I've Always Been This Awkward - Sixteen


How To Make Your Next Record Album

One of the most difficult things you can do is make yourself your next record album. The making of part is actually kind of easy, that's not the problem at all. It's the getting started part that's an angry, spiteful asshole! Typically once you've actually started, you're well on your way to completion, and barring catastrophe it's the lesser of the record-making battles. If you can get into a flow, you'll tidy things up in a month or two, typically.

But getting started? Believe me, pre-production is a series of heavy sighs and embarrassing missteps. Pre-production is all about ADD where the slightest hint of anything else happening in the world will distract you and postpone you for yet another day. Adderall would be a handy little helper.

There are generally two ways to start a record album and here's another Handy Guide:
Method One to Get Started Making Your Next Record Album – You practice the new songs that you have recently written about everything and nothing. You either rehearse your new songs during formal rehearsals with your band or you play some of the "new ones" during your gigs until they're ready to record. Often this method involves the booking of rehearsal space and the booking of so-called "gigs." Then there's the hiring of producers, engineers, and any additional musicians you may need. Method One requires a lot of focused planning, budgeting, and the diligent adherence to schedule and budget. You rehearse until you're nice and tight because studio time is preciously expensive. We'll call this method the "conventional," or "smartbomb," method dependent on who is actually fronting the money to make your next record album. Don't get me wrong, you'll end up paying for every last penny of it at some point, and if you're recording for a record company then paying might be feel more like a student loan in that you'll be paying for your next record album for the next 20 years. Maybe it's more like a mortgage.

Method Two to Get Started Making Your Next Record Album – The other way to start your next record album is based on fate. Not the hokey-pokey superstitious/omen type of fate but the coincidental timing of brain, will, and circumstances. It has little to nothing to do with songs either. That is, sometimes your prefrontal cortex begins to vibrate with gamma rhythms and you feel an "insight" to "get this era recorded" just like that. You feel oddly genius and mope. Your brain simply on its very own or through specific and deliberate or deeply subconscious stimulation decides for you that the time has come to make your next record album. For the lack of a better term, this method is known as the "epiphinal," or "tKoL," method. You have little control of what is happening to you because your brain has hi-jacked all systems. You can either fight it or roll with it (known in the literature as "the flight or roll response").
I'm going to ramble about Method Two for a while since Method One makes no sense to me at all. The feeling that you should start making your next record album could happen anywhere or at any time. You somehow believe yourself to have a sudden knowledge that it is time to make your next record album. Intellectually you fight this urge because you tell yourself that, for a million reasons, you're just not ready. You conclude everything from having no "songs" written to having no "time" to make your next record album. You justify the suppression of these urges by reminding yourself that you "just made an album." You remind yourself of your blog, of your photography, of your board responsibilities, of your thousand other "commitments" that leave you with precious time for friends and family. You just can't make a record right now. You contend that you're not set up to record this record. You believe that you're missing some key instrument or software component.

But the brain, that goddamn demon mass up there in your skull, is already making your next record for you. It's taking in ideas, it's processing notions that will serve as the rough framework for your next record album.

You find yourself, despite your brain-fight, doing little things in preparation. You record snippets of everyday sounds just to hear it. You note things. You drop the notion of "pre-production" in casual conversations. You listen a little closer to your favorite songs. You pay attention to engineering. You test some waters in many little ways. But you're certain that you're not going to do this because you're not ready to make your next record album. It's impossible. It's like dating after a bad break-up. You don't feel you've reached a particular threshold or something.

And why do you fight this effort so strongly? Why is it so painful to get started making your next record? Because it's goddamn fucking hard, that's why. And no matter how brilliant your next record album is, you'll never appreciate it fully. It'll always be about that error here and the levels there and every little mistake magnified a
hundredthousand times that cause you to not enjoy the fruits of your efforts for years and years down the road. You will skip it on the iPod shuffle every single time. You will play zero tracks for your pals. It's simply a short-term lose-lose proposition; very hard work for very little reward.

And not only is making your next record actually a difficult thing to execute, it also takes a little something out of you. It maims you in small ways. No matter how much it adds to your life, no matter how rewarding it ultimately is for you, no matter the satisfaction of completion you might get, making your next record album will kill you a little more than it will prolong your life. It's like cigarettes, alcohol, or any of the other classes of harmful addictives. Like piranha, making records will nibble at you until you drown a sad, unfortunate skeleton.

But your brain is all, "Go!" So you consider it all at 3:20 AM. Over and over.

That is exactly why the making of part is so easy. The brain has already moved on by that point. Next! While you were fighting yourself over whether or not you make new art for the humans of the world (as opposed to watching the TeeVee by yourself), your brain has already put into place everything your conscious and willful mind and body will need to execute your new record album. To not make the record is a terrible thing to waste.

No, you are not Mozart and you will never be. There are no finished compositions queued-up and ready to write in your head. Your brain has just and only set up a ready framework for you to use. The rest of record album making takes work. Actual work. Real work. And you're still exhausted over the go/no-go battle. You have cognitive dissonance. You are a fool and a sucker and a slave and a bitch to your own brain. You are in that Matrix movie or some shit.

Sure, you have nothing formally prepared. So! Once you commit your willful and conscious mind and once you finish the big, dramatic play called "Pre-production," you can just turn on the recorders and get to recording stuff. Then you can mix it just so. Then you can master it just, just so. Then you can market it. Then you can distribute it somehow. Then you can suffer the indignity of feedback from friends, family, and mopes alike ("Dude, I like your CD, can I borrow a twenty?"). But, record what? And, why? Shit if I know, I ain't Kreskin. Nor am I Mozart. I'm not even smartbomb. Neither are you. It's beyond control! It's the Outer Limits!

So just open your eyes and look around yourself. Better yet, open your ears. Those are the head-holes you're going to need the most for your next record album. Like my old mentor Ralph used to say, "Don't ask – do!" Like Nike says, "Just Do It!" You don't have to try from this point on. Nor is there need for any more self-battle. You shouldn't even think much anymore. Your brain has done most of the heavy lifting. You just have to ride it out. Just fucking Go Dog, Go!

Your next record album doesn't even have to be a collection of unrelated songs that you hope to someday get on the radio. That's aiming much too low. That's so Method One. Just make it happen. Impress yourself. Make yourself jealous of how dumb you were for questioning your brain in the first place.

I'm talking about creating. I'm talking about creating the truest audio version of the definition of words "record" and "album": A collection of moments that documents time, place, or context; an interpretive manifestation of thoughts and ideas as expressed within the context of personal or intimate experiential journeys. You have the opportunity to make something to personally reference years out and go, "Oh, shiiiiit!" You have the power to make something that stimulates your memory cells and devices. A future gift to and for yourself.

Oh, and when I said "you" before, I meant, "me." I'm almost past the "fighting phase" and am actually dipping my toes into the "doing shit" one.


I've Always Been This Awkward

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