For the past two years I’ve been working on my first solo CD – an exhilarating, but meaty task and not for the easily thwarted or faint of heart. There is no ideal time and space in which to birth a musical baby. Regular life (births, deaths, taxes, crises) just keeps on happening right around you. The project has been left-brain laborious between seeing the bigger picture and drowning in minutia, with logistics, budget (really??), and proposed vs. actual plans. The vocalist-to-producer-to-arranger-to-musician-to-engineer-to-promotion-and-to-market-we-go haul has meant fancy footwork, sometimes a quick two-step, between brain hemispheres. An indie artist, I am the bottom line where the buck and muck stops. I am the alpha and the omega of the creative process, the org chart, the business dynamic – and just about everything in between. I have thrilled in moments of bliss, soured into bossy bitchy-ness at times, and squirmed under bouts of teenage insecurity.
When being a singer – a driving theme in my life – moved from my PT pursuit to vocation several years back, it fell under the hot lights of “the biz.” This meant ugly qualifying, quantifying, strategizing and categorizing around it – threatening death to my artist soul. And this being my first time managing a recording process and release, one minute I felt like the 17-yr-old introvert again, shy and uncertain, auditioning for a new voice coach or a popular show. Other times, I was back in the company world, needing to be on top of my game, ask the right questions, digest new info quickly, weigh decisions, assess impact, conceal vulnerability and subdue emotion. Not so easy when a main artery of my life is musical self-expression – and it was the product on the table. Any remaining thin skin needed to “leatherize,” but I sometimes yearned to crawl out of it, down to the creek or into a bottle. But, the project was ME, and I couldn’t create a great piece of work without being present in the feeling places. I needed to keep the verve (and intuition) flowing, revel in childlike joy and wonder! while still juggling details and processes. It was a dance – trying to create as an artist and think like a CEO.
Navigating the process became easier when I separated all the “To-Do” items into right-brain versus left-brain lists. I could not one minute be working on song interpretation and vocal nuance, and in the very next, rewrite my bio or shoot specifics with a radio promoter. But I did need all cylinders firing. I tried to set aside days (or at least chunks of time) for different kinds of work. I also gave myself timeouts and play days away from the stack marked “CD!!” and out of reach of technology and mind-numbing media. I became better at recognizing which part of me was operating and why, and who I needed to call forth in what situation. It was revealing, and pretty energizing, to live out these roles – the fiery-and-sensitive artist; the grown-up girl who could hire, fire, delineate; and the kid who was tuckered out and cranky.
A reward I didn’t expect from this journey seems to be that I’ve built bridges amongst my inner aspects (and demons) – negotiating needs versus wants, believing in dreams and talking back to fears, while multi-tasking like crazy. These places in me now feel more collaborative, more flexible. They can sit at a table, or maybe the piano, having a harmonious experience and bouts of temper, angst and acid-reflux have lessened. Learning how to give each one a voice has felt like a fairly steady steer towards a successful CD launch.