The following article was written by The Smoking Jackets:
Intention – Ben Crane Intention – Ben Crane (Free Download)
After studying sitar and Indian music in general, I thought it was time to try and incorporate it into my own music. I had wanted to try and pull some pages from freak folk artists like Devendra Banhart but I wasn’t entirely sure of the exact sound I wanted and that meant that renting a studio wasn’t an option. I really wanted to be able to experiment with the sound and try out different methods of recording. Also, because I would be the only person recording at any given time, I couldn’t flesh out song ideas outside of the studio; all the songs would have to be written in the studio.
I had my laptop so all I needed to set up a home studio was a good condenser microphone. I called around to several places before finally talking to some folks who seemed to have what I wanted. I hopped in a rickshaw and sped over to their location. The “store” ended up being an room in an apartment complex with three employees and one computer. I sat down and explained to them that I was a musician looking to get a microphone for recording. The man behind the desk nodded and pulled out a lapel mic that most people use for giving Powerpoint presentations.
“This I think is a good solution for you. Look, you can record on this program and edit and everything. This is all you need.”
I explained that I needed something with better quality and after a few more tries of trying to convince me that this was the microphone I wanted, he sent me off to his friend’s studio who was supposed to have what I was looking for. I went there and they did have some good mics but didn’t want to rent it out to me for security reasons. There is a heavy import tax on electronics coming into India and thus all high-end electronics are very expensive and sought-after items. Who can blame them for not wanting to trust some random white boy with the microphone they had to claw tooth and nail to get.
After calling around to every studio in New Delhi, I finally found somebody willing to rent me their condenser microphone, but not without a hefty security deposit. It was going to essentially suck my budget dry but it seemed like the only option available to me if I was going to free myself from the studio. I met with the recording engineer the next day and finally got my hands on a solid Rode microphone.
I hopped back into a rickshaw and immedietly popped open my laptop and set up a pretty sketchy recording studio in the backseat; I really wanted to record the sounds of New Delhi traffic. You wouldn’t believe the number of different horns that you hear coming from all types of vehicles. I wanted to incorporate some of those sounds into my own recording. I even told the driver the take a long way back to my home in hopes of capturing the widest variety of traffic and street noise I could. Finally, we made it home and I ran upstairs to set up my studio.
Because I spent most of my budget on the microphone I had to find solutions to other problems that sprang up. I fashioned a pop filter out of a bent clothes hanger and some cloth from an old kurta and later, made a shaker from two metals cups and a few handfuls of rice and lentils. Over a period of about three weeks I recorded a three song EP. For each song, I just hit the record button and started playing, having no real forethought of how a song would go. The process was incredibly time-consuming which meant sitting in my room with the AC off (otherwise it would get picked up by the mic) in the hottest spring ever recorded in New Delhi. I had to take breaks every hour or so to run to my bathroom and pour buckets of cold water over my head.
But, I finally finished the project and am pleased with the results. The EP is available for free download here. Instruments featured include sitar, tabla, guitar, singing bowl, shaker, and a ragini drone machine. Streaming is “Intention”, the first track from the EP.