It depends on your personal taste, but you may in fact want a raw, “indie” sounding recording rather than a polished production.
Just because it’s raw doesn’t mean it’s easier to make. These “raw” sounding productions take just as much precision and skill as the most polished pop masterpiece.
However, a lot of engineers and producers don’t know where to start when it comes to getting this sound. Here are three tips to help you create this indie energy:
1. Don’t Quantize.
This is a pretty bold statement, but it holds true 99.9% of the time with this style. The only time you might want to quantize something would be if you are programming drums and want to actually place them off the grid a bit. You can do this by randomizing or humanizing the programmed notes by a certain percent or number of ticks, depending on the DAW you’re working in.
2. Play the whole song from top to bottom.
This may seem impractical, but it can really help you to get this “imperfect” sound. Why? Because if you focus on small sections (a verse, a chorus, a single vocal line), you’re likely to re-record it over and over until it’s “perfect.” But remember, we’re not going for perfect, we’re going for human. By recording it from the top, you’ll be able to capture the entire arc of the song as well as any subtleties or nuances that can enhance the recording.
This doesn’t mean you can’t punch in. Just do it sparingly, not as an approach for recording.
3. On vocal tuning: when in doubt, re-record it.
If you’re considering heavily editing or tuning your vocals, then you should probably just re-record them.
Even natural tuning can sometimes throw of the vibe of a recording like this. Re-cut it until you’re happy with it.
This goes for other things as well – instead of pocketing your bass part, just re-cut it tighter. You’ll still have that human inflection, but will get a better performance.