Monday, November 7, 2011

Who Needs Mistletoe?

Why now? Why did I decide to record a Christmas project in the summer of 2011?  I’ve been asked this question now a few times so I thought I could better explain the birth of “Who Needs Mistletoe” in a blog.

It’s kinda funny because over the past year, I’ve had a hard time changing my thinking on when and when not to start new albums.  Being an independent artist now, I can record anything I want and when I want. I had always been under the thinking that I could only record when I was told I could.  The only things that I now have to consider before beginning a new project are my bank account and my schedule.

Since I released “Alive” early this summer, Jason Collum (my producer, co-writer, band leader) has been trying to make the concept of “I can do whatever I want” stick in my head. It took a while to stick, but it finally did.  He suggested a Christmas project during the making of “Alive” and I pretended to listen but just nodded my head and shut it out of my mind.  I was of the mindset that I needed to focus on my new album and not even think about the next one.

But one day I kept thinking about it, so I decided to mention it on facebook to all of you.  I think I even said something along the lines of “I’m thinking of recording a Christmas project one day, what do y’all think?”  All I needed to hear was one of you say it was a great idea and after that, it was a great idea to me.

I told Jason I was ready to start the project and he suggested I write one song for the EP and I said ok.  It took he and me several times of getting together to write anything because it was in the middle of summer and I just couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit when it was 100 plus degrees outside.  I think I even once said, “Jason we can’t write a new Christmas song because everything has been written.”  He never gave up on my creativity or the idea of us writing a new song for this project.  

Finally, Jason and I got together once more to attempt writing a Christmas song and he said the hook, “Who Needs Mistletoe, I’d rather be under you.”  It made me laugh and I knew that was our idea. He had mentioned it to me weeks before but I often half-ass listen to Jason and I thank God that day I was listening and paying close attention that day.  Haha!! He is not offended by my selective hearing, I am just always thinking about so many things when we are together working.  He’s constantly saying to me, “What are you thinking about?”  The only time I am really tuned in fully is when we are recording!!! I’m working on getting better at that though!!

So, after I told Jason I loved that Idea, we found a melody we liked for the song and the lyrics just started pouring out of both of us.  It obviously needed to be a sexy song so I just pictured me sitting on a man’s lap while he was dressed up like Santa and it was easy to tell the rest of the story!!  We pretty much finished the song in one day and knew it would be on the EP and we would call it “Who Needs Mistletoe”. 

After we wrote that song, Jason and I got together a few more times to talk about the rest of the songs that we would record for the EP.  We talked about so many songs that I loved.  It was tough deciding which ones would be right for me and for this project.  So, what we did was make a really long list of songs that I loved and then we got out a guitar and sang through them.  The ones that felt most comfortable and most like me were the ones we decided to record. We decided to do 7 songs because it’s the perfect number!! J

Next in the process, we decided the instrumentation of each song.  We disagree quite a bit on this part of the process because we both have different ideas of what we think each song should say through the production.  We always openly listen to each other’s ideas and normally, it’s very clear whose idea is the best.  In the process, we decide which instruments should take the lead and which should take the background.  We also talk about background vocals and which songs need them and which don’t.  No matter what we decide in these meetings, it always changes when we get into the studio and start working.  For example, we initially did not have background vocals on “Pretty Paper” or “Away In A Manger”.  I suggested to Jason that I would try some, so we did, and they worked. 

This project was interesting because I sang all the vocals over a time period of few days. We both stepped away from them for a little bit.  After a while, I listened to what we had recorded and decided after listening, that I didn’t like any of my vocal performances and wanted to record them all over. I hesitantly told Jason and he said ok.  Our challenge at this point was finding the studio time to re-sing the vocals.  We were on a deadline to get the music to mixing and mastering at a certain time. We also had a date to get the mastered music to the printers by in order for me to have something to put on the website for sale by November 1.  We found a few nights that the studio was available and we re-sang every vocal.  I explained to Jason that I hope everyone listens to this EP for many years to come and I wanted it to be exactly how I wanted it to be. He definitely understood and after a few late nights, I was excited to listen to my songs!!

After we finished the vocals, we took it to our mixing engineer, Jimmy Jernigan.  Jimmy mixed “Alive” so he knew how I preferred the tracks and vocals to sound.  This was probably the easiest part of the entire process. 

Then, we took it to Tommy Dorsey for mastering.  Mastering took about a week and finally I was more than ecstatic about how my new music sounded. 

Throughout this entire process, I was speaking with Douglas Boultinghouse on a daily basis about how I wanted the album artwork to look.  Douglas is so amazing; all I needed to say to him was, “I just want it to look classy, feminine, and to find a look that never gets old.”  Meaning, it looks like a classic country album in 25 plus years.  Then, Douglas took those ideas and ran with them!!  He is such a brilliant designer and I believe he created exactly what I was looking for, not only for my album cover, but also for my brand new website, my Facebook page, and my twitter page.  (Thanks again Douglas).

After all decisions were made for the album artwork, the music, and all the licenses were obtained (Michelle Schreiber helped with that), we were ready to send the album to the printers!! 

Dropping off a project to the printing company is exciting but I always tend to feel a little lost afterwards.  I had just spent long day after long day making this album and now I had to wait for it to print!!  That was a long few weeks to wait but I finally got them back and I haven’t stopped smiling yet.

During the wait time, I thought of special packages that we could sell on the website for the Christmas season.  We again called Douglas and he helped us design the page on the website for the packages. I LOVE how they turned out!!

I am coming up on a week since the release and I am having the time of my life signing all your CDs!! I also love making lots of trips to the post office! Thank you so much for all of your support.  If you haven’t ordered one yet, don’t forget I will sign them for you and mail them to you ASAP!!  Also, take a look at my packages on I am so excited about the packages because they give you a chance to get a little of everything!!

“Who Needs Mistletoe” is a project I’ve wanted to record my entire life.  I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas project. So much thought and time went into every single part of the production of this record. I hope you enjoy it and that it brings you and your family joy for many Christmas’s to come!!  Merry Christmas y’all!!

Track Listing:
1.   Blue Christmas
2.   Who Needs Mistletoe
3.   Pretty Paper
4.   I’ll Be Home For Christmas
5.   O Holy Night
6.   Away In A Manger
7.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Musicians that played on "Who Needs Mistletoe"...

Dan Agee - acoustic, electric guitar
Jason Collum - acoustic guitar, drumsm percussion
Mason Embry - keyboards, Wurlitzer, rhodes
Michael Rinne - acoustic bass
Mike Ulvila -  dobro, mandolin, background vocals
Julie Roberts – background vocals

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