As many of you know, I spent the Fall of 2012 working on recording my first EP using the gorgeous Kawai grand piano at Vaughan Music Studios (VMS). This morning I finally decided that I will be titling the EP Zero, after the name of the first track on the album. Zero is a number that represents both potential and choice. Physically, it also resembles the Ouroboros, a representation of the cyclic nature of the Universe in the form of a snake eating its own tail. On a personal level, Zero feels like an apt title for the project, as it marks both the end of a journey and the start of a new one.
I selected five songs for this project. Starting off the recording are Zero, Two, and Fifteen; pieces of a larger song cycle that I’m working on. Those are followed by The Lamb, a song that I co-wrote with my college roommate Kathleen Coyle back in my music school days. And the final song on the EP is my arrangement of Lines and Spaces, written by Kevin Milner, a Dayton area singer-songwriter and friend.
I participated in three sessions at VMS in September, October, and December of 2012. For the September session, I did a studio-live session of all 5 tracks – three very intense hours with me performing the piano and vocals simultaneously while recording engineer Mark Abrams captured it all. The goal of the session was to recreate the sort of energetic and rubato sound that audiences experience in my live performances. This resulted in a studio-live solo version of the EP with minimal editing, the entirety of which will be available to those who purchase a copy of sheet music book that I’m also producing (more on that later). In the meantime, the studio-live version of Fifteen is already streaming here at the site, and the studio-live recording of The Lamb will be appearing on the “official” Zero EP.
For my October session at VMS, I invited Columbus photographer Mike Chambers and tubaist Carrie Frederick along. In this session, we focused in on creating full band versions of Zero and Lines and Spaces. In preparation, I had written out the tuba parts for both songs and rehearsed with Carrie for several weeks prior. And to take advantage of the a rare opportunity to focus on doing my vocals separately, I was coached by studio owner Cindy Vaughan to get the best vocal performance possible. Unlike September’s ‘live’ session, we recorded all of the elements separately with a click track. Mike was at the session with his camera to capture the madness, and the full gallery is available here. After the session, I took the Pro Tools files home and invited my husband Christopher Whitney to add some snare and do a semi-final mix of Zero, which is also already streaming at the website.
By November, I was already feeling burned out on the project, but really wanted to finish recording before Christmas, so I pushed forward. I wrote a tuba part for the full band version of Fifteen, and set up a few more coaching sessions with Cindy Vaughan to fine tune my vocal performance of Two. By the time I showed up for my final recording session in December, I just wanted to get ‘er done. I was tired of my own work, and that is not a good feeling!
I spent the rest of December and January pretty much burned out and did not practice my vocals or my piano for over six weeks. And no, these are not the habits of highly successful artists, but it is what it is. What I did with the down time is read a lot of good books, learn the fine art of terrarium-making, develop an appreciation for carnivorous plants, and put in a little bit of overtime on my parapsychology work. At this point, I still haven’t even listened to the tracks that I recorded in December, but that is slated for later this week. I’m almost at the point where I’m looking forward to overseeing post-production with fresh ears.
I’ve been back into my practice routine since the start of February. Most of my practice time has been spent getting my repertoire back in shape and my vocal cords back to where they were before I dropped the ball. Word to the wise: six weeks without practicing vocal technique will undo a lot of work!
The most exciting EP news that I have right now is fine artist Sara Adrian, has agreed to illustrate the sheet music book that is accompanying the Zero EP release. She will also be doing some general graphic design for the project. Artists need to get paid though, and that brings me to my last point…
Most of what I have done at this point has been self-financed: 12 hours of recording time, about 5 hours of vocal coaching, some commissioned artwork, the construction of this website, plus several hours of bartered time in trade for photography sessions and marketing advice. On top of that, there have been uncounted volunteer hours put in by my husband and fellow musicians. So far, I’m out around $1000 for everything that I described so far, which is a bargain, considering…
What is still needed is payment for the production of the sheet music book and funds to cover the cost of minimum orders for physical copies of the book and EP. I haven’t finished the budget, but I expect that it’s going to be at least double what I’ve put in so far. I’m going to need the help of my fans, friends, family and Kickstarter.com for the rest. It will be several weeks before I start my campaign, but in the meantime you can participate right now by signing up for my email list, liking me on Facebook, and/or following me on Twitter so that you’ll be among the first to know when the Kickstarter campaign goes live.