“We had eight tracks, the Beatles only needed four!” – Vance Powell | #NerdingOut

While recording with Jack White with just eight tracks of 2” tape  at seven inches per second, it became clear to seven-time Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer and mixer, Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Elle King, The White Stripes) that working with limitations needn’t stifle creativity; if anything, having fewer options at your disposal means you don’t record what you don’t need – you’re that much more intentional with your recording.

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There’s this great joke around Nashville. It’s uh, yeah, that takes sucked. Come on in. We’ve got Pro Tools. Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of people make records now, but you know, I can tell you there’s a lot of people who don’t.

I spent about eight years working with Jack White and there was tons of things that we were doing that were relatively, what I would say you would think unachievable these days where people have a DAW based workflow. We didn’t have that. We had a two inch eight track running at seven inches per second.

We had one drum track. You know, one track of bass, one track of guitar, you know, you start running out of tracks, so you have to make a really great sounding record in eight tracks. And a lot of people would say that’s unachievable, but it’s not. You can do it. The Beatles did it in four. You know, that’s, that’s amazing how great those records sound.

So the limitations made them choose what things to pick and play. And part of what happens today is it’s easy to record more than we need. Do we really need these tom mics? Maybe. Do we need a snare drum? Well, maybe. But the kick drum, the room, the overhead. That’s, that’s pretty great. Cool. Well, what else can we take away and try to work from the subtraction sort of concept?

Limitations always drive creativity