Thursday, September 5, 2013 Y 2:36 PM
Okay so basically after I put out that Joe Smooth mixtape for the 25th Anniversary (in 2010) I heard one of Rachael's songs on the tape ("Dance All Night") and I was HOOKED on it, as I usually am (am I the only one who will listen to one song for days, hours?). From there I obviously started to know more and more music mainly because I was archiving all the music onto bandcamp and so when I listened to "Love Is In The Air" at some moment in time I just had to put this album together. I didn't even know her other music at this point but that's me, I see one thing I like and I try to make a platform or something so it can be appreciated by everyone!
I've recently realized that I've been like this since I was like 5 and controlling/playing that Christian Castro CD for one of our dinners with family friends, and then they went "Ohhhhh" and I guess since then I've been hooked on the idea of showing and telling. I had obviously some previous things happen but that one really stands out, as well as the time Elisa and I went to a Halloween party where I was online in the beginning talking to an oinline friend from Brown that I met on Camfrog. I was bored, and wanted to make the night special for myself. So I took over the music, and I honestly felt like it was my party because previously they were playing some lame music (like frat rock) and everyone was just sitting on the couches and shit. The party was super tho because they had decorations, and food (themed food) so I just took over the stereo with my then iPod touch. Let's just say, the euphoria of 1) making a party 2) playing Dirty Sanchez's "Youth In Asia" to a mixed crowd and having them go wild was just enough to make my Halloween experiences. Later I cuddled for the entire train ride from Addison to Congress with a super cute boy I met that night who had a girlfriend (who was ditched for me and was literally in the next train car) but that it neither here nor there.
The point is my life was built up to do things like this for a while. So then I put out the 25th Anniversary Collection (of which the album was curated by me) at this point I had expressed that I wanted to put her album together but obviously when the time was right, and when I felt like it -- I just can't perform if I don't feel like it. So obviously they nagged me once in a while about it, and at that time there was no real direction as to where it was going to go, or what it was going to be -- it could have been a new album mixed with music from her catalogue; it could have been an album of just new studio music, w.e! The point is that there was no direction and I had yet to put any work into it, but it was in the back of my mind.
So in the summer of 2012 I put together SUMMERTRAX because I heard Rachael's song "Extacy" and at that same time "Starships" was out and I was like I want a summer album, so I did, and "Extacy" was my "Starships" (meaning it was like a summer jam). Which later was chosen by XLR8R as a free download and later became one of the top most downloaded songs of 2012. At this point I only really knew maybe 10 songs of hers but I was determined to get the songs I loved of hers the time of day.
So as the year began to wind down I began asking for music and Rachael kept giving me the same stuff on cd's (at this time I could not back out from putting the album together, and I really didn't want to because the songs I did hear were just like homagah!) but I also realised that maybe the album would be only 10 tracks or something -- I would never just put out to put out. Fortunately, or unfortunately I had problems with my laptop at the very end of the year and then Rachael gave me hers (gurl needs to work!) so she gave me her laptop to work, and I of course just looked through her iTunes (maybe we did talk about the fact that she only gave me the same music over and over again; and at one point I even asked her to give me vinyl so I could pick music out of) the point is that once I opened up that iTunes it was gold, GOLD! From there I literally at first began to scan solely for her music but the files were so unorganized that the task became somewhat very daunting, but work is work, haha. I ended up just pulling (I like to have a very fashion-ey, artistic way of thinking about how I work. It's like I think of how people would pull a bunch of coats or dresses or photographs at once and then widdle them down) the songs and loaded them onto my iPhone (it was winter at this point) and took my dogs behind the offices behind this are by where I live and just listened. Already I knew it was going to be crucial to put these in a very specific order because it was very jarring to hear them the way I did and also even some of the songs that I love now I thought nothing of originally because of the way they were jsut randomly placed to other songs. "Love Is In The Air" was always the album opener tho (gurl I take that Michael Kors advice [via Project Runway season 1, holla Wendy!] when it comes to opening a show -- in this case an album). So from there it was pretty easy to just Anna Wintour the shit out of it. Yes, no, def no, and hell no-ing things and I really put the album together more stylistically as opposed to having it be a narrative or trying to tell a story (of which I did on the 25th Anniversary Album, and SUMMERTRAX). I mean I put everything out stylistically but sometimes I sacrificed or added certain songs to enhance the narrative I was going for like for the 25th Anniversary album which was really about my depression/ how I felt the label was at that moment in time and about displaying black avant-garde music I chose songs based on their names. Songs like: "Help", "I've Lost Control", "Time Marches On", etc.
So w/ this one it never was about me wanting to tell a specific story, just a great sonic record but maybe it was my unconscious or something -- but I did put the album together in a way that tell Rachael's life. Like the first songs are about partying, then life after the party (sex) and then about real life struggles, etc. That is obviously a very condensed way of saying how Rachael's life was but you can ask her more about it. We literally in April had a discussion at her table and without provoking the conversation or anything gelled exactly how I had put the album in order (maybe I'm telekinetic).
At the very end before the final version of the album was submitted by me I was still combing through her iTunes to make sure I didn't miss any songs (I had, of course) so I ended up literally clicking through every single song and ended up finding "Joy", "Let's Play House", and maybe a couple more -- can not remember but those really stood out because I can't imagine not having them in the album. At that point also the album needed to be filled it was kinda bare (it had more than 20 songs) but it needed padding, I knew the album needed more so clicking on every song was great! Also this is how TransTRAX (another comp coming out this year) was born. Because naturally I ran into songs where I went like "oh hey gurl, what?!" and so thats that.
Okay so when I first started out I was honestly just wanting to do the art for everything from posters, to albums -- I had no interest in running a label, putting out music, etc. While that was nice I felt like I needed to give my art a platform to properly be displayed. This means: Basically if I am going to be part of something it was to be at a certain level, especially if it going to 1) have my name on it 2) if it is going to have my art on it. So this thinking led to me basically running the label publically while Rachael did all the defending and serious work behind the scenes. I just wanted to be part of something I would be proud to have my name on, and with no one else there I just ended up taking over many things. I'm saying all this because it has a lot to do with how I branded this album.
I knew this album was fantastic, and I knew it could go two way if the press shots, the album cover, and the press were not up to par. Some may think that why do all that work? Well I just spent a large amount of time trying to build the house now I need cute furniture inside of it, you feel me?
The album cover was born out of me just playing with this photograph of Rachael's that was on her page on Facebook. and then I just decided to being painting it, somewhere in the haze. Maybe because I put the album together, I just had a natural reaction to it with my hands. I don't know because I have no solid reason as to why it is that, or why I chose to paint, etc. It just came out of me.
Later on in April I knew I needed to have the proper press shots for this album because at this point how can you have 1) an amazing album 2) an amazing cover and then come out with lame-o press shots. So I shot them when I stayed with Rachael over at a park near Lake Point Tower next to Navy Pier. In the beginning the lighting was all crazy and we were about to leave but then the magic happened. I also, as many of you know, have become a makeup lover (paintingggg) and nails, and so I did that and styled it! (wow so many hatssss, haha) Maybe I am OCD, but it's my work godamnit![Willam reference]
The at night we shot the "punk" looks and I also shot the promo video (hell no, I won't not have one. every project I've made thus far has had one). Yet again, makeup'd and styled it, as well as shooting and editing. I don't have a factory of people working for me a la Jeff Koons. This was shot on the third floor garden at Lake Point Tower facing the southside.
Also I forgot to mention!!!!! SO I ended up asking Rachael somewhere along the lines to please write her "logo" because when I was originally playing with the picture I obviously went straight for Helvetica but that did not work. So for the font for everything for this album I used her scanned writing. Later on when we were getting ready for PR they wanted to know more about her and Rachael is not the best typer so she wrote her story. Originally it was just 16 pages, I later turned this into a book (a book too, omg what?!) where I asked her to finish off the story. At some point Rachael came to where I live because she was going to a photo shoot in the sorrounding area and so I had her drop off clips (oh yeah I also made her a tumblr using a template because like I said the branding is an overall experience, it all has to go. eyeshadow, to shoes, to earrings, lol) that were going to be uploaded on there and also photographs to be on there. So I took the time to look through all those boxes and things at some point and made the book.
We were supposed to have a sampler vinyl which contained six songs from the album come out with the releases but shit happens. and this is what I had designed for that. Again two face design :) and this was supposed to be on a transparent vinyl.
This post was really about branding and about the album so in a different post I'll post things like soundcloud stream and reviews we've gotten, etc.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention: I also made the promo's that were sent out. We did not have physical cd's made so of course I was not just about to burn songs onto any CD. I obviously chose that the promo's have the tracklisting mirroring that of the album. So it was the first couple of songs, and then I made little cards along with stickers! I love these memorex writable cd's (they're sold as printable) but they are the perfect way to be able to write on them. I handsigned each CD, there were supposed to be 3 types of signatures to indicate in what order they were being burned and all this other stuff. But gurl, I've already forgotten. Signed each of them in milky penssssss.
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