"... for every question, there's an answer."
August… let's start with the easy.
The Parabelle album is out… it actually came out like 5 times it seems like. I woke up one morning to see posts on Facebook about how the Kickstarter folks had received a zip file over night with the new album in it. This was a bit of a surprise since they were aiming to get them the physical copy 2 weeks before the actual album release date (August 28th)... but manufacturing hiccups set things off course a bit.
(... shut your big damn mouth Big Bird.)
These days, I say just put it out. Once it's ready… just put it out and let it roam free on the internet.
I think the days are gone of the big hype machine for an album… considering the days of the full length album are in question anyway. If people are waiting for it, they'll hype themselves up. We can still let people know when something is coming out… but I find it kinda lame when bands get a little too hype-y about something nobody is waiting for.
We all need exposure for the music, but ultimately word of mouth is the best way for it to get around. This takes time, especially in the beginning. Not long ago, if a single or album didn't react right away, say within the first couple weeks, we'd consider it a flop. These days, it can take months for something to catch on and even then, you should still be constantly working on and releasing new quality material.
Granted Kevin has been releasing material for 7+ years through Evans Blue and now Parabelle, one band has 140k+ likes, while the other is approaching 10k. That's the difference exposure makes though... EB had a couple songs on the radio early on... Parabelle... close to no radio support so far. They've been working other areas, building up their fan base through regional touring and word of mouth... being approachable and reachable at shows and online creates an engaging relationship. The fans feel like they're part of the process opposed to of just a consumer. This builds core fans and it's all about the core fans, they're the ones who keep you alive.
(... it's all about meeting people and makin' friends.)
The response has been great for the new album though. I'm always a little anxious when an album gets released… I imagine it's similar to that "kids first day of school" feeling… quite fitting right now. I know I like it… I know the band (unless they're lying) like it… but that doesn't mean the fans will... and pleasing your fans is part of the equation. It's about creating a balance between trying new things, but still keeping enough of the familiarity.
You have to leave time to experiment during the writing process as well as in the studio. Sometimes you hit on something you feel is great first try, other times, you know there's a good idea in there... it just takes a while to refine it. When it's right though, you know it... and that's where listening to your gut comes in. One of the hard parts of producing is learning and knowing how to listen to your gut. It's not always the most popular opinion in the room… but when it thinks it's right, or more importantly thinks something is wrong, it'll keep you awake at night until you act on it.
(... and if you don't, it'll haunt you forever... until you die... and then a bit past that.)
Another surprise... they decided to post some of the album demos on BandCamp.
Throughout the year, they passed me about 20+ demos and from those we went over some ideas and directions for the album. The demos posted included a few tunes that, although we still felt were good, just didn't fit with what we were aiming for or were simply replaced by a stronger tunes later on.
I think it's neat for fans to be able to hear "demos". The process of record making is pretty raw and messy at times, so being able to include some "behind the scenes" content so easily these days is awesome. It's safe to say most of us on this side of the glass have heard the raw Motown, U2, and Led Zepplin tracks by now… we geek out over them because we can hear the in between stuff... the kind of stuff I refer to as "hiding the body" during the mix stage. We get graded on the final result… but there's lots of gems and lessons in the process for those who are listening.
(... you have to understand the angles of your audience.)
... I've made 5 albums with Kev now ( 2 w/ Evans Blue, 3 w/ Parabelle)… just thought of that.
I should do a post on 'Melody' sometime. I have a lot of memories from that record... not to mention how much I learned making that record. It was the first one (label wise) I felt I really had a big part of... I knew people were going to hear it. There was very little pressure on me and only had one person to report to, that being the producer (Trevor Kustiak), but I can only imagine how much pressure was on him. Considering the success of Cold (but I'm still here) I'm sure all the higher-ups wanted to get their fingers in stuff... feel like they're contributing. There's lots of people who feel the need to put in their $0.02... especially if they feel it's their money being spent.
The record turned out pretty good and seems to be a favorite from EB fans. I still get emails from EB fans saying everything from simply "great stuff!" to "I wish we could work on an album together". Considering that album came out 2006... I'd consider it a success if people still care about it.
(... and it feels good.)
So... back to August, for those who are wondering, I have been busy this past month. It was split pretty much 50/50 between producing some new Morgan Sadler tunes and mixing Sarah Shafey's next album. I'm equally excited about both but I'll start with Morgan…
Morgan is a singer/songwriter/pianist. When we talked about what she wanted to do (hear), we spent quite a bit of time listening to references and talking about where we'd like to draw inspiration from. All these references are "full band". Morgan is a singer, songwriting, and plays piano.
One of the things that grinds my gears is when producers steamroll what an artist is, at their core. This is often under the disguise of "development", but if you strip away all the extra instruments and production, does the artist remain intact? Do they still know what makes them "them"? Can they still write songs they're happy with if the producer is out of the picture?
A good producer will bring out the best in a band, but with solo artists, you really have to listen to what they want to do, and decide before you start, or very close too, if you think you can deliver. You can still put your sonic signature on a recording but it shouldn't overpower the artist. We're a spice, not a main course. The initial chemistry between artist and producer is the key to understanding where the limits are... and experience working together builds the trust needed to push them.
I'll keep this short since we're both pretty excited with how its turning out… it should be all wrapped up this month… and hopefully it comes out on YouTube not long after.
YouTube is the new radio… just a reminder.
The Sarah Shafey album is a mix project referral from Donna Grantis. Donna and I met a couple years ago during a quick tour playing together in Dane Hartsell's band. It's nice hearing from old friends and always fun to hear and see how others track their records. There are some solid players on this album! It's nice hearing great takes and people playing together. We're just into the mix tweak/touchup stage but I'll be sure to pass along some links once it's released.
Some side notes…
Both of my hockey teams made it to their division finals which took place this week. One just came up short 4-3, the other took home the top prize in a shoot out. Both were great games and it's always fun feeling some pressure. Fall/Winter season starts up in a couple weeks... it's always nice to get a fresh start. That's one of the things I love about my job... with each new project, I feel like I get a fresh start. You're always learning new things throughout the process when you take a project from start to finish.
I achieved 100% failure rate in heading to the cottage last month. Too busy. Way she goes… but if it stays warm… that's the plan this month. Plus, considering how much it's rained recently, the fire bans are definitely off now. I haven't had a summer until I've roasted marshmallows.
(August... we got some new shit on Mars.)
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!