This month has been pivotal for me as a person, especially as an artist.
While things have been shaky for me as a teacher thanks to Ford Nation, budget cuts and the general stress of job stability, I’ve been striving to make sure that I don’t lose heart and continue to work hard on my side projects.
Although I’ve pulled away from being a live performer, I have been pushing myself more and more to continue recording and writing; and damn am I ever proud of myself.
This year I’ve already released a full-length instrumental album called Kitten Kisses which was written to help reduce the stress of my newest kitten, Kalista, and a new single of mine is about to drop in 10 days called Goodbye.
Goodbye is the second song that features my vocals that I’ve completely produced and recorded by myself.
In 2014, when I recorded my first album Distant Star, I was a boy with lots of ideas, but I didn’t trust myself to try to grapple the complexity of being a producer. Instead, I shied away and asked some of my amazing friends for help, recording at a studio my friend worked at and allowing them to take creative control in the production elements. While I did spend hours with them in the studio watching them edit my work, producing was always a skill I wish I had more knowledge about.
The audio technician I was working with unfortunately had to quit the project early due to an overwhelming amount of work they had been given, so the producer we had been working with who was mastering the project ended up working with me on completing the final song The Author Wrote the End, which opened my mind up to the elements one would be tampering with to create a good quality song. And while all the composition, instrumentals and musical elements on Distant Star were written by me, there was something truly special about being in the studio working up close on The Author Wrote the End.
Since 2014, I’ve been hesitant to release more original music, because all my attempts to team up with producers have fallen through. While I was disheartened about this, I worked hard focussing my efforts on sound design since I felt much more comfortable producing that type of music as it doesn’t take as much knowledge to edit. I personally feel like editing vocals is the hardest part of producing, partly because I’m very hard on myself as a vocalist and because of the added element of using live mics instead of midi instruments which have a kajillion presets you can easily select.
I continued to release music slowly, taking a few years off in between which landed me to last year where I was experiencing some of the worst “imposter syndrome” and depression I’ve ever gone through.
I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to be able to release music, especially with vocals, because I just couldn’t understand what to do. I continued to look for producers who wanted to collaborate and while some things came into fruition, nothing actually reached completion. I was frustrated.
As mentioned, this year I’ve pushed myself further. I’ve been really playing around with mics and trying to make my sound more professional. At the end of 2018, I released my the first fully self-produced song, with vocals, called Wake Up. It was nerve-wracking, especially to be releasing it to the world as a single versus a demo on youtube. I didn’t think I was ready, but I think it gave me some of the confidence I needed to continue producing songs with vocals.
Flash forward to a few months ago when I began collaborating with a new artist. This time writing music with her, for her to sing and taking a strong lead in being the head producer on the project. Dare I say, it was freeing to produce someone else’s vocals and I truly realized how hard I’ve been on myself these past few years. While yes, my music doesn’t sound as professional or as highly produced as Ariana Grande, it does sound amazing and professional in its own ways.
Flash forward to this past month. I’ve recorded two new songs. One is a very simple guitar and vocals song which I will announce as soon as I shoot an album cover and the other being a rock anthem which terrified me to start working on.
I was telling my partner that I had no clue how to work with drums and other percussive instruments and that I really wanted to record my song I Am More and he gave me the brilliant advice of… “well record a different song that you care less about so you can learn how to do that and maybe you’ll be able to record I Am More the way you want to soon.”
So, I did.
I’ve been working with an older song of mine called Silent Whispers and have created one of the most intricate and exciting instrumentals/piece of music that I’ve ever worked on. Truthfully, I’m shocked with how great it’s sounding so far. I’m taking it slowly, focusing really hard on making sure that all the instruments sound the way I want them to… and guess what… it has drums! It’s the most lively and energetic song and damn am I excited to release it.
I would say I’m about 70% done with the song. The instruments are pretty much mixed and sounding great, but I’m still having a bit of difficulty with the vocals. Since the song went from being a very acoustic “musical theatre number” to a more aggressive rock ballad, I’m noticing my voice in certain areas isn’t strong enough yet. Now, that’s not to say that I’m going to back burn it, it does mean that I’ve been committing at least 30-minutes to an hour each day to rehearse the vocals and make sure they are sounding the way I need them to sound.
I showed my partner today and while yes he is my partner and is usually supportive even when he doesn’t fully like a project of mine, but you could tell that he was thoroughly impressed with me. “This sounds like a legit song” was my favourite comment he made. And I agree.
While my instrumental music sounds legit, I can’t pretend my old YouTube covers did. They were always lacking and I really didn’t understand what I was doing, but I think I’m getting it. No, I know I’m getting it. Damn, I’m proud.
It’s come to the point that each time I record a new song I wish I didn’t release the last one because I’m learning skills so fast and I wish I had the knowledge that I have from the new one. That’s not to say that I regret releasing the other songs, because I still love them and I think they are the best of what I could do at the time, but I am excited to take my hand at them again in the future. For example, I can’t wait to re-record Wake Up now that I know much more about music production. It’s part of the longer album I’m working on and while I’m planning on releasing more of my music as singles, I am hoping on re-recording all the singles to put them into a full-length.
It’s going to be interesting listening to the different versions and dare I say, I’m excited! Something I used to do when I was younger was listen to all of the different Evanescence demos and versions of their songs to hear how their production quality and concepts changed and I hope that I can provide the same for another artist, years from now.
So, here’s to being excited and here’s to my newest single coming out in a week and a half. Thanks for sticking through these years of not believing in myself because it’s sure as hell changing.
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