Grappling With December

The ep continues.

In fact it hasn’t stopped, but Mr December stretched time thin enough that I wanted to spend every available minute making tunes.  This meant that talking about making tunes (right here) thus got a little shafted.  But the battle marches on, and by the day I become increasingly consumed by it.

The Good:

The most exciting news is that I have an early mix in hand for ‘Where’s My Place’, the first track to be essentially (ie artistically if not technically) done.

Now let’s stop for a second.  Allow me to restate the magic word ……done.
That is not something I have said much about music before.  It’s a great word, and (half unexpectedly) a true sense of satisfaction and relief comes with it.  I expected to be a little paranoid at this point, but no, there is an audio file that captures something I’m rather happy with.  This is wonderful and true.

Now that I have celebrated the victory of the moment, let us descend back to the pragmatic world of ‘what now’.
I have decided that the final mix engineer will be me.  The reasons for this I will go into in another post – but for now the good news is that without booking a studio and a geek I’ll be able to put this one up (you know, on the internet), and soon.  This should hopefully placate the outrage so many of you have expressed to me in various forms of “I went to your site, and there were no songs!!  **Angry Roar** etc etc”.  Well how dare I do that to you.

It won’t be much longer now – I just need to test my mixtures on selected human experimentees and work through a list of changes.  So far I have found that the room acoustics in the studio continue to shroud me with some smoke and mirrors, but I’m already starting to learn the ways by trial and error (largely error).  There are another 3 songs coming up towards mixing in the near future, and with practice I remain confident I can make the little songs sing from within my humble little concrete box.

The Hard:

Speaking of that room brings me to the other half of the post, where in full disclosure I talk about how lots of not-fun things have happened in the process too.

A short list would include these examples:

1. December.  When the day job and Christmas join forces they manage to steal almost all waking hours.  Christmas can be greedy, and that is irony.  I have no idea how people with children survive this month, surely you are up against the odds.

2. More than 20 unexpected computer crashes on one day.  It eventually turns out my new buddy melodyne and my old buddy reaper kind of hate each other.  Not openly, but once they both work up a sweat they will suddenly murder each other, taking our past few hours handiwork with them.  I make a lot of backups fortunately, as one crash even corrupted the whole project file past oblivion.  It felt at least 4000 degrees celsius in that room, and 5 hours work took a sweat-soaked 13 that day.  Oh technology.

3. More untraceable computer crashes.  A couple of times a day even now everything I have open just disappears.  It’s good that it’s hot in there at this point, because usually I’m too exchausted to throw punches at the monitor.  I yell and pace and start that session again.  I built and tweaked that computer very carefully as a dedicated studio workhorse, internet free, and it’s been very stable for years.  But even when you tell it that, it looks back at me with a calm black screen.  My heart has taken to stopping beating when I press save – that’s normal, right?

3. Insomnia.  I am not the best sleeper, what musician is?  But it seems to me that it’s more of a battle if I’ve got a day off in the studio planned.  Turns out going to bed at 4am really eats into you morning productivity.  This I am learning.

4. I didn’t change the demos.  I have had the luxury of some expert songwriter comments on my initial demos.  Well played, great help.  I decided to wait until the instruments were done to change the melodies.  Poorly played.  I have now heard my original ideas so many times it is very hard to change them in my mind.  An error.  This isn’t too bad for ‘Where’s My Place’ and ‘Robot’, but there were some great tips for ‘Run You Down’ and I’m so confused trying to sing it now.  It will take some untangling.

5. Ergonomics.  I am an environmental engineer during the day, on a computer.  From the evening to the early morning, I am on the the studio computer.  Red eyes and strange stomache and neck pains testify that is a lot of hours.

5. Am I over-consumed?  My wife has used the term ‘EP widow’ to describe herself recently.  There’s a few things in that that we’re sorting, but I too feel a wary sense that my brain is leaving this world more and more for things like midi notes, eq curves and the way drums bounce off words.  I don’t mind focussing hard, but I wish to keep my roles as a human being in tact too.  And you know, that’s a surprisingly fine line.

So to say that these songs flowed out in a dreamy organic way that was more enjoyable each second would be a lie.  I don’t know if people mean it when they say stuff like that, but my road seems messier.

Still, I am going to get all Disney at the end of the post, because I already sense the hard/annoying bits are part of the victory.  Like overhangs on the way up a mountain. Literally ridiculous at the time, but later you wouldn’t trade them. Well I hope that, anyway.

Soon you will be able to hear the first part of that mountain, and that’s something.

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