How To Release A Record... or something like that.
As you may have guessed, we’re making a record.
We’re inching closer to the date, and I’m surprised at how much anxiety I encountered trying to figure out how to release it!
I’ve waited ten years to record these songs. I’ve waited two years to release them in this form.
The closer we get to finishing this project, the more I'm at a loss for what to do. When I set an intention for a project or practice, it’s always goes a little something like this:
“Love yourself and trust your work enough to finish it. Love the work and trust yourself to finish it.”
There is such deep trust in collaboration, and a painful kind of accountability - if ever my shortcomings are on display, it is when I am trying to commit to deadlines and follow-though! So much labor goes into our songs, our arrangements, our recordings and performances. We pour over lyrics and forms and intros and outros, and voicings and transitions. Every detail is visited, revisited, revised, and revisited. We ask so much of our colleagues and collaborators: long sessions, moral support and trust in the vision; to laugh and agonize with us over hiccups and hurrahs large and small. We ask our friends and family to contribute to the process and support it financially, before they have anything in hand. The most terrifying part is having to communicate when things don’t go as planned, or we haven’t managed our expectations intelligently.
We lose progress to completely bananas acts of god and have to start from scratch. We fail, and fail again, and fail better. We order take out. We stay a few hours longer. It takes a few more days, weeks, months. We extend deadlines, and keep breathing, and make music and remember what it’s all for, and wonder if we’ll ever finish－until we do.
Until the songs are here, like so many messages in bottles, waiting to be set adrift. And then the question comes: When do we release them? How? Where?
Every time I sat with these question, I became so overwhelmed and upset I had to stand on my head or take a walk. Making music feels like breathing to me, so why did finding the “right way” to share it with you feels so constrictive? As a known procrastinator (I’m unlearning stress as a motivator), I noticed sitting on my hands wasn’t going to get me anywhere closer to realizing my vision for these songs. It took me longer than I’d like to admit that I’d lost track of my intention. Love myself, trust the work. Trust myself, love the work.
When I listened, when I trusted, when I loved, I knew that releasing the record had to happen in seasons, the same way I write the songs. I sat with each song and they arranged themselves into groups and sensibilities naturally. Suddenly the things that connected them, beyond genre or subject, became clearer. Shifting back into Purpose when you're out of alignment is a beautiful thing: the “yes, aha” feels are so delicious. So, solstice! Equinox! Four Parts! We would hope to start in summer, but would be grateful just to start.
Summer’s official end, September 22, became our date to share reflections on summer.
Onto the location- this was a tricky question, too! I had lots of conversations with community farms and nurseries, restaurants and galleries, and a handful of venues (though many of them were dead ends, no response at all. womp womp). Eventually, I found an amazing space in the Maas building, with indoor/outdoor space, cozy vibes, and an investment in community gathering and events. My amazing yoga teacher training was there, my friends get married there, I attend performances there often- it felt like a no brainer! So why was I still anxious about it? I said let's do it and wanted to take it back immediately for reasons unknown. I kept starting to share details, and stalling for little reasons. I was dreaming about mice- little things that are interfering with the bigger picture. Something wasn’t right.
I remembered that I create music as an extension of my own healing practice, and as a means to make meaningful connections. I decided rather than sticking to the space and ignoring my unrest, I’d make list of what I wanted, what I needed, and what matters to me.
I nourished myself with an amazing little meal (feeding myself is an offering of self-love- but that's another blog post). I sat meditation, then wrote down a list of what was important to me in terms of sharing this music. Here’s what came up:
- I want to share music with as much dynamic space as possible. I like to perform right on the edge and border of every boundary, so I need to work in a space where I I know I can explore a full spectrum of volume, of grooves, of improvised and through-composed. It’s important to me that I don’t feel pressured to be any one thing.
- I want time to feel abundant. I hate feeling rushed, or pressured to move faster by outside variables. My priority is a smooth take off and landing, and the ability to enjoy the view with all the people who’ve decide to travel with us. While I value the time of my band, and the people enjoying our music, and that’s why I’ll make sure we’re prepared and comfortable to start. On that note,
- I want to be comfortable. I don’t want to feel strange about taking off my shoes, or making an adjustment
- I want to be close to snacks. Food is everything. We’re celebrating the Harvest. This is not silly! It’s necessary.
- I want to be close to you. But really, It’s much harder for me to hug you, hang, share this stuff if you're too far away.
- I need to trust the space. It means a lot for me to feel safe while making music. As a brown femme singer, I’ve had terrible experiences with venues, managers and sound people not taking me seriously, or blatantly disrespecting me (Raise your hand if someone’s even asked you to wear a shorter skirt, or tell you to just sing louder when you can't hear yourself. UGH! Not here for it, ever again.) I’m grateful for the tools I’ve acquired for taking care of my needs on and offstage, and the safer spaces in Philly that honor artists. That said, I'd like more agency.
- I’d like to contribute to building the environment I make music in. I curate and keepsake moments, and it means a lot to contribute art, flowers furniture etc to the space to cultivate presence and mindfulness.
When I sat with these wants and needs, I shifted in a new direction. That “yes, aha” alignment feeling? Visceral. Nearly chiropractic. It was simple: we should have the release in our home.
We rescheduled at Maas in December, and it feels awesome to have some possibility to create a fun shared musical and art space with more time to be intentional. I am so excited for where the next releases take us- but having this down feels like I can rest in the present with this first offering.
So, here’s the short version:
It’ll be small and sweet and you’re invited.
I’m making you a few little presents, including a self-care zine, an equinox song, and homemade fire cider (because #trademarkfreefirecider!) for this transition season! Your presence is a gift to me as we share the first songs of this series, so I hope to return your generosity in kind, with music and lil’ something.
To our friends scattered to the four winds who can’t be here, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you! I promise to share as much of the night as I can with you. You can do a lot with Vimeo and a bubble mailer.
Here we are, and here they come- grateful, and eager, and delighted, and nervous (in a good way) to invite you into our home and share these little songs with you. Summer’s End will be on our website, Spotify, Apple Music, and all the places, and I’m hopeful you’ll be here to listen to it live.
xoxoxo and then some,
p.s. special thanks to Matt, John, Ken, Ryan, Mel and Kim who were present for a good amount of the chaos I waded though in my mind to arrive here- making decisions out of love and for love don’t usually happen in a linear fashion, and it requires a lot of patience to trust me with something like this. I cherish your hardwork, friendship and support.