Ok here goes my first post regarding making of my album. Let’s talk about song choices.
The idea of doing an album occured in Dec 2006, but choosing the songs, believe it or not, was such an arduous and head-breaking process that it lasted right up to March 07 when I had to finally go into studio – I was still trying to finish up the lyrics of “When I’m 80” then. And the first song that went for recording was, also in March.:)
Concern #1: With such tight budget that allowed only 5-6 songs, I was really nit-picking when it came to song-choosing. Would this song represent Bevlyn? Would this song be commercial, just enough, to attract the masses’ attention?
I think it is a very delicate balance when you were to weigh between commercialism and self-expression. Honestly, even though I have my moments of wanting a song to be in a particular fashion and style just because I LIKE, I will not spend a couple of thousands on a song unless I am at least fairly confident of a small group of people who might possibly be as mad as me. Take for instance, Play with me. This is such a dark and personal song, I didn’t know if people would find it a weird one sticking out from the rest, or worse, a regularly skipped-over song when people play down the list. I decided to take a gamble, and luckily for me, the feedback I’ve been gathering is quite positive. So…it’s really a gamble, and I’m counting my blessings that I stopped-short at Play with me and didn’t put more over-the-top Bevlyn-indulgent songs). You just have to trust your instincts, or … be mentally prepared to waste money.
Concern #2: Should I have an all-English or all-Mandarin album of songs? Most people I’ve come across advised me to do a pure one, and I don’t blame them. I understand that the market doesn’t have much time and attention for someone whose identity is not strong (R&B dudes like Gary Cao Ge or Fang Da Tong; or Ballad queens like Joi Chua or Liang Jing Ru; or Rock-infused bands like FIR or 信乐团; or Jazz personas like Olivia or Lisa Ono), and there may even exist the problem of where to place my album in a record store when it’s out – does it lay under the Chinese or English or Jazz section? (Just for the record – I eventually chose to have songs of 3 languages because it’s supposed to be a portfolio for what I can do beyond a singer-songwriter (yes I’m using this as an excuse so I can explain my indulgence in a nice way), and I don’t have the problem of where to place my album in the record store because they’re simply at the new albums section, voila!)
The reason why I was facing so much internal conflicts (after hearing so much from the external), is because all of the above are really just common sense. So which piece of common sense should I choose to accept if two are conflicting? Therefore, perhaps the most sensible thing I can hence say is: Believe in yourself and just go for it.
Because I think…when you lay something out there – anything – there’s bound to be like and dislike from people who come across it. Talk and opinion will always exist. What’s most important is your core, your own decision after you’ve weighed your likes, analysis of market sensitivity and objectives of doing this album.
So choose only songs that can speak for you without you opening your mouth.
This is especially so, if you are the one footing the bill – You must feel shiok.