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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finding the music in the stillness

What a thrill. Fourth day in studio mode and we are on a roll. We've recorded everything for the songs "Silent Prophet", and "Stillness". We just need to finish vocals and keys for "Outside In" and "Bushwalk". I wrote "Bushwalk" in '95. Wow. So long ago. My ol' 4 track demo is so basic. But boy I had lots of ideas in it. Now as we flesh it out in the studio, it's coming to life. It's a song that is socially conscious and about change. Although I wrote it in my early 20s, the message is very now. With Obama coming into power, I feel this song is so right on. "Racial freedom, trapped in society, I'm losing my sobriety Momentary madness, can we cure it through psychiatry? Need for solutions. War, crime, culture, family struggle. Time for education, get back to our roots and unify this nation. Going on a Bushwalk, going on a walkabout, gonna feel alive, solve our problems we have inside. take control, energize our thoughts to solve and, cure the world, we can start right now". The word "Bushwalk" is a term we use in Australia to go on a really long hike in the bush. And walkabout is what Aboriginals like to do sometimes. They just up and go for long periods at a time, and get connected with their culture and their roots. (and themselves). It's a right of passage for them. We had Cara and Erin from Little Sista sing on the song (as well as The Stillness, and Silent Prophet). Wow, their voices are AMAZING. We had a fund day yesterday doing vocals. Surprisingly, I feel very connected with my voice right now. It seems to sing easily. I'm no longer second guessing myself, and needing to be perfect. I used to waste a lot of studio time trying to be perfect. I remember once I came in to do a 4 hour session to sing vocals (this is years ago) and I was so psychologically constricted and my voice was aweful that I had to end the session after only 20 minutes. It's so weird. I think our minds play tricks on us. But now, I just walk in, and am pretty much a one take wonder. We sometimes do 2 takes and then "comp" the tracks, which means choosing best parts from each track to make one great track. I like this approach because it allows the voice to be free and sing the song naturally all the way through, hearing the crescendos and decrescendos through the song. When producing vocals, though, with other artists, it can be a hit or miss. Sometimes I "comp" as above (and sometimes comping from 3 or 4 best takes), or I record their vocal part by part. We work on the song in parts. This can be useful for beginner singers. But I still like the first approach, to be as organic as possible. I love producing. I found some writings from back when I was recording the last album "extra Ordinary life". Here's what I wrote:

... it’s a welcome relief to be still in one place and surrender to the flow of creating new music. It’s a very Toltec process for me, connecting with my silent, mysterious and creative side.

This album certainly has more emphasis on social perspectives and world harmony. If we can heal ourselves, and be more connected with our inner self and our community, then the world pretty much takes care of itself. We live in an extraOrdinary world, but if we’re not careful we’ll destroy it. The environment is in severe crisis, with natural resources including water drying up, rainforests are being eliminated, beautiful animals are becoming extinct and treated inhumanly, racial and political issues are of course paramount and yet… I see this as a spiritual crisis more than an economical or political one. I avoid getting too political and I prefer to approach these issues with a more spiritual perspective, almost Toltec, using metaphors about relationships with the Self and those around us to heal the wider issues. That’s why I believe that even a song about romantic love can deliver powerful social and global messages. This album touches on a common theme: we all live extraOrdinary lives, and have the potential to be connected with an unspeakable and extraOrdinary force within us for ultimate, perfect harmony, balance and joy.

…Music production is a whole language in itself, beyond just being a musician. i've always been a communicator, what with being an artist, teacher and writer, but producing is like being a conductor, a messenger, a voyeur, and conducting the chatter from the Gods.

…Producing is not about ego, or personal subjectivity. I can only be the "translator" of what the song is calling out for… a conduit. Plus it’s almost like remembering… whenever I get the right feel or vibe for a particular part, I get this weird “ah ha” or “deja-vu” moment as if the song had once found that perfection, but forgot it. It's really, really exciting delving into the psychology of producing. We become slaves to the song and what it requires, and living on the edge like a spiritual thrill-seeker. It’s also about being rebellious. Being a rebel to the current times, to the past, to whatever anyone else is doing out there or what radio dishes out. It’s about being rebellious even to our own taste, and finding the freedom in creating something new and cutting edge, even if it means taking risks. I crave it! It’s better than an extreme sport (even though I love fast down-hill snow skiing at the best of times!)

So I would have to say that this new album which is called THE STILLNESS, continues to embody such social issues, about the world, about our consciousness as a human race. But it's very much a personal journey too. I am going inward more and more. One song, "Silent Prophet" is about the very fact that when we need true guidance, we can go within and find that, in our inner prophet. Our inner voice. Our intuition. It also talks of the notion that we have nothing to prove in life, but to "carry the water well", which is a lyric in the chorus, meaning to "just do our best". Speaking of which, I saw the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" last night, and i found it so timely for me. The themes were very much along the lines of my new album and where I'm at. There is one part where Brad Pitt's character travels to the Far East and India. There is a great voice over and i will endeavor to find that script because it was so powerful. It made be cry. The jist of it was this: In our lives we can be who we want to be, at any time. We can change our lives at any time, and pursue anything we choose to do. We have a choice. And if something doesn't work out,find the strength to start over, at the beginning again. Over and over again. We can be dancers, button makers, tug boat operators, anything. We can be it all. There's more to it, but it really touched me. In my album, I seek to express that where I am, I have done so much, and succeeded, and I have nothing to prove, but to express myself, and create and be ..... me. One song, "Be" will be on the album. I've had it as a download on my site for a while. This song is about living in the moment, and just "being". So many themes here. I'm excited to be recording and I will post more soon. xx gilli See the studio pics so far here.

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