This morning at 10am, I officially premiered the music video to my new single The Year of the Rabbit. To mark this occasion, I thought it best that I springboard from my previous post and go into greater depth behind the scenes. Today, I’m going to share the journey that The Year of the Rabbit undertook through recording, mixing, mastering and release.
A roller-coaster of emotions
More than two weeks have passed since the release of ‘The Year of the Rabbit’ and to tell the truth, the feeling is a little hollow. It’s a strange sensation when you launch something that you have spent so long nurturing and growing into the big, wide world. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions – pride, anxiety, satisfaction, regret. You do your best to plan out release day just right and hopefully break through some of the noise generated amidst the content-saturated social media platforms and the 10,000 other singles that were released on the exact same day. Once released, you try your hardest support and promote your creation to give your art the best chance of continuing on in the world – without your support…
Now that I think about it, the parallels to parenthood are almost low-hanging fruit. However, a single launch all happens within the period of approximately 4-6 weeks. And this was just a single. Don’t even get me started on the emotional whirlwind that accompanies an album launch. Anyway, I digress!
What next for The Year of the Rabbit?
When we last spoke about the inspiration and writing of this track in my ‘Unearthing The Year of the Rabbit‘ post, I left with the question of recording. What next?
Here I am with my first attempt at composing for a string quartet. The vocal melody for the track had already been written, which meant that the process of exporting MIDI from Musescore and importing into Logic so that I could record voice and export a rough demo wasn’t a complicated one. The next hurdle was getting over my own insecurities and double checking my assumptions. For this, I contacted several composer friends. Second opinions should always be sought. Small tweaks were made and confidence was restored and reinforced.
Satisfied in the arrangement
Once I was satisfied in the arrangement and happy with how my demo was shaping up, in a bout of spontaneity, I contacted a long-time musician friend, Ollie Brown, who had recently let me know that he was working out of his own space at Church Street Studios in Camperdown, Sydney. I have huge respect for everything that Ollie has written and recorded as a singer-songwriter and we always got along really well, which is no suprise – everyone who has met Ollie loves Ollie. Anyway, he was more than happy to help me record and mix the track at a generous rate.
Once we locked in a date and formulated some sort of plan-of-attack, I got in touch with another long-time musician friend and incredible violinist in her own right, who provided me with a long list of string musician numbers. After some frantic calling and texting (the studio date was fast approaching), I was able to narrow the list down to 4 willing participants who were interested and keen on the project.
Besides myself, the performers on The Year of the Rabbit ended up being:
- Violin – Caroline Hopson
- Violin – Rebecca Gill
- Viola – Neil Thompson
- Cello – Paul Stender
All in all, I had the quartet hired for 2 hours max. In this time, we were able to workshop the score and add tweaks to the notation where required. Once we started recording, I think it might have been the 5th take to nail it? I sang along live in the control room, behind the mixing desk. What an incredible group of musicians.
Tape The Year of the Rabbit
In the lead up to recording, I also got in touch was a video editor mate from work, who played around in some bands in his younger years, Shaun Gibbons. A talented editor and passionate creative himself, Shaun was happy to tape the recording session and compile an edit that I could use as the music video for next to nothing (google ‘beer economies‘).
My favourite thing about the resulting music video is being able to re-live this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience again and again. This session truly was something that I will cherish forever.
Once recorded, I met up with Ollie across two evenings and we got the track mixed. I was really happy with the final result. He’s a very talented guy with great ears. But in the weeks that followed, something just didn’t feel ‘right‘. Issues with string noise and some other subtle elements were affecting my ability to enjoy the mix. As a precaution, I asked Ollie to send me the stems of the track so that I could have my own play with the production if required.
I needed to fix this
Almost 12 months passed. In the end, I sucked it up and figured that I’d just have to live with it. I sought out a mastering engineer, Fred Miller, via Sound Better and provided the mix along with a bit of backstory on the track, including my apprehensions about string noise and subtle squeals. Once I received the first master back for review, my concerns were amplified. I needed to fix this.
After consulting with Fred (such a lovely guy – and talented mastering engineer), I decided to treat the individual stems and stereo WAVs with Izotope RX10 – I should add that I’ve recently been doing lots of audio repair work via my day job. Once sorted, I re-mixed The Year of the Rabbit from scratch in about 24hours, resubmitted it for mastering and was provided with the result that is now available everywhere.
Pride and optimism for The Year of the Rabbit
Now, more than two weeks after the release of my first single in 2+ years, the music video for ‘The Year of the Rabbit’ has also been officially launched. The ‘hollow‘ feeling that I spoke of earlier has (for now) been replaced with pride and optimism as I look towards the next steps that I can take in propelling this song towards new listeners.
P.S. Did you notice the brand new website? Go and look around. I have rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up. I also now have a Store with new merch – all created or compiled by yours-truly. More on that later.