Biintigen miinawaa, Welcome again,
In September of 2014, I made a decision to leave the music industry on a full time level, and return back to the field of education. I have no regrets in this choice, and have loved the life I chose since then – I got married, I had a little boy, Rex, who is now 6, really got into gardening and being able to grow enough vegetables each year to sustain my family year round, (hence the Singing Green Thumb Blog found in this website) and re-established myself in the education field. I got my Master’s of Education, Principal Papers, and a few other things…. so it has been a very busy few years for sure.
Over the years since I bowed out of music as my full-time gig, I have been writing songs… many of them between nap times and garden weeding. I still love writing music… it’s in my heart and soul and can not be removed. Last spring, after the finding of the Indigenous children, I wrote a few more songs. It was my way of dealing with this awful news, trying to make sense of it, and trying to deal with my own emotions so I could still continue to do my day job. June proved to be one of the most challenging months of my life. With everything happening in my life on a personal level, work level, pandemic level, those beautiful children being found buried, the month of June just being challenging in the month of June, June being a critical month for a gardener, I truly thought I was losing it… so I turned to my guitar and piano, and let my words and melodies heal my soul. I did blog about it in this post: “and then….” album The video above is one of the many songs written in June alone as I grappled with my own feelings.
Well, it isn’t easy to decide to do an album during a pandemic. However, once the decision was made, I teamed up with my long-time guitar player, Jordan Elcheson, to co-produce the album. Over the years he has invested a lot of time and resources into creating a beautiful in-home studio space and the expertise to go along with it. He felt like taking on this album was the right thing to do, keeping himself busy and providing some opportunities to great friends and musicians to come in and play out their parts.
I’ve always “jammed” out the songs with band mates before to find the feel, space and style of a song. This time we couldn’t do that. So, I really depended on the skills of Jordan who basically headed the project with his creative vision while I provided input from a far. He would take a scratch demo and build from there. We’d chat about the direction and then he’d get busy working on creating the base track, finding that perfect fit between the instrumentation palette and ‘feel’. Once we determined the feel of the song he would bring in Joshua Hogan to lay down the drums, and subsequently, Michael Lyndstad to lay down the bass guitar.. Following that, I would come in and put down the vocals, and harmonies if needed. Once all parts are tracked(recorded), final edits and mixing take place. It’s an intricate and beautiful process.
For the song “All the Difference” (the one song I didn’t write on the album, written by Peter Fergus-Moore), I hadn’t even had a chance to meet John Benson who sang the male in the duet. We still have not physically met, only once on a zoom meeting after the recording was complete. Pre-pandemic, this would NOT have happened. I also have yet to meet Kyle Shushack, the mandolin player on this song. Crazy, eh?
Not once did we all have the opportunity to get together to practice any songs…. Jordan really was instrumental in pulling the album together. I trusted his ability and ear to bring the people in who needed to be in, lay all the tracks without my presence and trust him to ‘get me’ as a musician enough to know where to go with the songs. He engineered, co-produced, and found all the people/musicians we needed to fill in the needed parts of the songs. He provided the studio, played all the guitar and synth parts, edited and mixed it all too!
The real challenging part was the producing. I don’t give up full producing rights. I did that once, and it just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps it was the wrong person, or my bull headed personality, but it wasn’t a process I enjoyed at all. Jordan and I have known each other for well over a decade. We have seen each other at our best and worst moments. We know each other beyond music, our external interests in life, about life, internal belief systems, and of course things friends know about each other that others wouldn’t. I think because we know each other better, it made it easier for us to work together, challenge each other, and most of all trust each other. Much of the trust had to come from me to allow Jordan to do what he does best. I won’t lie, there were moments when I listened to a work in progress and I didn’t like it at all, but after a bit of discussion he would either change it or convince me to wait it out to hear the finished product. It’s never easy to fully picture a song while it’s coming together from a far, trust is important here.
I think the most challenging part for me in this process was the style in which some of the songs went. I love Alternative music, but I really didn’t ever see myself as an Alternative musician. However, Jordan really brought a few of my songs into this style which he knows well, and it really did come out authentic and fit the songs well. For instance, “These Days” and ‘Crumble’ are songs that he took fully into the Alternative realm, featuring instrumentation that continuously develops throughout, drawing the listener in. Special treatment of guitar tones and drum recording techniques were key.
I think anyone reading this can tell that Jordan really was the instrumental part of making this album, outside of writing the songs. At the risk of this sounding like an advertisement, I would recommend him to anyone. Truly, Jordan is a gift to the music world with so many skills and so much talent, anyone would be lucky to work with him and his vision. I know I feel blessed to have him in my life as a musician, but also as a friend 🙂
Back to this process during a pandemic… I think the album took its direction from the pandemic. Because we couldn’t be together, it really left a lot more time and space to let the music evolve. I also think that Jordan had more time to sit with the songs on his own to build the guitar and synth parts that would not have happened pre-pandemic album making. I also think that I wouldn’t have had the actual time to put a full album together if we all had to get together like in the “old days”. The pandemic made it possible for me to continue on with my hectic, crazy life while the album evolved over the last 6 months, bit by bit. I certainly enjoyed the process, and thanks to Jordan and all the others involved in the creation of this work, I have been able to take these songs which helped me process the difficulty of last year and share them all with you! We’re proud of this work and we hope you will listen, enjoy, and share.
Watch out for the release in February (Pandemic pending!). If you are interested in a copy of the album, or links to the album once released, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in speaking with Jordan about music, music creation, production, or track building email@example.com.