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10 things I learned from Prince and the Purple Rain recording sessions

This book is a deep dive into Prince's artistic process

    1. 1983 to 1984

    He produced music for many people at this time including Morris day and the Time, Sheila E and the Bangles among others

    2. He recorded almost everything

    Including sound checks and concerts

    3. He started this time period on tour for 1999

    4. Extremely driven work ethic

    Would frequently practice or perform during the day and go directly into the studio and record all night

    5. Stevie Nicks

    She heard a recording of Little Red Corvette and inspired her to write her hit stand back. She called Prince and got him to play the keyboard part on stand back, so Prince shares some writing credit for that.

    6. Pseudonyms

    Princewood regularly work as a producer or musician for somebody else and use a fake name. He did a lot to maintain an aura of mystery. It also probably helped people to comprehend how much output he had creatively.

    7. Split time

    Prince was very busy at the time. He would have rehearsal stages set up in Minneapolis and spend a lot of time in Los Angeles recording. He would frequently book time overnight at major studios. Presumably to save money, but also so that he could fit into his schedule. He would frequently perform a concert, and then go immediately to the studio at work until eight or nine morning.

    8. Using the “reverb rooms”

    The studios that he worked in, sunset, sound in California, had different rooms for Reverb. These were physical rooms with microphones in them. So he would run Sounds into these rooms to get a sound that you could only get at that particular studio.

    9. Joni Mitchell

    Prince gave her credit for influencing him in the way he approached, harmonic textures.

    10. Bed in Sunset Sound in Los Angeles

    Prince spent so much time in the studio and block booked it for weeks at a time. He had a queen sized bed put in the studio: not so much for sleeping but because that was how he liked to write in Minneapolis. He went bank and forth constantly between the cities working in both.

    11. Imperfections on purpose

    He would frequently tell performers to play slightly out of tune, or leave mistakes in or even inject mistakes to make his tracks sound raw. I find this interesting, because without going back to listen to them again, the tracks sound very polished.

    12. Genius

    That word is overused, especially around musicians, but certainly applies to Prince. People around Prince at this time described him as a genius. He created at an astonishing pace and barely slept during this time period. He defined the next 30 years of pop music. At times he was almost desperate to get the ideas out of his head and recorded and would work extremely fast: sometimes for days without sleeping.

    13. Intentionally creating a musical movement

    He consciously created about a half a dozen acts in the early 1980s (The Time, Sheila E, Appolonia, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Vanity 6, Mazarati and others). Prince wrote and performed much of the music for all of these groups. He stated at the time that he was creating a movement so that it would seem like everyone had this "new style" but it was all him! It is hard enough to have one act at a time in the pop charts: Prince had as many as 3 at the same time!

    14. Sober, or at least lucid

    Whether or not he was literally sober all the time is unknown (he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2016, he apparently thought he was taking vicodin and may have become addicted to pain medications later in his career). However, nobody working with him was aware of drug taking or drunkeness. He was always lucid and worked constantly. I imagine that there are similarities to Frank Zappa's work ethic and work approach.

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