Artist Name: Chad Fay Robinson Title: I Know It’s You Genre: Rock
DAW – Pro Tools Studio; Interface – Universal Audio Apollo x8; Microphones – Neumann TLM 67 (vocals), Neumann KM 84 and Lewitt LTC 140 (acoustic guitars), Shure SM57 (electric guitars); Guitars – two different Breedlove acoustic guitars, a Fender Stratocaster (through a Fender Blues Deluxe), a Les Paul-Style (through a 1962 Fender Tremolux) and a Charvel Pro-Mod bass (direct); Preamps – Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel (vocals and acoustic guitars) and BAE 1073 (electric guitars); Compressor – LA-2A clone (vocals); Keyboard instruments – mostly Pro Tools Xpand!2; Drums – EZdrummer 3; Plugins – UAD, Waves and Soundtoys; Mastering – IGS Rubber Band 500-Series Pultec EQ, Elysia Xpressor, SPL BiG (outboard) and Waves Limiters (in the box); Monitors – Neumann KH 120.
“I Know That It’s You” was written, performed, produced and mastered by Chad Fay Robinson. Robinson sang and played all of the instruments except the drum track, which he created using EZdrummer 3.
The song begins with a string pad and acoustic guitar, and builds through the first verse with drums entering at the first chorus. Bass joins in for the second verse, and more guitars come in for the second chorus and the guitar solo before dropping back to acoustic guitar for the end of the tune.
Chad notes that the song originally was going to be a stripped-down acoustic tune but ended up being more than a 50-track production. According to Chad, “I love the recording and mixing process; it’s like a chess game against yourself!” Chad notes that he took advice from the track “Everything With You” (Readers’ Tracks December 2022). Chad writes, “I think that your advice was well received in the outcome of this song. I thank you!”
Reviewed By Dave Martin
Chad Fay Robinson introduces himself as a singer/songwriter and says that his original vision was that this song was to be stripped down acoustic. Most readers of this column will sympathize with the fact that his stripped down acoustic tune ended up with more than 50 tracks—these things happen to all of us.
There’s a lovely organic quality to Chad’s recording, attributable, in part, to the excellent acoustic and electric guitar sounds that he created. Chad used a nice selection of instruments (Breedlove acoustic, Strat and a Les Paul style guitar), nice amps (a Fender Blues Deluxe and a 1962 Fender Tremolux), and lovely analog signal chains. For the acoustic guitars, Chad used a Neumann KM84 and a Lewitt LTC 140; for the electric guitars, an SM57 into a BAE 1073. The bass track was played on a Charvel Pro-Mod Bass.
The sounds he’s chosen for keyboard tracks fit well with the song’s vibe: strings, electric piano, and some more ethereal and rhythmic pads in a few places.
The vocal tracks stand out, both because of the performance and because of the sound of the recorded voice—Chad is justly proud of his signal chain: a Neumann U67, a Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel and an LA2A clone.
One of the interesting aspects of this track was Chad’s decision to leave the vocals dry, but on repeated listening, it was the right choice. There’s a presence and immediacy to the vocals that any effects would have masked, especially in the first verse and at the end of the song.
I do have a few suggestions for Chad for his future recordings. Primarily, I would suggest that when mixing a song, make sure that the important stuff is turned up and the unimportant stuff is kept out of the way.
I know this sounds simple, and there’s a lot of nuance to explore, but keep in mind that most of the people listening to your track won’t have the advantage of listening to the mix through high-quality monitors in a treated studio, If possible, listen to the mix through computer speakers, earbuds, crappy stereos, your phone, and in different environments in which you find yourself.
For example, on “I Know That It’s You,” I loved how the track started with the string swell. But once the vocals come in, the strings feel a bit loud and pulled away from the sound of the voice and acoustic. In the same vein, the tremolo guitar in the song’s intro was wonderful but not really needed in the first verse. It might have been cool to bring that guitar sound back in for the first chorus to help build the intensity of the track into the first chorus (and it would have been fine staying in until the end of the track).
Later on, when the guitar solo happens, it seems to get lost in the mix. Since the solo is the most important thing happening at that point in the track, make sure it’s up where it can be heard. I would use the same philosophy at the end of the tune, where it drops back to acoustic guitar and voice—make sure that the acoustic is back in the same space that it was at the intro.
One other thing: when you’re programming a drum track for a song like this, you might try visualizing how an actual drummer would play the song—both the sounds they would use and the parts they would play.
Spending a bit of time figuring out how a live drummer would play a song can make it easier to program a drum track that feels natural—to help maintain that organic feel mentioned earlier.
A good song with a fine singer—I believed what he was singing. And the track has excellent guitar sounds!