Back in 2006, my two friends and I could play instruments, and one of them could sing. We made up a song called “The Woodchuck Song”. It was basically just our singer yelling “How much would could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”. It sounded pretty good to us and to our families, but unfortunately we moved away from them that summer and couldn’t do it anymore. When we came back to visit in 2010, my friend, the singer, and I sat down and wrote an actual song with lyrics that didn’t just include things about rodents and had actual structure and guitar chords. That’s when we realized we were really good. The next summer, I moved back to Edmonton and we wrote our second song which was even better and started playing them in his basement.
I started taking piano lessons when I was 3 and I played for quite a few years until I was 9 or 10. We got a drum set when I was 5 and I took lessons until I was 10 but I still continued to play and I’ve never stopped. I got an electric guitar when I was around 11 and took lessons for a month at a music store then I took online lessons called Jamplay for the rest of the school year and taught myself from there. I haven’t taken lessons for a while but still use the online every once in awhile if I can’t figure something out.
What I wanted to do with this project was to write and record a whole song with instruments and vocals. I wanted to have at least two guitars, drums, and some keyboard. I didn’t really plan it out. We just were playing the chords and writing the music and the basic idea seemed to come together in an afternoon. I did most of the writing in my friend’s basement in a tiny room with all the instruments. I did the recording at my home by myself. The vocals came after all the tracks were laid down. Even without a plan, the results were astounding.
I had fun with creating the music and also recording it and playing with the different sounds I would get from placing the mic in different places. Writing the lyrics was also interesting. I also learned that it is ALWAYS a good idea to use a metronome when recording music. It makes it much easier when recording multiple instruments and vocals. I didn’t use one on the first version of the song that I recorded and it was off beat in some places. I remembered to use one on the second version of the song so it is almost all on beat.
I started using a program called Garageband that can record music at a camp in Texas so I was already familiar with it. I didn’t really get into any of the effects because they were a little complicated. I recorded the main guitar first. After that came the rhythm guitar, the drums, and finally the keyboard and vocals when my friend came over. I had to do the drums on the keyboard since the real drums wouldn’t record well with just one mic. Once we got a good mic, I had to try and figure out how to use it and what the different settings did. After I figured it all out, it was pretty easy to record and it sounded really good compared to the mic on my laptop which is what I used for the first recording.
I had quite a few problems. When I did the first version of the song, I was using the mic built in on my computer. It wasn’t that bad, but there was a lot of background noise from the furnace in our basements and it wasn’t as good quality as the song recorded on a higher quality mic. The new mic, called the Yeti, also didn’t record as much background noise as the one on my laptop. It was also tricky working with GarageBand and getting used to all the different effects that there are. It is hard to start recording in the middle of the song if you took a break or something like that. There is a delay on the time that you press the record button and when it actually starts recording and the music kicks in.
Also, I went to school for the second semester so that limited how much time I could spend on the recording. I didn’t really do much work on it after the day when we did the vocals. I think it sounded alright and it didn’t need much adjustment.
We had an opportunity to play for Capilooza http://www.capilano.org/capilooza-2012/ which is a fundraiser for a Haitian orphanage put on by our church. We jumped at the opportunity to play in front a crowd of more than 4 people. There were only two of us and we needed at least four to have all the instruments that would make it sound good. I got my brother to play drums and a leader at our church to play bass and it ended up working out pretty good.
Practicing for the fundraiser was a little difficult and I couldn’t make all the practices. I missed the first one so my friend and my brother had to teach our bass player the chords and notes that I wrote. They did pretty well, though, and they played all the songs except one which they couldn’t figure out. We practiced three or four times at our house with everyone except the bass player and three times on the stage at our church with everybody.
Even though it was hard at some points, I learned some things. I learned how to use the new Yeti microphone and use GarageBand more effectively. I got better at making up my own beats and riffs on the guitar and drums instead of playing music that somebody already wrote. It’s sometimes hard to come up with new music when there is already so much out there. You have to be careful not to copy someone else’s music. You can also use the same chords and progressions just as long as you don’t copy the words or beat of the song. I also learned a bit about poetry and songwriting and how some words fit to make a good rhyme and how some don’t. My friend and I would write the lyrics together when we had the time, and emailed each other when we had a good idea.
My band and I played at Capilooza and played three of the songs that we had written and two cover songs. We used all of our own amps, guitars, and drums. We brought all the stuff to the church early for sound check and to see how everything was going to work out. There were quite a few other bands there too so we got a little feeling of what it would be like before we even got on stage. We set up and played three songs to let the sound guy see how loud everything should be. We finished, got all our stuff off the stage and went home until when we were supposed to be playing.
Our equipment was already at the church so we drove there and listened to the other bands before us. The bands were slower and not that exciting at the beginning but they were nice to listen to. When it was our turn, we set up quickly and started playing. I was quite impressed on how we did and how everything worked out. My mom and dad each had a video recorder and we got some good footage. We also had a Gopro camera set up on stage so it would get us from the same position all through the time we were playing. It was the first time we played in front of a big audience. There were about 200 people there and I was surprised that I wasn’t scared. After we were done, I just wanted to play more, and so I did.
A few days later we got to play again at a Battle of The Bands at a local high school atrium in front of about 25 people. It was set up by a music store, Axe music, but we didn’t get to use our own amps and guitars. There were a few problems with the guitars and sound and I don’t think it was nearly as good as when we played at the church but it was still not bad. My mom was recording with a mic on an iphone and my dad had the video camera. I had fun doing both and we got some good videos to show from it. We helped pack up the equipment and it was pretty neat stuff, but I wish we could have used our own amps. The ones they had were restricting and didn’t have much adjustment.
Here are the three original songs that we played at Battle of The Bands and Capalooza.
The song we wrote summer 2010 is called “Here We Go Again”. (Click on link to go to song and lyrics)
The song I recorded is called “Save Me”
Our newest song which we played at Capalooza is called, “Worlds Apart”
The fun just doesn’t stop here. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to play at different places and get our music out there. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to tour around someday and get paid to play music. To get there is a long road and we probably need to start by getting some more official band members.