As I gear up to start releasing new music, I thought I'd share some snippets from the making of this album. If you've followed me on any social media platform or seen my IGTV series "Do You Know WTF You're Doing?" then you know I've struggled with imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy, compounded heavily by the highlight reel we create on social media. I'm always fascinated, relieved, validated, and comforted when people take the time to demystify and humanize their own processes, so I thought I'd do the same and share some insights into the process of making an album while completely unsigned, sleep deprived, semi-broke, and also clueless! Buckle up.
My husband (then-boyfriend) and I released "Livin' Right" in 2017. I'm enduringly and endlessly proud of this album, and at the same time recognize that it was a huge learning experience for me. There was so much I didn't know, both about the resources available to me as an artist and about myself as a songwriter. By the time Will and I were married, we'd formed a co-writing unit and had started assembling what we knew would be our third full length album, and in many ways a "first" album. Our writing sessions usually go something like this:
Me: Here are the chords
Him: This is in Eb
Me: Okay I am using a capo because I am trash
Him: *continues to speak in Eb*
Putting out an album always costs a lot of money and emotional resources; as proud as we were of our previous gains, we knew that we needed to aspire to a slightly more vertical rise in success with our next project. In an act of total cognitive dissonance, we also decided to have a baby immediately after getting married. While some (most?) people might have decided to delay a massive life event until after completing an important professional project, we charged forth, with the added motivation that if we fucked up our album we would be bad artists AND irresponsible parents!
My songs took shape in our basement with our amazing band (Josh, Andrew, Alexandra and Sweet Dan). Will tried his best not to speak in Eb around me and I tried my best not to let my pregnancy hormones transform me into a horrible crone. I'd decided to focus on solo performances throughout my pregnancy so that my band and I could hibernate and build a new set -- sometimes it was hard watching my friends perform live, but it was also fun and refreshing to turn inward. By spring of 2019, we had our first day in the studio with the amazing Ben Green of Ivakota in DC. Because I funded all our time in the studio myself, our sessions were spaced out. All in all, we had three full band days, and recorded three songs per day. These days were mostly comprised of Will, Andrew and Josh doing the hard work while I sat in the studio and slowly ingested cheese cubes. I had another two sessions for vocals and guitar, and violin and trumpet were recorded remotely. Seven days, from May 2019 to September 2020. With financial backing it could have taken a week or two, but then I would have missed out on seeing how passionate and dedicated my band was. They waited with me for 14 months.
We recorded Real Good on the first day, and that was the day that I started to believe we could do it. And I wanted to do it, so I could tell my daughter that we did something brave and risky when conventional wisdom was quietly telling me to give up. I want her to know about the things that made her -- the yearning and the stubbornness and the sheer force of will. The voice that won't let you quit. The thing with feathers that perches in the soul and says, "Maybe today."
And cheap champagne, of course. Who am I kidding.