Just keep going until you get to the top

Just Keep Going Until You Get There

Album Progress Update

After a couple of weeks where I was getting a lot of other things done – like researching what to do if Soundcloud suddenly disappears (and actioning what I found out) – I’ve managed to make another dent in the heap of significant things-that-need-doing to finish a second album.

I recorded vocals for Solitude in Numbers and Niagara this evening and did some more work on the mix for Of Space And Time, one of the tracks from Tune-A-Day-June, as well as sorting out a few glaring problems with the backing track for Solitude in Numbers.  I haven’t reviewed the vocal takes for Niagara yet, so I may have to do that song again, but that won’t hurt – it’s a difficult song to sing, so practising it is a good idea. (Note to self: try to write some songs that you find a bit easier to sing… )

I’m not 100% sure that Of Space & Time will actually fit in with the rest of the album, as it’s steadily becoming more and more of a triphop album, but we’ll see. I might have to hold that one over for the next project, depending how weird the mix of tracks seems once I have enough tracks for some to be considered ‘spares’ towards the end.

As ‘No. 1 Fan’ was disappointed that I didn’t include Solitude in Numbers in the Sleepwalker album, I have sent her a mix to see what she thinks. (And to prove I’m really going to include it this time!)  It was one of the first tracks for the first album, and No. 1 Fan had heard my first mixes. I felt pretty bad about leaving it off when I saw her reaction, but it wasn’t in good enough shape to go on Sleepwalker.

Solitude in Numbers is the song that wouldn’t completely behave itself, no matter what I did to it. I hadn’t learned to mix when I put the first version together, which certainly didn’t help. The mood of the initial mix was upbeat and poppy, and although I’m all for sad songs sneakily hidden inside happy tunes, it wasn’t working, even after a remix. So a few months back, I started to record the song again completely from scratch, slowing it down a bit, and making the arrangement incredibly sparse this time, whereas the original version had been crammed with all sorts of unnecessary sounds which only served to make the track more difficult to pull together. At first, the new version sounded too empty, and needed more momentum, but it is now well on its way with what I hope are the right sounds and effects. This time, without the clutter, you can hear the lyrics better, and feel the message behind them. I think this version does the song a lot more justice than my previous attempts.

I’m sorry, but I am going to have to keep it to myself for a while yet, though, as I want as much of the material on the album as possible to be new to listeners when it is released. (There will be a few of the Tune A Day pieces on the album as well, though, and it’s probably not all that hard to guess which ones I’m thinking of using that I’ve not already mentioned in the blog!)

Putting my Business Hat on (Part 2)

Processed with Rookie

Still not a business hat, but I don’t have a bowler hat… this is probably the nearest I’ve got!

In my previous post, I explained how I’ve been in contact with TrickJazz studios, a company making games, and how I had put together a kind of business case for them to use my tune.

Christian Facey, the company’s founder, got back to me at the end of last week to confirm that he wants to go ahead with using my tune Sunset Landscape in one of their new games that they are putting together, called Dreamwalker. (Funny coincidence, that, with it being one of the tracks on my Sleepwalker album!)

The track is scheduled to be on the game’s menu page, which will mean that it is heard many times, so it’s a great opportunity for me. The difference with the series of games that TrickJazz wants to develop is that they plan to include information within the games about which artist’s work you can hear. The games will launch subject to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

I should also mention that at the same time this has been going on, I have been working on some backing vocals for a track by Manipulant, an electronic artist in Pennsylvania, USA.  The track is called Run, and will be on his upcoming album. He’s got another track on the album which features Dr Fiorella Terenzi, who sounds like she is the US/Italian equivalent of the UK’s Dr Brian Cox from her Wikipedia entry. Run is already nearly complete, with just a few adjustments to go with the mix, which Manipulant is doing himself.

If you would like to check out some of Manipulant’s music ahead of the album launch, he already has an album, “Méthode de Narration”, on Bandcamp.

 

Graftwerk

I haven’t said much about how work on the album is going, so here’s a bit more about it.

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I’ve been working on the tracks for my debut album for a long time already; some of them have been floating around for a couple of years in one form or another. Originally, I thought I’d be final-mixing through the summer after college finished, but I really needed some time out, so finishing the album fell down the priority list for a while.

Then I had a conversation with a friend, Matt Steady, who has recently left his job to pursue a career in musicianship. “You need a project,” said Matt. “I’ve already got one, but I need to finish it,” was my reply. Matt offered to listen to my tracks and give his opinion. Around the same time, I was asked if I would play a gig in the not too distant future in another city. It turned out that these two things were the carrot and stick that I needed to get going again with the album.

Just over a week ago, after some further tweaking, I sent Matt a set of ten tracks, inviting him to be as brutal as he liked. He gave very positive, constructive feedback, and didn’t tell me to drop any of the tracks from this release. (I’d feared he might).

It’s been all systems go since then. As well as organising business cards to hand out at the gig and continuing to code graphics that can be projected onto a wall during the performance, I’ve been working on refining the mixes, working out the track order, choosing the title (Sleepwalker), designing cover art for the online store and trying to figure out what I’ve missed. There’s a growing to do list.

The most challenging part has been that the whole mixing process relies on your ears being ‘fresh’ and therefore you can’t rush it. At some point during a work session, your ears start to get tired and then start playing tricks on you. Things that you thought were loud enough sound too quiet. Your sense of the overall volume of the piece gets disorientated. This adds extra pressure when you’re working to a fairly tight deadline.

Nonetheless, the aim is to get everything mastered and uploaded this coming week – the sooner the better – with a view to releasing the album before the end of November. More hard graft, but it will be worth it. And next time around, the process will be easier. There will be a next time.