It's possible that none of the lovely, generous people that have supported this project with their pledges and their shares really know how amazing it feels to read, day after day, the many small missives of encouragement and outright expressions of support from those of you who have wanted to make this happen. On top of that, the fact that you all made this album possible with your pledges is sweet icing on the cake!
With just two days left, and all the stress that those two days might have carried with them now forestalled, I just don't know how to properly and fully thank all of you that have made this possible. Since the campaign's still open, it may be too much to expect that the pledge total will continue to rise... but I wanted you all to know that every penny of the support you've pledged will go to make this the best album I can make. Since some of the original scratch-tracks I've made have on them evocative background sounds from storms, seabirds and more that are part of my direct experience of the island, I had a notion to use any extra funds to perhaps master those raw tracks and include them on the CD and album download. I will do all that I can.
My eternal thanks to you all.
Hi, I'm Alex.
For twenty years, I've been winter caretaker on a lonely island seven miles off the coast of New England. Most of that time, I have been the only resident of that small cluster of nine islands known as "The Isles of Shoals". I am fortunate beyond words to be able to say that this extended solitude has given me ample time to write, to photograph on film, and to ponder.
During these years, I've produced a photographic study of the islands comprised of hundreds and hundreds of black and white images and, from my solitary perch, have filled dozens of journals with thoughts and poems, and even published a book. There's just no way to measure how much my life on these islands has fostered the creativity and ideas that have become the heart of my work.
It may explain a lot when I say that solitude has been a big part of my life even since childhood. I recall sitting alone on my bed from the age of ten with my father's classical guitar, slowly teaching myself to play as I picked out notes and chords. I've kept playing all my life - it's something I do for myself - though not very well, so I rarely play with others or for others. But because music and the poetry it contains moves me in ways most other art can't, it's been a constant in my life.
My Music "Career" So Far...
Some years ago, while scrambling over the rocks on a windy day, enjoying the wild sea and the perfect harmony I felt with my surroundings, a snatch of poetry popped into my head, and soon after a tune, and before I knew it, I had written a song. Back at the caretaker's cottage, I made a terrible recording of it onto an old iPod with a hard-drive that whined into the recording as it played back. I didn't know at the time that this would be the first of over twenty original songs I would eventually compose.
The samples you can find sprinkled throughout this page are just test-recordings to which I may have added some harmonies, a bit of penny-whistle, a smattering of piano recorded in the boarded up hotel lobby one winter, and even some seagull and bell-buoy samples taken with a field recorder.
I love the simplicity of these recordings - I feel like they resonate with the lonesome act of composing them and I enjoy thinking about being so far removed from, well... from everything... as they were conceived.
No Woman is An Island
But I also recognize a certain quality in music that's singular in human experience. Where photographs or writing are forms of art that are created and then shared, the very creation of music is more often than not a shared experience that rewards the creators in real-time as it's being created.
And though it would seem silly to almost any musician of any ilk, the idea of improving these compositions with the talents of other musicians is a shockingly new and exciting one to someone that has spent as much time alone as I have. As an artist, I have a natural curiosity about exploring new - to me - forms of expression, and with the respect I have for the talents of others, I can think of nothing better than to see what those talents might add to this music.
A Special Audience
I would be excited to share with all of you an album filled with these songs, made better with the contributions of others. For me, the thought of this music being made available to all the people it will take to support this project is nothing less than thrilling!
That's because - though I've enjoyed the rare gift of these islands almost entirely to myself - it's become clear to me that there is a wide circle of people who also love them and are inspired by the same things as I am. It's a sweet irony that this solitary place has actually made me more connected to not only the natural world around me, but also to a host of other humans as well. And that makes me want very badly to share with them this place and the thoughts and music and images that it inspires.
But there is also a special audience - of one - for whom I would like to do this. My father - who now lives in another country - left that ancient gut-strung guitar with me many years ago, but during our rare visits, he has heard these recordings, now distant descendants of that old guitar. And (though it's sort of his job) he's been encouraging me to "do something" with the music for years - by which he means proper arrangements and mixing into an album. It seems a fitting and poetic closing of the circle were I to present him someday soon with the fully realized result of that original, simple, long-ago act of literally handing his daughter the possibility of making music a part of her life when he first handed me that worn, old guitar.
How You Can Help
For those that have the ability to support this project, I will be very, very grateful. But whether you can offer some support or not, you can still help! All you have to do is share this project with your social media friends and tell people you know - even bloggers, writers and others who can help spread the word. And time is of the essence - a Kickstarter Campaign is all-or-nothing; if the project isn't fully funded, it doesn't get funded at all.
I'll be using these funds to pay some talented musical friends to spend the many hours that it will take to discover in these simple songs the best that can be made of them. Mastering and mixing will be done by a pro, pressing and printing, and Kickstarter costs will consume the rest. If I am lucky enough to get support beyond my goal, I can include more songs on the album, and/or - because I'm also now dabbling in the world of digital video - I would be pleased to film our sessions and produce a short companion movie of the sessions with scenes from the island in winter, scored with the music we create together. Thank you!
Below are the images that so many of you are getting as rewards - I felt a little bad that I had not selected them immediately so that everyone could see what's available, but I wanted to take my time and pick the perfect ones for all you lovely supporters. And as it turns out, many of you have discovered how simple it is to edit your pledge to select a different reward if something I've picked moves you more. I debated with myself over selecting the last few (debating with myself is a habit I've picked up during all my time alone!) because I wanted to offer only my personal favorites to you. Check the Updates link just below the top video to see a little inside info that you may enjoy about each of the images and to keep up on news about the campaign as it wraps up. Thanks, everyone!
$75 Reward - Signed, digitally printed 8x10
$200 Reward - Signed, digitally printed 11x14
$1000 Reward - Signed, museum-quality, hand-printed darkroom print 8x10
- or -
$1500 Reward - Signed, museum-quality hand-printed darkroom print 11x14
Your choice: one of the five below at either of these support levels. These are my highest quality prints, the same as those that are in the permanent collections of museums and private collectors. I love that a few of you have chosen to support the campaign at one of these levels - not just because it's a huge boost toward our goal, but also because it could be a good investment too - my work has doubled in value over the last three years, and it would be gratifying - as time passes - to have this work "give back" a little in honor of your generosity!
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Risks and challenges
I have collected some mid-grade quality digital recording equipment over the years, and have learned how to use it. I know some wonderful local musicians and recording engineers. I plan for the music to be quite simple, so I won't have to engage a cast of thousands, just one or two musician at a time working with me to arrange their parts.
There seems to be very little in the way of risk to this project... if I think of something, I'll update! And thanks to you all for your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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