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

Michael Rank, Stag

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.

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for wunc.org, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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