jacob detering is making records

Icon... The endless quest to make a record that I enjoy listening to ...

The Creative Climate

I've spent the last few days in the studio with New Hampshire artist Amy Petty helping to navigate the production of her new record. I'm not sure if it's that I'm tired or that I'm getting my first dose of sunlight in what feels like months but something has me mulling over the process of record making. It's been a few years since the release of 'Mystery Keeps You'. Last Spring, Amy and I started toying with the idea of embarking on her second record. Directionally, our biggest concern was that the new record not be a remaking or re-inventing of 'Mystery'.

Fast forward almost a year, skip over the week I spent in New Hampshire wading through Amy's catalog of material to me sitting at my console, listening to possibility. I'll be honest, here - making records from scratch takes a strong stomach. It's not a job for those uncomfortable with uncertainty and being uncomfortable. Even after steering dozens of records to completion, I still find the process a bit unnerving.

While a great amount of care is taken to select and then tweak the source material (songs) , each tune must still endure quite a bit to reach completion. The right part, played by the right instrument, performed by the right player, captured by the right microphone positioned at just the right place all impact the end result. A well written song aside, the above things are what make or break a song's ability to elicit an emotive response from the listener.

At the end of the day, about all that comforts my record making anxiety is the team of people surrounding me. I am at best, an average musician with a few good ideas. My strength has always been in surrounding myself with amazing musicians; selfless players that aspire to make great, emotive records. I like to call them all 'ultimate character actors' in that while each of them is brilliant, skilled and accomplished in their own right, they choose to play whatever roll necessary to further the story. They truly play for the song.

Beyond their art, they are all easy people. As session drummer Joe Meyer told me once: "We make records here. If you are here, the expectation is that you can play. From there it's all about donuts and coffee. Can you sit and make your client feel at ease and as if everything is under control? Can you hang?"

Instead of trying to remove discomfort from the process, my new goal is to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. After all, great art is born at the fray of normalcy; reaching into the unknown is always a bit scary. And too, have the courage to let other people (the right people) into the process. It's difficult to create something new and other worldly when creating in a vacuum. And most important (most obvious and often overlooked) let the team know and feel their value.

It's an honor and a privilege, guys. It really is.


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