Yesterday I did something I rarely do… I confessed to feeling stressed on Facebook. It was only when I got comments asking why, because my life looks great, that I realized that I keep the irritating times in my life to myself. At least in terms of social networking.
I have had an amazing 3 or 4 years, both musically and personally and I feel very blessed. I have a wonderful family, friends and career for which I am very grateful.
But this doesn’t mean that life doesn’t infuriate me sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t go a little crazy sometimes… I am an ‘artist’ after all 🙂 And now that my official job is a songwriter, there is a pressure to write really good songs. I know that the pressure comes from me, but with this new album I feel like I have stepped into a different league. One where people are writing hit songs all the time and getting ‘cuts’.
In the past I have just written for me and hoped that others would like it. Now I am writing for a publisher. Don’t get me wrong… I have a great publisher, but they are betting on me to come up with the goods and I want to make them proud but I have been feeling like I should be writing and sounding like other, more successful artists.
So last night when I put on Facebook “Stressssed” someone mentioned that it was just ‘desserts’ backwards. After drooling at the thought, something relaxed in me and a very loud thought came into my head.
It is better to be the best version of me than a poor imitation of someone else.
With that in mind, I took a day off writing and tomorrow I am going to do what I do best and write like me.
Another hot, sunny day here in LA and a little shopping had to be done before our last session. The Grove is a wonderful place to browse and I picked up a few things while managing to resist the Uggs.
Today it was just Bleu and I at his place, going over the 4 songs and checking and tweaking stuff before doing rough mixes to listen to while we take a break until April. We had a quick noodle break and a visit to Joe’s for a Manhattan with the best cherries EVER.
As much as I am looking forward to going home to see my family, I will be sad to leave. There is something wonderful about doing nothing but concentrating on music all day and the experience has been way more laid back than I had imagined.
It was a whopping 82 degees today and cake-pops were the first order of the day again. It could become a ‘thing’. Today we started work on another song and after Bleu added some magic somethings, Joe did his percussion wizardery. Although he has a strange way of playing the piano 😉
There was talk of a man-boob track… which is exactly as you would imagine it to be…. hmmmm.
We had a lot of discussion about the genre of this new album today. My other music has been considered to be the in the general folky arena, albeit on the alternative/indie/pop side of folk. I felt like Dorothy today and realized we’re not in Kansas anymore. Joe delicately put it this way…
“We’re knocking the ‘folk’ out of you”
While at my interview at Indie 100 radio station this afternoon I tried to sum up the sound and the closest I could come up with was ‘Grungy, electronic with an organic, acoustic basis with a touch of Imogen Heap sound’. Talking of Indie 100, I had a fantastic time there and played a bunch of songs, including a brand new one from this album. They told me that I was the 3rd musician to send them music when they started up in 2008 and treated me like royalty! I think you can hear the show on Tuesday. Check their website for details.
Back to the studio and Joe hit a few more things, Bleu put down some bass and I added some vocals. Then we had 15 mins of hilarity while we stomped and clapped… there is video but it’s not suitable for children.
During today’s session I kept hearing exclamations of ‘This is so frikkin’ cool’ from the guys… and this make me happy. 🙂
We started a little later today and stopped for essential cake pops from Starbucks. If you haven’t tried them, then you must. A little piece of heaven on a stick.
And then it was back to work with the boys. What I didn’t realize was that we are the first people to record in this new studio. It’s so new it doesn’t have a name yet. Owned my Taylor Locke (the guy who provided the whiskey yesterday) from The Roughs and Rooney, it’s a perfect studio for me in it’s dark red antique-y look. I feel right at home. Thanks Taylor! 🙂
Now that I have heard the new songs over and over they sound amazing to me. I keep saying that they are so different to my own production… well… because they are. And I guess it makes me a little nervous when we put them out there that some people won’t like the change. I personally love change so am embracing the new sound and hope others will too.
Keatly (pigFactory) came in today to have a listen and he is stoked which makes me very happy. We discussed what other songs that should go on the album and that decision seems to change on a daily basis. We’ll figure it out eventually.
We ended the day adding cello which was amazing. Cello makes everything sound right! Although Bleu wrote a pretty demanding part which made me marvel at the cellists’s skills.
After that… dinner at at Upper West, my last chance to hang out with Bleu and Joe outside the studio before I go home on Friday. I am having so much fun spending time with them… can I take them home with me?
After a debriefing and delicious breakfast with Keatly from my publishers, pigFactory, Bleu picked me up and we went over to the studio and we “f***ing did some f***ing s***”. This is a technical term for laying down some percussion tracks. And Joe Seiders did a sterling job!
There were weird tambourines, a strange cone with a spring on the end and some home-made shakers which, by the way, I am SO going to be making when I get home. My favourite was the Ramen shaker. I guess I will have to drink some beer to have the cans available to be used 🙂
So far I am really loving how the songs are sounding. So different to any production I could ever do. The first songs we did Bleu had already done work on so it took a while to get used to the new sound.
The main song we worked on today is the first that we built from the bottom. It is so interesting to see how he adds elements from seemingly simple parts and turn them into something very cool.
Now, not only do we have the pleasure of recording at Taylor Locke’s beautiful studio, but Taylor walked in at 7pm with a bottle of whiskey and 4 glasses… and you can’t say no can you?
Today we really dug into 2 of the tracks and it is so interesting to watch a producer work and marvel at the minute discrepancies that they hear. Not being a perfectionist myself, I let a lot of things slide in my own recordings. Not Bleu. Every beat, pitch, glitch is gone over with a fine tooth comb.
I am also enjoying the luxury of just sitting back, listening and suggesting things I like, which lead to me putting down a flute part today. Nice to know all those years of practicing scales came in useful.
We also put down some banjolele (my new fave instrument) and extra vocals. Spending the day with boys is certainly educational. I thought I had heard it all in the comedy dressing rooms, but it seems not 😉
So after some fantastic pizza and a glass of wine, and an email from my publisher telling me that he loves what we have so far, it’s sleep time for me. See ya tomorrow 🙂
Today we started at Bleu’s studio and listened to 3 tracks that he had done some work on. It’s funny listening to tracks that you know so well and then hear them with a completely different treatment. It takes a little time to get used to the new sound. But when I did I really liked them. Very different to my production, but that is the point, isn’t it.
So then we went over to another studio to record the new drums/perc with Joe Seiders who, I have to say, is the most easy going drummer I have ever met. Every request Bleu had was returned with an ‘Okay’ and off he went. I even got to play the cymbal!
It was a lot of fun. It was all very laid back and included mexican food and a lot of swearing. And then Indian food and alcohol.
While packing for LA I was thinking about this new album… and figuring out how to pack for sunshine after months of rain and snow…
Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here, about to head to LA to record with a great producer and other very talented musicians.
I spent years as a comedian travelling on my own, performing on my own and creating on my own. Then I spent some more years as a songwriter, doing it all on my own again. And I always liked it that way. My successes and failures were all my own. I had no one to answer to. But it could get lonely.
I can’t tell you how great it feels to have a publisher that truly believes in what I do. I was talking to another musician the other day and I told him to hold out for a manager/booking agent that *really* wants to represent him because it make for a great working relationship. And now I will be working with a respected producer, Bleu, who also believes in my work. I can’t wait to get fresh, talented ears on my music and see what direction it takes. It’s very exciting.
People keep asking me what is going to happen with this new direction/album and I say, like all previous ventures in my life, I am going to go in with an open mind, consider all opportunities and see where it takes me. When I decided to try and write for TV etc I had no idea that in 3 years I would be here… so I have no idea where I will be in another 3 and I think I like it that way.