In the Studio

A few months ago, a fellow parishioner and I had a chance to have a quick jam session one night after a meeting at Second Baptist—me on the grand and him in on the drums. The experience was exhilarating; Sitting down with another person musically that could follow my lead so well was something new for me. I hadn’t played music with a drummer in a good while let alone someone with as much skill as Richard Savercool.

He had mentioned to me—after our session—that he would like to do some recording. I brushed it off, and didn’t pay much attention to him. As I carried on into the days following, I soon realized the offer that had been presented to me. I tracked down Richard’s number, and called him immediately.

I found myself headed to a small town—north of the Houston metropolitan area—called Paton Village. It’s probably one of the smaller communities I’ve seen since living in Texas. A quick turn off the freeway and down a tree canopy covered road, I landed at Richards’s house.

We began brain storming about the music that I have been writing for the past four years: talking about beats and pads. After letting him hear some of the recordings I had already done myself, we were certain that where we needed to start was at the beginning of everything with the song I first fell in love with: “Flamingo Fandango”. What I have always favored most about the song is that it was a strong narrative, lyrically and musically.

Over the course of a lunar cycle we invested about 24 hours into the song, meeting once a week. I really had no idea where I wanted it to go; while we were doing the first couple of takes of the song, I was interpreting “Flamingo” in the same fashion that I had when I recorded it back in 2007 and I featured it as the opening number of Constellation BluePrint. The issue was that the song had evolved since then.

More than a year ago, I played a set at an open mic. I played “Flamingo” that night, and it fell apart on me somewhere between my head, hands, piano, and my nerves. Since then there was resentment left: a bad taste in my mouth. Soon after, the song became novel and no longer relevant.

I believed that the song had true value: It was one of the first God given inspirations I had. Because of that, I knew that it HAD to be on what Richard and I would be doing, but the phrasing had changed a lot since BluePrint; It wasn’t the solo piano opener that it was designed to be anymore.

I can recall sometime last year: I was setting up my equipment to do a session, and I was approached—within my writing—by “Flamingo”. Though the words verbatim escape me, it and I were in conversation.

I was sitting in a room a lot like the judges at an American Idol audition would. The song walked in, and I knew who it was immediately. It had become more masculine since our falling out; it molted its pink feathers to show its newly found sun burnt skin, but there was still the ominous red glow that had always been. It presented itself—and its growth— but I paid no mind to what had happened to it in the time that it and I separated.

So, there I was on the first night of recording with Richard, and I was struggling to make anything happen. I was summoning the song, but it turned a cold shoulder to me. Richard was steadily giving me encouragement that we had no deadline to make the song come out.

I was starting to get pretty upset with myself that—I wasn’t able to perform on demand: this has always been one of my biggest fears about recording in a studio. Richard and I were taking a break. I remember staring into the corner of the studio where I could a cob web in motion; I saw how the light was reflecting off of it and the shadow that was cast. I started playing the song again. Richard spoke up saying, “Wait, what you are doing? That’s different!?!”

I saw what I was doing: I was trying to make the song something that it no longer was. During the recording of “Flamingo”, I learned an important lesson about evolution and expectations (something I thought I learned years ago). After that the project took off.

Richard had a lot of ideas to bring to the table; Things that initially I thought were going to be a bad move ended up being the best. It’s amazing working with someone else on something that you’ve put so much effort into; there is a certain amount of bending and stretching you have to do as the artist whenever you’re working with a producer. I’m really excited about being in good company with someone who’s excited as well about making this record, and wants the best for the music while still taking into consideration my personal artistic vision as creator.

I got a call earlier this week from Richard telling me that he’s done mastering the song. I’ve been riding around in my car listening to the rough version: tons of layers and unbalanced tracks. This coming Tuesday Richard and I are getting together to hear the song together, and discuss the next track we’re recording. It’s only the beginning of the album, and I’m in full anticipation to see the outcome!

The song is relevant to me again. Its evolution has been one consistent with the restoration that the Father has begun in my life. That is something that I am most thankful for. It only further confirms that the work was a gift to begin with. I’m bound to it again in the same way that I was with the song back in the days of BluePrint.

I think next we’ll have a little white cherry~

Vole’ T