Hi Everyone Who Decides to Read This, My First Blog Post:
The past year has been the scariest, craziest, most productive one of my life. My large ensemble, Big Heart Machine, played four shows (which doesn't sound like a lot, but for a group of 19 people, I feel like that's pretty good), rehearsed a lot (thanks everyone!), and recorded nine of my compositions.
The album is done being mixed by Brian Montgomery who is truly a staggering genius of an engineer. I could do a whole blog post about what I've learned about focus, deep listening, work-ethic, etc from Brian. Now I'm hard at work figuring out the details of releasing it next year. The whole experience has been galvanizing for me- I'm focused and energized in an exciting, new way. I'm also stressed and busy and worried... the unglamorous stuff that comes with being in charge that you don't hear much talk about.
So how did all of this come to be? About a year ago, I had been on the road for a couple years (?!?), and while I was grateful to be employed regularly making music with great musicians, I was also experiencing burn-out in a big way. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to that feeling; eight shows a week, a new city every week, the same music every night... the monotony wears you down. I was paranoid that I was wasting time, that I'd be doing the same old shit my whole life, that I'd never achieve my musical goals. I decided at that point to commit myself to a long-term goal that I'd had for my entire adult life and had all but given up on ever doing: recording a big band album. Last December, I got the band together for the first time years to make some demos of my most recent music and to play a gig at ShapeShifterLab in Brooklyn. Testing the waters... they were warm and inviting... here's a shot from that night:
I then went back on the road and spent the majority of my free time finishing/honing/revising the music. I hired a dream-band of musicians that I've known for a long time who were game to try crazy things. I started dreaming about the music a lot. The final track on the album literally came to me in a dream, which has NEVER happened to me before. I mean, in entirety. I basically woke up the next morning and transcribed what I had heard. Listening to that track during mixing has been emotional.
Speaking of dreams, I started having nightmares, too! I was worried that the music was shitty, that things would go wrong in the studio... and also irrational-nightmare-worries like that I booked the wrong days at the studio, that I forgot how to play my instruments.
Basically, I was totally consumed with this project.
The studio time was definitely the most fun part. Everyone in the band gave heroic performances, and I just can't f%$*# wait for you to hear them. I took tons of big risks with the music, and the performances certainly exceeded my expectations. Here's everyone after two long and hard days of work:
Okay, listening back to everything has REALLY been the most fun part. If you want to hear it yourself, sign up for my mailing list and I'll keep you posted! My new friend Thomas Jaeger has put together a five-part documentary about this whole process that is excellent and we're going to start dropping episodes soon. There are also gigs in the works for 2018, and I'm planning on updating this blog on the reg, so keep checking back and stay in touch.
I'm also obsessed with my idea for the next Big Heart Machine project... but more on that next year!