Well, I am quite behind here on this blog. Almost 3 months to be exact. I briefly considered simply post-dating these blogs and then pretending like I’d published them on-time, but that old saying “Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching” kept ringing in my ear. Is it the “wrong thing” to fudge the publication date of an article when no one is really watching and no one really cares? I don’t know. So, basking in one of my many little grey areas in life, I’m post-dating (to satiate my tinge of OCD), and declaring (to satisfy my urge for transparency).
Also, this is not strictly a “May” project. I’ve been slowly working on this since April, and all the way through the beginning of July. That’s not really a reflection of the hours invested, and more a reflection of the diversity of things I’ve been doing: An influx of shooting with clients, tearing through film, live streaming, new approaches to marketing. Mostly gone are the days of 2015 and 2016, where a single personal project could win my focus for a whole month. I’m okay with that because the purpose of these monthly projects, from the get-go, was to support a constant churn of artwork and content. It was an intentional resistance to the artist stereotype that we start things and never finish them——the goal was to finish stuff, even if that meant not always being 100% satisfied.
I’ve grown a lot since then. The discipline I’ve developed in the last few years has indeed moved me to make more, and publish more. I’ve learned a lot about when it’s time to say something is done; namely, some mix of being ‘done’ with it emotionally, and having accomplished enough of what I intended to accomplish, or learned enough of what I wanted to learn. So, I’ve revised my commitment to these monthly projects. The priority is shifting from a commitment to consistency month to month, to a quantity month for month.
And for May, I am presenting a rendition of the quasi-popular song from 1982, Only You by Yazoo (just Yaz, here in the united states). My rendition is quite a far cry from the original, though I did attempt to honor some of the original’s quirky choices with analogs of my own. Though my version shares all the same chords, in approximately the same order, I left most of the overt synth sounds behind in favor of some warped piano and analog drum samples, and spread the notes across a whole mess of sounds. Yes, it’s definitely kind of a mess, which was an intentional choice to contrast with the original’s comparatively few samples, and heavy reliance on the vocal melody.
In the renditions I’ve done so far, contrast has proven to be a big part of my creative intuition. I like my renditions to be recognizable to the original, but inverted in one way or another. My rendition uses vocal effects heavily, in contrast to the original’s clean and clear vocals. My rendition is wet and reverb-y, while the original was much more crisp. I half-timed the verses in my rendition, giving the verses a melancholy sound and the chorus an upbeat feeling, in contrast to the originals repetitious consistency.
While I’m largely quite happy with this project, there are some things I was not able to resolve fully to my satisfaction. The first being that I’m not a particularly talented singer and the original had some notes in there that I just couldn’t hit quite right. The whole arrangement was transposed down a step or two to make it a bit easier, but I still never quite hit it. The second thing is overall, it’s a little ‘flat’. Although melodically and instrumentally, it ‘goes places’, it doesn’t seem to ‘rise and fall’ quite intensely enough. You don’t get the sense that it’s really taking any breaks. I reworked the arrangement two or three times trying to resolve this feeling with mixed results. I suspect the trouble may in fact be my compression technique, paired with the vocals being buried a bit, rather then a result of choices directly in the arrangement.
I think the end result here sounds something like a mix of a b-movie film score, a Mates of State single, and any number of early 90’s alternative music. You might like it, or maybe not. Give it a listen and find out.