Before being able to find the right vocal for your track you have to know what it is you are looking for. Whilst this may sound obvious, producers often approach us for help in finding a vocalist or producing a topline with very little idea of what they want. Or, with an exact idea of what they want but without carefully considering whether the vocal they have in mind is the best fit for their track. Is it what the track needs?
If not, this is usually only discovered after having tried various different singers, recordings and vocal arrangements, all to no avail. This can not only use up valuable time and resources, largely for the producer, but it can also kill creativity for the producer, the vocalists and any co-writers involved. The outcome? Sadly, we have had many of the producers we work with tell us of their frustration at having to shelve tracks they loved, convinced that no vocal would ever fit.
To try and minimise this happening, the first step in our process when working with any producer is an in-depth consultation. Whilst we are happy to A&R vocals/toplines on behalf of producers, it is hugely important to us that their vision for the track is realised, whilst also advising them on what may or may not suit vocally. Not only does this mean taking into consideration the producers’ personal taste (voices they like, styles they favour), but also the genre they are operating in and their objectives for that particular track. Have they considered all the various directions they could go in with the vocal? Are they thinking broadly enough (outside the box)? Certainly, what we do know is that simply taking cue from what your producer peers are doing, the latest charts, or recent successful tracks is not enough. The process needs to be more refined than that, and tailored specifically to you.
So, what to look for in a vocal? If you are currently sourcing a vocal for your track here are some of the questions to consider before beginning your search:
- Will this track be improved for adding a vocal?
- Who/what have my influences for this track been?
- What are my objectives for my track a) creatively, and b) commercially?
- Which emotion does the vocal need to convey to listeners?
- Which tones of voice do I most like/dislike? (Generally speaking)
- Which style of voice might be best suited to my track?
- Does the vocal need to be of the same genre as my track? Might a juxtaposing vocal be more interesting/original?
- Do I already have a vocalist in mind for my track? If so, are they the best fit for the track, or just the easiest option?
Being able to answer these should clarify what it is you are looking for. As such an integral part of the record, a vocal should never be an ‘afterthought’ and due care taken at every stage of the process, including before even beginning.