So, I released Heart of Mine.
Hi! Been a while, right? How’ve you been? I’ve been… extant. That’s a short way of putting it. After spending last night un-fricking this blog, I realised I’d said not a word about my new album here. Zip, zilch, nada. I threw up a quick entry for it in the discography but I figured I should actually say something/anything about it. And about me, since that’s what a blog is for. Read on for a pile of words.
On the 20th of January 2016 – AKA my 22nd birthday – I finally released Heart Of Mine, an album I’d been working on throughout all of 2015.
So, let’s go back to February of 2015, when I released Light Shows and Shadow Puppets. It certainly hadn’t twigged in my mind that I might have been sick, though I suspect I could’ve been. I should probably write up a post of this whole descent into the Wonderful World Of Chronic Fatigue but that’s for another time.
I was pretty tired from the rushing around of getting all eighteen tracks organised and as close to perfection as I could get them at the time. But it was a good kind of tired, and also pretty exhilarating. I’d never been prouder of releasing anything and, riding that high, I jumped straight into production of the as-yet-unnamed next album.
Aside from a couple of things – a good chunk of Lantern In The Night‘s instrumental part and a rough vocal + chords version of Thorns‘ chorus are the only ones I can think of – the entire album was unwritten. For the first time, I was taking a blank slate and seeing exactly what I was capable of throwing at it. The only times I hadn’t pre-written anything were my two instrumental albums and those hardly compare to how writing and producing vocals feels. At least, for me.
Everything was a flurry for about a month. In my room at our dilapidated rental property, so many of the important moments of Heart Of Mine sprang to life seemingly out of nowhere. Wither’s main piano hook and chorus were knocked out one morning when I woke up and five and couldn’t get back to sleep. I solidified the concept for I Walked Alone in about half an hour, split evenly between sitting at my piano and standing in the horrible shower in that horrible house’s horrible bathroom. In my mind, I’ve got a perfect picture of standing there and playing the not-yet-existant song over and over in my head, singing one note and hoping I could pull it off.
Seriously, I wish I had a photo of that seventies nightmare of a room.
The Hollow‘s instrumental part was written in about a day, and I believe a good chunk of Farewell Song was written on the same day as Wither. I don’t exactly remember when I started River Run Red but it wasn’t long after, and Thorns was soon after that. There were other songs, too, but there are reasons they all got the boot. Trust me when I say the album is stronger for not having them on it.
I believed I was on track for a release anywhere between May and June. Had I kept that pace, I don’t think I was far wrong. But – spoiler alert – that didn’t happen. What did happen is my increasingly fatigue-addled mind interpreted the also increasing difficulty I was having with cobbling Heart of Mine together as a surefire sign that I should drop everything and create an album of covers.
Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense to me, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the fact that I recorded those covers. I’m proud of my versions of Endlessly, She Said, Sis Puella Magica! and To Kill A King in particular. But I can’t even begin to explain why I thought it was a good idea to stop what I was already trying to work on and do that. But hey, that’s brain fog for you.
By the time I finally got back to work on Heart of Mine, I’d deteriorated more than I’d ever expected. Bec was still in uni at this stage and there were multiple days where I just didn’t eat until she got home because I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed.
In the months leading up to what would eventually be Heart of Mine’s release date, there was less organised productivity and more flurried confusion. At one stage, the album theoretically had twice the tracks it ended up with. Though at least three of these (completely written) songs will end up on the next album, I should have axed the others long before I sunk so many hours into them. One egregious offender has about twenty tracks of vocals on it. A song I hate. Yeah.
Once I convinced myself of exactly what songs truly belonged on it, Heart of Mine finally began to take the shape I’d wanted since its vague beginnings. Though some tracks continued to give me an inordinate amount of trouble (River Run Red, I’M LOOKING AT YOU) I felt like I knew where I was going. If I didn’t have a road map, I at least had a compass.
I closed out 2015 in a blur and surprised myself by getting every track finished a couple of days before my birthday. I spent January 19th putting the finishing touches on the artwork – it’d been planned since maybe June or July, but I couldn’t possibly get it done ahead of time, oh no, that just wouldn’t do – and trying many times in succession to get the measly seven tracks uploaded to DistroKid all at once.
Slight deviation from topic: I hate how DistroKid handles album uploads. You have to upload every single track at once and if your internet loses connection for a second in say, track six, you have to start every single file again. Fuck that. I’m in ruralish Australia. Our internet isn’t good at the best of times.
Anyway, it’s out now. In the wild. Rendering the full album video on my computer pre-upgrades took approximately a hundred years but I wanted it done and out of the way in case I broke everything. I managed not to break everything, despite a few hours of panic caused by improperly seated RAM.
Now that I’ve shoved my computer into a quieter, better cooled case, squished the OS and a bunch o’ programs onto a 256GB SSD and doubled the RAM, it runs so much better, which means I can do much fancier things. Sadly I haven’t had much of a chance to test it musically, but the fact that I can actually do more than three or four things at a time in AfterEffects is a marked improvement. In the old days, it could take five to ten minutes to start Photoshop up. Now I can open it, find a big ole .psd, open that up, make a change, save it and exit the program in under a minute. Which kicks ass.
I would never have been able to make even something as simple as The Hollow’s video before I made these changes. As I type this, I’m seventy-something hours into trying to render a similar but far more complex video for Thorns. The render time is supposed to be about fifty hours, but it’s onto its second false start, having died the first time to a power outage and the second to OneDrive changing my filenames. If it pulls off a hat-trick I’m not responsible for what I do.
So that’s where we’re at. Work on the next album hasn’t really begun, though I do have a name, a vibe and some bits and bobs of songs in mind. I think I’ll start on it in earnest once I’ve got all the videos taken care of for Heart of Mine. There are some things I’d like to get done in the mean time – for example, we’ve been in this house for like nine months and I’m only just sorting through all my junk in earnest. Having the computer sitting there making MP4s gives me a lot of time to do things I’ve needed to do away from the screen.
Plus, I don’t want to even think about what running Cubase and a billion instruments would do to render time.
As for me, I’m better than I have been, but worse than I once was. I’ve been sleeping awfully. January passed far quicker than I feel it should have, but that’s become a pattern for me. It wasn’t as bad as November, which I swear up and down just disappeared. February’s been better thus far, which I’m pleased with. I’ve been able to spend at least an hour productively and cook dinner most days. Cooking dinner has become one of my favourite things to do and I’m always bummed out when I can’t do it. But some days you just can’t trust yourself with fire and knives, you know?
There you have it, a whole pile of words. I’d like to update you with how the junk-sorting is going in a couple of days. I could even give it a clickbait style title like You Won’t BELIEVE What This Idiot Still Had In Her Room After All This Time, All The Numbers Will Shock You, All Of Them.
Til next time 🙂