New single for December

The holidays can be a difficult time for those away from home.  Here’s a new single from the album that conveys the loneliness of Christmas amidst  the stark beauty of a northern Canadian winter.  Dedicated to all those who will be away from their families this year.

Advertisements

First single now available

We’re thrilled to release the first single off the album.  Yellowhead West — a song for that other great Canadian highway stretching across the prairies and into the mountains– was a finalist and received special mention in the Jameson Upstart category at the 2016 Ship & Anchor song contest in Calgary and I’m pleased to be able to share it with you.

Become a fan of Selkirk Range at Reverbnation before November 22 and help build the buzz.  I’ll send you a link to the pre-release digital download copy of the album.

Album artwork

 

Here’s a peek at the artwork for the forthcoming album.  The painting is titled “Rasht” by Ottawa-based artist Taymaz Valley.  He has  very kindly given me permission to use this piece for the record, and I would like to thank Renee La Roi for her assistance in pulling all the design elements together for the CD packaging and online graphics.

I was drawn to the organic feel of the painting and brilliant use of colour.  The river, tree, and house all speak to elements and themes within the songs on the album.  That combination was simply irresistible to me.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Stay tuned for a special announcement later this week about the release date for the album and a special pre-release offer for fans of Selkirk Range.

Closing in on a release date

Final mixes are done and we are sending the tracks to be mastered at Golden Mastering in California in the coming week.

From there, we will send master tracks for replication on a small run of CDs, as well as uploading to CD Baby for distribution to various online retailers, including iTunes.

It will be a soft launch of the record in November, meaning that I will release some or all of the album but plan for a more formal release event in the coming months.

Everett’s been wonderful to work with throughout this process, and I’m very pleased with the results so far; and especially for the opportunity to work with some talented musicians who performed on the record.

Stay tuned for more soon.

 

Preproduction session 4: the sound of silence

This session we continued to run songs, discussing structure and arrangement.  One of the important considerations as we begin to imagine the songs in production is the balance between sound and silence.

Context, as they say, is everything, and learning how to use silence to frame a melody and lyric can really bring out the most in a song.  One proverb I came across sums it up well: words are silver but silence is golden.  We frame the words with silence.  Silence makes it sing.

FullSizeRender

Everett and I running songs in his studio

In any case, working in the modern digital studio with hundreds of gorgeous sounds at your fingertips makes it very tempting to fill up the silence with a rich but unnecessary arrangement.

We know this and so we’ve been talking about how to strike a balance in the songs that will give them an interesting sonic texture that brings out the most of the melody and the lyrics.  A golden frame for silver words, as it were.  When does the lap steel come in?  At the beginning or in the second verse?  Does it play throughout, or only at one or two points in the song?  Should we have backup vocals in this part?  What about a tone wheel organ?  Or nothing.  Just a single note the guitar maybe.  So many possibilities.

From a production standpoint, one approach may be to try out lots of different ideas and explore options before making decisions and stripping it to the essentials.  But this still comes down to a subjective decision in the process, and one where experience and a sense of discipline will pay off in the end.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/39747297@N05/5230479916/in/photolist-8Yczsd-cbcCk3-7jNmHv-dipm3P-5FefTX-sKjX3-5Fixk1-bBUjs2-bCwEoZ-4qLmk2-ccHti1-bUswQr-2Nati-eALvw3-5bjaoE-dULRxt-boZz85-daMjCh-5FivxU-nfWQif-bEU9xB-evy1D8-78WDg-3f6kZz-bQ7zsp-5FefXP-ddus1V-dwHLRn-5FiwF3-3Ao8mS-9NCMZT-5EYCfm-cpXBxm-e48NRC-8h9176-bBUupB-jvie5t-jjWWL7-2BS8QV-2pvf6Z-4ZHLs3-5WnYcr-422k5w-63dWbv-fbyEfd-oJsYJa-bxN9YA-fSNt1b-dURTpS-3AEivQ

Preproduction Session 3: Steel sings and fat gets trimmed

Everett and I met on Sunday for our third preproduction session.  This time we set up some mics and did some initial tracking with vocals and acoustic guitar.  Everett has recently acquired a Gretsch lap steel, and we used this opportunity to explore ideas for the song “Longest Night of the Year”.

When he first tried out the slide guitar during the bridge of the song, it was almost a transcendent moment for me.  Not having heard much beyond acoustic guitar versions of the song so far, even this small contribution to the arrangements was amazing.  It was like putting butter on the bread.  The trick now will be to figure out how much of that slide guitar will be just right without overdoing it.

Everett with lap steel annotated

While we spent a good part of the session exploring possibilities for the lap steel, I also began to take a hard look at the structure of this song and what might be trimmed to tighten it up.  The initial version was coming in at over 6 minutes, which is too much to keep a listener interested–at least for this kind of folky acoustic song.  So, we’ve started to trim and clip some of the excess.  It is always remarkable to see how much better a song can be when the fat is cut from it.  And while the length of a song should not always be a determining factor, it is an important consideration especially when a first draft of the song exceeds five minutes.

In this case, the song structure revolved around a Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Verse/Bridge/Verse/Chorus, which when you look at it written out does seem kind of excessive.  And that isn’t taking into the account that the verses are structured around 3 stanzas as opposed to the usual 2 stanzas.  Anyway, we can often write a lot when a song is in its early stages and we’re not sure what is really important to the lyric or the flow of the song.  That’s not bad inasmuch as it gives us lots of material to work with.

However, having some distance from it now (I wrote the original song in March/April), it has become easier for me to take a critical view and cut out a stanza in the second verse, remove the verse before the bridge, and drop the chorus at the end altogether.  (I realize that dropping the last chorus might seem unusual but it works because the last verse is a repeat of the opening stanza, creating a cyclical effect with a sense of instability in the ending, which corresponds with the mood I want).  The net result has been to bring the length to under 5 minutes and arrive at a song structure that will be more likely to hold the listener’s attention.

I’m learning that the songwriting continues well into the preproduction phase, as lyrics get revised and song structure gets reworked.  I’m also realizing that it’s a lot easier to do some of this when I have some critical distance from the song, which suggests the value in coming into the studio with material that maybe isn’t too freshly minted.

Let’s make a record

I’m excited to be starting work on my first record with Edmonton-based musician and producer Everett LaRoi.  We will be setting up the production schedule soon and should have a record ready to release sometime next year.

I’m going to take my time and enjoy the process, so we haven’t set ourselves any hard deadlines.  Right now we’re planning on recording a 6-song EP.  We’ve got a shortlist of songs and will get started on pre-production in October with Spicy Tomato Music.

Everett is a really interesting guy with lots of song writing and performance experience stretching back to the mid-1980s with his former band Idyl Tea.  His recent production credits include work with ManRayGunGoldtop, and Alice Kos.  It’s a real honour to have him be a part of the Selkirk Range project.

Uptown Folk Club

This is a highlight reel from a short set I did at the Uptown Folk Club in Edmonton last week.  The Club plays a valuable role supporting live music and songwriters in the city and they have an open mic one Friday each month, which is a great opportunity to try out new material in front of a friendly audience.

Getting the record together: budget time

Now that I’m contemplating a self-released album or EP, I need to think about the inevitable costs.  Like any other project it’s important to think through the details because, well, that is where Devil lives.  In those details.  To help me work through this process, I’ve drawn on a great resource online for artists looking to release their own record.  Among other things, there is a link to a resource on creating a budget.

Categorically, the costs divide up into (1) music production and recording; (2) artwork and packaging; (3) marketing and promotion; and (4) “other” expenses, which include online distribution. I’ll start to work my way through these and share some of the details in upcoming posts, including any additional resources I might come across.

Capital City Records in Edmonton

This is a great initiative to support local talent in Edmonton.  The Edmonton Public Library has launched a program called Capital City Records to establish a public digital space to celebrate the local music scene and its history.

Anyone can stream the albums but if you have an EPL library card you can also download the tracks.

They plan to add 100 albums per year, with the call for the next round of submissions coming up this Fall.