what are your songs about? what motivates you?
I write songs because sometimes I cannot fit what I'm sensing in the world into words, and certainly cannot fit it into storage in my own heart. It's like I need a bigger receptacle. That's what each song is - a place where I can file away something abstract, yet still something so viscerally joyful or painful that it needs to come alive every once in awhile, when it is performed by an ensemble of musicians for a room full of willing souls.
It takes me a long time to write a single jazz song, and the lifecycle of writing it has its monsoons and dry seasons. All the while I'm going about my daily life, and my intuition is sucking up things that I'll later need to put into the song.
This album, yet unnamed, is the summation of 10 years of living, 10 years of writing and performing. I couldn't pinpoint its concept in words quite yet, but at least I'm finally speaking up. I cannot wait to share it with you.
a little background
I've been playing music for as long as I can remember. My parents met at a music conservatory in St. Louis and put me on to jazz lessons and synthesizers at an early age. Today I live in Durham, NC, where for the past ten years I have written, toured, recorded as a member of the hip-hop quartet The Beast, and also served as co-director of 12-member salsa dance ensemble Orquesta Gardel.
I have been sharing these songs; I occasionally perform them locally with the third band I am in: my own jazz quartet. This is a group of longtime collaborators and friends. Drummer Stephen and bassist Pete and I met in college 15 years ago, and we continue to play in many ensembles together, including The Beast. Saxophonist Aaron has been with us for 5 years, and continues to amaze me with his versatility. He has a masters degree and this fall has begun to pursue his DMA in saxophone performance from UNC Greensboro.
Despite these performances, I have never recorded a single track as myself, Eric Hirsh -- just albums with the other bands. This year I feel called to spend the time and energy to offer up my work thus far and share it with the wider world.
what do these songs sound like?
other people say I am good at stuff
I don't mean to bemoan my lack of an album - there are other ways in which I have worked hard to develop as an artist over the years, including some prestigious awards and residencies:
- Ravinia Steans Music Institute fellow, 2014
- North Carolina Arts Council Composer Fellowship, 2012
- Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, Kennedy Center fellow, 2009
- ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composers Award 2010, 2008 (honorable mention), 2007 (honorable mention), 2005
Most of the ASCAP-award-winning songs will appear on this album. I told you I've been holding on to these things for awhile!
At Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead I wrote "Somehow It Seems To Help." At Ravinia I wrote "To Comfort A Shadow." Each of these privileged educational experiences has led to the moment where I am finally ready to record my first album.
so what's the plan?
All of the songs are done, they've been written over the past 10 years.
All of the songs have been performed and road-tested by my awesome quartet. We'll be rehearsing in December to tighten things up.
Tuesday, 12/19/17 at The Durham Hotel
Friday 01/05/18 at Sharp Nine Gallery *the night before we record* pre-recording party!
Tracking over two days at SoundPure Studios in Durham. January 6-7, 2018
Editing audio, starting video in January. Mixing audio, finishing video in February. Mastering and CD duplication in February/March.
- Eric Hirsh - piano/composer/producer/everything
- Pete Kimosh - bass
- Stephen Coffman - drums
- Aaron Hill - saxophone
- Jason Richmond - tracking engineer at SoundPure
- Pete Kimosh - mix engineer
- Brent Lambert - mastering engineer at The Kitchen
- Mike Stipe and Teddy Denton - video production at 36 NORTH
how will the funds be used?
Here's how your funds will be used. Mostly on making the thing. Video is more expensive than music/audio costs, but I am excited for what these visual creations will do to enhance the songs (and, also, to propel my career).
Besides finally getting a chance to express my compositions in a recording, this album also represents my calling card to the world to become more nationally known, to connect with more fans, and to network with institutional partners and granting organizations.
what if we exceed the funding goal?
That's easy - more videos. More performances from the album. Maybe some conceptual music videos. 36 North has a 360-degree video rig - what could we make with that? Strap on your VR goggles and let's find out.
Sometimes people use the excess funds to pay for a photo shoot, a PR agency to promote the album. While it is certainly important to market an album, I think it is weird to crowdfund marketing costs. It's like that money goes into a black hole and you personally don't reap the benefits (save, maybe being happy that someone wrote an article about me). I'd rather your funds go directly to the creation of art.
Risks and challenges
I have produced multiple albums on similar budgets with The Beast, Orquesta GarDel, Shana Tucker, other friends. I am familiar with the project management aspect of executing on such a scale. So, you should feel confident that whatever reward you sign up for, if the project gets funded, I'll deliver on it.
Certainly any large-scale, multi-thousand dollar project involving many vendors has risk. In this case, the risk pertains only to delivery date of the album, instead of whether or not it will be completed at all. I think that Kickstarer-ing technology prototypes is much riskier than musical albums. You aren't investing in a business that may or may not be successful, or one that might get shut down due to issues with patents or market forces. Instead, you are a catalyst my artistic/creative process, for which I'll be forever grateful.
Like I said in the video, I'm confident in my ability to execute on all the songs and videos and behind the scenes goodies that I mentioned, as this project is funded.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)