Why is the project called '365 Sparks'?
In trying to come up with a title for this project, i wanted to stand out from the crowd. Ironically the first ‘spark’ was indeed ‘spark’ and it became a working title that eventually stuck and i saw no reason to change it.
What is my favourite song from the project?
Wow. That’s incredibly tough. It’s hard enough to pick a favourite on past EP’s and Albums, so it’s a lot harder when it comes to 365 Songs. At the time of writing this, i’d have to say ‘Coin operated heart’ or ‘Erase it’.
Where did i record the songs?
Every single song was recorded at my studio – Heartfuse Audio. It’s a small but comfortable set-up based in Derry, Northern Ireland. The studio has been setup to my personal style and working methods but i have recorded other artists here and i’m interested in recording other artists in the future. Get in touch if you’d like to talk to me about recording your music, co-writing with you or pre-producing you.
How long did each song take to record?
Each song was completely different in terms of recording setup. I’ve recorded some songs in an hour and others took nearly 8 hours to get right. This is not to say i was recording the entire time; moreso working on sounds and trying to get all the layers sounding cohesive and natural.
Why are there no guest musicians on the music?
I decided from the outset to try and accomplish my goals alone. This wasn’t so i could look back and be arrogant about my solo achievements, but having had guests on older music, i know how often plans can get delayed and/or cancelled. With this project being so time-sensitive, i couldn’t afford to have anything affecting the timing schedule and decided to work on it alone in order to be as efficient as possible.
Does it not get boring when all you do is write and record?
I wouldn’t use the word ‘boring‘ at all – i’ve always been way too busy to have the time to BE bored! There were certainly days that were uber stressful and frustrating; but there honestly wasn’t a single day i could notch down as a ‘boring day‘. Although it’s a fair assumption to believe that it might become mechanical after a while, it never does as every song has it’s own personality and requires it’s own roadmap as far as recording goes; that stimulates the old noggin and keeps things fresh. Day in. Day out. [Thankfully].
Why did i decide NOT to film the project for a Documentary?
You may or may not remember, but i was planning to try and create a documentary along with this project in order to give your eyes something to see alongside your ears. However, as i was writing, recording, performing, singing, producing [etc] everything myself; the only person in the documentary would have been me, and that would have been incredibly boring. There was no creative angle i could come up with that i was happy with or that gave me creative satisfaction so i decided to scrap the plan altogether. A good thing in the end as just doing the music was enough stress for one year!
What DAW do you use?
Cubase 7.5 by Steinberg. I have been using cubase since their SX versions, so i’m a life-long user essentially. I have tried Pro Tools, Logic, Studio One & countless others, but always found Cubase to stand head and shoulders above all mentioned. It can be as basic as you want or as advanced as you want so it’s incredibly handy for a whole host of applications. I’m very fortunate in the fact that Steinberg are one of the sponsors of this very project and i have a good relationship with the company and very thankful to be in this position. I would highly recommend Cubase to everyone.
Do you rock a PC or a MAC?
My answer is actually 50/50. For the first half of the year i was using a PC to record all the music and then i purchased an iMac during the summer for the extra horsepower and change of scenery. A positive from this was the brand new world of applications that was opened – a negative was the month or so of late nights it took to truly get my audio production software reinstalled, relicensed and operational – all totally worth the headaches though, i’m a total Mac fan now.
Why am i doing daily live streams from mid-year?
I feel that i can offer more than merely post a song and then disappear for the rest of the day. I want to be fully available in 2015 for anyone and everyone to contact me in regards to this project. The goal of my stream is to talk about the music, maybe play some songs live, feature guests, answer any questions people might have and just have FUN.
Why did i create Subscription packages?
I value my music. I totally understand bands giving away their album/ep for absolutely free. I have done that in the past and will do it in the future. However, there has to be a value put on 365 Songs [36 albums worth of music]. Each song is freely available to stream, but i wanted to offer an avenue for those that want the songs for their iPods etc.
What are Saturday Songs?
Every Saturday of 2015 will see me release a £free ‘Saturday song’. This is simply a free download a week for the entire year – 52 free songs throughout the year. I just wanted to offer a free route for those that want the downloads but can’t/won’t pay for the subscription.
What is the Digital Boxset?
Sometime toward 2016 [after the project has finished] i will be releasing a Digital Boxset. It’ll not only contain all the songs from 365 Sparks, but will contain an album worth of extra songs, handwritten lyric scans, videos, thoughts and more. It’ll be incredibly well priced and very detailed – a must have for any true fan of the project.
What is my next creative venture going to be?
… More Music! I will be sounding out some talented folks in 2015 with a view to finding musicians to help me transition to the stage. I will also be doing a alot of promotion for the vast amount of music i now have created. In terms of a ‘venture‘ though; i will be finishing two novels i have been flirting with for years, both of which i expect to come out in 2016.
What were some of the downsides to the project?
The amount of time i’ve had to change electric and acoustic strings / lack of time to do anything else with anyone else so it was easy to get very lonely very fast / sore throat very often / sore and fatigued ears often / the overall pressure of the project was worrying on days when it didn’t click for me as fast as it usually did / sky-high electric bill …. that’s about it!
What was a typical day like?
Every day was honestly a little different, but generally…. I’d get up around 6am or earlier and start the day with a strong coffee. My first goal is usually to figure out what kind of song i want to write or what instruments i want to play today [for example, if i’ve just restrung an acoustic, i’ll likely gravitate toward an acoustic song]. I’ll usually be writing and mapping out a song until late morning but i’ll not be recording anything just yet. Over the next hour or two i’ll begin recording guitars, bass, piano, drums or whatever is featured in today’s song. I’ll usually then take a 30 minute break in order to be able to come back to the song with ‘fresh ears‘ and grab some lunch. I’ll then spend the next few hours writing and recording my vocal melodies and backing vocals. Again, i’ll take another short break and come back to the song one final time for a quick tweak and we’re done! 1 down, just another 364 to go!
Has the project increased or decreased your love of music?
I had some conversations before this project started with some musician friends that all asked the same question – ‘do you not think writing and recording so many songs will make you sick and tired of music?‘. I didn’t really know how to answer because i had no prior experience to guide me. I figured that it would either completely enhance my love for music or completely destroy my love for it – but i was willing to take the risk. As i write this to you in November, i’m happy to report that it’s the former – this project has completely made me obsessed with music and writing and production and everything in between.
What are the monthly digital concerts?
Independent from the mid-year live stream, i will be doing an concert live stream once a month for the year – so 12 times in total. I have these planned for the end of each month and i’ll be using the platform to talk about the songs released that month, talk about updates and news and of course to play a live set for any one who is interested. The streams will Youtube live events so they’ll be free to watch as they happen and when they’re archived. Tune in!