Creating stories with music

I've always been a fan of the mixtape. I used to make them all the time when I was younger with my two-tape deck stereo. Whether it was hit songs on the radio (when hurricane Floyd hit back in 1999, I had a field day recording all the Pink Floyd songs BIG 106 was playing), or the various tapes I owned (the first being Blind Melon's self-titled debut), it was all about creating a story through music. As the years progressed and technology advanced, you could really hone in how your mix was perceived. How one song interacts with another - the length of silence between them, even the key in which the songs were played in consecutively - are all items I took into account when creating a mix.

When it comes to creating my own music, the same rules apply. I want the songs on my EPs to have a cohesive feel to them. I want them to sound like different chapters from the same story. Tonally, a lot of that happens through mastering, but there's more to it than that. If you hear a trumpet on one song, there's a chance that that trumpet will make a reappearance somewhere else. If you have minimalistic drums on the majority of your songs, it would be incredibly strange for there to be a full kit, all of a sudden, on another.

This was my approach to both "Down Poor Man's Trail" and "The Risk/The War". DPMT is a folk collection. An acoustic guitar is predominantly heard, there is an obvious lack of bass, the drums are a series of floor toms for bass drums and tambourines for snares. TRTW is mainly an electronica collection. 808s and subs are heard often for percussion and synths are heard on every song. It's loud and washed-out, filtered and atmospheric. On both, the songs were poured over for days to create the correct order for listening. How do you want it to start - with a bang or a slow-build? How does it end - on a high-note or low one? What is your climax and where does it fall in the story you're creating?

My intention is the same for my newest EP. It's a bit of a return to the styles heard on DPMT, but with flairs of TRTW through-out. The piano becomes an essential player on many of the songs, drums remain minimalistic but more layered, and leads consist of a few select instruments - almost like another voice besides my own. I have an idea of how the songs should be ordered, but as vocal-recording progresses, that may change. 

I look forward to sharing it within the next couple of months.

-E