Officially streaming on all platforms.
I am super stoked about the completion of this project. I got lost in my own world while making it, so this post is dedicated to revealing my process behind making the EP and touching on some things that I did differently to see it through to completion.
What started out as a practice exercise completely took its own form and turned into what you hear today.
Overall, I had a lot of fun piecing together and polishing these songs. Generally what happens when I sketch out ideas is that I let them sit until I don't want to go back and see them through. However, what was different with this project is that I wanted something complete and tangible to put out into the ether. Whether the songs were fully complete did not matter as much as actually getting something out there. Going into the project with that mindset was so liberating.
The basis of this project came from all the free time that I have had due to the COVID pandemic, hence Quarantine Dream.
I started the process by devoting a week to reading the Ableton 10 manual and note-taking key features that would be helpful going forward. I have never had the down time to do this efficiently. I also purchased the Push 2, something I have never had the extra money for -
eating out and racking up bar tabs adds up after awhile. The Push helped solidify my ideas; I think it will continue to play an integral part in my creative process going forward.
So, now that I had the tools, and more importantly, the knowledge, I was set to go.
After religiously reading everything Ableton had to offer, alongside the years of getting acquainted with the program, the ideas began to flow.
I had a few ideas started before diving into the manual so I started with those first. I added finishing touches and moved on, not actually completing the songs but getting them to the point where all that would help is a fresh listen the next day. If I got a block I would start a new project and get more ideas to potentially work on.
Being that I was working from scratch, I chose to focus on features I read about and wanted to further explore. The best example of this is in "The Gauntlet" where I experimented with Ableton's "Tension" instrument. I patched together that stringy bagpipe lead and the whole song took form from there.
Because I dedicated the time to discovering the features, I had an idea of what I wanted and where to find it. I honestly had a blast toying with all of the options and tweaking various effects and instruments. This is how it should be, starting with a blank canvas and doing what feels right, letting the things that stick stick and letting the rest wash away.
Once you have the building blocks laid down, you work on refining it.
I did some research and found that four songs are the ideal amount for an EP.
I picked the four songs I felt were most promising and repeated the process. Adding things, taking things away, continuing to structure out loose ideas and form them into something more complete and sound.
Once it felt like all the parts were where they needed to be I moved onto mixing.
I spent days mind-numbingly fiddling with compressors and equalizers, panning and levels. I cannot stress how important it is to take frequent breaks when doing that kind of work.
I still don't think that what I released was perfect, but I do think that my mixes are better than my masters, so that's a start.
Only time will tell, which leads me on to my next point.
This project would not be out if I did not make a strict deadline for myself. I was on the phone with my brother talking about it and told him something like "Screw it! I'm going to release it all in a week from now, no matter where it's at," and I stuck to it. I'm very glad I did.
It gets to a point where you have to let go. You can continue tweaking things day in and day out but eventually you just do more harm than good.
"Just one more EQ, just one more bus... she'll be sounding great."
More often than not, less is more, especially if you are not very experienced in what you're doing. I got deep into effects while mixing/mastering this project and although it was good practice, I wish I hadn't.
I learned a great deal by following through with this project, and I'm very excited to start on the next one.
I'm most excited, though, to get use real instruments again. As much as I enjoyed making an "electronic" album, it is not where my heart fully lies.
I feel like tracking out some gnarly guitar swells and belting out vocals would have helped the integrity of all the Quarantine tracks - don't even get me started about the Moog.
So, I have quite a bit of work cut out for me. I feel much more equipped and prepared to carry this one out with less hiccups and warts all around.
Outside of the music world, I plan on getting some more drawings done. Unfortunately, the studio is still closed. On the flip side, it leaves me with time to prepare designs for when it does reopen.
On another note, Hannah and I have been shooting a lot of film photography. I'll be posting pictures both here and on my Instagram in the near future, so do look forward to that.
Truth be known, there's plenty to look forward to. Hopefully we'll be going back out into the world before too long. I hope y'all have been safe, and I can't thank you enough for checking in on my life, supporting me and what I've been up to.
We'll all make it through this as stronger individuals.