Behind ‘Made in Heaven’

I thought I’d give a little insight on the meanings behind my songs. Some have a basis in personal experiences, but most are just from the imaginations of my mind… (note: this was written shortly after the album was released, don’t ask me why I left it so long to publish!)

The Game

Umm, this is not a great start, but I honestly have no clue as to what this one is about! I just played around with the chords and sang the words that came out. I suppose, what it evolved into was a song about not living in denial and accepting what’s happening in the present rather than living in the past.

Obvious (Better Off Now)

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory really. It was originally about someone who quite obviously wants to be with another person but won’t admit it, although the ‘better off now’ idea evolved it into a song more about two people who used to be together and now, one of them won’t let go, even though it ended for the best.

This Way

This was one my early songs, pretty self-explanatory really… it’s about someone who is wondering why the person they love has left them.

11:49

The inspiration for this one came when my alarm clock stopped at 11:49 and it started me thinking about a scenario in which someone is effectively stuck at a time in the past when a particularly life changing event happened, perhaps with or to a person who was important to them. They’ve realised that they need to move on, but that they can still ‘honour the memory’; moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.

Mirror

This one was written as an encouragement to any girl who feels worthless or struggles with self-image. I definitely think it’s a sad thing that so many people think they have to look a certain way to be beautiful when it’s just not true.

The devil will use it to get to you but you gotta be strong, don’t let him through, ‘cause you’re strong girl, you’re stronger”.

Deep End

The very start of this song came to me on the way back from a school trip when we’d gone to hear poetry read for our English GCSE (no laughing please…) If I remember correctly, I felt inspired to write some poetry and something like the first verse of Deep End came out of it. Sometime later, I was traveling back from school and listening to a new CD I’d got and thinking how nice it was just to be able to listen to the music and not have to worry about anything else (I think there was some work I was particularly stressed about at school). Hence, the rest of the song was born.

P.S. That CD was Illuminated by Ally Rhodes, and I cannot recommend her music enough. Get it here (at time of posting she’s having a HUGE sale and you can get her physical albums for just $3.50- DO IT!): http://store.allyrhodes.net/

Come in Time

This song is about someone who’s going through a rough time, and it’s just saying don’t worry about what you can’t change. Live in hope with the knowledge that things will get better and you’ll find your place in the world without having to change who you are.

Made In Heaven

This one is along the same lines as ‘mirror’ really; no one should doubt who they are because they were made with a set design and purpose in mind by a God who cares. Everyone was made for good things and the times when we go the wrong way aren’t the end of the road; we can turn back and rediscover that.

Open Door

I actually wrote this one at a songwriting workshop, and originally didn’t really like it very much, but recording the album version has made me appreciate it much more! I’d recently read a book in which everyone could hear people’s thoughts and I was wondering what it would be like if life were actually like that; all the secrets that would be revealed, the inability to be alone with private thoughts living with a constant invasion of privacy. The series of books I was reading is called the ‘Chaos Walking’ series and the first one is called ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ by Patrick Ness. (Highly recommended by the way!)

Alive with the Fire

This one is about someone who used to be so carefree who allowed bad decisions to lead their life to somewhere it shouldn’t be. The song focuses around them making a full recovery to their real self and leaving behind those things which were controlling their life and stopping the smiles.

Free Society

So this is probably one of the most political songs I’ve written! It kinda got to me that everyone’s always going on about equality, yet as a product of this, the equality of some people seems to be more important than that of others. People don’t seem to be allowed opinions, and are even in some cases discriminated against, if they appear to have an alternative belief that contradicts what society wants. Equality does not mean everything has to be exactly the same, equality means treating everyone with the same respect and assigning everyone an equal worth. To my mind, it seems that we’ve lost focus on this ultimate end goal, and instead focused on little matters that just confuse matters and limit peoples’ freedoms.

E.

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Album Reflections…

‘Made in Heaven’ did not happen overnight. I planned this album many times and it evolved endlessly; adding songs, changing titles, even re-designing album art. And that is why I didn’t even start it for a couple of years- I made plan after plan but didn’t actually get round to recording anything… The opportunity to use it to fundraise for an expedition I’m doing finally gave me the incentive I needed, and I got the whole thing finished in just a few months! Lesson one: scheduling. It’s no good having general ideas or end goals if you have no time frame in which to achieve them! Once I’d decided the date I wanted it to be finished by, I scheduled in time for all the songs, mixing, mastering etc. and I may not have stuck to it like glue, but it did mean that the whole thing was finished remarkably quickly.

The next thing I learned, and probably the most important, is that the more you listen to a particular recording, the less objectively you can judge it. I understand now, why the mastering engineer is usually a different person to the mixing engineer; the fresh pair of ears allows a new perspective and the mastering is able to do the song justice. But unfortunately I was on a budget of exactly £0 so involving another person was simply not an option for me.

This effect was mixed with a heavy dose of ear fatigue, something I only cottoned onto sometime late in the process. This was so extreme for me that by the mastering stage, the songs physically hurt my ears to listen to. I’d been recording/ mixing/ mastering for days on end, with the volume control probably not as low as it should have been, so my ears were just sick of the constant noise. At the time I didn’t know about this, so it was worrying me that I was having to heavily EQ things to get them to sound acceptable to me, because I knew I shouldn’t be having to. And whatever options I tweaked, there was still the harsh tonality that was hurting my ears. Luckily, I realised what was really going on before I ended up with 11 tracks of overproduced rubbish. (Although, I still have a feeling I added rather too much processing, but I was so tired of re-mixing and re-mastering that in the end I decided I’d just have to accept it as it was or I’d be caught in a vicious cycle and never be finished.)

Finally, something that was reinforced for me, and something I think is important to note, is that despite all the stuff we read on the Internet (well, I do anyway), it is NOT necessary to have an expensive load of hardware, all the microphones you could possibly dream of and tonnes of fancy software to create your own worthwhile projects. I think it’s just an excuse we use as to why that thing we always wanted to do hasn’t happened yet. And as much as I’d like to get [insert name here] microphone or amp, not having it does not mean that I can’t use what I have now to create something I can be proud of. Besides, I know that all the professional equipment in the world won’t allow me to make anything that even compares to what a professional engineer can do, unless I invest time in my skills first.

I didn’t spend a single penny through the whole process, I used the wonderful load of free software that’s out there, plus a single microphone and preamp I had invested in a while ago. And okay, so I’m not naïve; I do realise that I am very much an amateur and had the album been made by a ‘real’ engineer at a fancy studio then it could have sounded much better. But had I done that, I would not have had the experience of doing all the stages of the process myself and learning the things I did. (Plus, the bank account would be looking pretty sick right about now!) Nobody becomes an expert overnight, and we shouldn’t let something small, or the next new thing, get in the way of what we want to do now.

E.

The final product: Made In Heaven