This summer, I have decided to take on a rather ambitious endeavor (which is saying something coming from someone who has a love of attempting to accomplish projects of an abnormal caliber).
I have decided to try to write on three albums in three months (the first of these albums is entitled Wanderer and is a spoken word album being released on June 14th by Egypt Speaks). This led me to ask several questions which typically started with the thought, “Are you insane?” and ended with “It’ll be okay.” However, I have begun asking myself what is an album, and how do I know if I am saying the right things?
I have come to realize that whether you are writing alone or co-writing an album is a collection of stories, ideas, memories, and images that come together to mean something to both the creators and the audience.
While I am sure that there are people who will disagree with me on this, I think that the best albums are intentionally made and under processed. Every piece of art I have ever felt moved by seemed to be a little rough around the edges. Maybe some words or images seem too personal, perhaps not all of the phrasing was exact, or the rhyme scheme wasn’t consistent throughout it. But my point is that I think to make an album whether as an artist or a writer, you have to be real not only with the people you’re working with but also with yourself. People will know if you feel emotions or if they are manufactured, and it will undoubtedly be easy to spot if there is a live show or corresponding videos.
To make an album I start by writing, preferably picking one genre of music and then just exploring ideas. I have known myself to write many iterations of ideas or entire projects. However, I think that it doesn’t matter how many tries it takes you to make an album come to life as long as you are always learning.
For me making an album means laying out a timeline (so setting a release date and then back-calculating when I need to have milestones completed by). This also means making a list of all of the details I will need to account for (things such as album art, social media promotional posts, mixing, mastering, tracking, production, and post-production work).
I think that in the end, the most important thing about making an album is authenticity even if you are simply writing for or with an artist. People will be able to hear your voice or even just the depth it brings to a project overall. The hardest part of finishing is starting, so once you start just remember that being a creator is a job and somedays it’s going to feel like one, even if it’s a job you love. Push through, develop persistence, and learn to love it. Making an album can be a long process. It is one of the few pursuits whereupon with its completion you not only have something to show for your work, but you also have the story of how you got there. Trust me – your tracks will tell the story of how you got to the end whether you intend them to or not, it just happens. As a side note, that is why getting to work on the final track of any record is really special to me. Good luck.