I just got back from a writing retreat in TN. My band Resilient rented a cabin (specifically with high ceilings, and a hot tub overlooking the mountains) for a multi purpose retreat. Since the pandemic, we hadn’t been able to get together to seriously jam, since our respective households don’t really have enough space or convenient times for rehearsals. We really have been trying to just do the right thing and be mindful of everyone’s health, and to do our part in preventing the spread. Which meant, stay home.
So – once we all were eligible we got our vaccinations, and planned a retreat where we could reconnect, get some solid work done on song ideas, and see what we could capture recording wise. I have also been experimenting with other instruments, recording different elements, and I also have a song I’m recording for the Heaven & Earth Series. My dad and I wrote music to Jeny Heckman’s lyrics in the Sea Archer, and there is a concert scene where Raven Hunter performs an acoustic set. I thought it would be a lot of fun to meld the two together, and to put the actual song into the audiobook. So, in order to do that, I needed to get some new microphones, as I wanted to capture the outside / live element of her concert. Further, I knew I wanted to be able to record my marimba and vocal jams, and I also wanted to be able to just hit a button and be ready to record WHATEVER I wanted.
Immediately before our trip I upgraded my interface from 2 inputs to 18 (technically), bought a matched pair of spankin’ new RODE NT-55 s (honestly, I’m excited about the versatility of these, but the leading reason was that the NT-5s were out of stock everywhere, and I absolutely wanted a matched pair), new mic stands and cables…. If you follow me on instagram, and understanding I am a pretty resourceful person, you know why I needed all new mic stands. There is only so much duct tape or belts you can use to keep things in place.
It took about 13-14 hours to get there, and we used the time to stretch our musical limbs, experiment with other instruments and sounds and really just reconnect with our collective creativity, and oh yeah to climb a mountain. There were songs pulled out that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I am very much a collaborator, I feel it’s when I do my best work. I love bouncing ideas off each other and jamming, just flowing with the music. We ended up filling up my laptop, which led me to delete things I didn’t think I needed. Including an entire day of jams, because I had made a template from one of the sessions… and the program claimed those files were not in use. It didn’t say, “Oh but they ARE in use in THIS OTHER project file.” So after trying to find the hidden trash bins (it was too late), I had admitted to the girls that I’d foolishly deleted a whole day. After a lot of “no worries, it’s cool, we didn’t have much going on yesterday,” I admitted… in the wee hours when everyone was asleep, night owl that I am, I had dragged a couple mics outside with the kalimba and had recorded some raw, personal stuff that bubbled up. Those tracks were gone, short as they were. First I brushed it off with everything else, citing “maybe it was too personal anyway.” After some encouragement I did lay the raw idea down.
That song certainly wouldn’t have happened had we not been there, had the conversations we had. That is a part of the process of music making. Music is expression. I am a pretty private person, I don’t like to air my personal life much, so I do it through music. In the past handful of years I had become more guarded about sharing my personal experiences and feelings. I’m usually the person others air out to, to breathe. However I don’t allow much of that myself, and this trip helped me realize that. I hope the songs I write help others be more free, or at least to catch their own breath for a moment.
I am so grateful for the ability to do these things, with people I love. After some personal debate, I have decided I am going to perform the kalimba track for Brainfest on May 30th. I’ll also perform a couple xylophone songs, as well as acoustic bass tracks. Hope to see you May 30th – we have a great line up, even booking Scott Lucas of Local H as our headliner. This past year I have been experimenting in all kinds of ways, and I have really been enjoying the experience. It’s something I hope to keep more in mind – to enjoy the ride.