An Album From Start To Finish: Part 1
Sharing yourself publicly is terrifying. It doesn’t feel safe and it never has (for me). As a young lad, I developed an obsession with music in part from a need to feel safe. To feel like there was a place I could express myself without judgement or social pressure. It wasn’t caution or timidity, but necessity. It was a voice saying express yourself or something very important inside you will die.
And it feels like we’ve arrived at a time where listeners are just as, if not more interested in how art is made as the ‘finished’ art itself. The popularity of YouTube how-to tutorials, all the great chef documentary shows, etc. It's encouraged me to try and come out of my shell a bit more. It still goes against my instincts, but onward and upward as they say.
There are plenty of forums for game developers and film makers to post progress of their project. Devlogs, dev journals etc. I looked hard for a musical equivalent, have yet to find one that specifically serves this purpose. I’ve found good work reaching out to game developers and filmmakers because of their willingness to share their progress publicly. So I’m taking a page out of their book and trying it here.
By sharing all this, I'm hoping two things will happen:
- You'll learn something valuable about yourself and your process (regardless of your discipline) watching me complete (and fumble through) an EP from start to finish
- I'll learn more about myself through my transparency with you
One thing I’ve learned about songwriting that has always held true: the more solid your initial idea is, the more precision you have in executing it. Having a beacon makes creative choices easier. Rather than testing many random ideas, you can ignore possibilities that aren’t right for your creative goals. These limitations can be liberating because you are the one building the structure! You define the rules. Sometimes a director or game developer builds the structure for you. But you still get to define the rules of the space you occupy in that structure.
As an example, a few years ago I worked on an amazing game called Prune. A game about the beauty and joy of cultivation. The story determined every creative choice I made. The beginning of the game is optimistic. It involves a tree growing (mostly) unimpeded.
Every instrument I used had to please one of two rules:
- Made from wood
- Sound produced via air pressure (organs, flutes, pads I designed from wind sounds).
I used a piano which felt like cheating at the time so I ran it though a wooden chamber reverb to feel better about myself.
The next level introduced an opposing red dot, mechanical and ominous.
Rules I made:
- The ominous instruments needed to sound metallic
- The wooden instruments needed to feel stronger, resilience in the face of adversity sort-of-thing. Hence the subtle introduction of the Cello which became the main instrument of the entire soundtrack.
I made up these rules for every part of the game. And then I did my best to adhere to the rules. That’s what I’ll be doing with this new EP. Establishing rules and then attempting to follow them.
My Creative Goals For This Album:
- To not rely on synthesis to ‘fill the space’. Which means I have to get better at traditional orchestration and rely less on my sound design.
- I’m straying out of my comfort zone with this, both musically and socially. I want the music to reflect that. Adventurous but not carefree.
What I’ll be sharing:
- Part of my creative process, good/bad ideas.
- Boring Business Strategy Stuff (album release, licensing, press, etc..). All the stuff I don’t enjoy but am forced to do because capitalism
- Designing the artwork
Anyway, stick around. This’ll be a learning experience for us both : )