Fighting with Demos

April 7, 2015



At this point, I'd say I'm a pretty decent songwriter. What I am not -- by any stretch of the imagination -- is a decent producer. My last album came about largely because of the imagination and tech savvy of Chris Connors; he was able to spin the studio recordings of my songs far further than I would have had I been working alone. As I'm now truly in the pre-produciton stage of recording my new album, I've been making demos of the songs that will encompass the record. Most of them have been somewhat straightforward -- there are a few piano-only tracks, a few 'full band' songs, and a few that tend to straddle the line between the two, but for the most part, their arrangements have been rather easy to suss out.


All except this one. 


"Divide By Zero" was one of the first songs I finished for this album, and is still, thematically, one of my favorites. It's a country-tinged number about getting over anxiety and depression, and it tells a decent story without being too didactic. It's also definitely on the catchier end of the songs I've written. These are all things that work in its favor, but it's the genre itself that's proving troubling. I'm not a country artist, for better or worse, and it's a dangerous line between using genre elements and becoming a pastiche of said genre. To that end, over the past several months, I've recorded several different iterations of the song; the final product may not sound anything like any of these, but -- much like with Dopamine Machine -- there are enough of these that it may prove to be an interesting look into the songwriting/producing process.


As I was thinking about how I wanted the album to sound, though, I realized two things: 1) I wanted this to lead off the record, and 2) I wanted it to be a full-band track. This demo came from that, and features a somewhat more fleshed-out sound.





Not pleased with that, I went entirely in a different direction and tried imagining it as a four-on-the-floor dance number. 


  There's no saying what these exercises wil ultimately do, in terms of influencing the final product, but they're a way to get to know the song further. It's almost like trying out different outfits -- maybe the feather boa and heels aren't necessarily what you're going to wear every day, but it's fun to dress up once in a while.



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