The March release on Society of Sound is KLARA’s new album ‘Blossom’ which was recorded at Real World Studios and co-produced by Erland Cooper.
In this new blog post, exclusive to Society of Sound, KLARA gives us a detailed insight into the making of the record, exploring her vision for the album, inspirations and influences on her songwriting and the positive effect of the studio environment. Over to KLARA…
This record feels like a true representation of me right now. Recorded in the countryside, surrounded by nature, close to water and celebrating hope both musically and lyrically in many songs on ‘Blossom’. Real World was the perfect place to record this album.
We worked as a 4-piece for the first few days of recording, to get the foundation of the songs recorded, with drums, bass and guitars. I wanted to play acoustic guitars on the folkier songs and electric guitar with effects on the bigger songs. I played an Omnichord OM-27 on 2 songs to give a different analog sound to those tracks.
Once we had the song structures down, we brought in my 2 backing vocalists, Karina and Jess, to add richness to the vocal production. On some songs such as ‘Broken’ and ‘I Can’t Speak For You’ I recorded my own backing vocals, but as I love vocal production, I felt bringing in more voices gives a warmer sound and variety.
We then focused on the keyboard-based songs. I played grand piano, Fender Rhodes and additional analog synths at Real World. Erland Cooper and Hannah Peel added further synth parts later on in the post-production.
When I wrote and arranged the album I knew that I wanted to have pedal steel, cello & horns as an integral part of the record. These parts feel like glitter sprinkled over the record to make each song shine in their own way. In pre-production I worked individually with each musician to create the perfect arrangements together ahead of our time recording at Real World.
We recorded the album at Real World Studios in The Main Room and The Wood Room. As the recording rooms are big and well constructed we could all see each other through the whole recording process which makes such a difference when making a live recording together as a band. That the studio is situated in the countryside so close to water makes it a truly magic place for being creative together. I think it made us all more relaxed and focused. Before we got to the studio I had undertaken a month of pre-production with my guitar player Samuel Williams in my studio within Paul Epworth’s Church Studios complex in London. Erland Cooper and I did postproduction and mixing together in his Coronet Studios in Shoreditch.
The sonic vision
As a singer-songwriter, acoustic folk is a sound I would be most recognised for, but as with my recent releases, I wanted to experiment further with a bigger sound on this record. I listen to a whole array of music including Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, James Blake & London Grammar. They each inspire me in different ways.
I generally start writing my songs on an acoustic guitar and I make sure the song stands up on it’s own two feet before I even start thinking about production. On this record I had more time to play around with the songs in pre-production and made sure I explored a bigger soundscape. I love sparse production though as it gives space to every part. As we had cello arrangements, backing vocals. horns and pedal steel I also wanted to make sure they had their moment to colour the songs. We spent a lot of time in the studio to make Fabio’s drums sound fantastic as we knew with that foundation we would have a great record. We also used the stairwell in Real World Studios to give extra natural reverb to the drums on a couple of the songs. Oli also had some magic tricks up his sleeve to make the bass drum extra big in the studio when recorded rather than trying to add that in the mixing process. There are no electronic drums on the record apart from ‘Where Do We Begin’ that has a beat from an old Roland 808.
I ran my Omnichord and two electric guitars through my pedal board. On the album I mainly used my Strymon Big Sky reverb and Marshall Echohead EH-1 delay. I also used a Boss TR 2 Tremolo and a Strymon Zuma distortion in places. We did additional production adding Fender Rhodes, Hammond C3 through a Leslie 122RV and also a Philicorda. In postproduction we used an upright piano, an analog Roland Jupiter 4 and moog sub bass.
Epiphone Joe Pass 11 Pro Electric Guitar
Taylor GS mini
Bosendorfer 170CS grand piano.
Hammond C3 with Leslie 122RV
Suzuki Omnichord OM-27
Harmonium (unbranded – Real World instrument)
Minimoog 1974 for sub bass
Upright Yamaha piano with triple felt
Roland Space Echo 301
Roland 808 drum machine, kick and snare.
Oli Jacobs engineered the record with assistance from Fraser Latimer and Oli also did additional studio production. It was a lot of fun working closely together with Oli, who also engineered my last single ‘These Woods’. He truly has a passion for music and I felt safe in that he shared my vision of making the record sound organic and warm. His pace and energy is integral to turning around such an ambitious project with so many layers to record in a limited amount of time.
Erland Cooper co-produced and mixed the record with me at his Coronet Studios in Shoreditch. We worked really well together as I felt we had a like-minded taste in sound and he really understood my vision for the album, helping me bring it to life. It’s rare to find a mixer/producer who is also a very talented songwriter and musician which made it such a fun creative process adding sparkle to the recordings in post-production.
The musicians all brought fantastic skills, creativity and positivity to the album recording and it was a real pleasure to get to work with musicians at the top of their game.
KLARA – Vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, omnichord
Samuel Williams – Guitars
Joff Macey -Bass
Fabio de Oliveira – Drums
Matt Park – Pedal Steel / Acoustic guitar
Karina Ramage – Backing Vocals
Jess Belgrave – Backing Vocals
Kevin Robinsson – Trumpet / Flugel horn
Klara Schuman – Cello
Hannah Peel – Additional synths
Erland Cooper – Additional synths & guitars