Hear the First Single from the Upcoming Album:
In 2015, I took my first tour around the country. I was on the road for just over three months, making my way from my home state of New York, down the East Coast, and all through the heart of America. I spent my days in coffee shops, planning the next leg of my tour, and my evenings playing music or driving to my next stop. I spent a lot of nights couch-surfing with total strangers, and found that, more than anything, people wanted to share. They wanted to share their stories, their refrigerators full of leftovers, their art, their passion. And they wanted to hear about my story, too. It's hard to believe that was over three years ago.
During one of my philosophy classes in college, our professor asked the class if humans were fundamentally good or evil. Most of the class, myself included, came down somewhere in the middle. At the time, it felt hard to make that call. But after this trip, after meeting so many strangers with so much to give and who asked so little in return, I became convinced: People are good.
That tour ended here in Colorado, with an incredible house concert. I remember the feeling of being surrounded with friends and so full of love, reconnecting with the mountains, and deciding to record an album. I wanted to honor the lesson I'd learned on the road, so I called it The Kindness of Strangers. Ever since I released that album in 2016, I've been putting down musical roots here, on the Front Range.
For the past few years, I've been exploring this community - making connections with musicians and songwriters who continually inspire me. I've been running live sound, playing in bands, recording musicians in my home studio, and creating a podcast - to give a platform to songwriters whose music I love.
And through it all, I've been writing my own songs, slowly and methodically crafting my next album. Practicing them at venues small and large, locally and across the country. I've picked ten of my favorites, and started recording them with the best-quality gear I can get my hands on. I've been working with sound engineers and collaborating with talented musicians to bring them to life. And now, the time has finally come to ask for help. Not from The Kindness of Strangers, but from the power of this vibrant, beautiful community that I call home. Friends, family, fellow artists - will you help me to make this record?
This album has been over a year in-the-making. It started out as an inspired streak of songwriting in early 2017 - I had just attended a popular folk music conference in Kansas City, MO. On the drive back to Colorado, the album's single, Asleep at the Wheel, started playing in my head. When I woke up the next morning, the song poured out of me onto a page on my nightstand. For about a week, that same process happened with a new song each morning. Wake from a dream. Grab the pen. Write a line. Close my eyes. Repeat.
I had the songs.
Every time I finished a song, it would get recorded on my iPhone as a Voice Memo - and eventually, I would record demos of higher and higher quality. It would move from an iPhone recording to a USB-Microphone live recording. Then, slowly, I began tracking the songs with higher quality microphones to a "click-track" - a metronome that would allow other musicians to play along with me. But the recording quality still didn't sound like a song I'd hear on the radio, so I invested thousands of dollars in higher-quality equipment and began collaborating with other audio engineers, researching techniques online, and asking the opinion of friends. Slowly but surely - Record. Mix. Listen back. Research. Retry. Repeat.
I had the sound.
When my friends started to offer their musical talents to the project, the album started to come together. Leor Manelis' drum tracks, Colin Robison's electric guitar riffs, Antonio Lopez's rhythmic acoustic guitar, Daniel Herman's ethereal piano, Jason Bertone's impeccable upright bass, and Kate Farmer's gorgeous voice started to create a landscape of sound - a space that my songs wanted to live inside. Drums. Electric. Acoustic. Bass. Piano. Harmony.
I had the talent.
With the songs, the sound, and the talent behind me to make this album work, I dove in headfirst, spending hundreds of hours recording and re-recording, mixing and re-mixing these songs, working tirelessly to create something that would give me chills - and I'm proud to share the first single with you, Asleep at the Wheel. We've still got a ways to go, but the pieces are all in place to make an incredible album.
Now, I'm hoping that you'll pitch in to help support everyone who's contributing to this project, and to help me finish the record and bring it out into the world for all to hear.
Many aspects go into making a great album - and I've done my best to include them all here. I'll go through each one briefly, with a visual breakdown as well.
Mastering - This is actually the final step of the post-production process, where the songs get a "finishing touch." I count myself lucky here, as I'll be working with James Tuttle, a world-class sound engineer who's worked with Airshow and eTown over the years, mixing records and live performances of artists like Carol King, Ani DiFranco, and James Taylor.
Studio Musicians - So many talented players have stepped up to help out with this album. They've already offered time, effort, and their talents to this project. Now, I want to help repay them for their energy.
Music Videos - I'll be working with Daniel Herman of Mineral Sound and rt60.co on a series of high-quality live music videos. He produced the Kickstarter video and my last album - his work is generally incredible - so go check it out, and you'll see why I'm working with him.
CD Duplication - This is the actual creation of the physical CDs. They'll come signed in a Digipak case with a lyric booklet.
Radio & Spotify Campaign - These days, getting old-school, terrestrial radio play is one avenue for musicians. But in terms of sheer listeners, Spotify is even more powerful. I'll be working with promoters to secure spots on Spotify playlists and spins on the radio.
Press & Publicity Campaign - I want this music's reach to be far and wide. That means paying a publicist for his or her connections in the industry. I have a couple of contenders I'm looking at right now, and I'm hoping they'll help me to land a feature in noteworthy publications, like American Songwriter Magazine, No Depression, or even NPR's All Songs Considered.
Merchandise - To create all of these lovely T-Shirts and Posters, I'm going to work with a couple of different companies. I'll do my best to keep it local, and find the best quality, softest tees I can find.
Reward Fulfilment - I've decided to cover some shipping and packaging costs here, instead of on top of your pledge. If you just want the album, and the reward level is $25, why should you have to pay $28?
Kickstarter's Cut - By the end of the campaign, this comes to roughly 8% or 9%.
Recording - The actual tracking of all this music has taken a ton of time - and will require more. I'm asking for help to cover the cost of my time, energy, and expertise when it comes to recording the music itself.
Mixing - How much time can I spend in front of a screen in one day? I've taken this on as a challenge recently. If I'm honest about my time, I've spent many more hours than I've included in the budget mixing this music, because I'm learning as I go. But I wanted to approximate the amount a studio might charge for mixing an album, to keep costs reasonable.
You're probably wondering about the album artwork - what will these T-Shirts and Posters look like? What will pop up on Spotify every time you listen to the album?
Here it is:
The album artwork is a collaboration between Kyle and Nikki Nichols, an illustrator specializing in graphite and ink.
How about those custom-made bracelets? Some examples are below:
Lots of colors and styles are available, so we'll work together to make sure you have one that you love.
Risks and challenges
The most likely challenge for this project will be completing the album's recording, mixing, and mastering by 2019. In order to release the album by March, the production phase should be complete in the next month or so. I already have most of the album's recording completed, but I'll need to work closely with my collaborators in the weeks to come to meet my deadlines. I'll be in communication if there's a delay with the album - but because I've done this before, I'm confident I can accomplish the project within the timeline I've set for myself.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)