13) High Fives 2019 – Kristina Stykos

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You may have heard this before, but one of the things we love about this feature is that musicians and creative artists generally will always put their own spin on it, as we quickly realized seven years ago when this feature started. Allan reviewed Kristina Stykos’s album “River of Light” in April this year and loved it. Kristina has a studio background, so we’d kind of expect some studio-related favourites from her. We weren’t disappointed with this insight in to the recording process she specializes in. And this one goes all the way to eleven (well six actually) – we did warn you about these creatives.

 

For the DIY musician who doubles as his or her own recording engineer, here are my five “must-have” items for the studio, plus a bonus.

 

HP Mixers

A frustrated band mate in headphones is your worst enemy. Don’t let anyone ever yell at you again that they need more … anything. With these five handy knobs, care of Furman, each musician can design their own custom headphone mix, and turn themselves up until it’s distorted, if that’s what they prefer. Set it up in advance in Pro Tools and, voila. You’ll save your hearing … and your sanity.

 

Clipboards

I can’t emphasize enough the usefulness of old fashioned clipboards to organize handwritten notes during sessions. Paper and pen are always the most reliable tools for jotting down quirky issues, superlative takes and guerrilla settings. Your computer doesn’t remember everything, nor should it have to. There is nothing worse than that feeling of “What the heck did we do?”, after the fact.

 

Guitar Picks

After years of recording guitars, you probably have collected a lot of guitar picks off the floor. This lovely origami-paper pick box never ceases to delight. When someone can’t find their own pick, the mood is one of serving hors d’oeuvres. And as you can see, a pick box also doubles as a receptacle for dice, dog licenses, and antique NYC subway tokens.

 

String Gauge Chart

I try to be helpful if someone has just broken a string. Time is of the essence in the studio, and when the mood is right, no one likes being the one holding things up. But for some reason, not all packaged strings tell you what note they are. If you want to be smarter than the average guitar player, this cheat sheet will help you avoid falling prey to unnecessary moments of awkward confusion.

 

Album Plaques

Discmakers used to offer these plaques free to studio partners, as a “thank-you” for doing business with their New Jersey manufacturing plant. Well, like everything else in life, once they’d hooked us on the idea, they started charging for them. Although it pisses me off, I always buy one, to visually commemorate the arduous journey that completing an album represents. Everyone who comes in the studio loves to look at them.

 

To-Do List (bonus) 

In case of boredom, or so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously as artists, we keep this to-do list in the tracking room. It reminds us of the many things yet to do, and look forward to, that have nothing to do with anything music related.