Blog Post #2: Making An Album -- Pre-Production and Recording
Projects can consume your life. They can be never-ending, stressful, time consuming, “make-you-want-rip-your-hair-out” annoying. My project for the last nine months has been my album. It’s been a roller-coaster. Who would have thought it would all start on a whim when I said to myself, “Hey Aimée… you should just book some recording time and see what happens.”
I like deadlines. So when I booked the studio for September 20, 2014, I had about four months from the time I booked it to put something together. My goal was an EP. This was an experiment for me, as I wanted to see what the studio life was like. I also realized that if I wanted to book more time, I could always book more. Nevertheless, I willed myself to set the goal of having at least ten songs ready to record so we can fill up the two days in the studio.
Well, I had my work cut out for me. By the time August rolled around. I only had two songs and two arrangements written. I knew I had to think of something and I had to think of something very quickly as rehearsals were approaching in the beginning of September. I was determined to get to ten songs, but unfortunately it was not happening. Finally, someone oh-so-wise reminded me that this was merely an experiment. So, I bumped my goal down to eight. It was when I dialled back the stress off that I finally felt more relaxed, and that was when I finally felt a little motivation. Funnily enough, reminding myself that this whole songwriting business was a completely new concept for me inspired me to write more and just “see what happens”.
September rolled around and rehearsals went well. We experimented with arrangement ideas and something materialized of these songs. I am truly thankful everyday for the patience of my band, especially Jeff Deegan, my main collaborator on this album. I’ll always remember us cramming into my tiny place and me just getting thrill from playing with those guys.
Then, the self-doubt kicked in the night before we went into the studio. As a musician, it is extremely daunting just to put yourself out there. We have to do it if we want to get anywhere, but it is still scary. I was panicking on so many levels that night. Thoughts ran through my head such as, “What if I am wasting everybody’s time? What if the songs suck? What if I listen back to songs while we’re recording and my voice sounds utterly terrible?” However, when I reflected later that night and remembered the reason why I booked the studio. the pressure came off again and I was able to relax and go into the studio the next day with a clear and focused mind.
We got into the studio, and sure enough, it was the life-changing. To feel in control of your work like that is so thrilling. Sure, I have no doubt that my writing is not ground-breaking. But one thing I can say was that I was so proud my band as a unit. We sounded tight and the songs sounded exactly as I had envisioned them while I was in the writing stages. My music came to life in about 20 hours spanned over a weekend. Needless to say, if I could spend the rest of my life at Canterbury Music Company.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that when you commit to a creative project, it is important to remember why you set out to do the project in the first place. For me, this project’s was to try something new and to keep myself busy in my first year off at school. What materialized was more than I could imagine, which was an EP turning into an album. I don’t know if that would have been possible if I had not lowered the stress and relaxed about it all. It was an experiment, after all. I guess it is also important to remember that you don’t have take yourself too seriously all the time and that it is important to step back once in a while and take a breather. One major thing I can say though is that unless you are a prodigy who’s speciality is to write in odd meters and write symphonic material, you should write something that is in your comfort level. Write what comes to your mind. Do not write something just for the sake of writing it.
Finally, as I said in my previous post, you will never know unless you try. If you have the urge to push yourself towards a goal, just do it. More importantly, and people may not agree with me on this, but life is never not busy nor is it never stressful. There will never be a perfect time to commit to recording an album. Obviously life can get in the way and, depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to stop preparations for as long as it takes to deal with whatever you are dealing with. I learnt that over the summer while writing and almost gave up after life came and slapped me in the face more than I would have liked. Life will throw you curveballs, but it is extremely important to handle those curveballs with grace and take them in stride. As I will discuss in my next post, the album process gets harder as it progresses, but it is important to not give up on it. Trust me, from me to whoever may read this, it is so worth finishing what you start.
Anyways, I’m going to bed now. More on this in two weeks time.