I was half way through recording the EP when this question hit me one day. Why am I making this ep? Immediately I justified my work to myself by saying that I finally had the time, resources, and musicians to make something. But these were really just favorable circumstances, not legitimate reasons for making music.
I haven’t officially released anything in something like 6 years. The last “real” project I did of my own music was “Strangers”, the album my wife and I released under the name Trees of Lyres right after we got married. We played a lot of shows in the the northwest but then... we got pregnant with our daughter Bella. This was the best thing that ever happened to us, and it was the still the best thing that could happen to us when our second daughter Imogen was born, and again when our son Noah was born. Around the time we found out we were pregnant with Bella we decided to move to Austin. Then we decided I should go back to school. So I went back to school and taught guitar/flipped burgers/raised support did odd jobs to pay the bills and to feed our ever expanding brood. Its been a crazy few years. In the last six years I’ve also had the privilege to record and produce five or six of my friends eps. Each one has been a unique challenge and its own unique kind of fun. All along I kept talking about how I was going to “soon” begin working on my own project. But I never did. I told myself it was because I didn’t have the time, resources, or musicians to really make something. But these were really just unfavorable circumstances, not legitimate reasons for not making a record.
So why did I make this record? Because I forgot how to.
That might sound a bit melodramatic, and it probably is but let me explain anyway. As I started the project I realized I’d forgotten how to be disciplined in working on my music. I don’t really have this problem when I’m recording other musicians but it nearly kicked my butt on this ep. I was so eager to try out all the things I’d been thinking of for the last six years that the songs got away from me pretty quickly. Way too many instruments on songs, disorganized sessions, no game plan. It was a mess. I made the ep at night from 8-12 after our girls went to sleep. We also had a newborn. I was a bit overwhelmed. But slowly I found my footing, I learned to kill the bad or superfluous ideas, I relearned how to do the work, I learned that I really could do the work.
I think the ep reflects the manic, learning approach I ended up taking to make the ep. The songs are all pretty different in their sounds (or so I’m told). Even the artwork reflects this. I didn’t connect this until everything was completed, but the overlapping pictures/versions of me on the cover are a pretty decent representation of what’s going on in the ep and what it was like to make the ep.
These five songs are the best songs I think I’ve written over the last six years. They are songs I needed to get out of my system before I could start working on newer songs. They had become so connected to dreams and ideas I had about making music that I couldn’t do anything else until I finally sat down and recorded them. Making this ep was a lot of fun. It was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done artistically. I am grateful for everyone who supported the kickstarter and made it possible for me to finally release some music. They helped remove all my excuses so I could finally address the reasons I hadn’t released any music in a long time. They helped me keep my head. Thanks for reading and if you go listen to the ep at www.mattoakes.bandcamp.com thanks for listening!