Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moving Ahead

"Now, BB, you're going to need to pace yourself here."

I looked over at the man from behind a tall microphone.

"Seriously," he said. "These next couple of tracks aren't meant to be keepers. You still have a lot of singing to do tonight and you don't want to blow your voice out."

"Alright," I answered. "I'll take it easy."

I have not been entirely inactive on the music front, though the dearth of information I've posted regarding the topic of late might give that impression.

After I returned in October from an unsuccessful meeting with record executives in Largest City, I fought off a surge of melancholy and, as is my manner, pushed ahead even though I didn't really feel up to it.

Failure is never easy to deal with. Failure on really quite a large scale, regardless of whatever success accompanies it, is doubly hard.

Still, I knew that there would come a time when I'd be raring to strike out again and decided to lay some groundwork that I might be in a good position once my high spirits returned to me.

That groundwork consisted of finding a band (Indie Pop Band), allowing them to compose instrumental parts to my original songs, and locking down a studio where I could record a demo at a reasonable cost.

We had two numbers done by the middle of December and were originally scheduled to go into the studio on December 17th, but a spate of irresponsibility and bad luck intervened.

On the afternoon of our first demo date, our guitarist (an otherwise upstanding individual) showed up for practice drunk. His impairment was explained away as flu to the studio owner and we rescheduled for January 3rd.

The same guitarist had a mishap on Christmas Eve, however, falling down the stairs and breaking his hand ten days before our booked session and three weeks before Indie Pop Band was to leave for an East Coast tour.

With only a bit more than a fortnight left until the onset of a tour and searching for an interim guitarist, the members of Indie Pop Band showed their true decency of character by insisting on honoring their commitment to me despite a significant time crunch.

Their bassist learned one of my songs in five days while simultaneously helping out the new guitarist, and on January 10th we were at last in the studio.

Once behind the mic we moved a lot more quickly than anyone anticipated.

Three run-throughs were all that was needed to get acceptable bass, guitar, and drum tracks, and I did only four vocal takes before the somewhat surprised owner declared we had enough material.

"I think we're done," he said in an almost-puzzled manner. He looked at his seventeen-year-old son, who was serving as our engineer, like he wanted confirmation.

"I'd say so," the boy answered. "Everything sounds good."

"Wow," the studio owner noted. "We got through that entire thing in an hour. You guys sounded awesome."

The musicians nodded politely but I felt I should clarify as to who exactly was responsible for the positive showing.

"You know," I declared, lifting my hands in an expression of bravado. "When you have a good frontman, everything else just sort of falls into place."

"Oh, yeah," the band members guffawed, gently ribbing me as we prepared to leave.

The owner placed the headphones over his ears and took in a bit more of the preliminary track.

"This is going to be a really, really solid demo," he said. He seemed like he hadn't expected that. "It won't be radio ready, but it will definitely be good."

The track is still being mixed and mastered, and will be completed in about a week's time.

I'm quite excited.

My considerable vanity makes me want to post the song here but my considerable fear of identification has led me to refrain.

I'm facing now the same issue I've been facing for roughly a year: on the one hand, I want success and want my readers to hear about it, but on the other I want to keep my anonymity.

These conflicting desires drove me to distraction last fall; the major record label I was in talks with would have begun promotional activity for me immediately if they'd decided to bring me on, and that would have put me right in the center of the public glare.

The company took a pass on me, but the issue remains the same: if I were to ever achieve substantial success in music and then be linked back to this site, embarrassingly intimate details of my private life could become common knowledge.

Picking me out would not be hard, of course. My hair alone would be enough to out me to my readers, but while this struggle I'm engaged in may eventually prove unwinnable I've decided I'm at least not going to make it easy by posting my song titles (my hair, by the way, is just ridiculously long now; I'll have to do an update soon).

For now, at least, I'm safely unknown. For now.

I'm hoping that the song I recently recorded may have the potential to change that and perk the interest of some record companies.

I don't mean to sound immodest, but I'm really an excellent songwriter. Breakup Song, which I so recently laid down, is cathartic, guitar-driven, and filled with a series of strategically timed hooks that get the tune spinning around and around in your head long after it's stopped playing.

"BB, that's really good," my brother Powell (who once called the idea my being a profitable recording artist "the most ridiculous thing [he'd] ever heard") told me yesterday. "I can see it being on the radio. It's catchy as hell."

I beamed. Given my commercial goals, being told that one of my songs is "catchy" is pretty much the highest compliment I can receive.

He added, with trepidation, "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but one thing I think might help you is that you're willing to write the kind of music that radio wants to play."

I blinked.

"Why is that a bad thing?"

He shrugged.

"Well, you know, a lot of times that music just isn't very good or very authentic."

"Oh," I said. "That's not really the point, though."

My attitude toward music has been a source of amusement for my friends, all of whom seem to be struck by the corporate way I've approached this task.

The truth is that I see my music career partially in terms of artistic expression but primarily as a business venture. I am making and packaging a total product that includes my own crafted image and a series of enjoyable sing-along singles with the ultimate goal of selling records.

This straightforward mentality was off-putting to Local Records, which had Indie aspirations, but I think it will serve me well in the arena I wish to enter.

Response to the Breakup Song has thus far been mostly positive.

"BB, I'm so proud of you!" Black Dress Girl exclaimed after hearing it a first time and then insisting on listening to it once more. "This is really good!"

She bound forward, hugged me, and exclaimed, "You're famous!", drawing the stares of nearby patrons in the bookstore where we'd decided to meet up.

"So, you don't think I should have been offended by what Powell said?" I asked.

"No," she answered. "I mean, unless you were trying to do something new or innovative."

"Nope," I shook my head. "Not at all."

I have tried to disabuse myself as much as possible of any fantastic notions I might have concerning all this: I'm a good vocalist without being great, and am passably good-looking but in a way that is markedly boyish. There are plenty who are more talented and more beautiful than me.

Many of those people will not ever make it into the spotlight, though, and that's where I feel I stand out: I may have been given less than some but what I have is certainly sufficient, and I'm willing to wager that I put my lot to better use than those who might otherwise be more deserving.

I have a photo shoot scheduled for next week so that I can send out promotional images with my music. Wish me luck.


laura b. said...

So glad to hear you are moving forward with your music. And I do wish you luck, BB. Sometimes a little luck is the final factor that will push you right where you need to be :-)

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Of course I wish you luck!

Now, about this privacy thing. If (should I say when) you become famous...we, your readers, are the last ones you have to worry about. I know you don't worry about me anyway because I'm just an old "mom"!

Your readers are on your side. People who take the time to come again and again to see how you are doing, who cheer when you have success and encourage when times are bad, are very unlikely to feel anything except proud of you and excited for you. People don't follow blogs of those they don't like or want to hurt in some way.

Your issues will come from the "real world". The pictures taken at college parties, the "friends" who tell stories that are either lies or half truths...people from high school who you didn't really know or like. I think that is just part of the package that goes with being in the spotlight. I hate it, but as long as there is TMZ or The Enquirer...there will be those that turn on you...most likely from people you would least expect to do so.

crazy4coens said...

I think, and I don't know much, but I think that it is good that you realize it is a business, based on art, but overall, just a business. Someone once said, "Give 'em what they want."

Selina Kingston said...

Of course, good luck. You're moving ahead at a fast pace and this is tribute to your hard work and determination. I, for one, will be watching this space

secret agent woman said...

Sounds like you're on the right path for you.

Harley said...

I hope you get your dream. I think you will. I think you'll have earned it!

I would love to hear your songs...

Alice Audrey said...

I think you'll do fantastic. You have the right attitude to go places.

naturgesetz said...

Sue (Someone's Mom) is right. Your faithful readers won't want to hurt you in any way. We only want the best for you.

But there is always some danger that someone who is too excited and not thinking clearly could say to friends, "OMG! OMG! OMG! That's a guy whose blog I follow!" So if you don't want everything archived here to become public knowledge, you are probably wise to consider deleting the blog when your career begins to take off. But if you do, please give us the url of your new blog or website, so those of us who aren't avid followers of your style of music will know where we can go to find out how you're doing.

Meanwhile, good luck!