Trying not to FREAK OUT with excitement over the fact that May 3 I will be playing a 15 minute funkalicious set with 3 other musicians I haven't met yet, for the Flashband Funk Party. As far as I'm concerned, Flashband is the best invention since the internet. Put this on your calendar for a night not to miss: Saturday, May 3, 8 pm at Solly’s U St Tavern, 1942 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.
In a [very brief] previous post, I mentioned Flashband, a group that helps musicians get to know each other by throwing them together for a month to prepare and then perform a 15-minute set on a given theme. Kinda like speed dating for musicians. If you know me at all, you know that I travel a ton for work, so since I learned about Flashband last year, I haven't yet been in town long enough to actually participate in an entire cycle. But FINALLY the timing has worked out for me to join one, and I'm as happy as Pharrell.
As a matter of fact, I missed the meet and greet yesterday because I'm in Africa, but I was determined to get in on this one, so I recorded a video of myself singing a classic Aretha Franklin tune, Baby I Love You in the hotel bathroom (great acoustics; no, you can't see it--the video quality is horrible) & sent it around to the group in the hopes that a band would snatch me up. And they did, so here I go!
did you know
you are a gift to me?
a messenger sent with a sweet missive
for my eyes alone
from my Love
He also spoke to me in the snow
and through my father
through the singer who thanked me for being born
through my mother who became weak
so I would have to be strong
and through Anis calling "come closer."
the chorus of voices
calling to this tiny seed
incubating in the soil
warmed by His light
I have never been a morning person
so I pulled the covers over my head
and said "go away."
"I don't know You.
You don't exist."
and in the thick of my dream I wondered:
how do all these people just assume
they have a right to be
when for me it has
never been clear?
but He called me
and kept calling
showering me with warm rain
and singing me awake
He said, "you are."
"you are Mine."
"I know because I loved you
even before I sculpted you
fine and strong and shining."
now He is calling me through you
calling this seed awake
saying, "you are."
"now send up the tender shoot
don't hesitate, my sweet,
it is time"
thank you for delivering
like a bee running among the flowers
perhaps you didn't even know
how precious the pollen
fallen unnoticed from your hair
just stopping by to say hi, since it's been so long. i hope that at least once this year i am in town long enough to participate in a flashband show. really that is the awesomest idea ever & i can't wait!
There was an earthquake
and the Washington Monument is now blurry
just like the Truth.
Are the cracks in its foundation now too deep to repair?
Will they ever admit, "It was I, Father, who chopped it down?"
Suspicion lurks in every corner
and the truth is blurry.
Who can we trust?
If "truthfulness is the foundation
of all human virtues,"
What does that leave us with?
A friend sent me this video of Jason Mraz talking about his process for writing "The Remedy," which made me reflect on my own songwriting process. I often get asked about how I write songs. My songs have been written in all kinds of different ways--sometimes in dreams, sometimes as riffs that get stuck in my head and get developed later ("God don't make me choose, 'cause either way I'm sure to lose"), as a therapeutic writing session, music first, lyrics first, all at once, in stages...
Usually I don't have much luck when I set out to write a song on purpose rather than being grabbed by inspiration. Right now I am struggling with wanting to write songs for two occasions (I can't tell you in case they read this post), but no luck yet. [**See update in comments section!**] For one I want to set a prayer to music, and my technique for that is more reliable (that's material for another post...). For the other one I am setting out to write both words and music, but I am struggling to come up with a theme that will capture the imagination and express how I see that person in a way that is compelling. For example, "Cornerstone" was written for an occasion, but once I got the idea for the theme, it all just flowed out when I sat down to write the words.
Recently I sat down with my friend Mark Sorak (who also happens to be an amazing painter) and we co-wrote a song together, which was my first experience of that. I must say I'm pretty pleased with the result, although it needs a little fine-tuning. We were talking one day and he mentioned that there is an actual church called "The Church of Broken Pieces." I said, "That sounds like a song waiting to be written," and he said, "Let's do it!" It ended up being about the idea that many people walk around with a secret pain, but our burdens can be lightened when we realize we are not alone with our broken hearts. The meaning of the song evolved as we worked our way through the verses and chorus. In this case we wrote the words first and then wrote the music.
The process of getting ready to release my new album, and some conversations at last year's Baha'i Music Industry Weekend, really got me thinking about what my intentions are with this album and with performing the songs in public.
This album is more personal and less Baha'i-centric than Intone, which is entirely based on quotations from the Baha'i Writings. So with what the fire is, I have had to think, what am I doing with this? It didn't seem right to be out there performing just to promote myself and get sales. I have a full-time job and don't really need the money (although don't get me wrong, this album was very expensive to make, and I would love to recover some of those funds). I don't have time to do the whole indie musician thing of constant touring and promotion. At the same time many people who have heard the songs have really connected with them. So I feel like perhaps through these songs I can give people a gift, and whenever I perform, I can set some specific intention for what I'm creating for the audience. With that in mind, I have been reflecting on my intentions for my upcoming CD release party on February 16. My hope is that you will walk away from that evening having been inspired and touched by what I have to share.
I haven't been that regular about updating this blog, but I do communicate regularly with my fans through Facebook. Reviewing my Facebook posts over the past 3 years, I realized that I had a blow-by-blow chronology of my album development and recording in my Facebook posts. So I thought it would be fun to collate them here so you can see how the whole process unfolded.
January 3, 2010. That boy is fast! I asked my friend Nabil Moghaddam if he wanted to try writing music to these lyrics, and he turned out a demo in a few hours! Loving it. Thanks, Nabil!
January 9, 2010. WOOOOO! Guitar arrangement of "softness can be strength." Should I debut it at the CRG today???? Rockin' out!
March 7, 2010.
May 9, 2010. Worked out guitar part for this today. Now have to practice it! Straight-up rock-pop.
gleam Katharine Key music
May 29, 2010. Got set up to record at home! Big breakthrough. Now I have to learn how to use the software...
December 7, 2010. So excited! I just booked my tickets to Dallas for winter break to go record some of my new material with my friend Andy S! He may be cooking up some performance opportunities while I'm there...
December 25, 2010. having a great time in Dallas with Andy starting to record my new material!
December 25, 2010. scratch tracks laid down for 3 songs; going to call it a day.
December 27, 2010. Andy recorded a rockin' guitar part to "softness can be strength" (see player below) this morning, and now Aztich is laying down some beautiful acoustic bass for "give in." Magic!
December 31, 2010. Katharine Key & Andy Sperandeo...what a team! Recorded basic tracks for 2 new songs & added bass to 3 this evening. Now to prepare for Saturday's concert...
December 31, 2010. recording!!!
January 3, 2011. performing, recording, performing, recording...
January 4, 2011. getting ready to go home after a very productive week and a half of recording with andy...i am so excited about this new material!
January 4, 2011 via Music Player.
rough mix of andy sperandeo's funked-out arrangement of softness can be strength [no longer available]
January 7, 2011. Thank you for breaking my heart. I got so many good songs out of it. Now on to write some happy ones! Look out.
February 10, 2011. my producer: "so when do you want to go over your tracks?"
me: "how about saturday?
producer: "i gotta work saturday and sunday. how about some night next week. how's monday night?"
me: "only if you're bringing chocolate and flowers."
February 13, 2011. spent the afternoon with producer Keny Ruyter drawing out plans for my new songs...
April 7, 2011. lightening up my load in other areas of life so i can focus more on my music. also wrote lyrics for a new song today. coincidentally my producer called tonight. getting back on track...
April 18, 2011. After a day's struggling finally got ProTools 8 working on my computer.
July 6, 2011. My producer Keny gave me ProTools 101 on Sunday. Getting back on track with this CD stuff.
July 19, 2011. recording session Sunday!!!!
July 31, 2011. back into the studio again today. hoping my voice isn't too tired. want to work on "give in," "softness can be strength," and "cornerstone."
July 31, 2011. narcisistically listening to new vocal harmonies over and over
November 1, 2011. I am so jazzed! Just got a hot guitar arrangement for one of my new songs from my buddy Andy Sperandeo. Can't wait to put the finishing touches so I can share it with you. This song is rockin'!!!!
December 16, 2011. getting my guitar chops up for my upcoming recording sessions...
December 17, 2011. another hot date with the guitar and the piano
December 17, 2011. practiced guitar so hard last night and today that i have a blister on my thumb. this has never happened.
December 22, 2011. got a little prezzie from my guitarist tonight..."softness can be strength" is getting there!
December 23, 2011. going into the studio today & tomorrow! woohoo!
December 24, 2011. I wish I knew an easy way to share mp3s on FB. I'd love to share some rough cuts from the recording session. FB took away the music player app.
December 24, 2011. some of what I was working on today...fancy guitar work by andy sperandeo
[softness can be strength on myspace.com, no longer available]
December 24, 2011. working on this yesterday with producer keny ruyter
[plexiglass on myspace.com, no longer available]
December 26, 2011. ever wonder what actually goes into recording?
what happens in the studio?
December 31, 2011. going back into the studio on New Year's Day. hopefully all is quiet. :)
January 1, 2012. Keny is laying down new drum & bass tracks for "Humpty Dumpty."
January 1, 2012. the fruits of today's labor. just a rough mix. listen now, as it won't stay up!
[humpty dumpty on myspace.com, no longer available]
January 2, 2012. today in the recording studio i am a punk librarian
January 2, 2012. the punk librarian strikes! again, listen now, for a limited time only. comments?
[gleam on myspace.com, no longer available]
January 4, 2012. wow, the end is actually in sight with this album. still much work to do, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.
January 6, 2012. listening to my rough mixes in my car. guy walks by my car in the alley behind my house and says, "what's that music you're listening to?" i say, "that's my music." he says, "it's good" and walks off. and this was a song i thought nobody would like.
January 18, 2012. hoping today's wind will increase the size of the fire (recording "what the fire is")
January 18, 2012. it worked...
[photo of sign that says "recording, do not disturb"]
January 19, 2012. 1st 5 people to comment get a rough mix of "What the Fire Is" in its current state. If I don't have your email address, send it to me at http://www.justkat.com/contact.html
January 21, 2012. I can now listen to my album all the way through. So exciting! Just need to collect a few cello, upright bass, background vocal, and other miscellaneous parts while my producer is away in Thailand for a month. Once I get the remaining parts, unless we decide to change any of the arrangements, the editing and mixing process begins...
January 26, 2012. glad my cold waited until after i was done with recording last week
February 26, 2012. New tracks from my friends for Cornerstone and Softness Can Be Strength. Best Ayyam-i-Ha gift ever!!!!
May 4, 2012. closing in on finishing the recording...those final touches can be so elusive! hopefully i have now found a cellist...
May 4, 2012. my uncle is going to do my graphic design! he's retired now, but he used to do print layout for books and such, including the benetton catalogue. woot!
May 6, 2012. confirmed with the cellist and djembe player, got kelly's WOW arrangement of "doubt" -- moving forward! just a few finishing touches on the recording, then we proceed to mixing and mastering...
May 9, 2012. things R moving forward with the CD & it's so exciting!
May 12, 2012. Great recording session tonight with my good buddy, djembe player Gustaff Besungu! Thanks Gustaff!
July 9, 2012. just because i haven't been talking about it doesn't mean i'm not working on it...session with my producer today. need to record cello and bass & then we'll be done with the recording phase. then to mixing, mastering, cover design, and finally manufacturing!
July 14, 2012. who looks at lyrics in CD cases? i do, but i don't know how many others do. wondering if it's worth the expense to include them in the insert. i could put them on my website & put a pointer in the insert...what do you think?
July 15, 2012. sounds like most people are OK with having the lyrics available on the web. if you want to make a case for having them printed in the CD insert, speak now or forever hold your peace...
July 26, 2012. cello recording session on Monday--can't wait!
August 11, 2012 via mobile. Recording what I hope are the last of the backup vocals tonight.
August 11, 2012 via mobile. Ok ran out of steam. 2 more songs for next weekend.
August 18, 2012. 'nite Facebook! Gotta get some beauty sleep for my 6 a.m. album cover photo shoot.
August 19, 2012. Got some great shots; will post a few later when I get them. Was up at 4:30 a.m. to do the makeup and hair; back to sleep now!
August 19, 2012. here are some shots from today's photoshoot. thanks, Evan Wilder!
[what the fire is album photoshoot (12 photos)
photos by Evan Wilder]
August 24, 2012. which will you most likely buy, a physical CD or a digital download? i'm trying to figure out how many CDs to manufacture.
August 26, 2012 via mobile. Finished with tracking (recording)! Next mixing, cover art design, mastering, and manufacturing...then RELEASE!
August 26, 2012. that moment when you get a new part for a song and it finally comes together, and then you listen to it over and over again because you finally like it
thanks, kevin burnes!
August 27, 2012. DC peeps: ideas for a cool venue for CD release party?
must be in DC
fit 75-150 people
allow multiple performers and full drum kit
prefer if venue has own good sound system, good piano, serves food, but not absolute requirement
September 15, 2012 via mobile. I think I finally discovered the name for my genre. "Hard folk."
September 30, 2012 via mobile. The mixing process has begun! Just listened to 3 new mixes from my producer...
October 10, 2012. listening to mixes my producer sent me...getting closer to the finish line!
November 3, 2012. I have a complete mental/emotional block when it comes to promoting myself. My whole being rebels and says, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"
November 4, 2012. Great news! Planning my CD release party for mid January. Have found a couple of helpers, putting together the band so you get the full experience of the music, and may have found a venue. What do you think about this place? It can hold 150. Metro accessible, in DC, good price, serves food, good community vibe. I'll still look at other potential venues, but this one seems like it will work.
Coffy Cafe [note, CD Release party was eventually booked at Ebenezer's Coffeehouse; see below]
November 4, 2012. Wow, so many confirmations coming in around my CD release party. Amazing! This is going to be really awesome and fun.
November 10, 2012. had a fun and fruitful afternoon checking out possible venues for my CD release party. some promising places! i'll let you know when it's booked & the date is set.
November 15, 2012. draft of CD cover art!
photos by Evan Wilder
painting by Talia Segal Fidler
graphic design by Yaron Fidler and John Cohoe
November 18, 2012. Here is one of the songs from my upcoming album, "what the fire is," set to be released in January 2013.
plexiglass on soundcloud
November 19, 2012. Is it OK to have a CD release party a month after you release your CD?
November 26, 2012. Confirmed!!! Saturday night, February 16 at Ebenezer's Coffee House in DC. Mark your calendars! More info to follow. This is a great space--you are going to love it! And I will have a full band so you get the full experience of the music.
November 27, 2012. w00t! http://ebenezerscoffeehouse.com/events/detail/katharine-key-cd-release/
November 28. mastering session scheduled! what's a mastering session? the second to last step before manufacturing! http://www.justkat.com/1/post/2011/12/what-happens-in-the-studio.html
November 30, 2012.
Here's another preview from the upcoming album...
humpty dumpty on BandPage
December 6, 2012.
I've shared another track from "what the fire is" to my BandPage. Getting excited about getting this album out!
lights and suns on BandPage
December 7, 2012. It wouldn't be an album without a little last-minute drama right before the mastering session.
December 8, 2012. Kelly Snook blesses the album by putting her fingerprints on the title track. ♥♥♥
December 10, 2012. On pins and needles to get Kelly's mix of the title track! Mastering session tomorrow! Woo!
December 11, 2012.
Special preview, up for only 48 hours! Here's the title track from my upcoming album.
[what the fire is on BandPage, no longer available]
December 14, 2012. finally got the master files today! just a few tweaks & then we can send for manufacturing...home stretch!
December 18, 2012. just approved the cover art proofs!
December 19, 2012 near Broadview Park, FL via mobile. Masters finalized. Manufacturing commenced.
December 30, 2012.
CD Release Party Posters (3 photos)
please "like" one poster (not all 3 posters) to vote for your favorite
January 1, 2013.
Special pre-release copies of the album and downloads! Help me with the final push to get the album out and get cool rewards! This is like a Kickstarter page, except I pay lower fees & I get to keep all the proceeds regardless of the amount raised. Please share with your friends!
"what the fire is" album - Kapipal
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