It was when Dan said the songs were ready to send to Red that I knew we had made significant progress in a project that had seemed mysterious and huge.
Then when the songs actually came back with added acoustic piano and Hammond organ tracks, the album suddenly blossomed into something more than I could have ever imagined. I was even a little upset that up until that point I’d had no idea how far the songs could go. I was awed that someone I had never met could hear such beautiful things in these simple little songs that I had written in my room. They were now SO much bigger than just me. I could see how they could be gifts for other people! For example, Keep Telling Me:
When I finally got to meet Red, he, Dan and I had a wonderful and relaxed conversation about music and the rewards of being a musician. He was humble, laid back, and genuine. It was a pretty great visit.
Besides just the beautiful notes and melodies, Red’s tracks gave me a huge gift of confidence and belief in my songs, a gift I didn’t even know I needed. Red needs some help now and I would love to give back to him.
The story briefly is that this September, while working on converting his Austin garage into a music studio, Red was bitten by a mosquito that gave him a severe case of viral meningitis. He has no insurance, has been unable to work for 6 weeks and it took a lot of hospital time to finally diagnose and then rest from the illness and he still needs more rest. You can read more about it and donate to the cause directly here: http://help-red.com/
I have already made a small donation on my own but I’d love to give more! So I’ve decided that I will give 25% of any pre-orders I get for Anchor in the next two weeks to Red as well. My pre-order page is set to “name your price” (with a minimum of $5 for the digital download and $8 for the CD), so whatever amount you choose, 25% of it will go to Red! You’ll also get to download two tracks right away, whether you choose digital or CD.
Here is the page where you can pre-order Anchor (online release is November 13th!): http://heathermiller.bandcamp.com/album/anchor-ep
And once again, here is the page where you can help Red directly: http://help-red.com/
Thank you in advance for your support of this amazing musician, whether you donate to him directly, pre-order Anchor, or just spread the word!
I realize I haven’t really said anything on my blog yet about my recording process. It feels rather intimate somehow. Probably some things are the same for everyone, and some things are very individual. But I had somehow gotten the impression that it was going to be intense and stressful, or at least something that I really had to gear myself up for in a big way. I think it can be like that for some people, but for me it was a very sweet, easy and fun. Almost anticlimactic in some ways, but I’d much prefer that to drama or stress!
Looking at it another way, we had a whole year of pre-production, and we got to reap the rewards of all that hard work with an awesome flow in the studio. Between working with Dan and playing the songs out so much for all this time, I was totally comfortable, prepared and ready to record them! But I was not prepared for how they blossomed into something bigger and richer than I could have imagined! After hearing them back with the other instruments behind them, I had a few moments of being upset with myself for not believing in the songs more beforehand. And I did grow to believe in them and myself over this year, but now I feel pretty solid about them! It is such a gift to have such talented musicians bringing out that potential and allowing me to hear the songs in a new way.
There were many, but one particular moment that was special to me happened when I was recording a vocal track. I had spent two weeks practicing the playing guitar and singing separately and felt ready but it still felt a little weird. After a take or two, Dan suggested I pick up my guitar and that I could even “air strum” it if I wanted. As I settled the strap over my shoulder and the body across mine I instantly relaxed and it hit me in a big, deep way - this guitar, my guitar, Rose, has been with me the whole year. Every open mic, save one where I knew I was going out watch a show after, and so I borrowed someone else’s, she has been with me. I got in a whole new way the thing I’d been hearing about “a musician’s connection with their instrument”, and I was honored, humbled and comforted. I felt a little sick at the thought of the times I’ve heard of musicians having their instruments stolen or broken, understanding that much more what the connection is and how heart-wrenching it must be. I mean, I’ve had my phone at every open mic too, and I love it, but I could replace it with an upgrade without hesitation. I may add more guitars to my life, but none of them will be Rose.
I’ve done some mini-vlogs, but it’s been quite a while since doing a big check in like this, whoa… Anyhoo, this one is about continuing to do open mics after my Christmas break, doing some bigger shows, reading a great book called “Uncertainty” by Jonathan Fields, my 100-open-mic guitar string earrings, my upcoming unofficial SXSW showcase, looking back at how far I have come and starting to think about what happens after this Rubicon Year is over and getting ready to record my EP!
People & places I mention in the video: