In March I had the idea to make an EP of music in response to the covid-19 pandemic. With the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines causing feelings of isolation, I wanted to celebrate what we still have. The idea was to collaborate with artists remotely from the safety of our homes.
When the stay-at-home order was announced, I moved back to Faribault with my family, and it’s there I started writing. I had a workspace, my laptop, headphones, and a MIDI keyboard. In one week I completed six demos, five of which would eventually make it on the EP. From there I announced my plan on Facebook and asked for collaborators. I got a great response!
Starting on April 18th, I released a song a week on Soundcloud. I also made a video to document the making of each song.
Since my instrumentals were done, I mostly needed vocalists, so I wasn’t able to work with everyone, but I’m very grateful for the people I did get to work with. Here’s everyone that helped on the project: Ocho (melody and lyrics for Life on Pause), Jacob Ross (bass for Life on Pause), Luke McGreavey (alto sax for Life on Pause), Anssi Tenhunen (voiceover for Infection Control), SMILEBRO (final drop for Infection Control), Matthew Ruff (melody and lyrics for House Arrest), and Mary Clare Stroh (melody and lyrics for Quarantine). My awesome collaborators made these songs much better than I could have on my own!
The final EP will be released on May 30th with the final song: the long-awaited Covid-19 Rap. For some reason, I got a lot of requests to rap about the virus. If I didn’t do it on this EP, it probably would have never happened. I guess we’ll find out if that’s good or bad.
My first EP was released in 2015. I recorded it in my parents’ basement with affordable equipment and my own limited tracking skills. It’s not great, but I have a fondness for it. It’s a timestamp of my skill level at the time, both in writing and producing. The album art is a shot of me playing at the Contented Cow, a bar in Northfield I frequented. It’s a perfect cover because back then I was playing at the Cow about twice a month and the regulars were constantly subjected to my originals.
My second singer-songwriter release was in 2016. I wanted to expand on the sounds of the original so I added MIDI piano and strings. I also layered in electric guitar and harmonica. I was happy with the outcome and decided the artwork should be more professional. I got in touch with an artist I know and gave him a picture to work off.
I was very pleased with the outcome. High & Dry was sold on homemade CDs, but for Fade Away I got them professionally printed. I used CopyCats, a CD and DVD duplication company in Minneapolis. I opted for the cheaper, paper sleeves rather than jewel cases.
The sales have not been great. It took over a year for me to break even on the cost of printing and artwork, but I think it was worth it. The important part for me is that I created a piece of art I’m proud of and have a tangible way of sharing with others.
I’m currently working on a new EP and will be releasing it in two parts. Part one will be available digitally on January 18th, and part two later in March. It’s being recorded in my home studio, and I’m utilizing musical skills and production techniques I learned in school. Here is the first single:
If you’re looking to record and release your own music, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s incredibly gratifying, and it doesn’t matter if your first recordings aren’t great. You’ll get better as you practice, just like with your instrument. And it’s okay if the first song you publish song doesn’t get a lot of traction. Take it from someone who’s released albums on Facebook with only two likes, the joy is in the making.