Mystery Project Revealed
Read this on galpod.com.
I think it's about time I wrote about my side project. I've been dangling it for a few months now, and I apologise for that. I'm super excited about it, but I didn't feel like I was ready to write about it. I still don't, but I realised that this is precisely the point of this blog, so, yeah.
I'm working on an album. A music album. I have a contract which says I'm "The Artist" (complete with capitals). My incredible partner went and got me a producer for my 40th birthday. A music producer. So, technically, my partner is the executive producer, which I find hilarious.
Anyways. I thought I'd write a bit about the process, seeing as it's my first album and all.
It started with a meeting at a coffee shop. Like all things, really. I met with the producer, and we talked about how this is going to work. Then I put together a playlist of "reference" music. Those are songs that I love and that have (or still do) influenced me. Then I put together a shortlist of songs I wanted to work on for this project. That list contained 16 songs, of which, so far, we scrapped only two. We went for covers because I don't write songs nor do I know anyone well enough to write for me, and also that would have taken ages.
Next came rehearsals. I met with the producer and worked with him on getting the songs I picked to sound right. We made some changes to the key, changes to the rhythm, and slight changes of structure (which verses, adding a chorus, that sort of things) whenever needed. All the while we're talking about "feel" and "concept" and "vibe" and stuff that scientist-me is screaming in the back of my head about. But I told her to be quiet and enjoy the ride. I can't say she's been entirely successful, but she's working on it.
And, last week, we started recording. We did one day in the studio recording "scratch vocals", which is supposedly the skeleton of the song. The musicians (!) that would work with us would record based on this scratch recording, and then, later on, there's a different session (three sessions, actually) to record the final vocal track. Recording in a studio is in equal parts spectacular and torturous. On the one hand, it is, hands down, the coolest thing I've ever done (anyone said Impostor Syndrome? No? Just me? OK then). Yeah, I know, I haven't done many cool things. Recording a music album tops the list. On the other hand, hearing myself sing is almost unbearable as I hate my singing and my voice so much I can't even hear the music. It's torture. I'm told no artist feels like they're fantastic at what they're doing, so I'm just pushing through that at the moment.
If you haven't known me long, you may think this thing came out of left field. It did, and it didn't. When I was (much) younger I used to take voice lessons, and I even auditioned for a couple of things, with no success. These rejections, combined with my parents/grandma's comments about how being an artist is "not a real job" meant that, as soon as life got busy (degree, a real job, family), my voice lessons were the first thing that fell by the wayside. I didn't have time for it. It was "just a hobby" because it wasn't going to be a profession. And it's fine. Really. I don't think my anxiety levels are a good fit for the unpredictability of being a performing artist. It would have been the wrong career choice for me.
All those years, though, I kept singing. On the way back from our lunch break, the producer said, "you're singing on your break!" My answer was: "I'm always singing. All the time. Sometimes I sing out loud, but the singing is constant." And it is. I'm always singing (right now it's Dido's "Life for Rent"). I sang lullabies to my kids, and I sing to my daughter when I do her hair. I sing while I do dishes or laundry or just while walking down the street. Mostly in my head when I'm out and about so that I don't build a reputation.
As part of the album work, I had a few voice lessons. I went all the way to Bethnal Green, and I was quite sceptic about it. But it was like finding an old pair of slippers that are worn in all the right places. I didn't realise how much I missed the voice lessons until that moment. I still go to the voice lessons, even though technically it's out of the album's budget at this point. I enjoy the voice lessons so much I don't even mind going to Bethnal Green.
Anyways, that's the project I'm working on right now. Later this week we have a recording day with a guitarist, which should be fun. I'll update, promise.
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