DIY Album

Blog, Crowdfounding Inês

Doubting aka when your crowdfunding campaign doesn’t go as expected


It’s really been 12 very long days for both of us. 12 days since we launched the crowdfunding campaign, and they seem like months.

12 days with some hopes, some joy, but mostly doubts, and honestly, we weren’t really prepared. We weren’t prepared to how it would affect us, because it does affect us, and to be honest not in the best way. Surely everyday life had recently left us tired, and with limited time to work on music in the perfectionist way that we like. But we weren’t expecting that the campaign itself would be so emotionally draining, and we really start to find it even more complicated to focus on what we love: create music, create art, imagine sounds, or rather layers of sounds.

facsimile livre
testing the book size home – it’s quite nicely large to allow for nice extra artwork and still be readable. 

12 days means we’re halfway tomorrow from the deadline that we set for the 21st of June. It means we should have got at least half of our budget covered, or actually more, since it is hard to keep up with the energy as the days passe by, specially when we’re a small team of 2 people. It’s complicated to come up with new content daily, to re-share, to get in touch back with all the people that said would help promote the campaign and did not yet come back to us. And so far we haven’t reached 24%. Sometimes numbers speak for themselves. Let’s face it.

Some years ago, we would have tried to release it on personal finances, and then get the money back from sales. But we are at the moment not gigging enough to get some direct sales opportunities. Also the local labels we’ve been in touch with, although they did show some interest, did not lead to any production proposal. All that means crowdfunding really seemed like the only option we had, and with a few people on our mailing list, we thought we could easily reach enough folks willing to invest some pennies.

Now.

Now, yes, we do (try to) keep positive, we have been practicing how to sometimes fail and keep it up for quite a few years, and we are the living proof it is possible! (some useful tools here).

  • I made a list of all we will do if by the 21st of June we hadn’t reached the 3000€ goal. And well, that felt good. It includes some travelling with no other purpose than travelling. It includes also some time with our lovely son, who has for most of his young life heard about the album Inês, and from whom we’ve asked a lot of patience while working in the studio and postponing playtime.
  • We also are sure we’ll finish the musical part of the project, meaning having a digital edition. Maybe release it digitally, though it’s still costs for us, and we earn even less from digital editions. Or save it for later, who knows what’s around the corner?
  • We’ll probably send a new newsletter out and ask for what folks think isn’t appealing in our project. Or on the way we presented it. Maybe too complex, when you only have seconds to convince people, we know our music needs time to dive in.
  • If nothing moves by the end of next week, that is by the 17th, we’ll also consider canceling the campaign before its deadline so that we can plan for next summer instead of being waiting.

Anyway, I personally want to hear it from start to finish, I’d rather say, I need to hear it, and just that thought (together with the lovely and generous support of a few of you) gets me back on track.

But right now, everything is still possible – indiegogo page is here is you want to support us 🙂 

A galon / with heart,

* Simone.

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Blog, DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

9 months or 4 years? + album Inês big up-date


Dear all,

It has been considerable long time without any up-date from us. Probably because sometimes our progress is so slow that we even barely seem to notice any.

For B album, I remember we started on the 1st of January 2014 on the very first drafts (though we had some ideas of compositions already, or had been working on them for live performances). Anyway, on the 1st of October 2014 we collected the promo samples freshly pressed from the factory. In the meantime we had recorded all the tracks, developed new sounds, new arrangements, done concerts in France, Belgium, and set up our 2 first UK tours, also set up all the legal side, made the artwork for the booklet, edited countless teasers and music videos. That’s 9 months sharp full time into music.

For Project Inês album we must have got the idea around july 2014. Actually while working on the lyrics for Gwerz Inês. The story was so deep that we couldn’t choose a proper angle until we thought we would leave most of it for next album.

Mid 2015 we were already doing some progress on the lyrics/music, and had many ideas about the concept. Broad lines, but most of it was there. At the end of summer 2015 the finances we had asside had gone, and we had to come back to Brittany full time where Yann has been mostly working full time as a teacher. We’ve done the best use we could of holidays for gigs/tours until 2017.

Ar Maured o kuitaat Iberia / The Moors driven away from the Peninsula. Artwork for the concept album Inês (medieval love story between Pedro King of Portugal and Inês de Castro)
Ar Maured o kuitaat Iberia / The Moors driven away from the Peninsula.

We’ve had many ideas for Inês Project. Many. Many musical directions that didn’t work, mostly because we realised it wouldn’t be doable for the 2 of us to set up the ambitious sounds we had in mind at first.

So we did what we always do: one step at the time, we do what is doable. We do with the limited time/money/means we have. We make the most of it, and try to go around limitations, turn them into challenges. Most of the time.

At least we try. When we look back we realise that maybe, we also lost a lot of time by not being focused enough in what matters : creating music. Sometimes we get bitter, anxious, and only see the limitations. They are challenging limitations. Not travelling much is a major source of sadness for sure. Everytime you leave the music for something else, you need to get back into the mood. As quickly as possible! But there’s no other way than to do with what is, right?

Almost 4 years later… that’s starting to be painful, at a certain time, we need to switch to something else too. So, to give you an clear up-date at where we are at…

  • Lyrics are mostly all written, there might be a need for some changes as we go threw the vocals recording.
  • We have all of the tracks structures, sounds, ambiances with minor changes that will occur once vocals will be in place.
  • Most of instruments played by Yann are finalised (guitars, drums, ud and violin).
  • We have a clearer idea about the guests and what they’re doing on which track.
  • We have a clear frame for our crowdfunding campaign (we’ll be using Indiegogo), time frame, money goals, rewards, etc…
  • I have a structure for most of the artwork for every song.

What’s still to be done:

  • Record all the vocals.
  • Get our guests’ tracks to add to the mix.
  • Create most of the artwork – and there’s a lot to be created. Confession time: I need to have to music before I actually can paint. Probably that’s a limiting belief as well!
  • Edit all the graphics for the booklet with all the lyrics + notes.
  • Finalise the mix/master.
  • Translate all the lyrics in French/English.
  • Set up and launch the crowdfunding campaign. That’s a huge part! Includes a lot of promo, editing some videos too, printing some artwork for rewards too. And for that… we need the artwork !
  • All the legal side of the project – taxes – authorisations – etc…

Put that way, we can’ say there hasn’t been any progress ! Wish us luck and plenty of energy.

A galon / with heart,

– Simone.

 

Sound & Video

The album is out!!!


Hear it here! We are so proud and happy to share it!

You can buy it directly from Bandcamp (don’t forget about the cool bundles we mentioned here) or from i-tines https://itunes.apple.com/fr/album/astrakan-project-b/id932864892?ls=1

It should be also soon anywhere else like Deezer or Amazon.

Ha!!!! We did it!!!

Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour

Our music through the eyes of an Angel


What we love about our musician’s life is the amazing people we get to meet. Last July in Portugal we met a very sweet photographer, a lovely person, the kind of person anyone loves at first sight. Only when we came back we realised she was also such a talented photographer…

 

It was breathtaking to discover her amazing work. We had never imagine someone would so powerfully translate our rough music threw pictures. It almost felt like someone had captured our souls and spirit and put it into a picture everyone could see.

Like the idea we have from our music, it’s not sweet or pleasant in the way you would expect it. We’re blessed we can use Maria João Arcanjo’s amazing pictures on next album cover! We can’t wait to see it!

Like her page and find out about her amazing work here: http://www.facebook.com/MariaJoaoArcanjoPhotography (and you may share from there)

PS: copyright Maria João Arcanjo – all rights reserved: None of my images should be reproduced or used,electronically or printed, in its all or partially, without my written consent. NO DOWNLOADS. But you can SHARE them within facebook.

 

 

 

Musicians' Diary

Good signs!


Yesterday at sunset time we drove over the hills to find a quite place for a full listening of next album.view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

Not only were we blessed by the wonderful sunset light when we got there, but also we saw the biggest Eagle we’ve ever seen! It spanned its huge open wings above the rock we had parked next too for a long moment. A majestic moment that we only can interpret as a good sign! Don’t search for the eagle on the pictures, we just enjoyed the moment!

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing good signs

And the music? Well, still some sound fine tuning and a bit of work too in reorganising instruments on one particular track – but we feel we’re on the right direction. 

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

 

§ Simone

DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

What else do you need to release your next album?


… You need Gesso!!! Or at least, I need gesso!

What? Gesso is a primer used to coat canvasses or paper before painting, especially loved and treasured by artists that love multiple layers and materials as well as heavy textures. Well… like me! I love gesso. And I still don’t know how I run out of my precious primer, (well, no, not completely, I still have some black gesso 😉 ) , and not only I run out of gesso, but also I haven’t found so far any art-shop in my area in Greece (around Kavala, if you happened to be reading and know one, please! Don’t let me down, leave me a comment!).

Not only did I run out of gesso, but I’m painting for next album cover (ho, here comes the album!), so, what can I do?
DIY homemade gesso primer

So what else than go back to the old Do It Yourself method. Yes. Again. I found an easy recipe here. Basically baby powder+white glue+water. I chose to add some very white paint. I’ll wait until tomorrow to allow it to settle.

I sometimes wonder if I haven’t been cursed for really needing again and again to find last minutes creative solutions. Do I really wish things would be different? Noooooo ! 😉

§ Simone

Buy Astrakan Project debut album

 

DIY Album, Sound & Video

How to chose the right track order for your album?


Although we could have been tempted by this method :

… we went back to the one we used for our first album instead !

The way we organised tracks is something we pay a lot of attention to, we discuss it, we write it down, imagine it… And so far we are happy with what we came up with.

I‘m not pretending there was no other possibility, but in our minds, it all comes down to perception. A song will be heard and felt in a different way if it comes as the opening of the album, or after another track, and it also depends on which track.

We like to think about an album as a travel to our world. In the opening, what we want to do is to welcome the listener, almost take him by the hand. Then the journey can begin! We like to imagine and believe that an album can also be heard as a whole piece, not only track by track, but that when you listen to it, the story you hear is different.

You may now be wondering, how will next travel be? Maybe darker than the first one, maybe more powerful, but still as joyful as we are!

§ Simone

 

DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

Your album isn’t ready yet + mind-mapping for self-produced album


I know that people don’t have any bad intention behind the question, and we musicians love to get questions about “how things are going”. Or at least, the intellectual side of me knows it.

I know sometimes people are just super exited to hear it. But how can you explain that there is no way it could be done quicker ? That going to the studio is just such a tiny wee(1)  little part of all what we do?

Who said again that a picture worth thousand word? 😉

your album is not ready yet
Your album is not ready yet? [click for HR image – it’s really large!]
Scary, hey ?

Although largely exhausted, I couldn’t sleep last night – maybe because we recorded until late one more ghosty gwerz that kept on haunting me (this one is about Yugoslavian wars, and is really painful to work on).

I suspected also that as the deadline is approaching (we’ll be leaving for next UK tour by the end of September), I’m probably also getting nervous about all that needs to be done. It’s not our first self-produced album for sure. But a few things add a bit of spice to the all adventure…

  • Music and technique-wise, our level of expectations has considerably raised. Mixing and blending the sounds together is part of our music, and thus takes much more time than for an acoustic project for instance.
  • Learning from previous launching campaigns, we want to get the best out of our release and try to plan ahead for a decent release impact – in a way, when we were younger, there were so many aspects we didn’t suspect that we were pretty relax about!
  • Instead of manufacturing 500 of pieces each time (and then eventually re-manufacture afterwards), we decided to invest on 1000 in one go, to save money, but then, we have to plan for when and WHERE we can get it delivered… and stored!
  • Since our activity is increasing (more touring, more sales, other projects), we have to switch to a decent legal status… and I wonder if this isn’t the most epic part of this particular release?
  • It’s the second album with Astrakan Project. I’ll write back about it, but well. It’s kind of an extra little source of pressure.

It kind of relieved me to get this end-less to-do-list organised in a visual way, kind of mind-mapping out things so that I don’t forget anything. And well, although it might look scary at first, it really helped me to see that a lot as been done, and also now, I know which part I was not paying enough attention too. The legal status part of course!

Back to work – our album isn’t released yet!

§ Simone

(1) wee=little if you haven’t spend some time in Scotland. And if you understood it, I want to play there! I want to go back to Scotland, if you have any place to suggest for next October, you’ll make my day!

Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Wild unique kitchen sound recording!


When I started learning traditional songs from Brittany, I did like many singers from my generation did: I dove into the old recordings made from great Breton singers. At that time (from the 50’s on I would say, but a lot in the late 60’s until the 80’s), among the few people concerned by this wonderful culture, a few started to visit old singers at home to record them, some because they knew great songs, others because they had a nice voice, or a good sense of rhythm. Not all of them had been known as singers. The common points between all these recording is that most of them were made on private equipment (and even later on tape recorder) and also most of them were recorded in the kitchen.

Here’s a sample of the great singer José Bertrand (also known as “Madame Bertrand” or “Marie-José Bertrand”)

In many cultures, the kitchen is the heart of the house, the place where you gather to sing songs or tell stories. In Brittany it used to be so at the fireplace. Then although most of fireplaces had disappeared, been replaced by ceramics on the walls (hence the unique sound of kitchen recordings!) and electrical stove, it is still the place you get to discuss, drink bowls of coffee (no, no mug or cup, only bowls!), eat pancakes and butter cakes…

When trying new things or just discussing new songs, we cannot help but do it in the kitchen! Here’s some trial for next album (please, do notice our kitchen’ acoustic and natural reverb!)

We do have a special room for “serious” recording sessions, with silent acoustic, with a door that closes. But even on our first album, they are some tracks in which we never managed to bring as much spirit as on the first dirty kitchen trial. So, somewhere, hidden in the reverb, delays and effects, you still have the “kitchen spirit“!

§ Simone

PS: a recent recording with the most iconic songs from Madame Bertrand has been released (with improved sound!) (image links to Amazon)