When I first began writing This is Music That I’ve Written, it was never intended to be released. It was, in fact, an attempt at an exercise where I’d write a song from start to finish in less than an hour. Once a day for six days, I’d sit at my computer and keyboard, armed with a notebook and pen, and not move for 45 minutes and simply compose or write whatever came to me. I had no preconceived ideas as to what I wanted to make or why, and whatever happened, simply happened. If I had found myself working for too long on a particular song, or obsessing over the smallest of details, I’d scrap the entire thing. I also had a set of rules to follow: I’d play everything without a metronome, everything had to be made up on the spot, and I’d limit myself to only a few takes. In many cases, the first take was always the one that I kept anyway, even if it had noticeable mistakes.
When I had found myself struggling to begin due to the utter silence of a blank slate, I’d hit record on my laptop microphone, and let it record my surroundings. Birds chirping outside my window, me shuffling around in my seat; it gave me a natural comfort in playing music–an atmosphere I was familiar with to perform in. This is most notable in the song Let’s Try This Once More. For the song In This Moment, I took a different approach to the same idea, and had placed the microphone against my lips. I wanted my microphone to be up and ready in case, at any moment, I had felt an urge to begin singing along with what I was playing. I had kept the vocal track despite that I didn’t sing, because it felt strangely romantic, as though I was cheek to cheek with the listener while I played.
Following the same emphasis on improvisation, my vocals followed the same rules. Lyrics were made up entirely on the spot, only allowing myself one take–with the exception of I Can Make Home Here, which was sung from a poem I had initially wrote for an unreleased short story.
For some songs, I’d limit myself entirely from using musical instruments at all, this is specific to the song I Can Make Home Here. As a singer, I am quite insecure. I’d compensate my insecurity by putting a heavy focus on the composition of the music, making much of the emphasis on the panning, mixing, and instrumentation; vocals always came last for me, and often took the most time. I decided the only way I could overcome this was by eliminating music altogether, and allowing nothing but my voice and a beat to carry the song.
The last song I wrote was Didn’t Sleep Much That Night, which was recorded and finished nearly within 15-20 minutes of sitting down at my computer after an awful night’s sleep. After the completion of that song, I had felt a sense of accomplishment and confidence I had not felt from making music. It was at that moment when I said: “I think I’ve finished an album.” It was something I wanted to share, something I loved, something that maybe others might love too. It’d also be very selfish of me to hold onto it.
Now that it’s out, my next exercise is to not obsess over it and listen to it meticulously nitpicking and over analyzing every song, which is something I commonly did in the past. But when I did listen to the EP, however, I had discovered something quite beautiful: it was as though I was hearing my own music for the first time–an experience I had longed to have. Since I had spent no time composing or learning the songs, I was as close to as equally unfamiliar with them as another listener, which allowed me to really digest as though I had never heard it before.
Now, in order for me to overcome my perfectionism–an awful spiraling habit I’ve fought hard to move on from–I must simply move onto the next project. Whether that next project will be focused on writing, music, or art, I won’t know until I sit down again and allow my intuition to guide me. The object is to ignore pre-conceived ideas, to not obsess over a specific process or method, and simply let it come as naturally as possible. There is a strength and patience in the simple act of letting go.