Category Archives: Recording

Sounds like a plan…

A lot of you might remember that back in 2009 I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the Five Times August album “Life As A Song.” Back then the site was still in beta testing and I was one of the lucky few musicians to take advantage of the site before it became the quintessential online funding tool it is today for so many other artists. My project was the first to raise what was considered (back then) a tremendous amount of money… $20,000 in 31 days. A project that size is pretty typical now, but at that time it was a pretty extravagant venture. It was certainly an exciting month, to say the least, and we somehow managed to actually pull it off with help from the fans. Obviously since then Kickstarter has become a much bigger online commodity and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t friends with someone (or friends of a friend of someone) who hasn’t raised or given funds through the site.

So while it’s all great and good that we raised the money and got the album released with the ’09 project, I was actually ballsy enough to try it again a year later in 2010 while we were on tour in the RV. In short, I don’t know what all factored in during the second go around, maybe it was simply the fact that it WAS the second go around, but unfortunately Kickstarter project #2  didn’t succeed. If you’re familiar with the site you know that if a project is unsuccessful the artist/creator does not get any of the funds and the end result is basically as if it never happened. I was pretty upset and depressed about that at the time. The second campaign was so crucial to making the next FTA album that after the project failed I basically scrapped it all together. You may have noticed that there really hasn’t been a new full length album from FTA since ’09’s “Life As A Song,” only a couple of digital singles have been released (The Minute & Fix Me) along with a second volume of the “Acoustic Sessions” series. That’s the constant dilemma of the indie artist, finding funds to not only make a living, but to continue producing new work. So, that little heartbreak from the second Kickstarter shut me down for a bit. It eventually sparked the notion that maybe I should try something different and give myself a fresh start with a side project. That’s when I began work on Music by Bradley James. It’s been a great second outlet for my creativity over the last year or so, and though it has taken a while to get the wheels in motion we’re just about ready to release some new music again… just about, BUT… I’m going to need your support getting over the last hurdle…

In the coming weeks I’ll be launching a new campaign on the site PledgeMusic.com to raise the final amount needed to finish up the first Bradley James EP. Don’t worry, I’m not shooting for $20,000 again! The goal amount will be just enough to get the tracks mixed, mastered, and into a nice little CD package for you. In addition to the EP being offered in digital and physical formats, I’ll be offering some really unique one of a kind and limited items to pledgers. I won’t get too heavy into details as of yet, I’m still putting it all together as we speak, but expect some interesting stuff! It should be a lot of fun and I sincerely hope you are excited to take part! To entice you to help finish the EP I’ll be ‘unvailing’ audio for the first track the day the campaign begins (I figure you probably want to hear SOMETHING before handing over your dollars!)

So why am I telling you this now and not a few weeks from now? Well, I’m telling you because I basically want you to be ready! There are a ton of artists raising money for their own album, it’s a very saturated avenue to go down right now. But, truth be told, this new fan funded business model IS the new model for indie acts, that’s why so many are doing it now. I’ve already stood on both sides of the fence having had a success and a failure with the Kickstarter campaigns. The outcome? One side got my album a review in People Magazine, the other ceased production all together, leaving songs unfinished, incomplete, and unheard. I don’t want the ladder to happen again, it’s a sad situation to be in! So, consider this blog entry something of a “save the date” without a specific date, just know it’s coming! I’m very excited about the new songs and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear what I’ve been working on.

With that said, hang tight! Next time you hear from me we’ll be up and running!

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Ready to Mix…

I’m excited to announce that the new songs are ready to be mixed. After this phase they’ll only need to be mastered, then they are just a few steps shy of getting to your ears. I thought I’d bring you up to speed on the process of making this record up to now and talk a little bit about the talented folks who’ve taken part in making it all possible.

We began recording in Nashville back in December. I drove up from Texas to work with producer/arranger/keyboardist extraordinaire Rob Arthur who has been rock icon Peter Frampton’s keys player the last seven years. Rob and I played together a few years back and we reconnected the previous October about recording a some of my new songs together. I had a mixed bag of new material but wasn’t  exactly sure what direction I was heading musically. On the last Five Times August tour I had experimented with writing country, americana, folk, soul, blues… you name it. Eventually I had to sit down and list out the songs  that were most compatible with each other. I sent Rob seven rough demos with the intention of picking only 2 or 3 to fully record.  Ultimately, once I got to  Nashville we found ourselves liking all of the songs enough that we decided to just try and cut as many of them as we could while I was there. We only had a day in the studio to do basic tracking so the session was very fast paced but so much fun. We assembled keys, bass, drums, guitar, and vocals in the studio and came out with a whopping six of the seven songs tracked, an amazing accomplishment for a session that only lasted about 9 hours. We played live in the studio together with no click track. Not many bands record that way anymore. With technology what it is today you can record piece by piece, tracking drums, THEN tracking bass, THEN tracking guitar, THEN tracking vocals, and so on. There isn’t anything wrong with that,  that was the process on most the FTA albums. For this project, however, we harkened back to the lost days when band members played together in a room, not just to record a song, but to perform it take after take until they got it right. The difference on this album though, being the independent artist I am, we didn’t have time/budget to do more than three takes per song which certainly kept me on my toes. Fortunately we did get it right! But it’s no wonder considering the caliber of musicians I had at my disposal. It was truly a nice, easy, and super enjoyable session… positive vibes all around!

On drums we had Charlie Morgan who spent 13 years touring with Elton John. On bass, Saul Zonana, who in addition to his own solo career has worked with Ace Frehley of KISS and Crash Test Dummies. Naturally on keys, the previously mentioned multi-talented Rob Arthur, who has been so great in helping my concepts come to fruition. I’ve joked that the album should be “Bradley James with the Rob Arthur Orchestra” considering his role in helping arrange the additional components to these songs. All told I had a great band play on this record and I couldn’t be happier with what we accomplished in Nashville.

So two days of pre-production between Rob and myself, one day in the studio with the band, one day post production and I was back home in Texas for the holidays. Rob was heading down South as well, moving to Miami, Florida where we would reconvene in January for additional studio tracking. We booked another full day session to record live strings arrangements and vocal ensemble parts for each of the songs. Since then Rob and I have been sending files back and forth via internet. I tracked additional guitars, vocals, and other instrumentation at home while Rob, on tour with Frampton the last two months, has been putting the peaces together in hotel rooms and on bus rides across the United States. Really the album is a nice hybrid of professional studio and home recording techniques sprawled out over several months. So, having finished recording the tracks, Thursday I mailed out a hard drive with the session files on it to get mixed by 8 time Grammy Award winner Jay Newland who mixed for Norah Jones’ first two albums, Missy Higgins’ Sound of White, and Esperanza Spaulding’s critically acclaimed Chamber Music Society. I can’t wait to see what he does with the songs.

So, that’s what’s happened in a nut shell, everything couldn’t have come together better. I’m really proud of this project and I’m excited to see where it goes. No definite release date yet, but I’m sure as we get closer I’ll be posting some teasers and sharing clips. Until then, hang tight and check back here often!

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