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How They Got A Great Lead Vocal

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This is a picture of Craig Hardy in front of a piece of artwork sent to him from one of his Russian fans. His music under his pseudonym 'LeFlex', is very popular in Russia and the surrounding territories. He never thought he would gain recognition for his productions, not his vocal ability. But he's very content with how it has all unfolded.
Hosted by
Lemar
Special Guest: Craig Hardy

Intro.

I wrote my first ever single released on a major record label with Craig Hardy and Fitzgerald Scott. I remember it vividly. Craig going over chord progressions, a very tired Fitz coming up with topics and concepts, while I hummed and riffed vocal melodies until we found something that worked. And it really worked. My highest charting single to date. I caught up with Craig, this time to learn about his journey and his new project – LeFlex.

Craig's big opp.

An opportunity came up, a couple of people left from the studio. Lower in position. And rather than go to the big pile of CV’s, I basically jumped at the studio manager and said, I want to work in the studio.

I just heard that someone was leaving. And so before they even got to the point of advertising or asking someone, I just went straight in and said, I’ve heard such and such person is leaving. I want to work in the studio.

They were just like ‘tea-boy’ or something.

This is a picture of Craig Hardy playing the keyboard while songwriting. He believes that a good song is all about a great vocal and a great melody. Songwriting is key. He likes to refer to himself as a songwriter.
Craig Hardy - “…at the time there was no intent of being serious about it. It was just me doing something. Because I loved it.”

Carpe Diem!

They basically said, yes, we love you. You’re great. You’re the right person, and you’ve been around so, yes. And literally the next morning, I got taken off the mailing staff and I was in the studio and I was being taught how to set up patchbays and set up the desks. I mean, I’d never seen the proper SSL [mixing] desk and all the proper gear before. I’d only worked in small studios, and there I was in this major studio. So I was just studio assistant. No one knew at this point I could do anything. I was literally just happy to be in the room and just shut up and watch.

Up to this point, no one knew that I could play keys. Or that I could do anything. I hadn’t told anyone that I had any aspirations to do any sort of writing or anything. So if we can fast forward a little bit. I basically did that for, let’s just say a few months, at least. Just watching, starting to learn how records are made and it opens your eyes to how it all works.

Craig Hardy - “The song I remixed for Maison Kitusne is still like one of their biggest streamed tracks to this day.“

Vocal production.

I mean, it opened my eyes to seeing how certain things were done. They did things in ways that you could never have imagined. The studio techniques, which I don’t recall necessarily now, but I remember at the time thinking, wow, that’s how they do that! I think it was the first time I’d seen people using double tracking for vocals.

I remember two instances that come to mind. There was a Kylie Minogue multi-track that was on the desk and it had two tracks for vocals. And I remember, one vocal was up [on the mixing desk and was] playing. And it just sounded like a little girl singing. Then the second fader gets pushed up to double track and then it just moulds together and all of a sudden, it was the sound I knew from the records! That’s how they did it! And then on another occasion, we had a multi-track come in from America, which was Kool & The Gang…

The right sound.

And, um, that got put up on the mixing desk and the lead vocal was four tracks! So instead of double tracks, it was quadrupled tracked!

The lead ‘alone’ was the four tracks. And again, I mean, I’m a huge, huge fan of Kool & The Gang. But the one fader goes up and it’s, quite a thin weedy voice.

And you think, that’s not who I know!? Then you push all the faders up and then the four voices become this one voice. And there is the character! There’s this voice that I know!

Lemar and Craig Hardy sip a glass of whisky and say cheers to some great memories. Lemar is known for having one of the smoothest vocals in the UK, something that Craig Hardy was drawn to when they worked together.
Craig Hardy - “ …the second I could get out of school and start doing that. I just knew that I wanted to do it in some capacity“

Four Unison’s. Four lead vocals. Yeah it was four. Whether they were all mixed at the same level [is debatable] but…

Maybe one was running a delay or something and another one – reverb. But it was incredible! There was the sound of Kool & The Gang. The lead vocal. But it wasn’t there with the one [track]. So it was things like that, that really opened my eyes.

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