Decisions in a Song: Fireworks Dim in the Light of Love
“Often in life you are confronted by many possibilities. The best thing you can do is just go for one with a quick decision, then make that choice work for you. It takes you to interesting places with surprising results.” – Brian Eno
As of July 2015, I had completed all the tracks for the most recent set of songs I’m calling Fireworks Dim in the Light of Love. I wanted to share a couple memories from these past couple months, and explain a small part of the workflow of recording an album.
I chose to share the Brian Eno quote above because it represents one of the big lessons I’ve recently picked up. As mentioned before, having complete control over my songwriting is fundamentally liberating, but it often leaves me with countless directions I can take a song. And so the decision-making process begins- more often than not, in my unfinished basement, sitting at a midi keyboard with Logic Pro IX open in front of me. With this atmosphere, I might flip through some sound libraries until I hear a synth lead or bass patch that’s particularly inspiring or, I’ll revisit an iPhone voice-note of an expandable melody or lyric (that I likely recorded earlier that day). For example, I purchased a Moog Little Phatty synthesizer earlier this year because I couldn’t get enough of the saturated bass sounds that I heard several other artists achieving with the instrument. After playing around with several of the synth’s parameters, I sculpted a sound with sharp transients and a warm tone, which I could imagine using as a syncopated bass line. Not two hours later, I had 90% of the song “Sidewalks” written and preliminarily recorded.
Had I not embraced the quick decision mentality when I first heard the warm bass tones of the Little Phatty, I surely wouldn’t have finished “Sidewalks” as cohesively as I did. And I’m thankful I followed my instincts, because it’s personally one of my favorite song’s I’ve written.