Hard to believe it has already been one year, although many things have happened during this time. I (Shawn), started writing this album in 2013. I decided to leave behind the heavy metal songs that were lingering for many years, seeing how I could not find a suitable vocalist, and focus on something a little different.
In 2013, I picked up a Fender Hot Rod Deville & Fender Highway 1 Strat. and our first debut album recordings were under way. Lets see what this Clean Channel can do! "Hotroddin" was the first song that was completed.
Throughout 2014, the recording sessions continued for most of the year, aside from the summer months which left us with all of the album tracks completed. If I had to guess, there must have been 1000 hours of recording and writing time during this year. Most of the Darkside album was recorded through a Blackstar HT Tube amp, purchased specifically for these songs, and driven by various Fender Strats and Ibanez RG for the dirty tracks such as End of It All (II) and Dirt Hill Woman (II). A simple pedal board consisting of a Crybaby Wah, and Ibanez TS9 Tube screamer were used sparingly.
Originally, vocal duties were being performed by long time YourEnvy singer Andrew Kiiskila on all of the earlier demo productions. Upon his departure mid-2014 to persue other interests, Clint Gottinger came on board. He is known for works in various cover bands in the area, most notably Black Jack.
You may wonder why this music takes so long to produce.... Well, YourEnvy is essentially a one-man band (plus a vocalist!). Unlike most studio production albums out there, we did not have a team of engineers, producers and outsourced recording studios. Im sure if I could focus on JUST playing the guitar for YourEnvy, there would be some pretty amazing songs out there, but instead I have to divide my time among every other aspect of music production. Although I would rather be playing some guitar and catching up on some overdue practice time, somebody has to write, record and produce our new music. Its a balancing act where every second counts. I should also point out that we have families and full time careers outside of music as well. Its all about TIME! If only there was more of it. Enough excuses! Moving on....
December 2014 - Let the mixing begin! After a great year of recording, and 11 new songs completed. Its time to get a CD printed!... oh wait, no... At this point I have the task of mixing and mastering the entire album from beginning to end. Again, since I am the band and the studio, mixing duties are up to me :)
This is a good thing. I can get this album sounding exactly the way I imagined. Mixing and mastering can be one of those situations where you can't please everybody and every sound system. After spending and excrutiating amount of time on the mixing stage, everything is sounding spectacular (I think...), we are now ready for the next step - physical CD production.
I must say, this area was very new to me. Little did I know, that there is some serious computer editing involved to build the CD production templates. We (or I) decided to go with a basic single fold booklet insert for the album. Originally, I tried to place all of the lyrics into the booklet, but decided to upload them on our official website instead, anticipating that the digital sales would be sufficient to warrant this decision. Again, I spent well over a month building the CD templates for the printing stage. This is a talk that most musicians would sublet to somebody else, but I felt compelled to take on this task and understand the process involved. I felt this to be the most difficult portion of album production.
The album was printed by a Canadian printing company in early March 2015, alongside a large run of logo T-shirts and a few other promo items to get things rolling. On March 15, 2015 "DARKSIDE" was officially released on compact disc. Following the CD release, DK Records took on the task of publishing our album in the digital world on April 2, 2015. You will find this disc on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Spotify and all of the other big name digital music ventures as a result.
We were overly impressed at how well the album was received and accepted by the fans and critics. Shortly following the album release, Q104.5 FM provided us with our first feature interview during their morning show, and played the opening track Blue Ale for the first time.
Over the summer months, we took a little time to focus on musical direction, now focusing on music video production, photo-shoots, and live shows.
We gathered a few great musicians for the drums and rhythm guitars - Susan Traini & Glen McDonald. Practiced through the album a few times. It was difficult to get a 4 or 5 piece band together as we all have full time jobs etc outside of music. Not to say this was the end, but more of an awakening to the subtle difficulties of playing live. At this point we shifted our focus toward production of our first music video to accompany the album. This was now the priority.
With a pretty decent idea in mind for a music video, we began production and filming over two days for the "Dirt Hill Woman II" video. Spent about 6 hours recording all of the footage through multiple cameras. Clint was pretty happy to use his '67 Thunderbird extensively in the video shots as well. Unlike my 18 years of music production experience, I have little to no experience making a music video, so the computer work and assembly of the video literally took 3-4 weeks to complete. We were all quite satisfied with the finished product. We all had a lot of fun during the filming process and can't wait to start the next video adventure.
Things were relatively quiet for a couple months until we came across the great works of photographer Alan Woodworth, who was generous enough to allow us use of his footage for the next YourEnvy video. I spent some time assembling various time-lapse footage, and synchronized it with one of my personal favorite songs from the album, called "Oceans". It was a perfect fit in my opinion. This video, as well as the previous one can be found on our YouTube channel.
The next photo-shoot was underway, and luckily Clint Gottinger has a new hot rod - a '67 Challenger! As much as I was compelled to do another music video with this car, he was just over for another photo-shoot. Thanks to two great folks - Renee for the photography work, and Lisa for creating some digital masterpieces from those photos. These photos will be needed in the near future for some promotional work.
Gone, are the days of Much Music, MTV, and any sort of notable TV exposure for music videos, and YouTube is just too damn big to ever be noticed on there. ShawTV Dryden to the rescue! We are very thankful they took the time to feature us on their cable channel in high frequency for the entire month of December. Great exposure!
Word of mouth can only reach so far, so it was time to tackle some worldwide promotion of the album. Social media works great, but it doesn't get your music heard. Not an easy task, but we were able to get our music established on some notable radio stations in North America. 365RadioNetwork, Midwest Broadcasting, Lonely Oak Radio, to name a few. In addition to radio play, there were some great album reviews by notable music magazines.
We are now into 2016, and have begun rehearsing for some upcoming live shows. Stay posted for more news on this.
All said and done, it was a great year! Every aspect of this album went far beyond my expectations when it all started in 2013. Thanks to everybody who supported us in any way over the last year or so. We have already started writing the next album, so we can do it all over again!