I’ve been recording my own music since I was about fourteen. I didn’t record any music I thought was actually good until roughly 3 years ago. So that’s, what, a decade of producing shit for zero reward, financial, artistic, or otherwise? Was it worth it? Who’s to say? There are worse ways to spend ten years. What I can say is that, vocationally, it feels like the only thing I really want to do, and it might be the only thing I’m good at. That last part is especially terrifying because I’m not that sure I’m actually good at it.
Why say this now, and on the internet of all places? Well, I’m starting the process of making a new album again - this will be the third time. The first record, Mood Swing (2014), is essentially unlistenable for me now but I love it for what it is. The second one, Vowel Sounds (2016), came out last December, and is the first thing I’ve released that I can unequivocally say I’m proud of, though it has its warts. The growth and death of my affection for a particular set of songs is part of my process - I’m grateful to have finally figured that out. I’ve quit taking it out on the songs themselves!
The third record has a name. It’ll be called “A New Awareness of the Lumbar Spine.” Most of the songs are already written, though I’m sure some new ones will show up as I start recording. This time around, I’m going to do something I didn’t do with the other records - document the process. As I write this, a voice in my head is already making fun of me. Who gives two shits about your process? The honest answer is me and a few others? I think? I hope? And in the interest of full transparency, part of this project is an attempt to, at long last, figure out a social media strategy. I’ve reached a point in my career where it’s time to put together a solid proof of concept, the concept being of course that people enjoy listening to what I make. That involves day trading in attention and in 2017 the attention is on social media. I need to quit writing this particular task off as an unfortunate reality of being a musician today, embrace it instead, and try to apply some creativity to it. You'll get to watch me struggle with that.
To anyone even remotely familiar with the business of marketing their own art, the general atmosphere of self-doubt is palpable here. How the heck are you supposed to defend the market value of something that is ideally a small piece of your soul without, you know, dying inside? We’ll attempt to figure that out. We’ll attempt to figure it all out in the coming months, because I think I finally understand that all I will ever do is attempt to figure it all out.
So I’m going to start almost at the beginning. All I have are lyrics and recordings of mumbles on my phone. That’s how I begin songs: I mumble different parts into my phone. The lyrics will often start coming at the same time. First a melody, then maybe a bass line, then some words. I will often whisper instructions to my future self ie. “something up high that goes like this: doo doo doo, doo DOO.” I whisper because this is usually taking place in an airport or a Waffle House or something and I don't want to upset people. We’re also in a new house, so I’m going to document the construction of what will eventually be my fifth home studio. We’re going to go through the creation of the demos. We’ll rip the demos apart, we’ll put them back together. We’ll find out that half the songs are garbage then we’ll learn that they actually weren’t garbage. We’ll work on an arrangement for weeks only to learn that the original iPhone memo is better. We’ll wrack our brains trying to figure out why that's almost always the case. Album artwork! Crippling self doubt. Why doesn't the snare sound good? We’ll have a grand old time.