album recording SCA

The most amazing part of making the album…

The most incredible part of this project has been collaborating with so many talented people who were so eager to help make it possible. The SCA and musician communities are an unbelievably generous group of people. This isn’t my official acknowledgments, this is just sharing about what a joyful experience this has been.

It started of course Arden’s incredible instrumental arrangements (I can’t wait for you to hear these!), and Dave’s teaching me everything I needed to know about recording and editing and mixing (plus his brilliant and energetic guitar work). As I’ve mentioned before, without these two guys this album would not exist.

But as I went on, I started to realize that people would just drop out of the trees and say “Wait, you’re doing an album? Cool! How can I help?” if I just asked. I needed guest vocalists for harmonies. (I had an ambitious conceit for “Lady of the Rose”, involving weaving in four distinct female vocals on different parts, with increasingly mature voices. I figured it would be too big a pain to make it happen, but starting in January, people just said “Sure!” and found their way to the basement studio. When I needed one more vocal, Gwendolyn the Graceful was able to collaborate with me remotely.) And yes, let’s not forget her.

I wanted “My Thirst” to sound like a live tavern performance. That one turned into a special Easter egg, since a some of my favorite bards, through the magic of file sharing, all manage to turn up in the same pub at the same time to laugh, sing along, and provide energy. (Bonus quiz when you listen to it: I’m betting many of you can figure out who ordered the stout.)

I ended up doing about 90% of the recording, editing and mixing on the album myself. But before we were done, I had found a mastering engineer (thanks, Neil!), I was getting voice coaching from one of my vocalists (thank you, Olivia Baker!), and careful listening and feedback from them as well as my teacher, Zsof, and the lovely and talented Isolde de Lengadoc. Each of them provided different perspectives on what needed polishing–rhythms, vocals, levels, mix, reverb, pitch. I spent weeks sending them new mixes and re-working. It was exhausting, but it was an unbelievable education and surprisingly fun.

Then of course, there’s the end game–album art, liner notes, finding a CD manufacturer and online distribution. And artists who had been through this before, including Aneleda Falconbridge, Lorelei Skye, and Efenwealt Wystle, were happy to let me pick their brains and point me in good directions so I wouldn’t have to learn it all the hard way. Our once and future Queen of the East, Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoláin, brought her creativity and sense of fun to the photo shoot, and Aneleda worked tirelessly to create a cover and art (including the headers on this website and the Facebook page) that showed me how well she grokked what I was after with this project.

Even now, when it’s nearly over, I have a small troupe of musicians and vocalists practicing away to get ready for the release concert on June 20, and the Pennsic concert (which I’ll share more about later). There is a sensation of being held aloft by many generous and loving hands, and floating safely at a level I’d never hoped to experience.

There are so many people out there ready to bring your dreams to life if you just try them. Trust me. (And yes, thank you all. I didn’t even get to everyone…you are not forgotten, my dear Lucien!…but I shall.)

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