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July 2022
Vol. 21, No. 10

Zen of Recording


by Sven-Erik SeaholmSeptember, 2011

I’ll never forget how beautiful the summer of 2011 was in San Diego. Sure, I’ve heard it called the “coldest summer on record” and I’m sure that the folks living west of the I-5 wouldn’t mind seeing the sun before noon at least once, but at the end of each day we left-coasters should surely be counting our blessings on every one of our sun-kissed little fingers.

I was driving down the highway on just such an afternoon recently, when I noticed the traffic slowing down drastically due to a hazard in the road. Apparently, a very large box containing several smaller valentine-shaped chocolate boxes had fallen from someone’s vehicle. Each tumbling heart rolled like a wheel for several yards before their lids eventually came off, spewing what appeared to be every love letter and greeting card this person had ever received onto the pavement and into the wind. Envelopes of blue, green, yellow, pink and red sailed past my windshield, spinning like pinwheels in a hurricane. Every well wish, every testament to an undying love, every condolence and congratulation, every reaffirmation of friendship that this poor soul had obviously held so dear was now trickling down the eastbound lanes of Interstate 8, seemingly swept along by only the spinning of the earth and the indifference of fate itself.
Or maybe it’s just me. Around the beginning of the year, I remember expressing the feeling that something felt different about 2011. I mean, we always say something like that anyway, right? But this particular year definitely felt different and as it turns out, my intuition was very much on point. A short time later, we received the wonderful news that my girlfriend and singing partner Brooke Mackintosh was pregnant!

The several months that have followed have been a blur of paperwork, plans, and preparations. Mostly, the featured verb is change. Poker games and jam sessions give way to doctors appointments and prenatal classes. Potential CD purchases yield to cloth diaper comparisons and pillow talk becomes well…baby talk. And let’s face it, people: nothing says “change” like baby-proofing your toilet.

I welcome these challenges. In the grand scheme of things, I’m getting one heck of a bargain: a whole new life in exchange for what I’ve learned from the one I’ve lived to now. What a deal!

Brooke’s transformation into motherhood has already been an amazing journey and watching all of those keepsakes and memories scattered to the wind, I realized the spector of transition shines upon me as well. I started my career in recording a long time ago, before the digital revolution that brought us so many of the tools we enjoy today. Before there were classes you could take. Before there was software. Before people even knew what a music producer does. Along the way, I have made hundreds of records and thousands of mistakes. I have made millions of tiny adjustments to microphone positions, listened intently, and noted every resulting nuance. My projects have gone toe-to-toe with those of commercial facilities and major labels in the open market, on TV, in movies, and even emerged victorious at a few award shows. Through it all, I have been a willing co-conspirator for each and every client that has ever walked through my studio doors.

As we hurtle into the future, I will continue to do these things, but many more of my recording experiences will be outside of my home studio than years previous. I will explore on-location and multi-location recording and will work out of at least one of Southern California’s very finest studios. I will leave the warm, secure, and familiar confines of my world to now and dive headlong into the murky depths of ProTools. As such, this column will follow these new explorations, investigating every sonic texture and tonal shade and sharing the findings with you all. So please, let us know what products or techniques you’d like to hear more about.

Thank you all so much for reading my often self-indulgent musings and for encouraging me to continue to do so. I hope that the coming months will reward your loyal readership with a bunch of new information that will help you to bring more wonderful music into this world. I’ll be there applauding when you do…the guy with spit-up on his shirt.

Sven-Erik Seaholm is an award-winning independent record producer. In addition to recording, mixing, and mastering services, he also offers home studio consulting and lessons on location: 619-287-1955/

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