Today, i begin blogging for FM Collective. I will soon also vlog, but i need to get my video act straightened out first, so stay tuned. I'm super stoked about my first series of blog posts. I'm actually going to go back in time three weeks from tomorrow, when Ken Stringfellow and i began our creative odyssey that resulted in an amazing song being recorded, finished and then released on-air on KEXP before our launch show which happened this past Friday. As this seems relatively unusual for this to happen, i thought it was worth memorializing. I will also be posting some photos in the photo gallery when i get that up and running.
The odyssey actually began late last year (approximately 11 months ago) on October 14th when we agreed to write a song together. It took us another few months to get started in earnest although we were riffing via email and Skype on the point of the view of the song and a more precise thematic approach. One of my inspirations was Benjamin Britton's War Requiem which celebrated it's 50th year anniversary in November. I heard about this on an NPR story as i was driving to a tracking session at the "Barn" in Four Corners when i heard the story. This helped clarify a number of thoughts on the song that ended up in the final piece as well as some of the sonically dramatic moments. After a mobile phone recording that I sent to Ken and him doing some basic ProTools tweaking (taking it from an indulgent 7 minutes to a radio friendly 4 minutes) we locked on structure and lyrics. We knew we were going to be in Seattle in late August around Bumbershoot and some Posies show, so picked our first date for tracking.
AUGUST 26, 2014
Day 1 of tracking was scheduled at our house. I picked up Ken from his abode in Seattle and we did the obligatory caffeination en route. I had arranged some equipment from the legendary Steve Smith from Creatio at Northwest University in Kirkland that we picked up on our way to the house. Ken set up the gear and we began tracking piano by mid-afternoon. It took us a number of takes at different speeds to find the pocket and the exact arrangement but we eventually nailed it. Ken was adept at helping me find that pocket and gaining the confidence to "nail" it. Nailing it, of course involved an hour of Ken cleaning up my performances but the end results sounded very nice indeed. We took a break for a family dinner (Ken is an incredibly gracious and likable guest and charmed the family with his wit and insights.....my kids are now huge Ken fans even though his music harkens from a different era than Katy Perry). After dinner, i got a glimpse into the magic when we started adding in a few textural layers. Some guitar noises and acoustic guitar as well as some digital cello gave me a hint of where we were going, and the energy of the song was palpable. After i sent Ken home in an Uber, i had a hard time sleeping, with the piano and the textural noises rattling in my brain. Fortunately the stress of the piano tracking sapped enough energy out of me to let me fade into a slumber.