i’m more than happy to try sharing details about the process (please also add specific questions if i don’t explain something that interests you…)
I began working on this soon after my ep release for Minaret Records (“noemie” mentioned above). That ep was a bit of a challenge because I was taking baby steps toward more deliberate melodic development and improvisation on tunes. People loved the results and i enjoyed making it so pretty quickly shifted toward attempting to record a full-length album and my 1st physical release for the label.
For context, Minaret are a label run by & for jazz geeks…I really felt connected to their roster and goals even though i live on the opposite coast of the USA from most of their artists and am not as technically proficient musically. The connection made total sense until I tried piecing this album together.
I knew they would welcome the music (especially with my broad goal of blending Yesterdays New Quintet jazz/beat hybrids and african funk…continuing those traditions in my own “voice”). But, imposter syndrome caused doubts to creep into my mind on multiple occasions. I expected to record the whole album of improv sketches before my son was born (sept 2020) but things didn’t really work out that way
This first preview track “God is not partial” resulted from some very trippy remote collaborations. I first found inspiration after hearing Chris Hill drumming the main pattern on instagram and asked him if I could sample the drums
I rarely leave samples untouched because i don’t want to worry about sample clearance or legal issues. But also i wanted his approval since we are social media friends and mutual admirer’s of each others music. Fortunately he agreed! I set about finding ways to restructure the sample (roughly 1min in duration) into what you hear for the 1st 1:38 of the track. I added my own percussion layers, and most of the low end melodies too.
The skeleton was complete enough that I shared it with a few folks in IG private messages. I don’t really know why actually…generally i don’t share unfinished music or wip songs with people. But this led to the most unexpected twist i encountered while making the album: almost everyone who heard the demo LOVED it and wanted to play new parts!
It was almost incomprehensible that Carlos Niño wanted to collaborate musically with a novice like me but i knew it would add something special to the song. We were in touch years ago when I sent in some older tracks for use on Spaceways Radio and reconnected after i sent promo copies of Noemie to all of the main influences (VHVL, Afrikan Sciences, and Carlos).
Carlos blew me away with his open spirit and generosity but also gave me some of the best feedback & critical advice. He felt the track needed to be longer to allow more room for improvisers…I kinda panicked because i didn’t know how to extend the track and make it make sense
So eventually after a few days I adopted Madlib’s method of cutting to a new beat or new rhythm to end a song (Muhsinah is also fond of this and i love it in their music). So what you hear from 1:38 onward was a new rhythm flipped from the original drum sample…then i continued my synth improv, let Carlos add his parts and later blended Takoda’s guitar organ/synth into it as well.
This was happening throughout July 2020 and was all completed by Aug 2020. We made another ep w/ @youngest_brother and @n_ev at the same time, remotely…they were all technically part of the same sessions and message exchanges.
As I grappled with how to proceed with the next recordings I was simultaneously trying to support my partner in the best possible way during the most critical part of our pregnancy…and figuring out how to match the energy/quality of that track while multitracking alone
In the end, I couldn’t seriously record any more toward Ouanem for months. Our kid came earlier than expected and, understandably, became the focal point of my life
What helped me regain some creative balance or feeling of control? Well first of all being embedded in this community and a few others. I think losing some control in life with the looming prospect of parenthood became a motivating factor for me to churn out as many independent releases as i did BEFORE finishing Ouanem (or Nimi)
I had developed a rhythm of creating music to maintain my sanity, linking up with friends & artists to make visuals, and crafting something new for my bandcamp supporters or for the monthly friday free for all. In this case…I’d already started planning the ep’s that became “Toil” “Concentrics 7” and “Gliamd” so i just continued prepping them and recording to stay productive and learned to make music while our baby slept.
That music needed to be made but did not fit what i wanted to do for Minaret.
One major shift was the creation of this unique ongoing partnership w/ @GrantB + @dan_derks…the first evidence of the collaboration was making my sample pack “Yelidek” but the bells were the catalyst to return to Ouanem sessions and have been used repeatedly on the album in various ways