In my attempt to get current with my website, I couldn’t think of a better album to start the updating process than “Free,” by Monique Brooks-Roberts. This record displayed a transformative artistic process in a way that I’ve never witnessed before. Working piecemeal over the course of about 2 years (Monique lives in Colorado, so we had to carefully plan studio sessions for when she’d be in town), “Free” became a cathartic story of a truly special artist.
One of the highest honors of doing what I do is the trust an artist gives me with their sound. We all know what a violin sounds like, but it can be a challenging instrument to record in a natural and expressive way. And Monique is not playing solo etudes, either. Her sound has a vibe, complimented with a full band at times, electronic production at others. Effects are also a big part of her sound, which can be easily overdone. Since the album is largely instrumental, the violin is doing everything a voice would be doing, and more. It had to sound full, rich, natural, and hopefully, unique. At our first session, we did a microphone shootout, just like we would do for a vocalist. Finding the perfect signal chain for her violin was everything. When we were reviewing recorded samples from all of the different signal chain options, we both immediately knew which one worked. That set the tone for all of the following sessions, as the “voice” became an established entity.
Some thank yous: thanks to Daniel Bowen of Symphony 21 for connecting me with Monique. Also thanks to Retro City Studios for being a great facility run by excellent people. I firmly believe in finding the right recording space for each project, and Retro City was a great fit for Monique’s energy.
I’m so grateful for Monique’s trust and artistry. She created a beautifully fresh record – an album that has depth, variety, and soul. Check it out!