Part 4 – Final Destination
One of the best engineers and producers in Canada is Jason Barry, who coincidentally is from our hometown. It wasn’t easy getting a hold of a multi-award winning country producer/engineer/guitarist, let alone trying to convince him to help us with the project on such a tight deadline. After he heard our demos and my voice, Barry immediately jumped on board and we were in the studio tracking in Toronto a few weeks later.
With the production, we went with a very organic approach. We didn’t have much pre-production; we went into the studio with some of Canada’s top musicians and went with the flow. Banjos, mandolins, drums, accordions, organs, we had it all. My album was influenced by a mix of early Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift. It really was a magical experience watching the songs come to life. I had never worked with such a talented group of musicians before. It really was mind blowing how each song developed.
We spent two days tracking in Toronto. We had lots of tea, eucalyptus steaming, and plenty of Portuguese chicken from the place across the street. Then it was off to Jason Barry’s studio to do vocals and over dubs for the songs. Jason was so good and vested in this project that we brought him on as co-producer and mixer.
After most of the songs were mixed, we originally thought we were finished and would be releasing a seven song EP soon. We were wrong. A few months later we decided that the album wasn’t finished yet. We all felt like there was still something missing. We wanted a few more up-tempo songs on the record and decided that my debut country pop album would be a full-length 10-song album. Caeland was back in Nashville working on his own project so we hired Jason Barry, “Woody,” to produce the rest of the album on his own. Now it was time to start the writing process once again.
I started writing songs with two very talented up and coming writers from Toronto – Travis Wood and Gavin Slate (Tim Hicks). The first song we wrote together was a break up song about not being able to let go of an intense relationship. I remember we all sipped on “hot toddys” (whiskey and spiced hot apple cider). And we clicked immediately as we grabbed our guitars. The boys blew me away with their writing abilities. The song we wrote that day ‘Still’ ended up making the album. There was something special about it and I knew it was a perfect fit for the album.
After that session, I headed down on another trip to Nashville. This time I drove my truck down from Canada and stayed at a hotel downtown Nashville. The first thing I did when I got there was go to Mcdougals fried chicken, it’s the best fried chicken you will ever have, seriously. You don’t go to the south without eating fried chicken!
While I was there I had writing sessions with Jesse Lee, James Dean Hicks, Jason Massey, and Aaron Jake (Luke Bryan). A song I wrote with Jason Massey called ‘Nobody’ also made the cut onto the album. I think fans will love the infectious up-tempo melody.
My most memorable write was with Mr. Ken Johnson (Tyler Farr, Uncle Cracker). I showed up at his house, it was pitch dark and I had no idea where I was. He shows up and brings me into his home and explains to me that his heater was broken. It was freezing!!! He brought me a case of beer so we started to pound some of those back and kept our jackets on. We picked up our guitars and started to jam out different song ideas. I love when you start writing a song and it goes one direction, then half way through writing it starts going in a completely new and even better direction. That’s what happened that night. The song we wrote called ‘My car’ about a beach date, ended up making the album as one of my favourite songs I have ever written.
After I headed back home to Canada, I had a few more writing sessions with Travis Wood and Gavin Slate. We wrote a few more great songs that didn’t make the album I had written about 10 and we had to decide on a final three tracks to add. It was not an easy decision but the final three are called ‘Nobody,’ ‘My Car,’ and ‘Still.’
In summary, it was a long, crazy, and emotional rollercoaster of a journey creating this record. Lots of ups and downs, heart ache, tears, recollections, road trips, laughs and learning experiences. Reflecting back, this album would not have come to fruition if it wasn’t for all these set of happenstances and random sequence of events that brought everyone together.
My co-writing experience elevated the quality of my work. This album is real, it’s an extension of my life’s moments, and it’s packed with 10 great songs, songs so good that it captured the attention of music executives and helped me get signed to my first record deal. My Album “Streets,” appropriately titled for my door-to-door serenades story, that started my carrer, will be released in the fall of 2015 under Liberty Stone Records and distributed by ole Majorly Indie.