A Flashback to Recording 'Lucid Dreamer' in 2013

4 September 2020

I wrote Lucid Dreamer sometime in early 2012. I've always been fascinated by the mysteries surrounding sleep and dreaming. In 2012 I remember being particularly intrigued by the concept of lucid dreaming, reading up on the topic and watching various documentaries. One night I experienced a lucid dream myself. It was such an wildly vivid experience—almost surreal—that to this day I can recall what happened in the dream. As soon as I woke up the following morning, I rushed over to the piano to write about the experience.

Later that year I moved to the UK to study Audio Engineering at SAE Institute London. For one of my school recording projects, I chose to make Lucid Dreamer a reality. As often happens when you dig up something from several years back, I can't help but cringe at 2012-Michal's writing and 2013-Michal's production skills. I am, however, still proud of what Justin (assistant engineer) and I managed to accomplish in a relatively short span of time. It also helped to have such a talented group of musicians to work with. The full line-up consisted of:

Fernando Martínez – violin
Cian O'Brien – electric bass
Jonatan Pastirčák – cello
Björn Þorleifsson – tuba
Ed Williams – drums
Justin Whittingham – backing vocals
Michal Wiraszka – vocals, piano, percussion

In an attempt to not be as wordy as my last few blog posts, I'll let a gallery of photos do most of the talking:

Preparing microphones before Ed arrives.

Ed arrives.

Multiple mics at our disposal, so we use them; cushioning from vibrations, in an attempt to achieve a clean bass drum thump.

Making sure overheads are equidistant from the snare drum to minimize phase cancellation.

Final mics put in place; Ed warming up.

Score laid out; 'Gay' fader pushed all the way down (this was 2013, relax); ready to track!


Next up: Cian on bass. We only need to record DI, but the Neve Custom 75 still makes for a good place to lay down your piece of paper.

Justin going over the song structure with Cian.

Trying out some bends.

Next, there were two more bass instruments to record for the orchestral intrumental section. Jonatan on cello...

...and Björn on Tuba.

Some musicians appreciate the finer things in life. Others like to rock out till their faces fall off.

Tuba, featuring Michal on the Air Trumpet.

Tracking cello.

With the cello part down, enter Fernando on the violin.

Auditioning vocal microphones (including a sideways RE20) and a toybox full of percussion instruments.

In the end, opted for a classic.

And last but not least: the piano part played on Big Bertha herself.