This is like my “letter from the editor”.
(Most recent update: July 10th, 2021)
Date: June 4th, 2021
First of all I’d like to say thank you for stopping by on this cool summer day, I know the weather has been rather turbulent lately so I appreciate you making the journey, albeit virtually as to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.
I started this project in February 2020 when it was becoming clear that we may be headed into lockdown and for a pretty significant amount of time. I hadn’t really touched my guitars in, I’m hesitant to say it but – years really, and I hadn’t written any original songs in nearly a decade.
Suffice to say I had no idea what I was doing when I stumbled across an article about Poland’s “Crooked Forest”. I’m Polish-Canadian but I’d never heard of it before. In short it’s a cluster of trees within a pine forest that have all grown in a “hook” or as I like to see it, “J” shape for reasons, no one is really entirely sure; it’s a mystery.
I had just started writing again and by this time had probably 10 or so songs under my belt and had started thinking about covering some other artists music to introduce myself virtually since we wouldn’t be playing any live shows for some time (it’s June, we might start busking soon but that’s as good as it gets around here these days). [Edit: I don’t think we’ll be busking in Barrieland].
One of the troubles I was having in the very early stages was that I felt like I couldn’t hone in on a direction or “sound” for my music. While everything was still very much me, some sounds wavered into traditional folk styles, with others were more aggressive punk, and others, well, I had no idea until I started tracking them what any of them would sound like really. I decided to select 10 of the now 23+ or so I had written to put out a record by my 30th birthday. Despite having played in bands previously and spent years working in professional recording studios, I’d never put out any original music with my name on it.
I was filled with a sense of urgency all through the initial process. And having retired my engineering hat for several years, re-learning my preferred workflow took a lot more time than I initially thought it might. It was like relearning how to ride a bike, except you were starting on the top of a hill without brakes and actually it’s a unicycle, which you’ve never rode before; good luck kid.
I didn’t initial set out to do this entire project by myself, but between the lockdown and my own financial struggles, I wanted to make due with what I had and set out to make the record entirely at home.
I’d also never put together a full song together like this is any way, so suffice to say putting out a 10-song record from the outset was a lofty goal.
At a certain point I had to stop to ask myself why I was doing this after so many years and otherwise so many failed attempts.
I was finding myself up all night tracking and re-tracking songs, changing their entire structure and genre. The initial release, A Quiet Place To Scream, the 3 song-EP that ultimately was the final cut for my looming birthday deadline, those songs went through so many changes I can’t even remember half of what I did last summer. I have the Pro Tools files but they’re all insanely out of time with each other due to tempo changes.
Meanwhile, I was barely spending time with any one else. And my husband who I still lived with, well, I was about to throw in the towel for good.
When I finished the record it didn’t take long before I was wondering, “okay, well what next?”. I still had like 8 other mostly finished “produced” tracks just sitting.
I’d completed my goal, but I didn’t feel whole.
When I listen back to “A Quiet Place To Scream” now, I’m proud of the effort but now I know it could’ve been better. The uncertainty of COVID and my work arrangements were and continue to be so stressful that I find it difficult to take time to just let things sit and allow myself to breath while I work through this process myself.
So why was I doing it?
Clearly releasing something simply with my name on it that I’d done was a fleeting feeling, but I still wanted to work, so what was the point of it all anyways? It’s now well over a year later and we’re still in many ways in the same position we were last year, so why keep going?
I started writing poems at a young age, even submitting them to some online contests. I didn’t get much feedback about them when I showed them to people I knew. There was one however that a California based company sent a letter back inviting me to their conference to showcase my work; as a kid this was exciting as hell, in retrospect I imagine it was a cash grab of sorts and assume that’s why my parents brushed it off when I showed them the letter.
When I started turning poems into lyrics, I didn’t get much reaction about those either.
When I started to learn how to sing someone told me I sounded terrible; it was my mom.
When I started learning to play guitar I was so self-conscious about it, I’d never touch my amplifier.
When I started learning to sing and play at the same time, I’d barely be audible above a whisper.
When I started recording myself on my BR-900 digital recorder that I paid for with my own money, though mom put it on her credit card for me first, I’d take it to our pool cabana, the farthest I could get from anyone at that age, and I was still too afraid to project my voice.
Last year, while in the safety of my rented King City house by myself, I started singing along to my favourite songs again, but loudly this time, since no one was around or could hear me; my husband worked long hours out of the house and I was grateful for that. It was the first time I’d had that kind of space, and it was weird, but it was like I’d heard myself match a note for the first time in my life. And then I did it again. And then a little louder. Who am I right now? Does my voice compliment these singers or am I hearing things?
It weirded me out a lot at first, but that’s when I started playing around with acoustic cover songs. I felt good singing for the first time in my life. That’s such a weird feeling when you’ve grown up your whole life listening to music and wanting to write and perform like your favourites.
I still wasn’t in any way confident singing my own stuff, but things were starting to come together, I thought. And hell, I had some things that I felt were important to say, so I was gonna say them, dammit!
I was starting to like myself again.
For most of my life I have thought of myself as someone who can write pretty well, but can’t play guitar at all, is pretty mediocore at bass, and definitely isn’t some kind of performer.
These days, I actually think I’m pretty good at all of those things. Not as great as the pro’s of course but if that had stopped me again last year, I wouldn’t have released 3 EP’s, all self-recorded, and played entirely by me. And I’m proud of them. Really proud of them.
Some of them are still getting some TLC, but I’ll be proud of them every step of the way, because if you had asked me this time last year if any of this would be here today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I decided to release the recordings to showcase the songwriting process through my own eyes and ears, and so that years down the line I can look back and really see how far I’ve come.
The funny thing about working in professional recording studios from the time you’re 17 is that it’s really, really intimidating to be around so many talented people all the time, especially when you’re still finding your footing and learning how to pluck the strings or turn the pre-amp dials.
But that’s why I do this, and more importantly, in this way. I’m open about my process because I want people to see that it IS a process, and it does take a really long time sometimes to see or feel any sort of progress, but your confidence in yourself should never waver if it’s what you feel you want to do or if you have something you want to say, however you want to say it.
I’ve wanted to be “in a band” since I was like 10 years old. Now I’m in one I really like. It’s just me, but we have a good time and always agree on the pizza toppings.
That being said we’re open to collaborating and chatting anytime about whatever. We’re in this for the long haul and we’ve got a ways to go.
Coming up I’m working on my first official full length release “The Clearing” so keep an ear or two out for that!
Thanks for stoppin’ by & see ya on the trail.