A Shift In Workflows
Things have been quiet on the blog front lately, I know. But, they’ve only been quiet these last few weeks because I’ve been crazy busy working on a new album. As happens every once in awhile, a lot of things in life align at the right time, and I get hit with a wave of creativity to ride for awhile.
While over all I think I’ve written some of the best music of my life this year with my Maschine Studio live sets, at the same time I know it’s been a long time since I sat down and did a proper album. Most of the last few years my music making has been focused on grooveboxes and live sets, creating longer pieces of music I could perform in a live setting. Or at least where the overall performance was driving the shape of the music. It’s probably been years since I sat at a laptop DAW and wrote more than one song at a time now that I think about it….
However, going to Ableton’s Loop event really sparked a lot of ideas in me for approaching a more layered approach to music making via the DAW again. Then you add to that Push 2, and being able to combine the feel of a groovebox and instrument with the editing and polishing of a DAW I know inside and out. Suddenly new ideas are starting to form. The final kick in my pants to get my ass working, was realizing I was going to be stuck home alone for almost 3 weeks while my wife had to travel back to Seattle for work. A long enough period of time to get a lot of work done if I put my mind to it.
And it’s crappy beginning of winter outside too, and who wants to deal with that?
So, for the last three weeks I’ve been working almost full days on the album, forcing myself to treat it like a job and power through blocks as best I can. The plan of attack became; get things recorded, work fast, and switch to a new song if the current one starts to get to me, repeat. Usually that sort of power through mentality doesn’t work for me, I get fried on the idea long before I can finish it. But this time was different, and I now have almost 9 songs done and ready to release for the new album.
They all started as ideas I came up with on Push 2, usually 4-8 bar loops that I could expand upon once the initial concepts were recorded. Most of you have seen my Push 2 review, so you already I’m a big fan. Nothing has changed, it’s great for getting ideas started, and it feels like a quality instrument I enjoy learning and using. So that part of the process was fun as you’d expect, and I managed to get a lot of solid ideas captured in those first few days.
Usually this is where I stop, after all on a groovebox you really don’t often take things past the pattern stage. But I wanted to really fine tune the arrangements, and add more transitional elements than I had been in my music the last few years. So I flipped everything to Arrange View in Live, grabbed my headphones and a mouse, and sat in the kitchen arranging, re-arranging, editing, altering, automating, you name it.
Yes, I said the kitchen.
After working in my studio all day every day for the mastering business, sometimes I just need to get out of there and work somewhere new. And since I was just focusing on editing on the laptop, I didn’t need to worry about perfect monitoring (though I love my Spirit Focal Pros) or access to recording other gear. Instead, I just zoned out and moused away in the DAW like I used to years ago when I was more into the linear DAW way of working.
It was fun, I admit. It’s been awhile since I used Live that intensely, I had been taking a break from it after almost 12 years or so of heavy use earlier. So diving back in and seeing just how fluid things are in Live again was great, and it triggered a lot of new ideas that found there way into the songs.
I have probably 2-3 more songs that need to be polished up, then I’ll focus on any mix issues and that sort of stuff once I think the writing is done for all of them. After a nice break for my ears first of course 🙂 If all goes well I hope to be done by the end of the year, but since the majority of the work is done I’m not rushing too much at this point. If I’m actually going to sit down and spend time to craft songs in this manner, I want to take the time to do it right. Plus I’m considering giving away the DAW sessions for those that buy the whole album, so I have to keep things tidy in order for people to make sense of what I did.
Stay tuned for more info on that once it gets closer to release!
Peace and beats,