In just over two weeks I'll be celebrating the release of my debut solo CD Words We Both Could Say at the Gladstone Ballroom (1214 Queen Street West) I'd love it if you can join me and the band Tuesday, June 10th! There's limited seating and because I've had a number of people mention that they might be coming to the show, I've decided to sell tickets in advance online through my website. You can use your credit card or PayPal account to purchase your $20 ticket for the night at www.shannonbutcher.com/tickets.html The ticket includes a copy of the album and a live performance by the Shannon Butcher Sextet. If you'd like to reserve seats after you've purchased your tickets you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
In late March my CD designer, Matt Bilewicz, photographer, Dave Gillespie and Eva Choe, my make up artist, gathered with me down in Queen West for the Words We Both Could Say photo shoot. Working with Matt to develop the look of my album was a great experience. I had sought him out because I was so impressed by his work with Brandi Disterheft and Elizabeth Shepherd.
It's amazing to see how visual artists interpret ideas through images. My mother-in-law is an artist and she's giving me some insight into the vast visual vocabulary artists call upon when creating art for our eyes. There's a whole new language to learn - from tricks with light to manipulation of your emotions through angles. (And don't even get me started on the printing process! Thank goodness Matt was a patient teacher. I'm finally starting to know my CMYK from my RGB!) Leading up to the photo shoot Matt and I would meet to discuss who I wanted to reach with this album and how I wanted to reach them. I would throw out words and sounds and contrasts to him: "I want it to be this, not that." and we'd listen to the latest mixes of the tracks off the album. Matt suggested I search sites like Flickr.com or Google images for pictures that spoke to me. Here are a few I liked:
Who doesn't wish their album could remind people of David Bowie?
I just loved the colours in this Pucci dress.
The angles in this picture appealed to me somehow...
All the preparation lead to our photo shoot at this cool independent clothing store on Queen Street West called Common Cloth. We had decided to make use of the David Bowie reflection idea and Common Cloth was full of beautiful mirrors. They also had a very minimalist store design with the neutral colours we needed.
Mastering is all about attention to detail. It's about listening to the things that most people don't even realize they are hearing. When you're in the mastering studio you don't really know what the engineer is doing but you can hear the difference once it's done. It's pretty amazing.
The moment I stepped into João Carvalho's mastering studio I knew I had come
to the right place. It's a gorgeous building with gorgeous people
working inside it. It reminded me of my time in Canterbury Studios - I
just love being surrounded by people who have dedicated their lives to making music. Heather,
João's right hand woman, is this marvelous mix of wit and
organization. She made getting the digital files to the studio a
breeze, even when we had little glitches. Big thanks to Heather and to Karen
Kosowski, my producer's partner and a killer musician in her own right, for managing the files from the hard drive on the other side of the city!
That morning I had discovered this wonderful little spot Altitude Bakery
on Queen and I arrived with plenty o' baked goods for all to enjoy. Like me, João must believe that everyday that starts with a yummy breakfast leads to happy productivity because my tour of his studio began with an introduction to his fully stocked kitchen. You may be wondering what all this talk about scones and such has to do with making a CD but honestly, all the best recording and mastering sessions are coupled with good food. When Marc and I were deciding on a recording studio Canterbury's proximity to roti and phở was almost as important as the studio's vintage recording equipment.
Every singer who decides to share their music with the public must admit they have a bit of an ego but even if you're a complete narcissist it's not easy to focus on your own voice for 10 hours in one day. Fortunately with a pro like João Carvalho leading you along the day becomes about shaping the sound of the album and feelings of self consciousness go by the wayside. João has an incredible ability to enter into a zone where he can pinpoint the frequencies that need altering or the timbre that needs warmth for hours on end. His concentration is infectious and the first half day of our work went by in the blink of an eye. No wonder he's the go to guy
I'm so happy with the sound of the album! Check out some tracks for yourself on myspace.
Happy 2008 Everyone! I think this is going to be a very exciting year! New CD. New MacBook on which to blog! What more could a girl want??
Of course, topping my list of excitement is the release of "Words We Both Could Say". I don't have a release date just yet - the music and artwork still needs to be finished. Is anyone out there as anxious for the completed product as I am? I appreciate all of you have been asking for updates now and then. It's great to know that I'm in your thoughts. The process of creating a CD is an involved one - one that requires patience and focus and a team of talent. My thanks to everyone who has been on my team so far, especially my producer Marc Rogers.
As far as the music goes I'm still in the mixing stage. Marc provided me with a CD of all the tracks just before the holidays and I had a chance to play the current state of things for my family and then over and over again for myself. Below is a little video I made to capture the listening experience - couch grooving and all.
Over the past while since the band and I left the studio my producer Marc Rogers has been working away creating the mixes for my album. What a detailed process mixing is. So many choices could be made - in essence you're creating the next level of sound for the album. Sure the instruments and arrangements have already been set but during the mixing stage you can bring out overall nuances and highlight shining moments through the application of effects, compression, EQ, etc. We recorded all of the band together except for a few overdubbed solos but everyone was in isolation so Marc is free to play with the presence of each instrument's voice through out a song. It's common when one's mixing an album to choose reference CDs to guide your ears. These are previous recordings that have a sonic feel similar to the one you want to create. While working on my album Marc has been referring to Herbie Hancock's River and Norah Jones' Feels Like Home. Both are amazing albums that are now constantly rotating in my playlist. Check 'em out!
There are so many layers to creating a CD. Choosing tunes, finding players, booking the studio, recording the performance, but it turns out that's only the beginning. Now that the performing and recording portion of my work is done I'm on to the next phase - the packaging! First job - I need to find a title.
Titles can be a challenge because they are all about being concise. Capturing your story in a word or three. Unless of course you're Fiona Apple who threw brevity out the window with her sophmore release "When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right". If I remember correctly there was a question or should I say, answer, about that CD title on Jeopardy. What is the longest title ever on record?
I'm always one for research so I took to perusing my CD collection and scrolling through my list of albums on my ipod. Seems most CD titles, once you get past the self titled ones, come from the name of a song on the album. Then there are those that describe a certain moment in the performer's life or career - John Mayer's "Continum",the Dixie Chicks "Taking the Long Way". I've always thought Harry Connick Jr.'s series of chronological titles - "12", "25", "30" was a brilliant idea 'cause you know we'll all be waiting for "40" I also like titles that give you a hint of the style of music you're going to find on the album like india.arie's "Acoustic Soul". It's this technique used by Carcass on their 1989 release "Symphonies of Sickness" that kept me from losing my hearing as a child.
How much would you say the title of an album effects your feeling towards the music on it? Would "Revolver" sound the same if it was called "Here, There and Everywhere"? I can't remember a time when I've not purchased music because I didn't like the title but it certainly can influence your first impression of an artist when you see it on the shelf at HMV.
As I was brainstorming ideas for my own disc many a phrase came to mind that I would immediately discard because I knew it just wasn't the one. And then a title came to be that just seemed to fit: "Words We Both Could Say" It's my album title for so many reasons but I won't give it all away just yet. I let you hear the music first.