Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Making an album

Sometimes you can sit down at the keyboard and a melody just comes out of nowhere, and before you know it, you’ve got the makings of a great new song, in no time at all! Other times it can be a drawn out and slow, frustrating process, where you can hear what you want in your head, but you just can’t seen to shake it out of your fingertips on to the keys!

The process of making an album has its ups and downs, and at the same time, you completely immerse yourself in it. Play it day and night, time after time, picking it apart or enjoying it. Quite often by the time you've finally finish the album, you don’t play it again for months! By revising it constantly you’re faced with ever-changing decisions; which tracks need to stay, which can go, which need to be longer or shorter (then there’s the issue of mixing, which I won’t even start to go into here!).

But sometimes even the most subtle change can make a huge difference – even changing just one sound in a song can completely transform a song. Or ruin it! Sometimes you might really like a track, but somehow it just doesn’t fit in – eventually it gets removed and it’s actually an improvement. The process of making an album is full of surprises and frustrations. And one of the hardest parts is knowing when to stop – but more often than not, it just feels right, and complete. All of a sudden.

Another complication to the whole process is deciding on cover artwork. Many musicians, like myself, are also artists. Therefore you quite often have a preconceived idea of how the album cover should look. But sometimes having the artistic side can also get in the way – somebody else’s point of view quite often ends up being totally opposite of yours. And sometimes you need that. When immersed in a project such as this, it’s very easy to lose sight, direction or over work things. And that’s when comments and feedback from friends or colleagues is really beneficial. Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions!

But as an artist and graphic designer, the obsessive part of me thinks that the cover art should usually be my own work – it’s an integral part of the project and extension of the music anyway.

Two of my album covers use paintings by renowned British space artist, David A. Hardy, whose work I have admired from an early age. David’s paintings really transport you to another place, and it’s a real honour to associate my music with his artwork. The first of these was my 2007 album Into the Light, and my forthcoming release, Beyond the Boundary.

The creation of an album is all about decisions. Non-stop decisions. Then you just need to hope you’ve made the right ones :)

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