Published on June 3rd, 2012 | by Tom0
Why you shouldn’t let the fear of feedback stop you making music – Rhys Anslow and Baby Steps
Rhys Anslow is a solo bass player who just finished recording his first album ‘Baby Steps’. You can hear the album at www.rhysanslow.co.uk. He has written about the process of composing and recording the album:
<a href=”http://rhysanslow.bandcamp.com/track/acid-dance” _mce_href=”http://rhysanslow.bandcamp.com/track/acid-dance”>Acid Dance by The Rhys Anslow Project</a>
2 weeks ago at the age of 22 I finally released my debut album. I’ve received kind words, endorsement and even a bit of money as a result and I’m very grateful for all of it. Grateful because 17 months ago I wouldn’t have considered recording a song let alone selling an album.
At the age of 21 years I suffered from the anxiety of being perceived negatively. I hated the idea of people listening to my music and thinking “Wow, that’s terrible”. I couldn’t cope with the idea of putting my heart and soul into the art form I love only to have it stamped on.
So what changed?
The realisation of what this anxiety would lead to – What if I never made music?
This hit me hard.
What was worse?
Producing music and then finding out that somebody thought it rubbish?
Being in love with an art form yet never indulging in it?
Taking the plunge
Realising how detrimental the latter option would have been to my life was an epiphany. It is better to produce something and take the risk.
So I took the plunge. I recorded a simple piece, created using my bass and a looper, uploaded it to a soundcloud account, created a blog to introduce it and waited to see if any of my social media contacts would listen to it.
They did. Only a small amount but enough to talk to me, give me advice on the recording and tell me they enjoyed it.
I’d taken the bait and now knew how fulfilling the process of creating art was. I now knew that I had to take a bigger plunge. I had to create more music, but I had find a creative process that could to take a bit of advice from time to time and that deliver the narrative and writing process behind each song (because if the reader has no way to access the meaning of the art, how are they going to relate to it?).
Summer Music Project
On the 9th July 2010 I released my ‘Summer Music Project’ which took place over a 10 week period. The aim being to write and record a song every single week, then, every 2 weeks, release an update of how the process was going as well as a song from the writing period for people to listen to. I used my Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages to deliver content from the process. Although my community was limited I still got feedback, I still got conversations over my music and this made me very happy.
The ‘Summer Music Project’ finished on the week of 6th September 2010. With the final song demo finished I was all ready to hit the final recording process, but I hit an unplanned problem. That week I had just restarted University, more specifically my third and final year of Uni. The final year was thrown at me with full force and I knew that it, sadly, took precedence over the finalizing of the album.
However, it was not wasted in vain. Being a music student my year was packed with the teaching of performing and recording music which lead me to gaining experience that would benefit the recording process of my album. It also gave me time to slowly upgrade my gear. The entire of the ‘Summer Music Project’ was recorded using an Acer laptop and ‘Kristal’ software to record, as such the entire process was plagued with issues. By the time my University year ended I had updated to an IMac (which is a superior machine regardless of your opinion) and had with it the brand new version of GarageBand (which again was vastly superior).
In June 2011 I finally got back to work on the album. However, due to my time being taken away from the process, I needed to get back in touch with the songs. I took this time to enable a ‘demoing period’.
<a href=”http://rhysanslow.bandcamp.com/track/two-minutes-hate” _mce_href=”http://rhysanslow.bandcamp.com/track/two-minutes-hate”>Two Minutes Hate by The Rhys Anslow Project</a>
Demos and Recording
The ‘demoing period’ was quite important to me, it gave me the opportunity to record rough versions of all the songs on my new hardware. This gave me the opportunity to see where the weaknesses were in the songs, cut out any unnecessary parts and then finalize the sounds and layers. I believe this gave the whole album a dimension of strength that it didn’t have before. This allowed the final record process to go along pretty much without any hitch.
The final part of the process was mixing and mastering – the second biggest part of the album after writing it.
As the creator you want your music to sound as amazing as possible to the best standards as possible. My tips for this mixing and mastering would be:
- Find several albums with sounds you’d like to emulate. Locate that sound and really think “why do I want that sound”and “how was it created?”
- Only ever mix one song a day. Hard I know but it’s worth it. Giving yourself breathing space and a fresh pair of
- ears of each listen to a virtue, it really is.
- Once you think you’ve achieved a sound you are happy with stick that song on your MP3 player and listen to it along
- with your other music at a suitable time. I get into work at least 20 minutes before anyone else and that gave me an opportunity to listen to the track on my own with no distractions.
- Have a time limit. The same as with the writing period. Yes, you need a good amount of time to carry out this process but to much time will lead to boredom with the tunes and you’lleventually lead to missing parts from songs. Give yourself a cut off point for your album
It took me a good 2 months to get a result that I knew I couldn’t improve, but it was worth every second.
My debut album ‘Baby Steps’ (the name being a representation of the albums creation) was released on the 21st November 2011. Do I think people have listened to these songs and thought “I don’t like this”? Do I think people will listen to the release in the future and think “I don’t like this”?
When these questions arise the only real question worth asked is “Does that even matter?”. As I said at the start of this article – At this point I’ve received kinds words, endorsement and even a bit of money as a result (that’s right, there are humans in the world that enjoy my music so much that they’ve even parted with their hard earned currency to listen to it – Wow). All this is amazing, it really is. Having someone listening to and enjoying your music really is and always will be one of the greatest highlights of my short existence on this planet.
Your personal satisfaction of producing art you love is paramount. Satisfy this and you shall be happy.
- I don’t know about you, but I absolutely empathise with Rhys’s dilemma – put out music that isn’t perfect or let your fear of criticism silence you.
I’ve put out quite a lot of music over the last few years – I’ve had plenty of feedback and sometimes it isn’t 100% positive. That can be really useful, but sometimes it isn’t at all (my first solo album recieved a bad review that said almost nothing about the music). Generally speaking however, you find the fear of criticism is much worse than any actual criticism you recieve.
So – album creation stories, tips or advice? – That’s what the comments are for!