A few days ago, I recorded my 15th full-length album in Valencia, Spain. I don't speak Spanish, though I understand a tiny amount.
I reached out to my good friend and guitarist, Sergio Pereira, whom I have long wanted to record with. I was headed to Valencia, where he lives. "Let's finally make a recording together," I proposed, and he agreed. He was getting ready to record his own new music, too. "If you can write the music, I can book the studio and hire the band," he said to me, and we were off and running.
I wrote music in August and September with deep intention: What do I want to GIVE to the world through this music? What would be a beautiful thing to play with Sergio and the musicians that he assembled?! I wrote and wrote many songs and selected my favorite ten for this setting.
I arrived at the studio two days after landing in Barcelona, two hours after getting off the train to Valencia, with a slight head cold and a folio full of all-new music that had never been played (other than my demo). I was greeted with warmth from new faces. Hugs and smiles all around. We had no time to rehearse, only to talk through all the new music as the drums were being sound-checked.
Sergio had assembled a wonderful group of musicians. Pancho Montanez, on drums, had come from another recording session earlier in the same day. You wouldn't have known that he had already been creating for hours. There was no sign of fatigue or exhaustion; he came ready to play with a full heart.
Ales Cesarini, on bass, already knew the bass lines, having reviewed the demos and charts sent ahead. He was singing my bass lines back to me with a smile. His limited English and my limited Spanish were no problem. We both spoke music fluently, and we figured the rest out. We were coming from the same place, energetically. We were coming from love, respect, and trust. The music was going to be created out of beautiful energy on all sides.
Music, for me, is sacred. It is deep and profound, but it is also light and playful. Music is a language of intangibles. It is poetry with added dimensions that enters the heart through feeling. My direction to the band was, "the tempo to the songs is secondary to the feel. The most important thing is that it FEELS good. Five clicks up or down don't matter." Music is meant as a service and a gift. All four of us approached the music with similar energy, like water moving with the motions of the waves, dancing in unison.
We had only six hours in the studio together, from 3 pm to 9 pm. We were playing all new music that I wrote, except one new song of Sergio’s, that I wrote lyrics to. So, we were moving at a clip in new waters. I brought ten songs with me which ranged from complex to wide open in simplicity. None of it was predictable. In Ales' words, "Me gusta! it's weird but cool."
Everyone came to HIVE Studios with an abundance of palpable energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and generosity. We listened, laughed, focussed, shared ideas, and took creative risks together, taking turns leading the songs or sections in new directions with the ideas that were flowing through us like leadings. Like a flock of birds, we took all turns in sync. It was beautiful and light-hearted. It was an organically consensus-driven process. All of this is audible in the recording. We were one, with a common purpose of lifting others with music.
We recorded nine new songs in the six hours that we had. I am very happy with what we recorded. I will begin sifting through the recordings and mixing in November. I am excited to sit with this experience and get it ready to share with all of you.
New music is on the way!!!!
Photo credits: Rafa Sulbaran and Jeremy Ryan