Process of creating City and Sand 

I started with beats from session drummer Victor Indrizzo, thinking that they would serve to keep the rhythm and provide a little inspiration, but probably would be removed later. In the past I used drum machines for this, and then would have a live drummer record over the drum machine beats. The local drummer that performed on my first album was out of commission with a serious cancer struggle (he’s doing much better now luckily!), so I wasn’t sure who I’d hire to record over the drums, maybe Victor himself. However, I sent what I had over to my friend and musical partner Liam Howland and he played with the drum arrangements and added some extra fills here and there. The end result was so good I decided to not go the live drummer route this time. 

I sent the songs to bassist Tim Lefebvre. Tim was on my first album and it made a huge impact. He is a professional session musician who played with David Bowie (Blackstar) and many other famous folks. He is also one of the kindest musicians I’ve ever met and his enthusiasm for my songs really lit a fire under me to work harder. The bass tracks he sent back were phenomenal and he surprised me with guitar tracks on a few songs. I didn’t even know he played guitar, but these were great! 

I then sent the songs to Tori Elliott for backing vocals. I examined dozens of Fiverr and SoundBetter backing singer gigs, listening to all the samples and reading their descriptions and customer reviews, and Tori stood out as the most interesting to me. I hesitated because her samples were pretty jazzy and she didn’t mention rock in the genres she accepted. Her voice was spectacular though, so I reached out with a couple song demos to see if she was interested. I wanted someone on ALL the songs, not just one. She sent a very positive response to the demos and a month later she had recorded backing vocals on all ten songs! The quick turnaround was nice, but her performances and thoughtful arrangement were beyond words amazing. 

Next, I sent the songs to J. Hall, a mixing engineer in Nashville that came highly recommended by Liam. I had never met him, but had a great conversation over the phone a few months before and he seemed like a good guy. His mix examples were definitely exceptional. I like the mixing engineer I used on my first album, but he has a policy of not releasing the source files, and that bothered me. J said “the songs are yours, not mine, I am happy to send you the source files when we are done”. That sealed the deal for me and he really did a stellar job with the mixes. The differences between his mixes and the ones I made myself are stunning.

I also hired three designers to create cover art. It seemed a little silly, but I figured it would give me options so I  wouldn't have to go with the first one. It turns out I liked them all, but the last one was my favorite. The first one became the disc image. It's really cool, but maybe a bit too light for the album. The second one was also great, but a bit too dark. It became the inside art and I also used elements of it on my main website image. The light one nailed the light and dark I was looking for and that is the album cover. I love that if you turn it upside down it gives you an entirely different (and very cool)  view of a solidary figure on a deserted beach with the reflection of a city in the water. I didn't give these artists much direction and they all did awesome work, was so glad to use all three.