I recently completed two 8-song albums, which you can download for FREE here and here. This is the story behind them.
During the final year or two of my band Shaimus, I started recording a few songs as a side project. They were mostly straight-ahead rock and acoustic-based, singer/songwriter songs; they didn't really fit into the Shaimus repertoire, which was heading in a more experimental, indie-rock direction. And while my personal tastes were more aligned with the music the band was making, I needed an outlet for these songs. I also needed to start carving out an identity for myself that was entirely separated from the band—which turned out to be a good choice, since we broke up not too long after.
Along with my newfound freedom, I found myself in a mini-existential crisis, a place where I felt like I needed to establish to the world what I represented as an artist outside the band that had defined me for so long. But the songs I had been recording on the side, still unfinished, didn't reflect that. They still felt like a side project to what I really wanted to do. So with my ear no longer interested in them, I abandoned the songs and worked on an EP called Vignette under the moniker E8. This was my new personal statement.
Taking a Step Back
That EP was a step in the right direction, but I realized I needed to step away from music for a little while to gather myself and re-prioritize, rather than dive head-first into a new project. When it was finally time for me to return to making music, I discovered a couple things with my fresh perspective: first, it probably wasn't necessary for me to create a nom de plume to separate myself from the past (or to hide my common name), and second, some of the songs I had abandoned were actually pretty good. I dug them up and decided that, even if I had outgrown many of these tunes, I might as well finish them. After all, there might be someone who got genuine enjoyment out of them, so why hide them away?
What did it matter what artistic statement they made if the overall song quality was good? I didn't want to have only unfinished demos to show for myself in the time it took me to record my next project, whenever that might be. These songs did represent a period of my life. There was no reason to deny it. Besides, the stakes were incredibly low, and just having the ideas of these songs wasn't an accomplishment. So I dusted off the old tracks, remixed and added parts, threw in a few newer songs that fit the vibe, and was finally able to close the book on a chapter of my life that had been relegated to the bargain bin of my creative mind for years. As a bonus, I used these songs as practice to dramatically improve as a mixing engineer (something I've struggled with in the past). The recordings wound up turning into two 8-song albums that are available for free, and I highly encourage freely sharing this music with anyone who might enjoy them.
So I learned to stop over-thinking things. And I learned that you can't take what you create so seriously that you hide away anything that isn't perfect. You'll never progress, you'll have little to show for yourself but extended periods of silence and possibly the regret of not putting yourself out there, and you'll never get over the unattainable goal of being brilliant all the time. You'll never learn that it's the imperfections and vulnerabilities that make what you create unique. And so, as I occupy myself with bigger and better things, I'm happy to have you listen to these songs—and maybe even like them, god forbid.