after each EP releases, i thought it would be fun to dedicate a post to each of the 3 songs... how they came about, thoughts on lyrics, recording techniques, and misc. notes and stories relating to each song.
so, now that "october" is out and about, i'm going to start by featuring the very first song of YEARBOOK...
not only was this the opening song of the EP, it was also the very first song that i began working on for yearbook. before we even announced the project, i wanted to spend a few weeks testing the waters of writing music in such a consistent fashion.. (before committing to such a huge project!) so, almost immediately after the idea for yearbook came about, sat down at my "studio" desk and listened through some recent recordings i've made... (i've mentioned before- i use a little digital recorded to grab mini musical ideas as they come!) and the ukulele chords and vocal melody for the verses in "homesick" were there, waiting to be worked on. i think in that tiny 30 second recording, i even had the lyric "you spend your whole life, just to remember the sound..." - so that gave me a lyrical direction, as i liked that as an intro line. (usually the words i sing in these min recordings are completely nonsense, so i was glad to hear words that i very much liked be present from the beginning)
after dan got home from his honeymoon, i showed him the parts that were there and we both agreed that we felt like it was a right choice for the first EP... so we took a closer look at it all and shaped the arrangement by playing the parts live together a bunch, and eventually the overall layout of the parts became pretty clear.
the background "choir" vocals you hear throughout the song, were actually recorded with my iphone, using the amazing "FourTrack" app (i've blogged about the app before)... i was using the app as a sketchpad for the choir ideas, but ended up liking the sound so much that we ended up using the recordings. so, the "choirs" you're hearing were all recorded using the iphone. i'm pretty proud of that! thanks to "FourTrack" for being awesome... and thanks to the iphone for being my favorite gadget of all time.
my upright piano (which i love dearly) was a bit out of tune when we recorded it. we both really liked the sound of that for this song, as it felt like the right character for this song, however, when i recorded the ukulele parts (which are quite simple and easy to play) - we ended up with a giant tuning mess on our hands. took me HOURS to get the uke tuned in such a way that all of the chords i was playing, would match the general out-of-tune nature of the piano. so, that was frustrating. eventually, i got it sounding right and now i don't think twice about it. not a fun day of recording that. i do however love how my ukulele tone came out in the recording - it's my KALA mango tenor. seriously such a great instrument... i'm hoping to one day win an award for the saddest songs ever written on the ukulele. i'm on my way!
you'll notice that there are two sections where there is some violin happening... i'm pretty proud to report that i played that! i am NOT a violin player by any sense of the word, and it took a lot of tries to get it sounding the way it does, but i'm proud nonetheless! it's played pretty untraditionally- more atmospheric than musical, but that's just fine by me - fits the spookiness of the song. speaking of spooky, dan and i decided that there isn't really "ukulele" in this song... there's "spookulele!" - since it is on the "october" EP... (get it?)
the lyrics were written at different times throughout the last couple months... i spent a week or so on the first main chunk of the song, lyrically.. and then let it rest while we worked on other songs.. then , right before october released and i needed to record the final main vocal, it was about time to finish it. it came quite quickly and i was very pleased with the additions that were made... the entire section where i sing "cry wolf, cry mercy, cry the name of the one you were raised to believe..." was originally going to be instrumental, but i'm really glad that those words fell from the sky, because i feel like it really ties the song up thematically.
oh and the drone noise you're hearing in the intro and throughout the song was also created with the iphone! i used an app called "sampletoy" - it allows you to record sounds and play them back in loops, and it lets you manipulate the sounds via the touch screen (pitch, tone, etc). super fun... so i recorded fast ukulele chord strums on it and that's what you're hearing for the drone.
fun to write about the process! hopefully it's interesting to read as well... not just fun to me to type. ha.
thanks for reading! will blog about how "next to me" came about - soon!