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What Remains?

In between of the days that passed, are parts of ourselves we may not get back. Untraceable remnants broken and rebuilt. Some thrown to the sky some torn apart.⠀

A more sensitive side that felt the moves and saw the good in everyone. Hurting and healing for others, before becoming walled off, cold and calloused. ⠀

An idealistic side that wouldn't settle. ⠀

A side that was ready for what was to come, believing in five years. But five years later when dreams became realities, a lack of courage kept them at arms length. Realized possibilities only for those with the conviction to act on what they believed. ⠀

A side that wanted to leave the right way, but didn't know how to say goodbye. Staying long after the boundaries were crossed. One. After another. After another. ⠀

A side that didn't want to be a let down, until the pressure overflowed when all that was held was let go. ⠀

A side that was convinced love was enough to overcome, proven wrong by how distance can lead others to become distant strangers. ⠀

A remaining open question. 

Boundary Conditions

Many artists believe the story unfolds as it goes, that it will reveal itself during making. To me that always seemed like a half truth. A blank page with never ending possibilities is just too daunting, too overwhelming, leaving too many opportunities and directions for the music. Instead, during the writing of each album, we try to create boundary conditions. By starting with never ending openness and gradually adding boundaries over time, it helps to show what is and isn’t, creating direction, purpose, and focus. Once in place, it’s possible to zoom inside each frame.

Instead of thinking outside of the box, it’s creating the box, and then finding a way to take everything outside and fit it within.

Treading

In 13 years of making music, the current album we are working on is the hardest creative experience of our lives. What has made it difficult is the feeling of standing still. Progress isn’t coming as easy. Usually, albums take us about six months to write, but we have been working on this one for nearly three years. With each breakthrough, we feel a greater feeling of something being off. The experience can most be described as a feeling similar to treading water.

 

Prior to this album, I used to view treading water as a negative. I could never find any redemption in fighting to stay afloat, always associating it with struggle and wasted motion.

 

But after three years of working on the same album, I’ve come to believe that treading can be a positive. Sometimes art making is about being able to hang around long enough to complete the idea. With that in mind, treading can be transformed from a struggle into a way to conserve energy when taking time to make sure that the art feels right, when working through the subtle, but meaningful details.

 

When the storm comes, it’s okay to tread. Just try not to fight yourself in the process.

Circling Back

Many times, creativity is about how long we are able to hold onto an idea. It's simply a matter of sticking with it long enough for the idea to emerge, tossing out all the obvious along the way.


While that may seem easy to do, in practice it's much harder. Holding on creates tension and demands focus. It tests strength, endurance, and patience, often feeling like maddening ritual without movement.


So what we do is circle back. We hold onto a song just long enough to work through a part, then the tension rises to the point where it is no longer sustainable. That's when the song must be dropped. We let it float to the back of our minds until the rest emerges, as subconscious can be surprisingly powerful when it comes to songwriting.


Knowing when to let go allows for time to recover. Without taking breaks, art making would drain so much energy that it would lead to ruin, making us hypersensitive perfectionists driven to destruction by being too focused on each detail.


Hold on as long as possible, but then let go and circle back.⠀

Going Back to Move Forward

There are times when we have to go back to the start, erasing all that happened in the space between. To move backwards feels monotonous, unnecessary and disappointing. What about what was imagined? What about what was supposed to be?

 

The ritual is never easy, but all we can do is to try to do it the right way. If that means throwing away five days, five weeks, of five years in order to get it straightened out, it’s a risk we are willing to take. If it means failing in public only to begin again, that’s a risk we are willing to take. Anything less is to become so calloused that we no longer appreciate the incredible privilege of being able to create, anything less is to do a disservice to the gift of making art.  

 

What about the lost time? What about if the second guessing drives others crazy?

 

Never admitting the problem, never growing from the failures, never improving after identifying what’s wrong is a form of carelessness. More than that, it makes for bad art, as stumbling along just to stumble is not artistry, it’s being sloppy. Accepting anything less is to live in a permanent state of good enough, but not quite right.  

 

To move forward means to go back.

Flow

One of the hardest parts of making an album is creating a story that flows. Speaking in feelings, connecting what's disconnected, and stumbling along until the loose ends make meaning. 

 

When working on our current album, we struggled over and over with a song that didn't seem to fit. It was one we didn't want to give up, but there was no place for it. 

 

Songwriting is exceptionally strange in that songs are ideas that need to come out. Sometimes it doesn't matter who they pick, but the song is going to choose someone, regardless. 

 

As artists, the struggle is to eliminate all the barriers we put up to allow the words and sounds to work through us and get to others, to take down the blockades that keep us from understanding, from knowing what it means and where it will  go. 

 

In this case, it meant rearranging the track listing, and rearranging it again. But even  when hanging on and circling back, it still felt awkward and incomplete, no matter where we tried to put the song. 

 

After a week long fight, all the barriers were eliminated, and the reasons shown. 

 

The song founds its place.

Revisiting

Revisiting is part of our writing process. We try to put songs away once we make them. After walking away, at times for as long as multiple months, we return to see what changed.

 

In the moment, it's easy to get caught up. It's easy to believe that what we've made is incredible. But that reaction can be deceptive, illusive and incomplete. A half-telling truth.

Too often, the music is lacking or lackluster.

 

By revisiting with fresh ears, we catch many songs that could be better. And when it happens, we try our best to write and rewrite until we believe in the few songs that finally make the album.

 

Throwing away many good songs is a brutal truth that never gets easier. It's a ritual in letting go of love.

The Pain of Chasing

Edits have started. Well at least the first round of edits. The editing process is one of the most tiresome and nerve wrecking parts of making music. It's also one of the most satisfying. 

 

Initial writing is about getting the idea down. No considerations, just free flowing feeling. Follow the emotion wherever it leads. Play sloppy. Find a melody. Sing words that make no sense. No judgement. No looking over the shoulder. Forget about what others think, we're all crazy anyway. All that matters is getting out of the way. 

 

But edits are different. Editing turns into madness because editing is about trying to find perfect (when we are all imperfect). 

 

Can we get there or are we going to fall short again? Will it turn out the way it's imagined? Can we find a way to say all the words that we know but cannot communicate?

 

Editing is about polishing the inner vision. What we hear, but can never quite express. Making chaos from order and order from chaos. 

 

What about dynamics? What about the chorus? How does it fit within the story? Have we lost perspective? Or should we give up and do normal things, get a nine to five, a home with a backyard, and two kids?

 

Should we walk away while it's still safe? Regular things sound good compared to the slow step by step. It's like getting kicked in the teeth, repeatedly. Is there any way to make it less painful?

 

In editing, we chase the feeling until all the failure turns into the story that makes us, us. We chase it until everyone that left comes back. We chase it until those that stopped caring, take notice. We chase it until we're "good enough". We chase it no matter what our family and friends think, especially the ones that hated the first release and said, "no one will ever listen to this".

 

But we stop as soon as we realize that all of that is in the past.

 

That's when the song is finished.

 

That's when it's time to move on...

 

(This week was spent revising a song called No Prisoner)

Truth seeking

After months of writing we have finished the tracklist for our second album. The writing process has been painful, slow and unforgiving. Nothing has come easy. 

 

There has been second guessing, dancing with the unknown, and on most days, coming away feeling dissatisfied. 

 

Is it good enough? Does it expand the possible? Can we fall in love with the songs over and over or do they lose more and more with each listen? 

 

Are we reaching beyond what we are capable of or rehashing where we've already been? Are we taking the easy way out or beginning again? Are we continuing to hide or showing what's within? Are we relying on what works or taking risks? 

 

While we still have edits to make and writing to complete before we head to the studio to record, we are closer than we were. 

 

We will keep pushing until we get to what's true.

 

(Really looking forward to sharing with everyone. Maybe we will put up some demos in the coming weeks)