You have heard a little of this before on this blog, and maybe this is simply more self-justification, but I must say I believe in do-overs. Maybe I mean start overs, maybe I mean start a new, maybe I mean just starting late.
I have an aunt who I respect greatly. I would say that she has not had the easiest pathway, and at one point needed to do over, in her 40’s. So she did. Got a law degree, became a lawyer, and is now, and will retire a judge. Nice do over!
When I was 16 I wanted a studio. I wanted to record my own music, I wanted to be that guy. Well it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I finally got one, and I feel like every song I produce I am getting better and closer to doing something of the quality I dreamed of all those years ago.
One thing I will tell you, is that you need support. In life you need encouragement, and it is important to surround yourself with the delusionally supportive (my children really think I am famous!), the unconditionally supportive (my beautiful wife speaks the truth in love) and the constructively supportive (I have a few voices that have generously critiqued my progress these past few years, and they are helping me get better). I would suggest none of the purely critical, it is hard enough sticking to things when you receive good feedback, negativity is just hard.
I can’t encourage you enough. If you have found it and are doing it, good for you. You are blessed, keep doing it and get better!! For the rest of us, start now. Do over from scratch. Find a way to do your passion. I am not talking about being reckless and quitting a job. I am talking about being passionate and chasing a dream.
Yes it is a roller coaster and perspective is everything. Find ways to keep perspective. Last night I was up far too late, tired and bleary eyed, producing the next song, and it was great. The process was great, I kind of felt like that guy, even if just for a while.
I am looking forward to an interview this Saturday night at around 6pm EST on JOY1250 to talk about my new single “I Will Bless The Lord”. I am being interviewed by James Kurtis of New Canadian Countdown fame. Listen to it locally or use the link to listen to it online if you are from out of town.
So I am speaking at the Nova conference this Friday. The topic I am dealing with is how to take a church from traditional to contemporary music without blowing it up. It is a challenging topic not simply because of style issues and preferences, but because there is so much organizational baggage we are carrying today as the church. We have been so homogeneous in our tactical approach to relevancy that it has stifled the artists in our midst from participating and taking us somewhere culturally. It should be an interesting and hopefully somewhat interactive talk.
Again with the break in blogging. Sorry. With all that is going on I have been growing in my appreciation of the single parent. Currently I am doing it all. Working full-time and parenting full-time.
One of things I have noticed that helps is if I don’t stop moving. That ironically helped last week when on a couple nights I built my “vocal booth”, see the photo below.
I have been reading for months about how a small basement studio guy like me can create a proper space for recording vocals. It is amazing how many big bands have done the rehearsal space recording sessions turned full blown CD projects with a similar vocal space. I actually tested it last week to some fine results. I have more to do, but it was a great start.
It is an interesting landscape in Canada, or should I say lack of landscape. I have to admit as a musician in Canada I am always surprised at the lack of opportunities to play. Having been a music Pastor etc. I understand many of the challenges of hosting concerts etc, but I am happy that I was able to host several artists successfully when I was there.
So what is the landscape?
Well there are a handful of artists, who have good Canadian profile, and I think in some way or another deserves it. This list in no exhaustive, but the usual subjects can be seen.
There are a few other bigger names, Brian Doerksen is in the HUGE category and doesn’t really fit in this list. TFK might be considered huge as well.
How about record companies? Really I only know of maybe two and I am not sure that any of them are full service (recording, publishing, marketing etc.)
and Steve Bell’s Signpost Community (link above)
I have always thought that the arts are one of the best ways to share ideas and influence culture. I am more thinking of music, but I do agree that all the art forms carry weight in that discussion. It would be great to see more communities develop like the signpost one where artists of similar genre and goals could connect to a larger group of people who identify with their work, support them, and also use it as a tool to plant seeds of thought.
It has been a long time since my first post on this subject, and a lot of songwriting and “art” creation has taken place since then. One big difference for me since that time is I have actually had the chance to visit several churches and experience some very different worship environments. It has, in fact, confirmed in me the theory that we are missing a part of the mark when it comes to creating music that reflects all of the humanity that we might, maybe should, be bringing to God in worship.
For example, there is a general lack of lament, repentance, meditative or self examinational lyric present in worship services. The actually mood of the music generally never leaves “positive” land. It IS worshipful, but it one dimensional. I think the problem here is that as we try to reach for authenticity as churches (it is a buzzword used a lot anyway) that we are not representing all that most everyone experiences with consistency. There is a need to worship the way we do, with positive, upbeat lyric, but there is also a need to mourn over the state of the world, our personal worlds and the bad stuff that is going on. Even if we are just talking about our own shortcomings as it were. I DO NOT know how to implement this. I feel that it needs to be done. Not all the time, but in balance.
More of a musing than a conclusive thought I know, but just some observations.
The last two weeks have been pretty good as I try and balance this crazy life right now. I finally spent a good part of a weekend mixing and finished the rough mixes of the drums. That is to say I still have some “micro” editing to do, but it is a beat or bar here and there, not whole songs.
So with twelve songs feeling pretty good, it is time to start recording the piano which should begin in the next few weeks and hopefully not take too long…heard that before haven’t we.
I am going to be recording on a baby Yamaha grand that my in-laws have which is sweet. I love playing it, and it sounds great. The acoustics of the room should be good as well, and the set-up of their house might actually allow me to do some interesting things if I can get my hands on enough mics.
So I am online again as I previously mentioned and I finally got a significant editing session in this evening. This one track is giving me grief and will test my limited editing chops but I already see the time is worth it. As I listen to some of the rough mixes there are only a few touch ups throughout the other 11 songs that are needed. Unfortunately this one song is a complete re-working of the drums and I think I am just slow because this isn’t my full-time job. I learned a couple of shortcuts on th mac tonight that made life so much easier. I got a lot done, so I hope to finish the drums on this song by the end of the week, leaving only those few edits on the rest left.
I have made contact with the bass player, so I will be lining up that tracking in the coming weeks, and then of course are the real piano, all of the final vocals and BGs, mix down, mastering and then production. On top of that is the design and artwork.
The hard part, as with anybody like me, is that you rarely get into a groove because it is all so piecemeal. Hopefully I can have a good run at it this fall. I love the stuff that is in this CD and I can’t wait to get it done and release it. On the other hand, you want to do it right, so I am trying to make sure there that balance. That is, after all, why I set my own studio up, so I could get it done with flexibility, accessibility and control over all elements of the project. It is definitely fun to be making progress again.
So driving back to the office in my car after two great meetings over coffee and lunch yesterday I get a call on the cell. “Cliff, do you remember me?” Of course I say, knowing what comes next. “I don’t suppose you are free for a vocal BG session in the studio in 3 hours?”
Well of course I wasn’t, I have a day job, but I was free for the second ask, an evening call which I did last night. An unexpected and nice creative break from everything I have going on right now. My wife, due NOW, was fully supportive, as long as they were prepared for the call to the hospital!! An exciting night of working fast….just in case, and because I like working fast in the studio.
It was also fun to see a couple of old friends and catch up a little.