I got a grant! Album Concept Development
In November 2021, I applied for and received a grant from Moreton Bay Regional Council to develop the artistic concept behind my first album. I wanted this album to be more than just a collection of my favourite songs. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, it's a fine measuring stick to categorise one's work, it's just I have a ton of songs and in the right mood... I can find something to love about pretty much all of them!
In the past, I'd sorted my songs into piles of "cute and wordy", "love songs", "sad songs", "bitter-sweet", "jazzy", "climate songs", "dark ambient" and "electroacoustic" songs. I was thoroughly overwhelmed by numerous past attempts to find a cohesive message and identify the threads that linked them (apart from me being the singer/songwriter). I was lost, floating in a sea of uncertainty trying to discern my still and small authentic creative voice from the raucous voices of experts in my head and all the people over the years who've given much well-meaning (but ultimately unhelpful) advice. Clearly, a different approach was required.
Initially, applying for the grant was all about focus. Years are passing, I'm writing new songs all the time yet the dream of creating a finished album winds up in the too-hard box. My song piles keep growing but they sit there, gathering pixelated dust, constant sources of guilt and shame and abundant evidence of my failure as a human being. I needed something to aim my ship at. I needed a deadline. I also needed something to help me take my music and art more seriously. By submitting an invoice to the council for "artists fees", I felt like I was valuing myself and the vast amount of work and time that goes into creating any body of work. Indeed, it's been a revolutionary opening for me as an artist: What if I didn't immediately dismiss my work as something that could have a fiscal value in the world? What if??
At this tender beginning stage, I have no idea how to develop the concept behind my album. It feels right... to not know, to have no preconceptions, there's an open-ness to discovery and exploration. The only thing certain: the journey will be punctuated by paralysing contractions of self-doubt and random accelerations of bliss (given my personal experience in literally every project I've ever initiated... I hear this is universal for artists. It doesn't make me special hehehe...).
By comprehensively developing the concept behind my album, I hope to take the first step toward an artwork I can be proud of, boosting my confidence as an artist and expanding potential avenues of expression and performance. As an educator and collaborator in songwriting, I've been running groups for 2.5 years (the Songwriters Roundtable) and this project presents an opportunity for the growth of new skills and solidification of experience I can share with my community. I also hope to gain insight into an artistic process of album concept development that will benefit other songwriters - especially those battling the same barriers I do: financial issues, confusion and lack of easily accessible and individually relevant guidance. Conceptual development will involve research of potential themes, investigation of archival work, a process of refining, obtaining feedback from other songwriters, selecting songs and planning interludes. I aim to work with mentor, Alice Night (a songwriter, visual artist and theatre producer) to develop the concept and my still and small artist's voice.
Okay. Deep breath. Here I go falling off a cliff into the arms of the unknown...