There’s this moment at the end of the episode of Gilmore Girls when Rory graduates high school that I tear up every time. Right before leaving the enormous and elaborately decorated halls of Chilton, Lorelei stops Rory, forcing her to look around and take notice and says, “Notice? It’s not so scary anymore.”
It gets me right in the feels because there are so many moments in my life I can look back on and think “It’s not so scary anymore.” High school would certainly be included. University. Falling in love. Getting married. Buying a home. Recording and releasing an album.
When I set out to do something with the songs I’d been writing over the last couple of years, I stood at the bottom of a mountain of questions. How would I go about recording them? How would I be able to pay for it all? Who would be a part of this project? Why should I even do it in the first place? Who would this project impact? Will it sound good? Will I be able to describe what I’m looking for? Will it all work out?
The project was scary in an exciting sort of way. It was a completely unknown adventure and still is in so many ways. But I’m looking back at the mountain of questions and it’s not as scary as it was in the beginning.
I began by meeting with a producer whom a friend of mine had used to record her album and after our first meeting, I knew it was going to work. I knew he’d work to help my creative vision come to life and bring his expertise to the equation.
We determined our overall direction and what we wanted everyone to feel while listening. Based on that direction, we gathered musicians together for a weekend to lay down the drums, bass, acoustic, and piano for all 5 of the tracks. The idea was that as the musicians played together, they would leave more space between them and, at the same time, feed off each other’s energy.
From there, we built upon the basic tracks and added in electric guitars, organ, strings, percussion, and choir. I spent a couple of days in the studio working on my own vocals, going through each song over and over and over again, followed by even more time listening to each section of the song and deciding which takes we thought sounded best.
I’ve listened to each of these songs countless times as each different mix trying out ideas was passed along until we finally reached the mixes both myself and my producer/engineer were happy with. We had them mastered and then sent them along for distribution both digitally and physically.
Prior to sending out the final audio, I also had to put together the artwork for the album. With the help of my sister, who is a talented photographer, we captured images of a painting I had created for the main artwork and several pictures of pallets containing the paint used to create the front cover. The pallet pictures represent the beauty that comes out of our messiness. The lower portion of the main painting represents the space that is our everyday, the craziness, the busyness and the space above all of that is where we get a little perspective, a breath of fresh air… above the noise.
After several proofs of the artwork, it was ready to be sent off to the printers.
I picked up the physical copies of the album a short two days before release day after a scare with the plastic sealing machine not working. Everything came together in the end, and it was finally in my hands – a real life copy of the hard work that had gone into this project.
Two days later, friends and family gathered with me and an incredibly talented band to celebrate and worship together. We ate, we laughed, we sang. It was an amazing night.
Looking back, I’m realizing the biggest reason it’s not so scary anymore is because I didn’t have to do it alone. Through each stage of the recording to planning for and executing the release night, I had an amazing team of people whom I am so incredibly grateful for surrounding me and believing in the greater good of this project.
I hope you’ll all get a chance to listen to Above The Noise and, if you do, please share your stories with me of what these songs mean to you. I’d love to hear from you all.
Knowing that this “that wasn’t so scary, was it?” realization comes so consistently after new adventures, is reassuring that, though there will be some fear in the beginning, I can keep climbing… one step at a time.