Editors Note: We strive to share stories that come directly from within the scene. This week we have a special feature from David Halvorson, Jr., reflecting on his band Na’an Stop’s most recent recording experience with producer Danny Kalb. The session included an unexpected visit from Hirie, who recorded vocals for her song “Boom Fire” early one morning at the studio. I first heard about Na’an Stop from Jesse Yonover at Rudeboy Hawaii, who gave the band high praise while they were still college students at UC Boulder. When I found out that Na’an Stop was close to reaching their Kickstarter goal, I asked Jesse if he thought the guys would have a story we could share through Rootfire to raise some awareness about the band. Below is what they came back with. If you dig it, take a second and spread the word. These are some incredible people making good music. -Seth
Intro: The music industry is nonstop. New releases provide fresh tones for our ears on a weekly basis. New music doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Sure, some songs are written quickly and thoughtfully, but artists spend countless hours configuring sounds and practicing. Each song is a culmination of this practice and dedication. The process and vibe may be different from song to song, but they all share the fact that they must be recorded to be shared at a later date. It’s science.
In sports, “game day” is what individuals and teams are working towards. They practice for that moment when you can put your skills to the test against real competition. In music, “game day” comes in a couple of ways: live performance and studio recording. Similar to sports, preparations are made well in advance for both activities. The main difference is one is a public event and the other is essentially a private event.
Also similar to sports, there is a wide range in skill between professionals and recreational musicians, though there is no lack of love across the board. People love watching their favorite guitarist play just as much as others love watching their favorite quarterback. The people we admire seem so different than the rest of us. It’s a treat to watch these individuals share their talents, but it’s rare to get a glimpse behind the scenes. It’s especially rare to get that glimpse in person.
I sing and play trumpet in the Boulder, CO, based reggae/rock group, Na’an Stop. In April we found ourselves 2,000 miles away from home on a farm in historic Louisa, Virginia. We were recording music at White Star Sound where The Movement recorded Golden with the same producer, Danny Kalb. At this point we had never worked face-to-face with a producer like Danny whose resume includes The Green, The Movement, Beck, and Ben Harper. His pedigree had us excited and a little nervous about everything. We wanted to make sure we were dialed in.
We hit it off with Danny and hit the ground running from day one. Towards the end of the second day we were approached about having HIRIE come to White Star to finish recording vocals for a song on her new album, Wandering Soul, which Danny produced a lot of. This was quite the surprise. As it turned out, HIRIE was touring with Iration and they played in Richmond the night before and Danny happened to be in the neighborhood so we welcomed them into our session.
Talk about behind the scenes. We had never sat in on a recording session for anyone else before, let alone HIRIE. I remember when HIRIE and her husband walked in the control room on the morning of day three. It instantly smelled way better and they brought a refreshing appreciation for the moment. They were both a pleasure to meet.
HIRIE hopped in the booth and laid down the vocals to “Boom Fire” in little time. This was a treat to see, especially since we were going to record our first set of vocals later on that day. It was like 11:30 AM but HIRIE had been on the road and was ready to rock. After her warm up it was business as usual. No rehearsals necessary. All that work had been done in the months, weeks, and days on tour leading up to this moment. It was game time. It’s inspiring to see professionals doing work behind the scenes. It’s even more inspiring to see that they are humble artists with passion for their craft. Attention to detail is key and everything is earned. Don’t accept anything less than your best.
When the vocal session was finished, we started chatting and getting to know each other while taking selfies with the goats that live on the White Star farm. In our conversations we came to find out that our bass player, Caton, and HIRIE have some mutual friends from Oahu. It’s a small world and it’s funny how people cross paths. Connections can be made in the most random places if you open yourself up to the moment.
Na’an Stop just wrapped up our 12 show “Questions Tour” to support our new single, “Questions,” and our Kickstarter campaign that ends on September 17. The single “Questions” was recorded right after we met HIRIE and the timing of its release around that of Wandering Soul is an interesting coincidence. The album reached #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. The fact that we sat in on the vocal session for one of the songs off the album is pretty cool and I want to think that it points to something larger. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. Only time will tell. The only thing we can do is keep practicing, working hard, and spreading the love.
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