a bar, then it kicks into 2 verses, punctuated with the refrain ‘tried to save myself…’, which pervades the texture throughout in one way or another.
Then into the second half it breaks down to some quiet sustained chords before swelling into a chaotic, cacophonous section which hurtles towards the final iteration of the refrain.
You won’t get Pentatonix recording a version of this – we deliberately set out to try to make something that people haven’t heard before, so open your ears, strap on your headphones, crank up the volume, and enjoy.