Freelance Contribution by Sally Writes
In today’s modern times, the plethora of digital audio workstations — like Apple’s Garageband — make it perfectly feasible for artists to record music at home. In fact, there’s a new wave of “bedroom artists” who prefer creating music from this personal and private space, the Guardian reports. But, it certainly hasn’t always been this easy; technological limits were a lot greater in the past. Today we’re taking a look at Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen, two giants of ’80s music who, although wildly different, both embraced home recording at different stages of their respective careers. Jackson’s home studio possessed the latest equipment, while Springsteen was much less sophisticated and paved the way for future home-recording artists.
In 1985, Michael Jackson set to work on his Bad album from the comfort of his home studio in Hayvenhurst. He called his studio “the laboratory” and created roughly forty-eight different demos in a variety of musical styles there. Jackson preferred recording in his home studio as it allowed him more freedom and creative control. Eventually, he took his demos into the “proper” studio to work with producer, Quincy Jones. Together they spent a year creating “Bad“; deadlines came and went during this period, but Jackson was a perfectionist who wouldn’t release the record until it was ready.
The album went onto score five number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, and “Dirty Diana” lasted a week, while standout tracks “Bad” and “Man in the Mirror” held the top spot for a fortnight. The reason for the album’s mass popularity? Unprecedented talent and, quite simply, good pop.
In January 1982, Bruce Springsteen set work on what would end up being Nebraska, a beautiful and stark acoustic follow-up to his hugely successful fifth album, The River. Desiring a change from his usual lengthy recording process in the studio with the E Street Band, Springsteen decided to go back to basics. In the bedroom of his house in Colts Neck, New Jersey, he embarked on a marathon songwriting session. He recorded fifteen demos on a rudimentary Tascam Portastudio tape machine with two Shure SM-57 microphones he had previously sent his guitar technician out to purchase.
Nebraska marked the beginning of a home-recording revolution. One of the biggest rock stars recording on entry-level equipment inspired swathes of would-be musicians to fulfill their creative potential. Three decades later, the technological landscape of home-recording has changed drastically, but one thing remains the same: artists are allowed greater creative freedom and exposure than ever before.
Photo courtesy Alexey Ruban