My longtime friend Jay Gambit of Crowhurst/Girl 27 discusses overcoming some of the biggest, most annoying hurdles to writing and releasing a record…and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
by Jay Gambit and Dani Tauber
How’s your record coming along?
If you’ve got a few friends who are musicians or you’re one yourself, you’ve inevitably come across the one friend who’s perpetually in the process of writing an album. You may have known them for a few years, seen them play multiple shows, even post a litany of rough demos on a disorganized looking Soundcloud or Bandcamp page.
Well, there’s a shitload of things that go into making a record and it’s really easy to get hung up on any of them and end up sticking your album in between Jodorowsky’s King Shot and Manson’s Phantasmagoria in the pile of highly anticipated projects that will never see the light of day.
“I can’t get the sound I want.”
This is one I hear most often. It’s easy to get hung up on trying to get your recordings to sound like they do in your head. Hell, we all want our music to sound like the exact translation of what we want it to be when conceptualizing it—and there’s ways to get these sounds if you want.
Hiring someone (yes, paying them) to do the production work is a big step. You don’t need to get Butch Vig or refinance your house to get the sound you want either. There’s a ton of schools pumping out talented and skilled engineers and producers every day who will be able to make your record sound like “Slowdive if they were a black metal band who only listened to the delta blues” or whatever other oddly specific tonal palate you want to work with.
“I don’t want to give my music to a label” / “I can’t find the right label.”
Cool, you don’t want to lock your brand new electro-anarcho-juggalo-thrash-punk band into a multimillion-dollar exclusive contract because you’re afraid they’ll make you tone down your sound. I’ll be the first to tell you that you’re probably not going to have to worry about it.
Most labels that contact you will likely do so because they like your art, have faith in you, and/or think your work will sell. There’s nothing that some little DIY tape label will gain from preventing you from releasing music or starting a legal battle. Be happy that you’ll have someone working with you on releasing your music.
“There’s no money to make the record.”
Well, you get what you pay for. That being said, we live in an age where you can record a damn good demo yourself or cut a live record off of a soundboard if you have an engineer. Make your own bootleg tapes and sell them at shows and save up to re-record those songs. Bandcamp allows people to pay for downloads too.
“We have had these songs for the past three years, but we just need to re-record them…”
Stop right there. Think about yourself three years ago. Are you the same person? I don’t mean literally, but would you do the same dumb shit? Date the same people? Believe in the same things? If you do—great, but remember that there’s a fine line between stagnant and consistent. But for the most part, you need to capture that lightning in a bottle or let it go. Once you overthink it, you oftentimes can lose a lot of the magic that made your song special.
“I need a _______.”
No you don’t. You don’t need a PR person, you need to send out your own emails. There’s contact sections on every publication. Find your favorite music journalists and email them. Email bands you like, ask them about splits. You don’t need a manager. You have Facebook and you’re not an idiot, so you can find out who puts on the “good” shows and try and work with them.