In their final installment of Artist of the Week, Capital North reflects on their debut album, Sea to Sky. Check it out below:
Recording the debut album for Capital North, “Sea To Sky”, was one of the most enlightening and stressful experiences in recent memory. That being said, I would like to point out that although I have recorded MANY works in the entirety of my life, this time was different… this time we decided to do it “the right way.”
So, what does “the right way” mean? In previous projects in my life writing and recording an EP was just as simply as that. As a band, we would write 4-6 songs, polish them up to our liking, find a capable engineer to record it (or just do it ourselves/have a friend do it) and then release it. The “right way”, we came to find out in the subsequent months/year, is not quite so simple. The “right way” for us was the American Gladiator of EP releases because, as we quickly realized, the reason that record labels exist is that you don’t have to do it “the right way” all by yourself. What follow is a description on we chose to do it the right way and a brief overview of what that actually entails.
We spent nearly 2 years finalizing all of the songs in the exact way that we wanted to them to sound. Initially, we wanted to hire a producer to help produce the EP but we soon realized that we had put so much care into it that we really didn’t need that extra help. We came to decide that we simply needed a skilled engineer to guide us on the recording journey. After interviewing half a dozen sound engineers and checking out studios we found our man – Nels Jensen at The Pie Studios in Pasadena, California. Nels has a ton of experience and is an Academy Award-winning audio engineer. We decided to go against the grain as far as industry standard goes, and we insisted on using real drums instead of triggers like most of the bands in rock use these days. The parts in the album that use strings are actually cellists, violin, and viola players that we hired to play on the EP. Instead of just having a studio mix and releasing it we decided that “the right way” would be to send out the final tracks (which also took months to perfect) to our friends Eric and Bertrand Poncet from Chunk! to mix and master the album all the way in Paris.
While the songs were being mixed and mastered, we started writing/filming music videos. A music video done with professional equipment and edited properly is much different than your friendly neighborhood scene kid with a wide-angle lens that is made in your best friends living room. Locations, wardrobe, drones, renting lighting and editing all take a lot of time and money if you want to do it “the right way”. In the meantime, we searched for the right artist to collaborate with to create the album art and to design the logo that we envisioned. Next, we worked with extremely talented designers to create extensive, purposeful and detailed merch using the best garments to create a product that people would want to invest in and wear with pride. Next on the agenda was putting together our stage performance, design, lights and wireless monitoring as well as upgrading old equipment. We were already so broke but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back honestly. That being said, it was a necessary evil.
Lastly on the to do-list was finding a good PR company for the release. You see none of the previous steps of releasing an album “the right way” matter if no one ever hears it. PR was an eye-opening experience and I think it’s an absolute necessity in releasing any piece of music.
The next part of releasing an EP “the right way” is marketing. If you think marketing and PR are the same things, you are VERY sadly mistaken. For this portion, we ended up hiring a social media manager to aid us in the social arena.
So, what did I learn about countless hours/days/weeks of recording, writing, mixing, mastering, planning, drawing, brainstorming, meetings, photoshoots, music video shoots etc etc etc….. “Doing it the right way” is no easy or cheap task. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, musically or maybe otherwise, and the amount of time, stress and money that it takes with just 2 people is nearly unmanageable. That being said it was the most important learning experience in all my years of playing music. I wouldn’t trade the knowledge gained for the money spent, and if I had to do it all over again, I would honestly probably do it twice as big. Over and over throughout my life, I have heard the phrase, “if you’re going to do it, do it the right way the first time.” I think that adage holds true for “Sea To Sky” and I’m excited for you all to hear and enjoy it. If you have not already, please go give it a listen, as we have truly put our blood, sweat, and tears into it… as well as a whole lot of love <3.