mixing table

On Recording My New Single, “Fragments”

The last official David Andrew Wiebe release was my solo debut album in 2006 called Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.

That alone probably raises some questions.

“Why did it take you so long to put out something new?”

“Why are you recording music again after all these years?”

“Who cares?”

All great questions – none of which I answer in this post. Just kidding!

I’ll do my best to give you a satisfactory answer, and I’ll share a lot of what went into this new single so you can learn from my experiences. Deal? Deal.

Let’s get into this.

What Happened After Shipwrecked…?

This is where I’d like to start, because I’ve covered the story of Shipwrecked… many times elsewhere, and don’t feel the need to dredge up the past.

And if things didn’t happen the way they did, I’m not sure I would be in the place I am at today, happy and excited to be alive.

I actually fell into a bit of a slump after Shipwrecked… Yes, writer’s block, if you will. I did quite a bit of performing locally, but knowing nothing about touring or online distribution, I had no idea what the logical next steps were as an artist.

Project 365

In 2007, I did something I called Project 365, which entailed writing a song for every day in the year. It was a neat experience. I did write some great songs during this time, and I did complete my goal, but in the end I realized how reliant I was on particular musical devices.

I think we can all fall into certain habits as musicians and songwriters. Just look at AC/DC or Van Halen. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since people will begin to identify you with a particular style, but I felt the need to evolve, and that became even clearer after Project 365.

So that experience left me with some great songs to add to my library, and some new goals too.

Anxiety & Heartbreak

In 2008, I started getting up at 6 AM every day. For many of you, that’s routine. For me, it was not a good idea, because I wasn’t doing it in a healthy way.

Instead of getting to bed earlier, I got up at 6 AM regardless of how much sleep I got. I wasn’t watching my diet, I wasn’t exercising regularly, and I wasn’t meditating. This was a recipe for a disaster, and ultimately led to a panic attack.

I hear there are some people out there that have a sleep mutation and can live on four or five hours of sleep per night. I pretty quickly found out I wasn’t one of those people.

Ultimately, it was music (and God) that saved me, and it provided a great deal of healing and relief over time.

In the midst of my anxious condition, I met a girl at a guitar workshop and fell in love. Sadly, it didn’t work out, but guess what? It sure got me out of my slump. I wrote 15 to 20 songs that summer.

These songs were supposed to form the track list for my second album. That has yet to happen, but it will.

I also started playing in bands again, and that was a healthy thing.

Going Project Crazy

2009 was the year for a lot of things – blogging, podcasting, creating a YouTube channel, starting a guitar site, playing in bands, and so on.

The band projects pretty much all ended in disaster, though some of our music did get out there into the world. That left me feeling pretty down, because I had yet to be in a band that had any kind of longevity.

But podcasting was great, and that’s something that has stuck with me. I’ve built a lot of great music industry connections and relationships as result of conducting a lot of interviews.

2010 & Beyond

There isn’t too much to say about 2010. I started building a friendship with Jonathan Ferguson, and that was great, because I ended up playing lead guitar and mandolin on his first album, Sweeter After Difficulties, which came out in 2012. I still perform with him to this day.

I also put out an unofficial release called Demos 2010, which was a fun collection of songs that weren’t fully fleshed out, but it was something to put my stamp on while a lot of other things were going awry.

In 2011, I played a bit of guitar on The Active Light EP. I also discovered the thrill and excitement of business. That definitely had an impact on my musical output. I actually put music on the backburner in September 2012, but that was after the Ferguson release and another album I mixed, mastered, and produced for Andrew Riches called 12 String Monster.

I learned a lot of valuable, important things in business. I’m pretty sure I would still be struggling with finances today if I hadn’t gone through that process, so I’m eternally grateful for the lessons I learned. I actually ended up selling my house because of the pressure I was under and the things I was learning in entrepreneurship.

But as far as that business goes, it was just a sinkhole for money, and I found myself unable to continue in early 2015 because I was just going further and further into debt. I’ve since reinvented my business, which is basically everything I do with The Music Entrepreneur.

I also played guitar on Long Jon Lev’s 2015 release, Telltale Heart. This is basically a Jonathan Ferguson project as well.

Fragments

So that leads us more or less to today. I’ve left a lot of details out, but I figured you wouldn’t mind too much. I’ve told my story elsewhere, and I should really start talking about my new single.

On May 24, 2016, I officially released a new single called “Fragments.”

Why is it called “Fragments”? This is essentially because the song is made up of different pieces. It features three distinct guitar styles and tones. The original idea was to vary it up even more (maybe a little like the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique but not with samples), but I’m pretty happy with the results either way.

And it might also be called Fragments because of my fragmented music career. Yes, feel free to laugh.

The song had actually been sitting on my studio box’s hard drive as a demo for a couple of years. Had I put it out back then, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as good as it turned out. There were some things arrangement-wise that needed to be worked out.

But when I finally came back to it, I thought “there’s something here,” and I decided to finish the track. The process wasn’t all rose petals on a bed, but hey, it went a lot smoother than previous attempts at recording projects.

Production

Let’s geek out for a bit.

Here’s the gear I used to record Fragments:

  • Audio interface: MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid. This is a great little box (not cheap) that I initially purchased for my mobile setup. I ended up selling most of my gear after I moved out of my house in 2012, and just held on to the bare minimum of what I needed. It was a really smart decision to hold onto this guy.
  • Digital audio workstation: I’ve been a Tracktion guy for a long time, and for this project I used T5 (they’re already up to T7 – yeesh!). I hear really good things about REAPER too, and I might try it out sometime, but I think the workflow in Tracktion is probably unbeatable.
  • Guitar: Ernie Ball Music Man Axis. God, this thing is amazing. I’ve actually had it since 2003.
  • Guitar effects: no amp necessary, man. I used a Zoom G3X guitar effect and amp simulator. This thing sounds amazing on recordings. And I was never a believer in digital guitar gear prior to this (trust me – I tried them all).
  • Bass guitar: I used my landlord’s Fender jazz bass. I’m really not a jazz bass guy, but for this recording, which is a bit jazz, a bit fusion, it seems right.
  • Drums: Hydrogen drum machine. Great little program. I’ll have real drums on some future projects, but this will do for some of the things I’m doing right now. I have another single that’s already half done.
  • Keyboards: a couple of free VST plugins.
  • Composition: Power Tab Editor. It’s crazy, but this is where I tend to compose keyboard parts for my songs and then export the tracks as MIDI.

Final Thoughts

Well, I feel like I’ve adequately answered the question, “why did it take so long?” throughout this post.

I think I’ve also answered why I’m recording again. There’s a lot of music in me, and to be honest I never had any intention of stopping. I was actually thinking about releasing a new album every single year back in 2006. That simply wasn’t possible with the state I was in.

Because of what I’ve learned, and the many experiences I’ve gone through, I finally feel free to create again.

As for why you should care, I’m not here to convince you, but I hope you did get something out of this.

If you’d like to check out “Fragments”, here’s your formal invitation.

Author Bio:

David Andrew Wiebe is the founder of The Music Entrepreneur, and author of The New Music Industry. He is also active onstage and in the studio with bands like Adrenalize and Long Jon Lev. His new solo album is slated for release later this year.

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