How To Make Music That's Professional Yet Intimate? Michael Rank Has An Idea

Sep 4, 2014

North Carolina singer-songwriter Michael Rank

Michael Rank has recently released his fourth album of new material in two years.

Rank's music has a unique sound: it's personal and quite intimate, but it also sounds "professional." He'll write a song and record himself singing it at home on an old 8-track tape machine, creating what musicians often refer to as "a demo."

"I'm  a huge fan of demos," Rank says. Usually an artist will record a demo, and then re-record the song later in a professional studio with high quality microphones. But Rank found that style of recording didn't create the sound he wanted.

"I got to the point where I liked my demos better than what was on the album," he said. "I feel like you're constantly trying to recapture this thing that you can never really recapture because you already did it."

So, Rank takes the demo recording and brings the digital file to a studio. There backing musicians add their tracks to that original recording.  Sometimes his process is even more streamlined. On the song Son, Rank was in bed one night, and he couldn't sleep. His guitar was nearby and soon he had a new song.

"It was completely done, music [and] lyrics in about 15 minutes. I went to my upstairs studio and by about three in the morning it was recorded and mixed and that's the exact version that's on the album."

Michael Rank's latest album is called Dead Stock.