The album was completed and released on 6 January 2018. You can listen to and download the tracks, view the preview video and view the album artwork on the Surrender page.
Fri 22 Dec 2017: I don't have much time for music today so I decide to work on Cradle Me. It's the song where the demo feels almost perfect as it is. I even decide to retain the demo vocal. I just re-edit it to tidy things up and clean some noise. By the end of the day I have a good mix that just needs a couple more tweaks.
Sat 23 Dec 2017: As the album nears completion I'm thinking more about title and artwork. I've been sitting with one particular title for most of the time but now I'm questioning whether it's right. I play with some more ideas in the morning. Of course, "SIX" was never going to be the real title either. It's just a label I've given the project of making the album. I make some edits to Cradle Me. Listening to it yesterday I noticed some minor pops and noise in the vocal, mainly due to having them so present in the mix. I go through the vocal finely to trim them out. I also listened again to Call Off the Search and I'm not happy with the beats or the overall mix. I'm going to need to make some improvements so I have a go in the evening. I try stripping the existing beats back a bit but it doesn't work so I try building them new from scratch. The new version is much slower, more ballad and traditional. I get it sounding OK in the chorus but the verse is awful. Way too slow and the timing just sounds off. I think I may have headed in the wrong direction. I give up for the night. Maybe it's my ears. I'll listen in the morning, but I may have to start from scratch again and head in a different direction - less conventional.
Sun 24 Dec 2017: I listen to my work on Call Off the Search from last night. It's still as bad as it sounded then. So I listen to the previous version after I'd made some tweaks. It's better than I remember. I think I should stick with improving that version. Lucky I keep every version and nearly edit I make! I spend a few hours working on the hats which get the rhythm working better.
Mon 25 Dec 2017: I manage to find an hour to focus on finding a better snare/tom combination for Call Off the Search.
Tue 26 Dec 2017: I spend most of the day rebuilding the beats for Call Off the Search. It's a long and tedious process. It I get there in the end. The results have transformed the songs and fixed the problems I had felt were there.
Wed 27 Dec 2017: First up I record the final vocals for the final two tracks: Victim Statement and Wavelength. There might be one or two additional things I need to record, but that's most of the vocals done now. I spend the rest of the day editing the vocals for Victim Statement and finishing the track. I have a final version by the evening. That's track number 8 - only one to go!
Thu 28 Dec 2017: I didn't sleep that well so I'm up earlier than I should and get working on the final track Wavelength. I spend the morning grading, editing and correcting the vocals. In the afternoon I work on the music and beats. It's hard work and takes many iterations but by the end of the afternoon I have a mix and the 9th track is done.
Fri 29 Dec 2017: I listen to Wavelength again and do some edits. The arpeggiator bass is getting out of sync so I use Melodyne to get the rhythm and replace it with a sequence. All 9 tracks are recorded now. I have a list of small edits for all tracks to complete before the final mixing/mastering stage. In the late afternoon I add some lead lines to the ends of Wavelength and Victim Statement. Tomorrow I plan to make the final edits to all tracks to produce the first draft of the final album. I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge to celebrate.
Sat 30 Dec 2017: I spend most of the day working through all the tracks applying the remaining edits. I listen to the complete album all the way through and identify a few more minor edits.
Sun 31 Dec 2017: I make the few more edits. The main ones are for Killing Light which is very dull compared to the other mixes. I need to pull things apart to improve the mix. I start work on the album art. I briefly play with a new concept before returning to my most recent idea. I produce a draft of the front and back cover. In the evening I listen to the album from start to finish again - and identify yet a few more fixes! It's OK though, I know from past experience that finishing the mixes is a drawn out process.
Sat 16 Dec 2017: It's been another long week and I haven't really had the energy to work on music. Today the weather is mild but it's going to heat up, so I decide to record more vocals today while I can sit comfortably without the aircon on (to avoid the noise). I record the vocals for Mirrors and Talking to Myself. I'm reasonably happy with the takes but will have to wait until I get to the editing stage to know for sure. That's enough for today.
Sun 17 Dec 2017: I get stuck in early editing the vocals for Mirrors recorded yesterday. Surprisingly, it takes most of the day to grade, trim and correct them. After that I start arranging the instruments properly and the beats. I end up working until 10:00 but I'm on a roll and I'm on holidays, so no work in the morning.
Mon 18 Dec 2017: I listen to my work from yesterday. There's still a lot of fixing to do, but it's sounding good. I make some changes including redoing the toms in the final chorus. They were too simple and on beat but needed to be more syncopated. After finishing Mirrors I work on editing the vocals for Talking to Myself. That takes me most of the rest of the day. In the evening I'm feeling a bit inspired and make some more edits to Mirrors. The results are a great improvement.
Wed 20 Dec 2017: I work on Talking to Myself. It doesn't take long to get the music from the demo working on the final version. Then I rearrange the vocals. There are quite a few parts so I go through a number of iterations. I play with a vocoder part on the chorus hook. It's OK but doesn't have the impact I imagined. After lunch I work on the beats, adding fills and variations. These beats need to be kept fairly simple and I come up with enough to make them more interesting without overcrowding them. At the end of the day I do the final mixes. I'm still not 100% convinced with the lead vocal processing. On one hand I want it to sound processed, but I'm getting some artefacts that I don't like. And the backing vocals lack presence. I might have to revisit when I do the final mixing at the end of the album. Apart from that though, track number 5 is finished.
Thu 21 Dec 2017: Make a few more tweaks to Talking to Myself first thing in the morning. Mainly taking small things out to add variation and avoid over crowding. Then I work on Whisper. I decide to record the vocals first then work on the music. The beats are quite simple so I make sure I don't overwork them. I'm happy with the results but I do wonder what else I could do. As I'm compiling the vocals I realise a couple of harmony lines at the end would work so I quickly record and edit them. By the end of the day I finish the song and I'm delighted with the mix of melancholy and drama in the music. Track number 6, and the album opening track is finished.
Tue 4 Dec 2017: I have just a couple more tweaks to make on Call Off the Search. When I get home I make them and maybe this will be the final version. Then I turn my attention to the next track. Liar is going to be a challenge. It's the one track I've considered dropping but I feel there is something there. I just have to get past the obvious and push myself. I sit at the piano and play with different melodies. I find some possibilities but I really need to work with Reaper to make sure it will translate OK. Trouble is, Windows has decided to do an update. I think it's the major update I've been postponing. Now I don't have a choice and it takes ages. That scuttles my plans for the evening. Oh well, maybe an evening off is not such a bad thing. After the update is finished I pop into the studio to check. I'm still keen to record what I played with so I sit down and record the piano part from scratch live. I'm not good at keeping time, so it's a bit of a struggle but it gives me a glimpse of what the song might be like if I strip it back and play it more or less without programming. I think that might be what this song needs, and it would certainly be pushing my boundaries. I'm excited about playing with it further tomorrow.
Wed 6 Dec 2017: I get the idea to connect my Yamaha piano to my Roland keyboard via MIDI so I can record from it. It turns out being much more responsive than my old MIDI interface. I do it because I want to record more expressive piano for Liar. I do a few takes. There's a lot more emotion in it but there's still something wrong with the melody. As I get ready for bed I have a mental vision of a slight change to some chords. I go up to try them out and it may be what I'm looking for. I record a quick take. At the end of the day I reflect on what I've done so far. I feel very proud of my personal growth in the music for these songs. I feel equally ashamed of the compromises and safe choices I've already made on the two completed tracks. They're good for me, but still fall short of what I hoped I could do. Maybe it really is beyond me?
Fri 8 Dec 2017: I spend a little bit of time recording the piano for Liar again. I need to keep the chords fairly simple. I think I've settled on a melody too. Will try it out on the weekend.
Sat 9 Dec 2017: I record vocals for Liar in the morning. I think recording goes well, but in the editing stage I notice some issues. Luckily they don't show too much when I import them back into Reaper. At the end of the day the vocals are mostly done with just some fixes in the third verse to make tomorrow. The song is still quite stripped back and it's sounding good. It has so much more emotion than the demo version.
Sun 10 Dec 2017: I get stuck into finishing of Liar. I fix the couple of vocal problems from yesterday then add some more instruments. I've decided to go very conventional in this song. It's not like me but I think it's the only way the song would work. Last I embellish the beats and do the fills. They are easier than expected and I'm really proud of the results. Normally I cut quite of bit of the low end from my voice, but on this track it sounds better so I leave it in. One fortunate accident is with the backing vocals in the second chorus; I record the first line of the second round separately but forget to re-pitch some takes for harmonies. The line comes out in unison which is actually a nice touch. By lunch time the song is finished - track number 3. I start transferring the sounds and sequences for the next track, Mirrors. At the end of the day I listen to Liar - lots of times. I'm so excited by the results. Such an improvement on the demo. I know I feel this after completing most tracks and I know the feeling will fade, but it's so wonderful right now.
Tue 28 Nov 2017: I come up with a few more tweaks for Killing Light during the day and can't resist making them when I get home from work. Then I turn my attention to the beats for Call Off the Search. I had programmed the beats from the demo version last night but now it's time to develop them. I'm stuck for a while with no idea where to go, but then things fall into place and I get a better rhythm in the chorus. Finally, just before bed I listen to the latest mix of Killing Light and notice a couple more minor issues. A quick run upstairs to fix them and produce yet another mix before bed!
Wed 29 Nov 2017: I check the mix of Killing Light in the morning and I think this is it! Very pleased.
Thu 30 Nov 2017: On Tuesday I had managed to create a much looser beat for the chorus of Call Off the Search. Trouble is, the original beats in the verse feel stilted now. I think I may need to go back to the drawing board and rebuild the beats more around what I now have for the chorus. I think it will be better.
Fri 1 Dec 2017: I spend a few more hours reconstructing the beats for Call Off the Search.
Sat 2 Dec 2017: I work on the music, finishing off the beats in the morning and then record the proper vocals. Must be a bad day for my voice because some of the phrases are really tough. I persist and end up with enough takes to find something worthwhile.
Sun 3 Dec 2017: I spend the morning editing the vocals from yesterday. I find good takes and fix any minor issues. Happy with the results. In the afternoon I finish the track, add some extra details and create a mix.
Mon 4 Dec 2017: I build up quite a list of tweaks for Call Off the Search during the day and sit down to edit in the evening. Some are straight forward. Others have me going around in circles. The lead vocal is particularly troublesome. It needs to cut through the mix. I'm also trying to get a sustained reverb effect on a couple of key phrases but I don't quite get the sound I have in my head. It will do for now; maybe inspiration will strike later.
Mon 20 Nov 2017: I start work on the album version of Killing Light. I start by copying the MIDI sequences and patches from the demo and tidying them up. It's easier than I expect and I have the demo music to use as a starting point in no time. I turn to the beats. The intention was to use Maschine for designing them but then program them in Battery 4. After a little playing around I realize that's going to be a lot of work so I consider using Maschine throughout. Makes sense and will probably be better. I must do some experimenting tomorrow night to see how best to integrate it into Reaper.
Tue 21 Nov 2017: After a bit of playing and research I work out how to integrate Machine into Reaper. I will use that tool for all my beats.
Wed 22 Nov 2017: I start breaking the beats for Killing Light into sections so I can start expanding and diversifying them.
Thu 23 Nov 2017: I work some more on the beats. Not for long though. It's been a long day.
Fri 24 Nov 2017: A number of the demos have used the arpeggiator on the Komplete Kontrol plug-in. It's great but the sequences sometimes get out of sync and they don't always align properly with the keys of the songs. In the morning I get the idea of rendering the sequences and analysing them using Melodyne. This allows me to work out the notes and rhythm being generated by the arpeggiator. Melodyne also allows me to export the sequences as MIDI that I can load them back into Reaper and do away with the arpeggiator. It allows me to fine tune the sequences and improve them. It's a big improvement.
Sat 25 Nov 2017: I work on the music for Killing Light. I get the beats and the music done. I'm sure there will be tweaking for a while and a few extra additions but this is good for now. The hats bother me a bit though. They're kryptonite to me. Maybe less is more?
Sun 26 Nov 2017: I start by refining the beats a bit more. I was struggling with fills but get inspiration in the morning and they turn out better than expected. Next I try recording the final vocals. I add extra sound panels to the room to improve the acoustics so I can keep the mic near the PC. It makes it easier to record short sequences. Some of the parts are difficult but it only takes about an hour to record the song. I'm having trouble with the audio card though. For some reason, it keeps stopping and I have to keep restarting it. It's a pain but it doesn't stop me. I spend most of the afternoon editing my vocals. I'm getting better at using Melodyne and manage to fix most of the problems, though I must say the vocals were quite clean to start with. I'm even using Melodyne to fix some minor timing. By the evening I have a final mix of the song. That means it's only taken a week to produce the song from start to finish. I'm sure there will be minor tweaking for some time, but that's good and hopefully it means the entire album isn't going to take as long as I had originally thought. It's been a long weekend but I'm really surprised and pleased with the results. 1 track done and I feel optimistic.
Mon 27 Nov 2017: I listen to my work on Killing Light first thing in the morning. I identify a few minor tweaks but still so pleased. If I can develop the other demos as much as this track I'll be really happy. I listen to the track a few more times during the day and build up a list of minor tweaks that I make when I get home from work. I should leave it there until mastering.
Mon 13 Nov 2017: I make new mixes of the demos of the songs that will fade out to give me a better sense of how the songs will all fit together. I've been listening to them to try and arrange them. At the moment I think it's likely that I will publish all 9 songs but only release 5-6 in a mini-album because 3-4 just don't quite fit at their current form. I'm happy with that and it takes some of the pressure off. I start work on finalising the scores and building the skeletons for the proper versions. It's actually really nice to strip the demos back to the bones and rebuild them again from scratch. It's almost like starting fresh but with the some of the hardest work already done.
Tue 14 Nov 2017: I listen to all 9 songs in order today with the fade out versions I rendered last night. They change the feel and actually make the songs a bit more cohesive. They sound more like an album.
Thu 16 Nov 2017: I had thought that the 9 songs I have written so far had covered the range of emotions that tell the story of my life at the moment; that I had nothing more to write about right now. But emotions and feelings of alienation this week have seen some new inspiration bubble to the surface that I've started writing down ideas for.
Sun 19 Nov 2017: The focus this week has been on getting the scores for the songs finished. I work most evenings, all day Saturday and Sunday morning. It's good to get the scores finished and I'm ready to start work on the recordings. But today it's time to have a rest. It's been another tough week and I'm exhausted.
Mon 6 Nov 2017: Listening to (S) again before work and I'm really pleased with it. It's my favourite track so far. What I'm finding with the later tracks I've written for the album is that the writing process has changed the results. By writing the music and lyrics at the same time and recording a demo vocal sometimes before finalising the music, there's an extra space in the tracks that I don't usually have. Usually I build the beats and music before I record any vocals. As a result I tend to fill up the track before the vocals. Lately, the songs have a lot more space and the vocals are more integral. I must make sure I don't over fill the songs when I work on the final versions. In the evening I work some more on (W). I'm not really happy with what I came up with yesterday. Maybe I'll use that for something else. Instead I go back to basics. I decide to try something different. Instead of starting with beats on Maschine, I set up some loops using arpeggiators and different plug-ins. It heads me in yet another direction, but this time I think it might work for the song I have in mind. I start forming the first lines of lyrics.
Tue 7 Nov 2017: I'm inspired in the morning to write some lyrics for (W). I'm getting into the feel of this song. Inspiration continues through yoga and I have a few verses drafted before work. In the evening I piece the parts together and do a really rough vocal line. I'm tired, so I don't work for too long but just enough to patch together what the final song much sound like and what the structure will probably be. There's a long way to go. But I think it has potential.
Wed 8 Nov 2017: A quick check of last night's work first thing in the morning and I'm feeling good about (W). I finish the last lyrics before work. In the evening I record and edit better vocals. They sound OK but I'm not sure about the end result. I play with some other things but it feels like something's missing. But it will do for a demo. I can afford to experiment more on the final. I'll let the song float with me for a while.
Thu 9 Nov 2017: Once again some lyrics form in yoga class this morning; this time for the next song (I). It would be nice to accredit these lyrics to the mindfulness of yoga but in reality they were already underway before I entered and just gelled as I was waiting for the class to begin. I have to try to hold on to them for the next hour until I can write them down! Maybe I should start taking paper and pencil to class. In the evening I make a few more minor edits to (W) and I'm happier now. Then I start playing with melodies for (I). I record the first phrases. It's a bit soppy in its raw format but hopefully I can develop it into something atmospheric.
Fri 10 Nov 2017: In the morning another verse for (I) comes to me. I start a third on the way to work but it doesn't quite make it. I refine it a bit in the evening but it still needs a little more work. I briefly turn my attention to a possible chorus melody and record a rough vocal. I don't do much else. Time for a night off.
Sat 11 Nov 2017: In the morning I finalise the lyrics for (I). After lunch I sit down to put chords and melody together. The song just falls into place. The lyrics are quite freeform with no particular meter. But the melody and chords seem to work without too much effort. I record a vocal and because the range is just right for me, they're not too bad at all. After some editing I look at the instrumentation. I had some ideas of using micro beats but, in the end, a very sparse and soft sound works beautifully. I'm really pleased with the results and the song is finished on the afternoon. If I can say so, I think the song and performance are both possibly the most beautiful I have ever achieved. Demo number 8 is finished.
Sun 12 Nov 2017: When I was first playing with (W) I created a small riff that didn't work there so I put it to one side. Now, in the morning I start work on the final song (VS). I think that riff might fit perfectly. It does, and the lyrics, melody and chords come quite easily. By lunch time I have a demo with recorded vocals but it's lacking personality. I'm a little worried it may end up a lame duck. Then, an accident has the potential to transform the chorus. I tweak a few other parts to make way for new drums and that's it! After a short break I listen again on my phone and realise that the second half of the chorus is weaker than the first. I decide to continue the chords and melody from the first half into the second. I have to re-record some vocals and move things around but the result is a big improvement and keeps the energy going. I'm very happy with it and that's the last of the demos I currently have in mind. 9 songs in just under 9 weeks. That’s good going for me, especially considering that's including all the lyrics and demo vocals.
Mon 30 Oct 2017: The success of the last three demos has me looking back at the first two differently. The vocals and melodies feel a bit clunkier than the later songs. Is this just the recording or are they just poorer songs. I feel my songwriting and singing has loosened up as writing has progressed. That makes sense. I guess I have to wait and see how the next song turns out to see if that's really a trend.
Tue 31 Oct 2017: Following on from yesterday's thoughts I've been wondering how I can improve the vocals for (NIW). I play with the phrasing and melody to try and add some more emotion to the verse. I re-record verse 1 with the new ideas. The results are OK and an incremental improvement but something still feels wrong. It might be the lyrics themselves. I probably need to try approaching the verse again with a clean slate (no lyrics) to see what I'd come up with.
Fri 3 Nov 2017: It's been another tiring week so not much energy for music. But I have been writing down plenty of fragments and lines for the song I think I'll tackle next (S). I also get some inspiration for what might be the final track on the album (VIS). Not sure yet.
Sat 4 Nov 2017: After a lazy morning I head to the studio to work on the beats and music for (S). Immediately I find a groove. It's 3/4 but it feels right. I turn my attention to the lyrics. Word by word it squeezes out. Like an unexpected monster turd, I find myself creating something ugly and satisfying at the same time. I want to see where I can take this. By the end of the afternoon I have all the lyrics and melody and most of the structure. I think this is going to work.
Sun 5 Nov 2017: I spend the morning recording better vocals for the demo of (S). They go well; the key is right for me. After fixing the pitches, I play around with the arrangement moving away from the plain piano that the song began in. I make a few accidental discoveries which give the song a new personality. The chorus is the part that I struggle with. I'm not sure what I really want to achieve there and go through a couple of different incarnations. Where I finish is heading in the right direction but I'll make it a bit crazier in the actual recording. Soon after lunch I have this sixth demo finished. The title is "Whisper". I'm really pleased with the results and it's another song quite quickly finished. I spend the last part of the day playing with some ideas for (W). Some accidents send me heading in an unexpected direction. Not sure if I'll continue that way, but I'll play with it for a while.
Mon 23 Oct 2017: I record the second part of the second verse for (TTM) that I wrote before bed. That demo is 100% complete now. I've also been thinking about the next song which I've already recorded a small piece of music for (M). I have lots of lyric ideas so I start trying to apply them to the music. They fit and in the evening I record some very basic melodies to get things flowing.
Tue 24 Oct 2017: I fix up some of the melody in the middle of (TTM) then work more on the structure and melody of (M).
Sat 28 Oct 2017: It's been a shitty week at work with way too much emotional fallout, so I haven't done much music other than tinkering with a couple of lyrics. In the morning I return my attention to (M) and progress some of the verse lyrics while I sit on the couch watching Saturday morning Rage. By the middle of the day the first cut of the lyrics are completed and I record demo vocals. It goes really well. Maybe the vocal practise is improving my voice, or maybe I'm just settling back into what works for me. I finish the demo for (M). That's the fourth demo done. I immediately start work on verse lyrics for (COTS). For the first time I work on the lyrics in the studio at the keyboard. I record a really rough version of the melody before even mapping it out on the piano. I think the results are a bit more fluid than usual. That's good. Having a mic permanently set up at the computer is working really well and allowing me to be much more spontaneous and organic in my writing.
Sun 29 Oct 2017: Yesterday I recorded rough vocals for (COTS). I knew they were bad but they were only intended for capturing the melody. Today I fine tune the melody and re-record them. To my surprise, they go well. I manage one of ranges more easily than I'd expected. I finish of the structure and then that's it: the fifth demo song completed!
Tue 17 Oct 2017: If nothing else, the disappointment of the last few days has reminded me that I have to write to the limitations of my voice. Humbling. Luckily it's better to remember that now. Time to adjust before I go too far. Yesterday, the feelings caused me to look closer at the verse lyrics for (D), so during the day I come up with a simpler melody and some stronger lyrics. By stronger I mean focussed more on the feelings. I'm happier and in the evening I finish verse 1. With the lessons learnt from the weekend, I record the vocal for the completed verse straight away. It allows me to sanity check the words and melody and make sure they will work for me. I think they will. It's a small relief and I'm feeling a bit more positive.
Thu 19 Oct 2017: I've been finishing off the new verse lyrics and melody for (D). The final piece of lyric fell into place during yoga class this morning! In the evening I work on writing up the music and finishing off the verse melody. On the weekend I will try recording some new vocals and record harmonies straight away to test them instead of leaving them until the end. I think recording little test bits of vocals as I go is the way I should work going forward. On a side note, looking at my web statistics I realise that no-one is reading this blog. No-one. Or at least, no-one has been reading for a number of weeks. It breaks my heart a little, it eats away at my self-esteem a bit, but it doesn't dampen my commitment to write it. In fact it helps to harden me more. To further connect the shell that is growing around me. Apt, considering the themes of this album.
Fri 20 Oct 2017: I spend a little of the evening finishing off the scoring for (D) and (NIW). I don't usually put this much effort into recording melody and chords so I can generate a score. Consequently I often waste time re-learning melodies and chord progressions when I come back to a song for recording. I think having the score up to date will help and it will also make writing harmonies easier.
Sat 21 Oct 2017: After last weekend's recording disaster I start to re-record the demo vocals taking on board the lessons I've re-learnt. Feeling much better so far. The aim is to get a vocal demo I can at least bear to listen to. I'm feeling super tired today, so I won't be doing too much though. I approach the process by recording phrases at a time. It's safer. After some pitch correction and editing I build new mixes and they're a huge improvement on last week's efforts. I have something to listen to now. I like both of the songs but I'll need to wait and see what else I write before deciding whether they will make it onto the album.
Sun 22 Oct 2017: Working on vocals yesterday exposed a line on verse 3 of (NIW) that really doesn't work. Today I revise the words and re-record the vocals plus a couple of mix tweaks; not too much because these are only rough demos, but I can't help myself. I have to say I'm pleased with the results. Finally! After lunch I decide to start on a new song. Experiences from the past few weeks bring one of the topics on my list to the front of my mind so I start there. Being a completely clean slate I start by messing about and the music gods must be with me today. Things just fall into place nicely for (TTM). And not in a safe predictable way (for me at least), but in an interesting and slightly quirky way (for me at least). By the end of the afternoon I have 80% of the lyrics, all the song structure and a demo including vocals (minus 1/2 of verse 2) all done! By bedtime the final verse comes and the lyrics are finished.
Fri 13 Oct 2017: An unexpectedly painful evening. I've been refining the melody for (D) all week and now I have the chance to record the ideas. I change the melody line and render but for some reason it's not working. Multiple attempts make no difference. Major frustration! This kills me - all I want to do is save my ideas but technology can be a spiteful bitch. Eventually some troubleshooting solves the problem; it looks like a VSTi plugin might be corrupted so I replace it. I render the results and call it a night.
Sat 14 Oct 2017: Today is a photo day with Em so I don't get into the studio until mid afternoon. I have ideas for the middle of (D) and work on melody and chords. It's OK and I think it will be better when I add some atmosphere to the recording. I rearrange the demo to construct the final song structure. The song is a little too high for me to sing comfortably so I transpose it down 3 semitones. That's the first song demo finished.
Sun 15 Oct 2017: I awake with some new ideas to improve the middle of (D) I worked on yesterday. Instead of just being a break I think I should turn it into the climax of the song. I also have the proper title I've been searching for. I play with some ideas and they work really well. I'm happier with it now. Still not 100% sure of the ending. Might reprise the middle but that's a decision I can leave until later. Next I work on the chorus for (NIW). I already have some lines so I need to work out chords and melody that naturally progress from the chorus. It's a bit challenging because the verse slightly modulates around the place. But I persist to a point where I'm 80% happy then a chance note - changing the base note from C to F - gets it across the line. I arrange the verses and choruses and that's the second song structure finished. This one's already in a good key for me, so no transposition is required. After some lyric fine tuning I record a demo vocal for both songs. The vocals are dreadful but I expect that for a first try and I've certainly done worse. So now I have my first two complete songs and simple demos. I also have the final song titles: (D) has become "Killing Light" and (NIW) has become "Liar". For the remainder of the day I write up the music and lyrics for both songs, ready for pitch correction and harmonies later on. Then, just before bed, I have another listen to the two demos. The vocals are truly awful, but I know from past experience that they should improve. And I am really pleased with the chords and melodies. Still, I can't help but feel a little deflated. It's such a long process and so much work yet to do.
Mon 16 Oct 2017: The disaster of yesterday's vocal efforts has been weighing heavily on my mind. Although I'm still very pleased with the music, these early vocal attempts have scared me that I just don't have it in me to get this album across the line. When I started, I wasn't certain I would be able to finish and that prospect is looming large right now. I know I could try to work with proper singers instead of compromising with my own voice but I'm not really a collaborator and these songs are too personal to hand to someone else. So I'm going to try some basic post editing of the vocals to get a sense of how much I can clean them up. The original plan was to write and create demos for all the songs before starting production, but now I'm considering producing these two songs first to prove to myself that I can get them where I want them. And if not, think about abandoning the project. I'll see how I feel later in the week. During the day in the office I'm in a grey mood. I realise I'm soon feeling exactly the way that (D) is meant to be about. The upside is that I tap into those feelings and question whether the verse lyrics really capture them. I don't think they do. Maybe I should have another go. After work I edit the vocals for (NIW) and feel a little better about them. The vocals for (D), however, sound even worse tonight, if that's possible.
Thu 5 Oct 2017: I write the first lyrics for (NIW) on the way to work and again on the way home. I have to make a conscious effort to avoid obvious lines. It's not easy but I'm really pleased with the results and the tone so far.
Sat 7 Oct 2017: It's Saturday morning. I'm tired from the week and I want to relax. Already the pressure and guilt that I'm not creating enough. Luckily the early morning yoga class energises me a bit. Let's get busy! I spend some time writing more lyrics for (NIW). Must be in the right headspace and words flow relatively easily. I have 80% of the lyrics now. Next I want to get the demo music right so I work on the beats, fix the tempo and record the melody. It's only a few hours' work but I'm satisfied with the results.
Sun 8 Oct 2017: 9am and I head up to the studio. In many ways, Sunday is an easier day for music. I'm more relaxed and rested and there are fewer distractions to get started straight away. I listen to the music I recorded for (NIW) and I like the feel. The main focus of today is to improve the demo for (D). I start by using the new beats I drafted on the iPad and then experiment with some instruments. It's sounding more like the version in my head. In the afternoon I work on the verse lyrics. I already have a large set of lines; I just need to stitch them together. But it ends up being harder than I expect. I need to adjust the melody quite a bit to make things work. By the end of the day I've got two verses that I'm 50% happy with. They work but just don't feel right. Maybe I've been labouring on them too long. I think I need to sleep on them to get a fresh perspective.
Mon 9 Oct 2017: I'm reviewing the work from the weekend. Really happy with the music but the lyrics for (D) are still bothering me. This is one of the times I struggle with the choice to rhyme or not to rhyme. I write lots of lyrics that don't rhyme but sometimes the melody just doesn't flow any other way. This is one of those times. But the lyrics already feel a little like I'm holding back. Having to rhyme could dilute them further. And on this album I really want every word to count. I'll take another look at the melody to see if that's the problem. This reminds me just how frustrating lyric writing can sometimes be. When I'm in the middle of it, the feeling can be all consuming. I need to learn how to put the words aside and let them breathe for a while. Then later, after a day at my day job, I have another go at the melody and this time it works much better; some simple adjustments in timing make all the difference.
Now that I've started work in earnest, this will be the first of hopefully many (roughly) weekly progress updates.
Prior to last weekend I had spent almost 12 months slowly gathering and organising themes and thoughts. I had a list of about 10 working titles plus a possible album title. I also had a couple of rough melody ideas. I don't want to reveal the working titles or album title yet so, for the time being, I'll refer to songs by the (initials) of the working titles.
Thu 28 Sep 2017: I've rearranged my studio to make everything more accessible. It feels a lot more purposeful and open.
Sun 1 Oct 2017: It's my first time sitting in the studio seriously. I'm feeling apprehensive; procrastinating. I start to play with Maschine, the new toy I bought late last year. I want this to help me break out of some of my patterns of writing but I'm not quite sure how to fit it into my workflow. Discovering and playing. I create my first beats based on a rhythm I already have in mind for (D). Before long I have a basic melody for the verse and chorus and chords recorded. Next I turn my attention to (COTS). I have the chorus lyrics and before long another melody and chords. I record a rough take and the results make me a bit emotional. I think this track is going to be important. By the end of the day I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.
Mon 2 Oct 2017: I listen to the work of the previous day. I'm really happy with the results and their potential. But I'm still nervous about working; scared that I'm going to hit a brick wall. I play around a bit and create a new rhythm for a new track. Not sure which theme I'll use it for but I'm really happy with it. At the end of the long weekend I have musical roots for 3 songs. (D) was a little different in that I already had a melody and rhythm and created the beats to match my idea. But the other two were based on creating new beats with Maschine. Definitely more play and experimentation than usual, and that's a good thing.
Tue 3 Oct 2017: I'm feeling a bit weird after the weekend. On one hand happy that I created so much. On the other hand dissatisfied that I didn't spend every waking moment in the studio. But I know that's not realistic. I'm also worried that the inspiration will dry up or that I will compromise my ideas and weaken my efforts. Why think that? In the evening I do some more work on the beats for (D) but I'm not really happy with them.
Wed 4 Oct 2017: I wake with a better rhythm for (D) in my head. I quickly draft something in iMaschine on the iPad before I forget. All day I have the melodies from the weekend in my head. That's nice.