Audio Technology

How-To Record Modern Pop Vocals

It was Christmas, 2015, and I got a call asking if I could cut a vocal with singer Elliphant for an upcoming Peking Duk song. As I have no actual life and never take holidays, I was there with jingle bells on.

This wasn’t just an in-and-out engineering session. It was a writing session where the lyrics and melody (or topline) were being written over a pre-existing track. 12 hours later we had a completed, multi-layered punchy dance/pop song with close to 100 vocal tracks.

Over the course of the day and a bottle of rum, the four of us — Adam and Reuben (the Duks), Elli and myself — formed a great working relationship. A few months later they sent me some more vocals to edit and mix. That became the song Stranger, which went on to win Song of the Year at the 2017 ARIA Awards. We kept working together and managed to roll out three back-to-back multi-platinum singles. Who needs presents with gifts like that!


When we’re recording and mixing pop vocals, the aim isn’t important to remember that people will connect with something that real to them. Even if it is layers of stacked vocals with autotune, formant shifting and vocoders.

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