As I prepare to release my new record, I’ve been reflecting on my 2011 debut album, The Hive. That record was the culmination of a decade of songwriting. It took that long to record and release those songs because fear and self-doubt had been hindering me until I finally rose up and resolved to get the music out.
But making that album was not entirely an experience of new-found freedom; I still did not have the inner resources or the necessary experience to stand firm in my vision for a few of the songs, and as a result, the album has never felt like a totally authentic reflection of my own musical voice and expression.
My purpose in writing this note is to distinguish the parts of The Hive that feel like mine from the parts that do not, and perhaps simply to share a small part of my strange and amazing experience thus far as a singer/songwriter and recording artist.
I wrote and performed all of the words and vocal melodies and composed the piano for every song on The Hive. I chose the instruments to be played on each song – except for Beautiful View – and contributed my input on string arrangements and drums. When tracking was complete, I left the studio, leaving the songs in the hands of co-producer Astra Kelly and mixing engineer Josh Mallit. When mixing was finished, I went back to listen and give the final go-ahead to mastering. If these roles I played warrant a co-producer credit on the record, I’ll take it. If not, I gladly give glory to the capable and deserving Astra Kelly.
There are two songs on the album – Witness and Beautiful View – that in their final recorded form were particularly disappointing. I wrote Witness just six weeks before going into the studio to begin tracking. I remember Astra telling me she wasn’t going to put any energy into this song with such little time before tracking. The result is a sub-par recording that has always made me cringe. This song deserves more, so I removed it from digital distribution.
Beautiful View was meant to be a musical adaptation of a poem I wrote in my early twenties. I had a sonic vision for adapting the poem to music, but Astra had conflicting thoughts. She felt the words were too bleak, that the album needed a more hopeful reprieve; and she thought an organ appropriate – both fine ideas per se, but I had my own idea, and although I liked mine better, I did not have the confidence to fight for it. Thus, I rewrote the poem; it became a different thing altogether. And the song was set to an organ. After its mutation Beautiful View did not feel like my own, so I removed it from digital distribution.
Despite my personal dissatisfaction with a few elements of The Hive, in consideration of the heart and soul and years of gut-wrenching and multi-faceted labor I poured into writing the songs and making the album, acknowledging the courage it took to finally invest in recording and sharing my music and giving credit to the beauty and validity of the songs themselves, I am deeply proud of the project.
Making The Hive propelled me to a freer and more empowered and experienced place from which to continue making music. Please do not be discouraged from enjoying the album – it is a significant work of soulful art and beautiful for that reason alone.
Please stay in touch for my upcoming EP. This new record is purely me.