Alvaro Alencar is a 12-time Latin Grammy winning producer and mixer with 30 Grammy nominations and multiple gold and platinum awards. He has over 100 credits for albums, movies and TV tracks for Brazilian, Latin, US and European markets and has extensive live recording experience for TV and DVD projects.
Lots of “you don’t see that every day” kind of moments happen in a music studio. Of course there are the funny and/or crazy stories you hear about in the media and in biographies because artists are usually people living life at least partially outside of the fenced zone. You’re not really gonna come up with fascinatingly beautiful ways to express the feelings that really move us thru life if you’re too comfortably installed. So funny/crazy things happen perhaps a little more regularly here. But then you can also see crazy stuff anywhere. We live in a world that is out of control despite/because of our denial.
What really is much rarer and more contained to certain environments, and I thank my luck every day for living in one of them, is the moment of creation, of inspiration. The short seconds or minutes in which out of a single spark or a collective burst something new is born. A new verse, a new riff, the way to put the 2 together. After you’ve seen it once You Can Get No Satisfaction until you see a new Baby Blue Eyes Walk On the Wild Side. Artists of every walk of life live for that moment. The rest is luck and perspiration. That moment is mystic and absolutely unique.
Here’s one such moment. It was the last opportunity to record the vocals for this one track we all loved from the very beginning of production, or we’d have to drop it from the album. It made it to the list when it was just an incomplete 2 verses and a chorus, as opposed to the other much more elaborate and complete compositions selected for this album. And it grew into a beautiful piece of music, but still, the game was almost over, and there was one line in the second verse that that just didn’t cut it. We all knew it. And everyone tried to come up with something. It’s funny how horrible ideas like to creep in when you push too hard to find a good one 🙂 As the artist was very sensitive to certain substances, there was no pot inside the studio rule. Even a bit of smoke in the air could throw her out of control, lower her blood pressure, and such. So no pot in the studio. Where it was a little cold. So she put on the assistant’s sweater. And we started discussing what we feel the line should say, for the 100th time. I started throwing the melody loosely note by note on the piano, no rhythm. Just spacing the syllables without any thinking. And the artist started humming the melody, slowly, from a low hum sound on to little by little wording out the lyrics that lead to the fatidic line. In trance almost. The assistant had just come back from his inspirational walk outside, and she got the residuals thru his sweater. For her, that was enough… and well, it came…. it threw us out of our bubble… that’s how perfect it was. A perfect imagery, a bed undoing itself as it cannot handle the falling apart of the lovers it used to embrace. A sexy, physical and at the same time very abstract image of the sad decay of a once beautiful love. In 6 words and a perfect fit. It was so exciting to finally have it that the artist could not get back in the mood of the song. We recorded the next day in the mix room. But we had a really beautiful moment added to the song. One of its unique identifiers. “E a cama aflita se desfaz”.
You can’t reproduce that moment at your heart’s desire. You are lucky enough if you get to experience or witness it at all. No imitation or reproduction of it is really possible. In certain ways, its magic is all around us. The artist is the camera that can reveal some of it. Every time such a moment happens we learn more about life. And we even get a pay check every once in a while 🙂
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