The Making of NOT UR BARBIE

I began writing the first song to my upcoming, debut EP in August of 2013. Yep, you read that right. Three whole years ago. Some people tell me that it's completely ludicrous to be working on a single project for that long, but I really wanted to create something that was a perfect representation of who I am as an artist with great quality production and songs to back it up. Shortly after writing this first song, I made my dream move to the pop music capitol of the world, Los Angeles, CA.

Finding the right creative team with whom to collaborate on this was tough, to be honest with you, as the process is for any independent artist out there. Finding the right co-writers and producers is like dating... but not like, the fun, flingy kind. I'm talking about dating for marriage. I know this seems extreme, but these are the people with whom I (or any artist, for that matter) am bringing my musical brain child into the world. And like real babies, these songs will be imprinted in our musical lives for literal eternity (thanks, internet). I needed to find people who understood my vision, were bold enough to break some boundaries, were more kick-ass than me so I could push myself to new heights, people who were okay with my midwest potty mouth and people who truly believed in me as an artist. I got so lucky, so so lucky to have found many of my perfect team members at ASCAP's 2014 Lester Sill Workshop (s/o to Evan, Gali and Jason for bringing us together), and a couple of additional team members through basically fate-y meet-cutes in 2015. I'm going to dedicate a future post to all collaborators on the project, but a big hay girl hayyyy to Lisa, Josh, Allison, Charity, Ben, Catherine, Rachael and most importantly, Matt. Luh y'all.

The final song for the EP was completed in October 2015 (read: over two years later), and I literally could not wait to record everything. I got set up in a studio over in Orange County to begin recording my first two songs, but had to stop due to an incoming sinus infection with later complications due to the 32-days of antibiotics I was on that lasted nearly three months. My recording plan was thrown off, and therefore so was the release date. After working with a vocal specialist for what seemed like endless weeks, I decided to take a leap of faith and book a flight to Chicago just before Christmas. I was not anywhere near well yet, but felt that if I put the idea of being well enough to record into the universe, that it just might come true. 

After a quick detour to NYC to visit my childhood best friend and see fellow Lester Sill alum Katie Boeck as Wendla in the Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, I plopped my suitcases down at a boujie-ass hotel in The Loop of Chicago that I didn't belong in. I wrapped myself up like a fucking marshmallow with immovable pretzel-stick arms as I made the first of my daily trips on the train to my producer Matt's house. I ended up re-recording the first two songs that I had begun in Orange County, and recorded the entire project with a very severe case of esophagitis and oral thrush. (#funfact or #grossfact is for you to decide, but I thought it may be an interesting tidbit to include for later trivia.) The time I spent in Chicago was amazing. Matt and I worked our asses off and ate a bunnnnnch of food #portillos. When we finished recording everything, I ordered myself some room service complete with champagne, got ready, and snuck in some time for a rager with some of my high school besties who live in the city. Another #funfact, audio from said rager can be heard in the bridge of "PTE". If you listen hard enough, you can even hear my friend Caroline and I drunk girl talking. "YOU'RE the best, nooooo YOU'RE the best!" Thanks iPhone voice memo, YOU'RE the best.

Matt and I have spent the past four months emailing edits back and forth to each other on the mixes of each song. We've experimented with instrumentation, effects, vibes, you name it, we did it, all with over 2,000 miles between us. to give you an example, one song has over 20 versions saved on my computer since first recording it. Needless to say, this process has been a much longer ride than expected, but I appreciate Matt's patience and dedication to helping me make this project exactly what I've dreamed. The five songs have officially received their stamp of approval from the both of us, and as I am typing this post, the songs are uploading to a private soundcloud link to send out to trusted industry professionals for feedback.

I'm terrified. Terrified to the point of tears. I've spent years on this project, poured my little pop heart on the floor and let my personality loose on each and every track. I took risks on this one. None of what you're going to hear on this EP is what is currently getting radio airplay. It's bringing a little bit of the punk rock I don't give a fuck back into pop music that hasn't been there in years. I've never been so nervous in my life. But honestly, how exciting? To feel like this project is so much of a reflection of myself that I'm actually afraid of how people are going to receive it, as if it's more of a question of how they are going to receive me? I couldn't ask for a better outcome.

Positive vibes are welcomed at this time as we await these critiques. I don't have a release date for you guys yet, but after this set of feedback, edits and more feedback, the project will go out for mastering, and I will record my first music video in preparation for the debut single drop. (LIKE, WHAT?!) I'm so excited to share this project with you guys, and hope to inspire you to find the joy in being your true self, whomever that may be. Additionally, I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight as to how much time and effort goes in to creating music and that this sparks a little fire in your booty to go out there and support your favorite artists with some legal, paid downloads of their material and some shares on social media. It will make their fucking day, if not their whole year. If you have problems justifying a music buy, just remember that coffee only lasts 15 minutes, but music lasts a lifetime ;)

 

xoxx

Leena