An album is typically created in a sheltered little world. For us, it went from the basement of our house, to our bunker-like rehearsal space, then into the recording studio.
As soon as a record is complete, the reverse happens. Before it’s shared with the world, it’s shared with your label, management, PR person, directors, photographers, album artists and the list goes on. These people then become the conductors, the channel-ers or amplifiers responsible for getting your music out into the world.
The process of putting your music into other people’s hands, in order for them to represent and share it, requires a lot of trust. It’s great because it increases the odds of having your music heard exponentially, but it also runs the risk of dilution or misrepresentation. In her 2010 documentary “Look at What the Light Did Now” Feist discusses her personal experience with her own ‘amplifiers’ used during and after the release of her 2007 album “The Reminder”. She says “As you realize that you are in a position to amplify yourself, it really becomes all that much more important to have the amplifier be someone who you trust.” Which leads me to my favorite quote from the film, “You play through the wrong amp, you end up sounding like Dire Straights.”
I asked my friend Adaline, an incredible Toronto-based electro alt-pop artist, her thoughts about ‘amplifiers’.
1. Do you feel as though your ‘artistic amplifiers’ help you grow or constrict you? Is it limiting to express your music through a different individual (photographer, director, etc.) then subsequently through a different medium (photos, music video, etc) Or is it always a positive experience?
Yes, it can be daunting making creative decisions in areas where I’m not an expert. I am not a t-shirt designer or a web developer. I’m not a music video director. When you hire these people you are putting your trust into their abilities. Making a video, for example, is something I always find daunting because you have to trust someone else’s vision. I don’t get to see what is being filmed because I’m in front of the camera. I have to completely trust the person filming. That’s why you do your homework and find people that understand what you want to portray.
2. Music is always felt and understood differently between individuals, and also bandmates. How do you reconcile different feelings and outlooks within your band when making decisions about “amplifiers”? How difficult is it to come to a decision about a unified image or representation?
Because I’m a solo artist I have a lot of control over my own image and my decisions on who I work with. I’m lucky in that way. I know some bands don’t agree on which producer they want to work with next. I suppose my label could disagree with who I choose to work with but so far they have given me creative liberties. I write and record the music and they release it – there is very little creative control from them which is what I need. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone telling me I need to write or look a certain way.
She concludes with a great point:
“[Amplifiers] are always a good thing…I’ve never had a negative experience when joining creative forces. It’s very important to allow other influences in or things start to feel stale…It opens your world up to thousands more possibilities.”
So choose your amplifiers wisely. Make sure the connections clear, the tubes are warm and your volume’s turned up to 11.
Adaline is an electro alt-pop artist from Toronto. Her record “Modern Romantics” is out now on Light Organ Records and is available on iTunes and in stores. She is currently touring Canada and will be making her introduction to the UK market this fall.
Adam Nanji and Katrina Jones are part of the Vancouver-based indie rock band, The Belle Game. Together, they will provide a bi-weekly column showing their perspective on all things music.