I’ve been thinking a lot recently about making a new album. I have made two under the name Two White Cranes and I’m very happy with them both – both seemed to be enjoyed by the people who heard them and both really accurately capture particular (and very connected) periods in my life.
The process of recording and releasing both was super interesting. The first one I recorded for free because of the very kind Matt Stevens who let me come to his place of work over two weekends and use a demo studio to make them, and he used his prodigious skills to make them sound good. I got very confused about how to release that album but eventually I put it online for pay what you want and a very surprising (to me) number of people bought it and I used that money to press some CDs with the help of Stitch Stitch records.
The second album was recorded at Sound Savers in London with the very nice Mark Jasper. I paid for this recording with my own money. This was partly because Trust Fund (a band I was in at the time) had been given some money by a record label and I got a bit of that money and decided to use it to make the Grubs and Two White Cranes albums. I guess at that point in time making music seemed like the most important thing to be doing so it seemed like a good thing to spend money on. I then split the cost of making CDs with Stitch Stitch again and Oddbox records made a tape version. Later on Happy Happy Birthday To Me also made a tape release in the US.
So basically that’s how I did it before. Once I did it for free and once I used my own money. But now I don’t know what to do. Although its amazing and liberating in many ways to make a record for free it relies on luck and it also means not paying someone to do it, which feels unfair as I know so many really brilliant and self employed record producers.
I’m not really in a position to pay to make a record again right now but if it was something I really wanted to do I could save up I’m sure, if I was determined. The truth is though making an album no longer feels like the most important thing in the world. I want to be able to live in the city I’ve just moved to (Brighton), which means having a job. And I guess I want to read books and swim and stuff like that. After I’ve paid for rent and chocolate and other important things I could definitely save up what’s left to make a record fund. But that takes time and there’s this weird thing I have with songs where I get very afraid they’ll get too old to record and then they’ll never be recorded, they’ll be forgotten. That’s a big fear I have. What if these songs stop seeming worth recording after a year or so of living only in my brain. The other thing is they tend to get bigger and more complex, the longer they stay in my brain. And when I eventually do record them they might not have the simplicity that is probably my favourite thing about my own music.
Another thought I’ve had is trying to get funding. I’ve looked in to some funding options and they sound good but the main problem I come up against is trying to convince myself, let alone someone else, why I should make an album. I guess I do know why I want to make an album – because its fun and meaningful and satisfying. And perhaps I feel like I need to quite a lot. And because it gives me such pleasure when people listen to my songs and tell me they like them and that they mean something to them. That feeling is just honestly the absolute best. Those reasons are all so selfish though. I have no idea how it would help the rest of the world if I made an album. I suppose I do know that I can inspire other people who feel they want to make music and that’s one of my favourite things about being in bands. But I can do that by playing live and probably better because when I play live I make all my mistakes so everyone knows that anyone can be on stage if they want.
Camille said I should make some demos myself which I think is a good idea so I’ll try and do that for now, in my bedroom. I suppose the interesting thing to me is that the decision to make something and put it into the world sometimes seems so easy and sometimes seems so hard. But what I’m trying to think is that the difficulty and the indecision are not necessarily signs that something is not worthwhile or not good enough but more signs that I am understanding more about the process of creating something. Speed and simplicity are not the only valuable qualities in music (although for a long time I felt they really were!) and it is probably ok to take my time and let some songs fall away if they need to.