Monday, March 22, 2010

the upward Spiral

...or further up the Spiral, as it were.

(can I tag Trent Reznor in this note?!)
(turns out - no)

Finally, my 7th album is complete. Wait a minute - did i say SEVENTH?! WTF?! The reality of time and age starts to set in when I count albums. I feel old lately. (blame the event of last year's 10 year high-school reunion - which I was unable to attend)

Let's just say "new" album - ahhh. That's better.

So, my NEW album, Spiral, is finally out (digitally - the hard copy of same is not to be completed til the end of this week) and I am SO freaking excited about this one.

All of those little ideas I've always had, the little sonic bits and pieces that I've wanted, the arrangements and orchestrations, the instruments, were brought to life by some of my best friends. Have I ever rapped away to you the virtues of being independent? Well if I haven't, I'm sure I will. One of the greatest parts of doing whatever I want (besides THAT fact in and of itself) is that I get to work with people that I actually LIKE.- nay, LOVE.

I was certain at the outset of this that the next album had to be different - I just wasn't sure how. I wanted big production sound but as always have wee production budget (meaning everything ends up being mostly homemade - current technology lends itself to this beautifully)

I had the wonderfully talented musicians, and friends, on my side. Billie Woods, Dave Baird, and Laurent Boucher. Check. We played together, even went on tour. Remember that whole thing with the UK. welll, the stuff after that was awesome. Check.

What's this? A cellist? Brendan Millbank. Boo ya. Just happens to be my neighbour in Nanaimo. Done.

Moving along...

Next question - how to capture?

I've been engineering my own albums for a while now, learning as I've been going along - so I was sure I'd be able to do a good deal of it - though the perfection of, and gear for, some certain sonic elements still elude me. Enter the mix between myself and Larry Anschell - Turtle Studios super dude. (has done mobile recording for Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains - as well as countless successful studio recordings - his studio has an arcade!!!! SRSLY)

The combination of things was decided. I did a lot at home, some already existed, I travelled to some homes, some was live, some was Larry - perfect for all the little bits we needed. You know, Adrian himself caught pieces of Dave's background vocals and all of Brendan's cello.

And what about all those other strings I want to hear in my brains? How theā€¦?

After hitting wall after wall of limitations, both financially and idea-wise, finally, a breakthrough in the form of Kayla Schmah - the ridiculously talented string arranger and producer who I have known for, oh... let's see... at LEAST 10 years. 11? 12? Do i really want to go there? Wasn't I feeling old already? Let's just say we used to sing Indigo Girls and Vonda Shepard songs together on Salt Spring Island at Summer Stock in some year that was still the 90's.

I was lucky enough to have Kayla offer to shape the album in to something beautiful and different altogether. She's sensitive to all the sounds, and knew just what to do - things I never would have even been able to imagine - landscapes of sound I didn't even know existed other than in Lord of the Rings (sorry for the uber-nerdy comparison, it's just that I REALLY REALLY love Lord of the Rings) She made it so I didn't have to listen to tiny little bits of things and adjust their relative volumes. She's also a new mom. I love her endlessly.

Finally, it was coming together.

What about art? Something different... something new... something not my face... (which is always beautifully photographed and made to look really pretty by Billie Woods - she's f**king awesome) (pardonnez-moi...)

Enter Tara Thelen - the painter of the paintings used for this album's artwork. Seriously? I can use these? Are you kidding? I am so freaking lucky it's ridiculous. lol After a lovely telephone conversation with Tara and a bit of time deciding on which of her many amazing paintings to use for this album, we decided on "Look at Me" and "I Found You". Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Ok so what about layout?

Alix Whitmire - web-designer and cover art designer for a great number of my albums and all around amazing lady who is also an incredibly talented knitter and lover of fibres... She just always knows what looks awesome, including Billy Argel's font, Ginga. Seriously. I love the font. And Alix knows just what to do with it- I can't wait to see it in hardcopy, what with the metallic foils and things with the mixes of colours... YAYYYYY!!!!

I can't forget, too, Condor and John MacMillan - who recorded tracks live way back in the day that have found themselves years in the future on this particular piece - and soundboard operators the world over.

Add in everybody - add in everything - and finally, the culmination, aurally, of what I've imagined and wanted since I used to listen to Counting Crows' August and Everything After until I wore out copies and copies of it from when I was a pre-teen and well after...

I've got it. It's done. I'm pumped. I hope you like it. Thank you to everyone who helped me do this - and to Adrian du Plessis for listening carefully again and again more times than I ever could before my brain would bleed.

Thank you.

Allison :)

next up, the euro-tour in April... stay tuned...

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