Played some songs live on the radio, and chatted a bit. You can listen here:
OK, so here’s an update.
I’ve been trying to get all the recording done that I can on my own, but I’m fighting against a few fairly boring real-life hurdles. One is that I don’t have a dedicated quiet space within which I can leave my gear set-up and ready to record. The second is that I am a father with a dayjob, so life has some responsibilities for me to tend to outside of this project.
My distractions aren’t hugely interesting or anything; just real. Just stuff that needs to happen every day and these things take time away from possible recording time. When I was younger, home recording was easy because I had lots of space, lots of time, and few distractions. But life keeps changing, doesn’t it?
So I’ve decided that I really need to take some time off work, rent out a small studio in the city, and work with an engineer/producer to make these songs come to life and get them finished so you fine people can hear them.
I’ve been chatting with one such engineer, named Gary. I’m hoping that things will work out with him. Right now we’re discussing project requirements, scheduling, money, shit like that.
If this all works out, then you’ll be hearing songs from me much sooner than you would have, had I just continued down the road of self-recording and self-producing.
Tomorrow is another day of recording. I’m contemplating whether to post some in-progress demos of the songs now, or to wait until the final mixes are completed in a couple months.
So, once we’ve locked down a new recording location, then we’ll start tracking this record. I was going to record in a church, but that’s not going to work. I might have found a new location with another musician who isn’t home much and understands my need for solitude and quiet when recording. I meet her tomorrow to see her space, and hopefully that works out. I have all the gear I need, and some of it is borrowed, so I need to get started.
I’ve been a little stressed by how scattered my brain is with all these songs. I do have a handful of finished songs, but I have heaps of song bits and pieces that just keep coming. New ones arriving into my head all the time, usually while driving my car.
I feel like I should work on all these bits and flesh them out into full-grown songs before I attempt the recording process, but part of me wants to write them while recording. I think some seriously cool spontaneous things might happen. And I like cool spontaneous things. The song “Lazy” came together while I was recording it. All I had in my head beforehand was the opening uke riff and the rest just kind of fell out of my mouth.
When it comes to songwriting, I don’t really know exactly what works for me yet. I don’t have a reliable approach. Sometimes I try to re-do a method or approach that worked really well the last time, but it won’t work at all. Some days I really have to coax out my ideas, and sometimes they just flow out faster than I can keep up. I don’t know if there’s a logic behind the process or not, but if there is, I’m going to find it.
So far, I’ve not been successful if I sit down and say “I’m going to write a song now.” Traditionally, that’s just lead to a long blank stare, followed by a lot of nothing. I need to have an idea appear in my mind first, before I have guitar-in-hand.
I tend to get ideas for songs while I’m doing other things like working, showering, driving, or in that weird hypnagogic state as I’m falling asleep. When an idea hits, I have to scramble for a pen or a recorder and commit it to permanent record before it’s gone. Otherwise, it’s lost forever to a thick fog, kind of like trying to remember your dreams from last week.
Ideas are sometimes fully formed when they arrive, or sometimes it might just be a couple of lines with a melody attached. If it’s a fully-formed song, I pretty much have to drop whatever I’m doing and spend a few hours with guitar, piano, and computer to multi-track all the instruments and vocals. My wife is very understanding if I say “I just need a few minutes to get this idea down,” and she knows that a few minutes probably means a few hours.
I think the most maddening part of songwriting is trying to improve a song to make it sound the way it does in my head. If I try really hard to tweak, polish, and refine a song, it loses something. A spark. A shimmer. It ends up feeling cold.
There is much to be said for the spontaneity of the first take.