30 Songs in 30 Days

I decided to stop at 30 songs on my Mississippi demo real. That means I made 30 demos in 30 days. It’s been good for production and recording experience, but I also want to do some more traditional songwriting using the guitar.

Mississippi is an experiment in pop music. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been plagued by being a “pop” songwriter since the start. It seems no matter how hard I try to keep the pop influence out of what I do, it leaks in. The Mississippi project was a blatant acceptance of that pesky pop curse/blessing.

But I’ve had enough for now. I want to work on something different for a while. I’m not sure what yet. Maybe, I’ll go back to my initial plan for 2024 and write some songs using the electric guitar, or using the slide on the old Gibson acoustic. I was still practicing guitar throughout the entire Mississippi sessions even though the recordings don’t have any guitar.

Or perhaps, I’ll work on putting together a chap book of poetry. Or maybe I should return to the Cult Boy project.

Then again, I might re-record the best songs from Mississippi. I could move from using GarageBand to Logic Pro and force myself to learn better production techniques. I could tone down the “pop” a little, add guitar, and really work on getting stronger vocals and mixes.

Or maybe I’ll go back and record the best of 2023’s 60 songs that I wrote on the ukulele. I think there are some good ones in that batch.

The Mississippi demos are good but could be better.

I’m happy with what I recorded, but it could be better. Working with nothing but an iPad and GarageBand, including only using the internal iPad mic for vocals, it’s not bad. But I still have a lot to learn.

The vocals were my biggest challenge and the thing I think I could improve the most. A better mic would help. But I also live in a condominium and feel uncomfortable singing at full volume. The vocals are all done at low-volume levels. I may have added too much reverb and delay to the vocals for the first 15-18 songs. Then I backed off a little on vocal effects on the second half. I also did less harmonies.

Musically, I made a lot of spontaneous choices. Some of the drum tracks were programmed quickly, and some were even just a click of the “random” button in GarageBand. Some of the bass and synth work is simply automated arpeggios. I’m mostly happy with how the music came out. It’s good enough for demos. But I’d like some real instruments in there, including guitar on some tracks.

The songs themselves could also be improved. I could rework some lyrics. Some of the songs might even work better to completely different music. That’s the glory of songwriting. You can always change the work as you go through the process. Leonard Cohen was known for creating multiple versions of the same song.

For the moment, I’m not sure what the next project will be. I’ll just take a short time to reflect and decompress and go from there. I’ll let you know. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.