On my walk to work this morning I was listening to Marc Maron's interview with Dave Grohl to promote the upcoming documentary Sound City. If you don't know, Sound City is about a recording studio that contained a one of a kind Neve mixing board that's considered to be the best console constructed ever. Maron's opening monologue wages a philosophical war against any recording equipment constructed beyond the 1970s and the beginning of his interview with Grohl continues this train of thought. Somehow Grohl derails this conversation and they move on. I enjoyed the interview but the opening stuck with me. Why is there such a stigma surrounding the modern era of point and click production? I understand that with the advent of applications like GarageBand and Ableton Live the music industry has been blown open wide and anyone can sit down and make a record; this is a good thing. The conceit of Maron's opening aside seems to be that if you're not playing vintage equipment through the best, tubiest, board that you can find in the nicest room around then you're not being honest and that there is no magic in the modern electronic era. Sending out a message like is irresponsible. He definitely has younger listeners who probably don't care about being the next Nirvana (or even the next Mumford and Sons), maybe their sites are set on trying to trump Animal Collective or Laurie Spiegel. Whatever the case it's misguided to think that good can only come out of something with tubes and three knobs. There are VST symphonies waiting to be written by someone sitting in their bedroom right now and no one can say that the magic, or truth, or whatever you want to call it won't be in that room when all of the pieces come together.
Last weekend I recorded vocals for a local experimental R&B artist who started writing music to "keep himself busy and stay out of trouble". Last August he got a copy of Ableton Live and some Native Sound synths and starting writing. If inexpensive DAWS and VSTs didn't exist then I never would have met Ryan and had such a great time working with and getting to know him and he would probably be bored to death. When you listen to the songs you can tell that he's trying to work something out and I don't know if he ever got out what was inside of him or reached the zenith that he was hoping for but if he had no other option than to spend 10k on a board and even more on the synths to give life to his ideas I doubt that he would have even bothered.
While there is a charm to every fidelity and format , I don't think that there's truth in only one of them. Whatever you can get your hands on should be what you create with. If you only have a Tascam four track and an unamplified electric bass then go for it. And if you have access to every piece of equipment in the world then you go for it too.
I'm not angry at Marc Maron for having an outside view of an art form that I'm forever entrenched, but I can't stand it when someone says that a form of expression must be conveyed in a particular way. How do you do what you do?