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March 16, 2015 | Nick Payne

keeping things moving

Recording an album of twelve tracks is a big deal. Whilst it can be frustrating trying to coordinate so many people, the rewards are gratifying.

Here’s an update on what I’ve achieved so far, some of the techniques I’m using to keep things moving and the debut of the official video clip for Old Sydney Town.

It’s been a long road so far, but it’s starting to feel like I’m getting somewhere. The album has twelve tracks and divides into two sides with six tracks each (the songs are in thematic pairs – see Blog Post #3: Songs and co-writing). I’ve been concentrating on side B and of these six songs, two are mixed and mastered (i.e. completely done), two are in the final stages of recording (we recorded the songs live and are now adding extra parts — backing vocals, flugelhorn, etc — we call this overdubbing) and two are ready to start recording.

Specifically, these two are done:

  • Old Sydney Town: a convict song
  • Never Had a Sweetheart: a sea shanty about a shipwreck

These are almost ready to be mixed:

  • Rising River: a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of murdering your ex-girlfriend for revenge
  • Peace Tonight: a song I wrote with Megan Cooper about a man who buries his wife after she dies of consumption (it’s actually a song about salvation and gratitude)

These two songs will be recorded next:

  • A Shipwrecked’s Lament: an Irish folk song based on the sinking of the Loch Ard in 1878 (a song about goodbyes)
  • Hometown: an instrumental about whatever place you feel at home in

Once all six side B songs are done I’ll release them as a free download. In the meantime the first song Old Sydney Town is available for free download now. Click the link below and an MP3 will start downloading.

Download Old Sydney Town

After that, it’ll be on to side A. More on that later…

Keeping things moving

Keeping things moving has been much harder than I thought it would be. Whilst coordinating lots of people is tricky, a large part of keeping things going is about me maintaining focus and keeping my enthusiasm and energy high. In order to do this I’ve chosen to follow two simple rules.

Rule #1: One song at a time

The first rule is to only work on one song at a time.

By doing so I aim to achieve two things. Firstly, the song gets my whole attention so I can make the song and the recording of it as great as is humanly possible. Secondly, by not allowing myself to start the next song until I’ve finished the current one I create an urgency within myself to keep working hard and not slack off.

A side effect of this rule is that it creates the opportunity to release the songs as I go rather than waiting til the very end until folk can hear them.

Rule #2: Form a team to keep you accountable

The second rule is to share what I’m doing widely with people whose input I trust.

By sharing my progress with as many people as possible I’m aiming to get feedback that will make the album better, as well as gaining further energy from that feedback (whether good or bad!). I’m also hoping to foster a sense of embarrasment if things are not moving along fast enough!

Sharing widely for me has meant things like:

  • Immediately distributing copies of takes and mixes of tracks to the musicians who’ve played on a song (they’ll often pick up little mistakes they’ve made in a take before I do!).
  • Appreciating when people ask me how the recording is going and giving them a detailed and meaningful answer to the question (thank you by the way to those who are asking - please continue to do so).
  • Blogging and posting progress on Facebook (I assume someone is reading this! And writing this forces me to take stock of things).
  • Forming a small team of “straight-shooters” who’s specific job is to keep me accountable and provide constructive input into the work. Specifically this team is Karl Broadie, Katie Brianna and Lyn Taylor. Thank you guys - your input is valuable. We’re using a private Facebook group where I share takes, ask questions and receive feedback.

The official music video for Old Sydney Town

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that the first single of the album, Old Sydney Town, will be serviced to radio in April. As part of that, here is the debut of the official video clip.

We tracked this song at our dobro players house (Jolyon Gray) and he set up a camera and shot all the footage you see here. He also edited it and I got to colour grade it.

So here it is… Old Sydney Town. Please enjoy, share widely and I hope this gives you more of an insight into the recording process.

Enjoy, Nick