The writing process
My writing process varies and has developed over time. I always start by writing the skeleton of the song; the chord progression and the lyrics. Sometimes I write one before the other, other times I’ll write both at the same time. I played the songs in the streets for the public as they developed, allowing them to marinate and allowing me to connect more and more to the music I was writing. It was only very late on in the process that I sat down and wrote out the orchestrations for the different songs, but the ideas had been there all along. I wanted the album to be fully acoustic so I found my favorite musicians at California Institute of the Arts to play my orchestrations and arrangements; Atticus Mckittrick on guitar, Tal Katz on cello, Sara Sithi-Amnuai on flugelhorn and Ben Scanlan on percussion. For the Root or the Seed, I asked the musicians to improvise as it is a song that we had played together live on multiple occasions, resulting in a joint arrangement of the song. All guitar arrangements were written by Atticus Mckittrick for himself to play as I know that I could never write a guitar part that is as beautiful and fluid as what he writes for himself. We are connected on many different levels, and music seems to be one that requires nothing else, it always just seems to work perfectly.
The recording process of the album was long, difficult and full of learning curves. I decided to record the album in the last couple of months of my masters degree at CalArts before losing access to the studio’s for ever. So swamped with final projects, commitments I had already made and visa paperwork to ensure that I could stay in the country, I was determined to walk away from my masters degree with a new album, applying the knowledge that I had learnt during my time there. As there was little funding for the project I ended up doing all of the sound engineering myself. I had taken one recording class whilst at CalArts but I was no technological wizard and I ended up wasting hours in the studio trying to trouble shoot problems I had no idea where to even begin with. I learnt about various things to do and not to do as I went along and ended up having to rerecord multiple tracks due to my own errors. With two weeks of school left to go, the recording process was almost complete and I was ready to start mixing. Then one Friday evening I went into the studio to find that both the main drive and the back up drive for the studio had been completely wiped - Make sure you always double back up your work! I have still not found out what the cause for this was.
At this point it was crunch time. I had some of my sessions backed up on an external hard drive but in the hurry and flurry of everything I had forgotten to back up some of the sessions properly. I lost some of my work and had to start rerecording the tracks I had lost. At this point it was clear to me that there was no way I would be able to do all the mixing in time for graduation. I outsourced the work to Chloe Scallion, an incredibly competent music technician who had always been willing to lend a helping hand when I ran into technical issues in my projects at school. She did an incredible job of enhancing the organic nature of the music and paid close attention to detail.
Three years later from the initial start of the project it is complete and I am excited to share the hard work that has gone into it with the public.