The internal dialog of an artist is the Alice and Wonderland of thoughts...
...tiny rabbits threatening time, screaming queens, unsteady and morphing surroundings, lots of color, lots of shadows, and a Tweedledee and Tweedledum bopping around.
All of last week, I spent my spare time recording demos. again.
Due to extenuating circumstances which are also irrelevant to this post, I am once again in search of a producer for my next album.
Before a music producer will want to work with an artist, they want to hear a "scratch version" of what they’ll have to work with.
In other words, they want to know 1) the songs aren’t total shit 2) how much space the artist has allowed for their producing process and 3)
Knowing this about producers and demos, I knew my songs would get shopped around in this way. The act of recording was sweetly and sickly familiar.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on why... but then I realized.
Recording demos is like picking out your outfit for a blind date.
There are lyrical lumps and musical bumps I would wish to hide or eliminate. Chords with which only I have expressed dissatisfaction. There are lyrics that I wish weren’t so *insert criticism here.*
Then there are others' opinions wrapped around my piano and vocal chords like ghosts, haunting a few choice words and keys.
These so-called lumps and bumps can’t be eliminated or fixed in just a day or a few minutes or with a few buttons in Protools/Garageband.
So there I was,
in a huge sanctuary,
sitting at the piano,
surrounded by my rudimentary recording gear.
All I could do was my best.
At one point, I heard myself say out loud, “Well, considering the circumstances, this is as good as it’s gonna get. I just hope they see what I see in me.”
Unfortunately, these are the same words I've said while leaving my house for a blind date.
I know. Great internal dialog for putting your best foot forward, eh?
I'm fully aware of this land-mine. It makes my eye twitch.
No really. My eye just twitched.
I’ve gone on more blind dates than I care to admit.
Blind dates are an integral part of dating in the modern world. They're awkward and terrifying.
And any modern girl would agree with me, getting dressed for them is the hardest part. (Thanks Patriarchy! Thanks Media! You guys are the best.)
& It only gets a smidgen easier with each attempt.
If you've got a blind date coming up, I've done the hard work for you.
Getting Dressed for a Blind Date:
(aka 3 Strategies for Recording Demos.)
Strategy #1 - The Mask & Distract Strategy: You can try to mask the lumps and bumps with rolls of extra fabric or distract the eyes with some other fancy piece of bling. (The musical equivalent being tons of vocal reverb and extra instrumentation.)
Strategy #2 - The I-Threw-In-The-Towel Strategy: Just wear sweatpants & a old t-shirt. (The musical equivalent being shitty instrumentation with vocals sung in a whisper.)
Strategy #3 - The This-Is-Important-But-Not-Important-Enough-For-Me-To-Hate-Myself Strategy: Put on a pair of decently comfortable jeans, any shirt, and a pair of heels.
The Book of Trial and Error would tell you that if Emily Ann thinks too much about what to wear, her first impression comes across really strange and stand-offish. Thus, comfort wins every time.
Well, most of the time. A pair of heels goes a long way towards making me feel like “I’ve got this.”
Lord knows those aren’t always comfortable.
But damn, they look good.
Last week I recorded demos using the 3rd Strategy.
I stayed up 'til midnight three nights in a row (decent pair of jeans), to use the natural reverb of a huge room (shirt with a wee bit of cleavage *wink*), so I could play on a grand piano (pair of heels.)
However, when I listen to the demos after-the-fact, I can hear just how tired my voice sounds. I'm tired of warding off all the internal dialog I don’t want buzzing around in my brain.
The words floating around in there aren’t all sunshine and rainbows.
& Let’s be honest, Alice and Wonderland is kinda creepy.