Releasing “Oughta See”
The journey to release “Oughta See” was quite different than what I had anticipated. About two years ago I developed permanent hearing issues as a side effect from taking prescription medication. Returning to music production was a challenging process, and the getting to the finish line with a new album was extremely victorious. It was also particularly draining.
While feedback on my music is infrequent, I do occasionally get some pretty touching emails. One day I got an email from a fan named Gus that included some audio clips where he played french horn over some of my tunes. I was floored that someone took the effort to record that and send it to me, and it sounded pretty good to boot. One google search later I discovered that Gus plays french horn for the Boston Symphony Orchestra! The timing was perfect, because I had just written a trumpet part that I wanted to try out. So the horn you hear on the first tune, “opening”, is Gus. The violinist on that tune is a new collaborator, Damian Sol. I met Damian through my Men’s group, and it was super fun collaborating with someone whom I’ve grown so much with outside of music.
Garrin Benfield is someone who I’ve seen play in the SF scene for almost a decade. I’ve had him in mind for a while, and it was awesome how much great material he gave me in a single session. He’s an incredible musician. Sarah Holtzman played a big role on this record with her flute prowess. I haven’t had her over for a session in over 5 years. It’s always a joy to reconnect with her.
The cover art
The cover art was an interesting collaboration. Dave SG really stepped up when I was in deep crisis. He flew across the country and spent a week with me. He changed the direction of my life by bringing me to the Men’s Circle. He’s an amazing artist, and we both really wanted to collaborate on the album. So when his family came out for a visit this summer, we discovered this flower picture, and he came with the idea of incorporating fire into it. Standing outside around a fire every week at the Men’s Circle is a big part of my life. He’s one of my closest friends, and we constantly inspire one another.
I’m really not promoting this album very much. A few years ago I tried to strategize how to grow my facebook audience. I correlated the number of likes to how important my music is. Now its just a number. I’m never going to have a huge audience. My music is niche and not instantly accessible.
I also know that my music has had meaningful impact of a number of people. Since I’m not trying to do this as my career, I don’t have to grow my audience it beyond what it is.
I wrote in my very first lessons post that my friends are not my fans. While that is still true, its have been a nice surprise to discover that I’ve won over a few more of my friends in the last few years. Two of my friends had my music on while giving birth.
I now have a lot of limitations about my hearing. I have hyperacusis (extreme sensitivity to sounds) and tinnitus (ringing in my ears). That I can work in a solo controlled environment where I can easily adjust the overall volume is essential to me now. While I’m filled with regret and anger about this unwelcome change, I’ve mostly learned to adjust to my new life situation.
Finishing the album
As I very slowly worked on getting the songs finished and mastered, I found I loss the sense of urgency that I used to have. There was only the faintest of invisible whips at my back. By the time I released this album, these songs were mostly old friends. I’ll need some space from them, but I know in a year that I’ll really enjoy listening to them. I’m already able to tune them out when they are playing, and it used to take a year before I could do that.
This is my seventh album. It might not be my best one. I think “soulful filling” will be tough to displace. But, right now, it feels like the most important thing I’ve ever done. I can’t describe the joy and gratitude I have about being able still to create music. I’m a pretty excited to see what else I can uncover.