Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Adventure of Making My First Full Length Album

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s been an incredible journey over the past few months. I’ve met sincerely astonishing new people, have felt full of life and joy, and I’ve gotten to watch the past few years of hard work come to life. Needless to say, I've tried to pinch myself numerous times.

I though a lot about my favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, during production and in reflection. There were so many coincidental, mind-blowing events that lead me to the right place at the right time to make all of this happen. It had been a while since I had felt like life was unfolding exactly how it was supposed to, and I’m so grateful for it.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

A little back-story; I’ve been in NYC for five years now. While I was on my way back from preproduction week, it dawned on me that I was on the same plane from Minneapolis to NYC that very date, as I was five years prior. This time, I had only one bag of travel gear, a guitar, and a husband and dogs to go home to.

NYC is huge; 9 million people huge. But, ironically, for the past two years, I had been hearing from numerous sources about a singer/songwriter named Vicky Emerson. She had moved to NYC from Wisconsin by way of Minnesota, and I had been told that we had a lot in common and that we needed to meet. After another of many mentions in September of 2009, I decided to look up her next show and put it on my calendar. The night before her scheduled show, I attended a networking meeting in the city. After the speaker’s program, I wandered up to the bar for a glass of Pinot Grigio (my favorite). As I was waiting for the bartender, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a MN license peaking out of a wallet. Of course I had to ask, and it turned out to be Vicky! We quickly became friends, and just as quickly I was drawn to her personality, her ambition, and her music. She and I played a show together not too long after that. After my set, she asked me what my plans for the future were. I told her that I wanted to record all of the songs I’d been working on, that I had no idea how I was going to come up with the funding, and that I hadn’t met any producers that were the right fit.

I had mentioned to Vicky that I wanted an organic approach to the production of my first full-length record. Something that focused on the song and the message, on my vocals, and with raw instrumentation.  After hearing that, she urged me to set up a meeting while I was in Minneapolis with Matt Patrick at The Library Recording Studio, who produced Vicky’s latest release “Long Ride”. I happened to be going to the Twin Cities to play a show the following week, so I contacted Matt & set up a meeting.

As soon as I walked into the Library, I knew I wanted to do my record there. There’s magic in the space. Books line the walls and create warmth, depth, emanate knowledge, and inspire. The same can be said for Matt Patrick. After getting to know each other a bit, and talking about my vision for the record, it was obvious that we were on the same page. I could tell from that first meeting that I would grow as an artist working with him. Good energy abounding, I also found out that he was working with an old theater friend of mine on a project at that very time. There were a lot of parallels that helped further solidify things for me. I love it when that happens.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. “– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

After launching my CD Sponsorship Campaign, I was astounded how many people believed in what I was doing. I raised enough for the production within a few months. So many of you reading this donated to the album fund. I have been taken aback numerous times and have been humbled by all of the support. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You've got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

In late January, preproduction week was upon us! Matt and I went through each song, line by line, chord by chord, until they were as good as they could possibly be. I spent a lot of time re-writing, and got very little sleep that week, and I am so much better for it. Matt sincerely cares about the music living up to its potential in all aspects, and I’ll be forever grateful for all that I learned.

Two weeks back in NYC finishing up the last few tunes, and I was back on a plane to Minneapolis for Production week! We spent three days working on bed tracks with the extraordinarily talented musicians you’ll hear on the record. Tyler Burkum played electric guitar, lap steel, and acoustic. Steve Goold played drums and various percussion. I flew in my friend & bass player from NYC, Pete O’Neill, to lend his talent and prior experience with my music to the project. We had so much fun!! It was exhilarating and emotional to see the songs come to life. Everyone agreed that the hard work during preproduction lent itself well to a clear path and vibe for each particular tune.

After tracking with the band, Matt and I worked on vocals the following week, re-worked a tune I wrote called “Brother”, and wrote a new song together called “Cellar Door” to make the 11th track on the record. I headed back to NYC to work on the next phase of the release and tour to come, armed with a toolbox of new knowledge, new friendships, new experiences, and memories that I’ll never forget.

Overall, the album blends some of my greatest influences; Shawn Colvin, Ray LaMontagne, Patty Griffin, and Damien Rice. There are glimpses of Bonnie Raitt, and Ani Difranco thrown in there as well. Stay tuned for the fall release of the Album. I sincerely cannot wait to share this music with you. 


"When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too." - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The Library Recording Studio, Minneapolis, MN

Tyler Burkum on Electric Guitar

Fun had by Matt Patrick and Steve Goold

Matt Patrick and Pete O'Neill talking strategy
(note the pizza shirt)

Pete O'Neill on Bass
(thank you Aaron Fabbrini for lending us your Fender! 1964, I think?)

Steve Goold on Drums 

Tyler Burkum on Acoustic

Mr. Matt Patrick, working his magic

  The whole gang:
Steve Goold, Matt Patrick, Pete O'Neill, Tyler Burkum & Annie Fitzgerald

Annie Fitzgerald and Matt Patrick