In the midst of summer as the sun finally found its home in the sky, the clouds broke, the heavens opened and the life I knew came tumbling down.
Those who know me know that that year was incredibly demanding, physically, mentally and emotionally. I spent the year touring the country, collaborating with other artists, playing festivals, busking, hauling around equipment, and carrying the weight of the world. Not to mention starting the recording of my second EP Reflections. And that's why you're here reading this so I won't bore you with the rest, let me continue...
Sometime now over a year ago Adrian Banks, a friend, fellow musician and collaborator, offered to try out his producing skills and record my second EP. If you don't know Adrian or his band ZURICH then I recommend you go ahead and check them out. Adrian is an incredibly talented musician, he is one of those people who can pick up any instrument and create something magical, a totally inspiring and true artist. I was over the moon that he wanted to work together on Reflections and help me develop and achieve the sound I wanted.
Step 1: Recording demo versions of the five songs for the EP
And so it began. We started by recording demo versions of the tracks I had written and wanted to include on the EP; I was blown away at how incredible Adrian's production skills were and how he created such a large sound from just little old me and my guitar. I couldn't quite believe that these were just demos, they had already surpassed my expectation, and that is not to say my expectation was low, it was that the quality was very high!
Step 2: Finding the right sound
So once we had the basics down, we set about creating the sort of sound we wanted to achieve from the EP. We talked about different artists of influence and listened to different types of songs to get inspiration and ideas from. I always find it hard to put into words what I mean when it comes to music and sound, but Adrian was very patient and seemed to understand what I was talking about, even when I wasn't quite convinced myself...
Step 3: Experimentation
So we decided to get a little bit creative! What better way to create an interesting soundscape than with everyday household objects! If you listen carefully you can hear the sounds of clanking bottle on tracks such as My Buoy and Losing my mind. For me, in My Buoy, the sounds of the bottles reminded me of chimes on a windy ship and seemed so fitting. I loved the originality and organic nature of the sounds.
Step 4: Invite friends
Once my musical parts were down, we enlisted the help of others. The wonderful Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention lent his beautiful fiddle and viola playing to a couple of tracks, it was a real pleasure and honour to have Chris play, not only is Chris wonderfully kind and warm hearted, he is incredibly skilled and adds something that your everyday player could not: style and a genuine feel for the music. We also involved the brilliant Chris Gillett on guitar, Joseph Cummings on violin, and the awesome Freddie Whitmore on trumpet. It was a real pleasure to get these wonderful people involved and I am incredibly grateful for their time, help, and talent.
Step 5: Mull things over
So having recorded demos and other parts for the tracks, such as Chris Leslies violin part on My buoy and Freddie Whitmore's Trumpet playing on Drown Me Out we set about making all the tracks unified and I began working on the artwork, a beautiful mixed media piece created by Rachel Ann Cronin (a local artist), editing and adapting it for the EP physical casing.
Step 6: Upgrade
In the time since we first started the recording progress Adrian has updated his studio, skills, and client base hugely. With new software, more experience and progress under his belt, Adrian was keen to enhance the tracks even more. Now I could sit here and pretend I know the ins and outs of the different music software and music-y things, peaking, side chain compression, CPR levels and so forth, but I don't and I'm not sure it's really relevant, but in short, things sound better, quicker.
Step 7: Final recordings
So as luck would have it, on the two occasions we had planned to record the final vocals on the last couple of tracks, my voice betrayed me! I fell ill with the flu and adopted an omnipresent cold... but I can't really complain having not been ill in over a year and a half! But with deadlines looming, shots of cider vinegar and satsumas galore, I was pushing for total recovery and to finally finish this record. So with the date set, the countdown was on to organise the physical release and distribution as well as the digital release and online campaign, not to mention sorting out and EP release gig and tour. So I really had my work cut out, but I like to keep busy...
Step 8: Release time
So we are finally here, in 2019 with a new EP out. It is a true reflection of my life the last couple of years. I've gone through some bad times, but I have also had the most incredible time recording this EP. The recording began at a really hard time in my life, I had been stewing in feelings and drowning in songs and getting the chance to record and release these songs was a truly cathartic, incredibly scary, sad, wonderful and mental process. Things were bad, things got better, things got much worse, then I came out the other side. I struggled last year with performing and with my music, but Adrian was by my side, helping me overcome my fears and supported me both on and offstage. Music is a magical thing which can bring people together, and in this instance, it offered love, healing and reflection.
Although this record may have an air of sadness and melancholy to it, it is also laced with determination, realisation, understanding and the ability to overcome.
So I hope you have a little more insight into the record and recording process, and I hope you enjoy listening to these songs. I know it's been a long time coming so I thank you for your continued support.
Thanks for sticking with me x