Phase 7: Backing Vocals

As we explored and developed our style of funk we found ourselves adding more and more vocals in the songs, either as choral harmonies, or as counterpoint. This is of course characteristic of the styles that funk originated from, i.e. Soul and Gospel. From the very earliest songs by James Brown and the Famous Flames, Sly and the Family Stone, as well as later acts like Earth, Wind and Fire and The Commodores, funk music has always had a multitude of voices singing together or responding to each other.  It was only natural that we would include more singers into the project, in order to increase the variety of voices and achieve rich textures in the vocals. 

The first step was to establish the actual notes and lyrics to be sung. This was done mostly as a collaborative effort between Keith and Kenny who were still quite fresh from the previous sessions of recording the main vocals. Most of the backing vocal tracks were established during this early session, paving the way for the additional singers. Both Kenny and Keith were pleasantly surprised by the progress of this early session as it was a very natural yet challenging process. The end result was a lush and exciting arrangement for the songs, which is reminiscent of the style.

The next step was to replicate the tracks with other voices. The main contributors to this were Janice Debattista and Cheryl Camilleri, who have been singing backings with us for a few years now. Whilst both singers have unique and beautiful voices, when they sing together it becomes something else entirely. Their voices just blend perfectly together, as well as with our songs. Being familiar with our music and with a few of the songs already, they also brought their own ideas to the studio, making the vocal tracks even richer and more beautiful.

Finally, the other members of the band also had a go at recording backing vocals as a number of the songs feature some fun crowd effects, and multiple overdubs on the harmonies. This means that some of the songs have as many as seven different voices, which is a massive tribute to the various funk bands mentioned earlier.

As the vocal tracks kept piling up, the songs were sounding larger and more dynamic, but it also meant that Kenny was faced with countless hours of editing. Further adding to the agony, Kenny has a work habit of recording the same takes a minimum of three times, in order to capture the best performance possible. Though faced with this imposing task, Kenny stayed positive and pushed all the singers to give their best performance, piling on the vocal tracks and achieving rich textures and exciting counterpoints. #hardworkpaysoff #weloveyoukenny