FAWM 2014: Looking back

So, another February Album Writing Month (FAWM) is over, and as my artist page there shows, I managed to post the target of 14 songs in the 28 days of the month. How did I think it went?

This is my second FAWM, and if you haven’t heard the songs I posted to the 2013 challenge, my album “Homecooked” at Bandcamp collects them together quite neatly.

It’s interesting for me to compare my compositions from the two years. In terms of similarities: I think in both years, I posted pieces in quite a wide range of styles. In 2014, these included:

  • synth-pop and electronica (“The Radio Ham”, “In My Time”, “Leave It All Behind”);
  • rock (“Looking For The Spring”, “Song For FAWM”);
  • instrumentals (“Diamond Cut”, “Not Quite Twelve”);
  • acoustic “singer-songwriter” items (“Castle Song”, “You Started It”, “Bridge Of Crows”, “You And I And We”); and
  • one or two more light-hearted numbers (“See This Through”, “Where Did All The Fun Songs Go?”).

Re the last of those categories: I sense the 2014 output was generally less humorous than the previous year; perhaps even dark (although I’m nowhere near a depressing artist, I hope!). One could speculate on the possible reasons, but I suppose my creativity can be affected by the conditions outside the window, and if one wants to look for shadows, one may not have to search beyond the near-endless rain-clouds of February 2014 in England!

As in 2013, I arranged and recorded my FAWM demos using iOS devices (this time, an iPhone and an iPad), but in 2014 I went even further than last year, and recorded and mixed all the tracks on the devices themselves, with no mixing done on an external computer. This was partly because project files created by the latest Garageband app for iOS, can’t be imported in Logic Pro 9 on the Mac: Logic Pro X is required for this. As there is no cut-price upgrade path for LP10 (you must purchase the full product), it’s not currently an option for us here, so I had to mix the three songs I produced in Garageband, on the iPhone/iPad.

Owing to the limited non-existent EQ options in GB/iOS, this meant the resulting mixes were not ideal to my ears (especially with the vocals), but for now I have to make do with the output. I was able to process the mixes through the Audio Mastering app for iPad, which whilst not a panacea (I’m still learning how to use more than the presets), did improve the overall sound, at least to my ears.

So: what now? Well, in the short-term, I’m planning to upload the “mastered” tracks as a download album (most likely to Bandcamp). If it goes ahead, this should be available within the next couple of days—I have put together a cover in the VinylizeMe app, but I won’t unveil this until… well, keep an eye on my Twitter feed, and maybe I might have a surprise for you 😉

Longer-term? A few of the songs at least, are what I see as “works in progress”: unfinished in terms of arrangement, lyrics or a combination of these. I’d like to “take them further”, and furthermore, I have a desire to make a “proper” album during 2014, which might make use of some of the FAWM 2014 material. All I can say is: you may well hear more of these pieces in the months to come, and they may not stay in the form in which you hear them here!

So, in general: another FAWM, and in my view, a pretty successful one for me. I’d like to thank my fellow FAWM-ers (and if you gave me feedback: extra gratitude to you, and sorry if I haven’t returned the favour yet—I’ll do my best!), as well as everyone else who listened in and gave me encouragement along the way.

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