This post marks the final installment of my blog series about the EP. I wanted to write about my experience of putting my first recording together, the release, all of the release I experienced after it had been shared, and what I anticipate for the future.
This post is definitely the most daunting of the series. It is difficult to capture in so few words such a pivotal season of my life — and I know I could very well look back on this post and call myself ignorant (this is how I feel most of the time).
The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing. Everything that happened felt improvisational. I’m fairly organized, but all the lists in the world cannot replace experience. If I could give any advice to first time recording artists, it would be: think out your project fully before you begin. It helped to have a vision and a standard from the beginning to give me direction when I had no idea what to do next. Because of this, I made the exact record I wanted to make and I have no regrets. I wanted the EP to be honest and authentic, and so each element had to reflect that standard. For example, I didn’t want to use auto-tune on my voice. I wanted all of the arrangements and mixes to complement the song. And I wanted to be able to play guitar well (unfortunately, I could never will this particular ideal into being).
Another piece of advice, learn to be open to the ideas and contributions of others. Not nearly enough people know this, but my violist / backup vocalist, Katherine, was the one who suggested I jump the octave in the second verse of “Quitter.” The song may have never reached its potential without her input. Thanks Kat.
I’ve been doing this singer-songwriter thing since high school, but it wasn’t until this past year I knew it was time to get into the studio and record my work. In 2010 I had the opportunity to talk with Joy Williams, and one of the biggest things I learned from that conversation is to look for demand before you supply. The Civil Wars gave their live record away for free on Noisetrade for two years before they released their first record, Barton Hollow. Did I mention they shot to the top of the charts immediately?
I wrote this song called “Quitter” and it scored me a place in Belmont University’s Fall Follies — a slot that I had dreamed of since my freshman year. The performance and the video were a shocking success and I found myself with a demand for recordings. My amazing booking assistant, Teisha, (who came into my life after Follies) encouraged me to actually do this thing. Thanks T for believing in me from the beginning when I had no idea what I was doing! We started drafting up ideas for the EP and “In the Year of Letting Go” was born!
I already knew who I wanted to play on the record. My amazing band that formed for Follies was made up of