1. I'm recording a BRAND NEW RECORD, it's my first studio album since having my kids (7 YEARS)! It's full of new songs, and I WANT YOU TO BE A PART OF IT!
To put it in perspective, the last time I was in the studio to make a new record, I got the call that I’d been accepted into the fertility study that would eventually create Beatrice a year later. That was seven years and two miracle babies ago....
2. THIS RECORD IS UNLIKE ANY WORK I'VE EVER CREATED. For starters, the songs are all piano-driven. I am taking an intentional turn away from the strummy, guitar-based songs I’ve been writing for 24 years. For the first time ever, the majority of the songs are co-written with my dear friend Daniel Walker, and feature his superb work on the keys. I’m not big on labels and genres. While I think my work in any form will ever sit firmly in the world of “singer-songwriter”, this record gives a strong nod to the vintage piano pop of the 70’s, and sounds nothing like the red dirt/folk/americana vibe I’ve been identified by previously. It is a complete departure.
3. THE MUSICIAN MOTHERHOOD DILEMMA aka IF FEELINGS AREN"T YOUR JAM, SKIP TO #4
The seven year gap has brought about a significant season of change and personal transformation for me. Taking off your masks will do that. Unveiling your trauma and showing up for yourself for the first time will do that. Becoming a mom will do that.
There were countless nights in the years since I birthed my tiny humans that I sat in the dark, lonely, desperate 3 am with a not-sleeping child wondering: Has my time as a musician come to a close?
Truthfully, I had more questions than answers:
- Will I ever get the chance to make another record?
- Will I feel the fulfillment of connecting with audiences night after night again?
- Has all the work of my pre-child life even mattered?
- If not, who am I?
- Have I written all the songs that were in me?
- Am I the only mother that feels like I'm being swallowed up by the role of motherhood?
- How does anyone balance motherhood & music? (still searching for this answer..)
- Can the two big dreams of my life, music and motherhood, co-exist?
To say that I had a crisis of identity since I came off the road to have fertility treatments in 2012 would be putting it lightly. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Really, neither is the music business. I've just completed a series of essays where I opened up about this in great detail, and talk about the path I've walked these last seven years. You can explore that in depth on my blog at kcclifford.com.
I honestly didn't notice it happening, the movements forward were almost imperceptible at first. I was still playing shows at the Blue Door a few times a year. There was a shift in how I embodied my work and identity on stage, the ideas I felt compelled to share, and the way I felt standing in my shoes. Long time fans started commenting about it, too. All of this ran parallel with some deep, excruciating emotional work I have been engaging in therapy. Motherhood broke me open in a way I never saw coming. Ultimately, my struggles with perfectionism and enoughness as a mom would become the lens through which I could see myself more clearly than I ever have. Simply put, I came to realize I was in my mid-forties with no idea of who I truly was outside of the masks I wear to meet the expectations of those around me. And because I didn't know who I was, I didn't assign any worth to that girl. All the years of therapy and examining my inability to offer myself kindness, self-care, and radical love FINALLY MADE SENSE. Deep down I did not believe I had the right to take up space. I spent my entire life diminishing myself to fit in. I was always too much and not enough at the same time. It's a painful place to live.
You might think I am off course, but this has everything to do with why we're here. When I finally got a glimpse of myself, for the first time in my life I saw what I had to offer the world. I began to connect the dots of my worth and how it shaped my work as an artist. I saw the power of my words and how my unique strengths help others feel less alone in their lives. I was no longer afraid or ashamed to take up space. Not only did I belong here, it was okay for me to experience joy. And as those shifts began to shake the earth inside me, the aftershocks rippled out across every corner of my life. I knew I had to fight for myself, and to fight for the world that needs songs now more than ever- songs that awaken hope, kindness and healing. We all need to be reminded of the call to love, empathy, and respect, and that we belong to each other.
And somehow, amidst the diapers and teething, and toddler tantrums and complete and utter exhaustion, one song came and pushed its way out. And then six months later, another one. I learned to structure my creative time in the nooks and crannies. I was often disappointed with my output, but I kept looking for the windows of time and listening for when a song was stirring. Dan and I slowly started our co-writing sessions. Somehow I woke up with a six year old, a three year old, and a record’s worth of songs begging to be heard.
I still don't have all the answers, and there's so far to go. But comebacks are like that. Just when you think all hope is lost, a little spark ignites, and the fire in your belly propels you forward. You do the thing that even you did not know you had in you.
The road ahead looks very different than the one behind. Full time touring as I once knew it is not a possibility right now. But as the kids grow, it is becoming more feasible for me to get back out there in measured amounts. And today I'm looking at it as an opportunity to get creative and find solutions that work for our family in the now.
What I do know for sure? Getting this record made is the next right step.
For those of you who have supported my music to this point, I thank you. I would not be able to do what I love without you all out there listening, coming to shows. I hope you’ll come along with me down this turn in the road, and help me write my comeback story.
I am more myself than I’ve ever been in all my 44 years.
It’s not that I’ve become someone else, it’s more of an unbecoming, a shedding off the things I put on to hide and mask, so desperate for belonging. I need less of that every day.
I humbly believe this is among the best work of my life, born from the truest place in me, my most authentic creative expression.
I am both mama and musician after all. I don't have to choose, and I won't be swallowed whole. The magic in all this is that Motherhood is the one who took my hand and gently walked me home to myself, a place where it turns out I had been waiting all along.
4. WILL HUNT, MY LONGTIME COLLABORATOR AND FRIEND, IS PRODUCING THE ALBUM.
After such a long hiatus from the studio, I am thrilled at the chance to partner again with producer Will Hunt. Will and I worked together for the first time in 2001, and on many projects since. Recently, I've been reminded how much I value our collaboration, and I’ve loved seeing the way our creative relationship has blossomed. Standing at the console listening to what we created together is simply the best feeling. I have such trust in his instincts and after all the years, we share an unspoken understanding and deep friendship.
5. THE RECORDING IS UNDERWAY, AND WE'RE USING A VINTAGE APPRAOACH.
In March, Will and Dan came to OKC for three days of pre-production. We hashed out arrangements, keys, refined phrases, and took a global look at the collection of songs. As we discussed recording, it had always been the plan to converge at Will’s studio, Spaceway Productions in Fort Worth.
All along as the songs were coming together, Dan kept insisting perhaps we should track the record live in studio, all the players in a room together. For those who are unfamiliar, this is how the great vintage records were made, before the dawn of the digital age. Nowadays, for the most part, every person who plays on a record goes in one at a time. It starts with days of drums tracks, then the bass player comes in and lays down his tracks, then guitars, and so on and so forth. The producer has control over the details of every single part, but they have to allow for space in what’s to come when the other players track. This is how all my previous albums were made.
By the time our pre-production weekend was over, Dan’s idea won the day. We rather suddenly changed course, choosing to record basic tracks for the album live in studio. The decision was made to record basic tracks in Oklahoma City at Castle Row Studios, and take the stress off me on the family front with travel and relocation. Once the plan was in place, my gut knew it was the right choice.
6. THE PLAYERS BLEW ME AWAY WITH THEIR ARTISTRY, CRAFT, AND PASSION.
Along with Dan Walker on piano and Will at the console, recording in Oklahoma City gave me the chance to work with some stellar musicians. The core players for the basic tracking include my friend Randy Sanders on electric guitar, Raul Alfonso on bass, and Michael Walker on drums.
I don’t have words to truly convey how good these guys sound together. But from day one, their talents floored me, they invested themselves in collaboration, and brought shared energy and enthusiasm to making the best record we could. Each one of them is SO.FREAKING.TALENTED, and I am honored to have them featured on my songs.
Dan Walker (top L), Raul Alfonso (top R), Randy Sanders (bottom L), Mike Walker (bottom R)
After basic tracks for the last song were tracked on Friday night, and the band had gone home, I had a complete come apart with Dan and Will, in utter disbelief and tears that I was allowed to make another record, let alone make one that sounds like this.
I came out of the vocal booth all day every day with a huge smile, I felt such pure joy during our time making music. I can't wait for you all to hear it!
7. WHAT HAPPENS NOW? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A LOT DONE ALREADY.
In October, we will fire it back up in the speakers and take a fresh listen to make sure we love all of our choices from basic tracking. I'm scheduled to spend a week with Will at Spaceway in Fort Worth, where we have three goals: Record my vocals, track some guitar overdubs, and make decisions about the "icing" we want to add, like strings, BGVs, Hammond, etc. Definitely have a gospel choir in the works- another first for me! After we have everything tracked, we will head into mixing and mastering. Then it's onto artwork, and manufacturing. Once I have the album in hand, there's the business of promoting it and preparing for a release. We are in a really good position from our week of tracking this June, but making records is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. I need YOUR help to reach the finish line!
8. WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED?
At this time, I plan for the album to come out in the second half of 2019. I’m committed to taking whatever time is necessary to finish it well, and with your help, give it proper welcome into the world when it’s done. These things take time. That being said, an official release date is TBA. I gave myself plenty of extra room on the rewards timelines in hopes of accounting for any obstacles I encounter.
9. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MONEY
I think it's best for a crowd-funding campaign to be open and communicate clearly about the budget from the very start. Many of you have given to my previous album campaigns, so I have earned your trust. But for those newcomers among you, please know I consider each one of you who join this effort to be a creative partner, and I want you to feel comfortable. I do not take your partnership lightly in the least.
WHERE WILL YOUR MONEY GO? Here's where.
I've set the campaign budget at $25,000 to cover just the most basic costs. I'm hoping we'll reach and even SURPASS the set goal!
Main Goal: $25,000 This is all or nothing!
Stretch Goal #1: $35,000
Stretch Goal #2: $50,000
$22,500: Album Production (studio, engineer, musicians, producer, mixing, mastering)
$2,000: Album Packaging (artwork, photography, design)
$3,000: CD & Vinyl Manufacturing
$1,500: Documenting it all (video footage, photography)
$2,500: Publicity (this is a very, very small budget)
$2,500: Radio Promotion (also a tiny budget)
If you're doing the math, you know that's actually $35,000. I had $10,000 of my money saved and set aside for the project. I applied that money for a deposit on our production budget when we booked the studio and musicians in June, leaving $25,000 left as the basic campaign goal.
IF WE SURPASS THE GOAL, the money will go to these OTHER EXPENSIVE THINGS involved with promoting a record and getting out into the world:
Publicity and Radio Promotion: The funds listed in the budget are very, very bare bones versions. Stretch goals will increase those budgets, and gain more exposure for the album.
Videos: I would LOVE, LOVE to make some videos for these songs. Stretch goals will help!
Targeted Promotions: I would love to hire a consultant to help grow my audience online, and secure placement for this record on curated Spotify lists, etc. This would be a BIG game changer!
BECOME A BACKER at one of the levels on this campaign and…
YOU will be the FIRST TO HEAR the record! And......
YOU will get BEHIND THE SCENES access
YOU will get UNIQUE REWARDS for BACKERS ONLY
YOU will have HEAPS OF MY UNRELENTING GRATITUDE
YOU have the POWER to HELP ME MAKE THIS RECORD HAPPEN!
10. SHARING IS CARING!
The best thing you can do, next to backing this project, is to SHARE IT!
If you read this and it sparks something in you, if you believe in what I'm doing in the world, I would immensely appreciate you helping me spread the word to your friends, family, and on your social media pages. That kind of creating community online is a powerful component to campaigns like mine.
Select one of the buttons under the video share + embed + pin + post + tweet! #TheComebackKick
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
You are seen. You are loved. You are valued. Your life has tremendous worth.
Risks and challenges
Asking for help is a vulnerable step. This will be my 4th record that I've made with support of generous friends like you. Every time I have reached out, you all have shown up with such beauty, belief and force! It's humbling and an honor to have you all as patrons in my creative endeavors.
I am hoping you haven't given up on me! I'm sure it appeared as though I fell off into the oblivion. At times, it certainly felt that way on my end. But not only have I not given up, I am stronger than ever. And I believe the work I am doing now is something that needs to be put into the world.
I am confident this record will get made in a timely fashion, and I will keep my commitment to you, as you have come alongside me. Thank you for your support and trust.
Photography by: Kriea Arie Photography, Travis Tindell, Nathan Gunter & Sheri Guyse,Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)