A couple of weeks ago Dominik Scherer posted this amazing video of him drumming live underwater. He used a Studio 192 for the tracking, and an RML16AI and FaderPort 8 for the production. I had never heard or seen anything quite like it, and while the video is plenty interesting on its own, I reached out to Dominik to answer a few more questions about some of the unique challenges when one chooses to record drums aquatically. As if tracking live drums on dry land wasn’t difficult enough…
What microphones were used?
1x DPA 8011 hydrophone, mounted over a rack right at center of the drumset.
What sort of waterproofing was required?
We used acrylic drums and made them water proof. I also got water proof in Ear systems from In Ear Germany.
And we designed light sticks that were waterproof with Rohema Percussion.
Did the drums require any special care/tuning?
We tuned the drums very high and tuned the snares upside down to get a nice snare wire sound. I also used the wires for “scratching” sounds.
What sort of post-processing of the recording was required, if any?
We did some compressing and EQing as also some side chain processing with special delay sounds and room emulations to get a very special and unique sound.
What challenges came up that you didn’t expect?
Well – actually everything was a challenge. First of all I never used oxygen to dive. So I was very afraid of the effect it would have and if I could play with it. Playing underwater is completely different. You gotta plan every movement exactly and do a perfect stroke to hit the drum or the cymbal at the right time. And the pressure under water and the flowing body makes it even harder. As I always do no edits on my videos as far as the drum takes go, I had to play it all as a one take. That was really hard to stay focused, play perfectly and also try to perform in a visually good way… We also did a quite nice making-of video. Click here to watch it on Facebook.
Big thanks to Dominik for making this happen. Some drummers work hard and really go the extra mile… but this is the first time I’ve seen a drummer go an extra nautical mile.