February 14, 2011

A Long One


Hello friends,

I finally have a moment to tell you about studio happenings. Where to start?

I have ten songs to record over the course of three full weekends. This past weekend was the first of those. We started off recording "scratch tracks," which is a rough version of a song done (usually) to a click track. A click track is where the metronome clicks away loudly on top of the music - we do this to help the drummer (and everyone else) stay in time. The click gets taken out once the main work is done.

We got all our scratch tracks done, all our drums done, and a few real vocals / instruments done too. In short: a very, VERY productive weekend. We were a bit flabbergasted that it went by so quickly. We even finished a song, beginning to end.

Jack, the drummer, is by far the most professional drummer I've ever worked with. Not only did he chart out every song with his full part, but he got everything on the first or second try, and nailed every idea we threw at him. I was astounded, since I've worked with some very *relaxed* drummers in the past, and most of the time it's been a bit of a headache. Jack used to be my drum teacher, so it was neat to get to know him as a studio musician this time around. He's quite the perfectionist.

Dean is my engineer and producer. He was my engineer and producer for the last album too, so this all feels very familiar. However... One major thing has changed over the past four years:

We've both gotten a lot better.

I'm not saying that to be boastful. I'm really a bit surprised by how much we've learned since the last time. To put it in perspective, the last album took a year to record. This one may be finished in a month, maybe less.

Now that the meat and potatoes explanation is out of the way, let's talk about our feelings.


This album didn't arrive with grace; it fought the whole way. As many of you know, I've been dealing with writer's block for over three years. As a songwriter, I was feeling pretty lost through the whole experience. My writer's block was kicked to the curb when a childhood friend of mine died this past summer - I had to write about it, or I was going to turn into a nervous wreak. So I wrote. And wrote. And the gates opened. And now there is an album in the works.

The song that started everything is called Timoneer, and I've had a hard time playing it since it was written. It just makes me so, so sad. But it needed to be recorded, so we dove into it yesterday with the intention of getting a scratch track finished. An hour an a half later, we had a completed song with four layers of harmony.

Dean put the song on when it was done so we could listen back in the comfort of the studio. He turned off the lights so that we wouldn't get distracted by all the mess. It was a good thing he turned them off, because I turned into a puddle as soon as the song started. I had been really focused during the recording, but now that it was done, it had the usual effect of making me feel like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I bawled my eyes out while it played, mopped up my face on my dress, and decided that now was a good time for a break.

The song is crazy good. It's just not very uplifting. Now I'm trying to decide how I can contact my friend's family to get them a copy. I think they would want it, but I don't know. I really don't know what to do about it.


"My boys" will probably also include some girls, but for now, they are very much dudes.

I have a small group of musicians on this album due to the lack of time, and although we've only had one weekend so far, I feel like adopting them all. Maybe it's just me who sees it, but there's a real connection between me and the people who are helping me get this album done. I have no idea how to thank then properly (other than pay them, of course). They are helping me reach my goals, and I would fucking throw down for them. Basically, I'm saying that I love them to pieces. Especially Dean, who seems to share my brain, and is already talking about ideas for our NEXT album when this one is done.


Well, shit. I spend a lot of my time explaining why I like having a day job, why I am happy not doing music full time, why I am good at multi-tasking, and most of it is true. But then I get into the studio and I feel like I'm finally doing something right. This is what I do best. I'm good at my day job, but I don't miss it when I leave, and it doesn't invade my brain the way studio work does. What other job makes me cry because something comes out sounding exactly the way it does in my head?

So the question becomes... Is there any way I could be supported by my music?

I'd need to get out of debt, and I'd probably need to transfer major payments over to my BH, but even then..... Who knows. It feels like a lost cause. But it's on my mind.

Thanks for being patient if you've made it to the end of this post. There are so many words in my brain right now, and it looks like a lot of them spilled onto this here blog.

More studio updates soon!


Shawna said...

ALL GOOD. Especially the part about leaving your day job and musicking forever. I'm behind you.

zoom said...

About Timoneer....I have a friend whose child died way too young, and she was absolutely heart-broken. But she honours all the mementos and memories - her own and other people's - as evidence that her child lived and was loved. She would have treasured a song that a friend had written about her child.

You are giving your friend's parents an incredible gift.

robin said...

This is a beautiful post. Thanks, and good luck with the record!

Stella said...

Thanks for the feedback guys.... And thanks for the perspective Zoom! I'll start looking up ways I can contact them.