Friday, February 26, 2021
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The B-side of today's single comes from my 2017 album Weather Patterns. Still Life is basically the sequel to the song above, even though I wrote this one first. It's about recognizing just how big, beautiful and diverse the world really is. This song is also based on a true story.
But what we've never seen, we can never miss
Enjoy. Share. Be well.
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Today's song that I would like to share is called Fever Dream. It is the opening track on my 2019 album Better Days. It's basically about what has been termed "late capitalism" in academic circles, and how the things that we consume end up consuming us.
The chorus goes like this:
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Friday, February 19, 2021
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Since today is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post a couple of apolitical love songs from my newest album, Embers (2021).
"I made a mixtape on my radio... it can be your soundtrack wherever you go..."
"We are all that we need... like the water we drink and the air that we breathe..."
Enjoy the music. Stay safe. Love the ones that you're with, even if it's just you.
"...and all we are is beautiful"
Thank you for supporting independent art.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Thursday, February 11, 2021
In 2017, I simultaneously released three albums of original music. It was a collection of thirty-three songs that I had written over the previous two years, during which time I was also working on my dissertation and then adapting it into a book. Whenever I needed to take a break from academic writing, I would pick up a guitar and work on songs. Once I was in the editing stage of the book, I started recording the music.
Whereas in scholarship, I try to be as specific and succinct as possible, when writing a song, I tend to paint in much broader strokes. With that in mind, I think that having a well-honed balance between these two rather immense projects allowed me to be more productive with both without getting burnt out on either.
For all intents and purposes, Weather Patterns was the first of these albums that I wrote, then Mechanical Bull, and then Good Night, Fahrenheit. All three of them were recorded in the first half of 2017 and then released in June of that year. A savvy listener might be able to hear the steady improvement of my mixing and mastering skills on them if listened to in that order, as well as on my two subsequent albums: Better Days and Embers. I'll be the first to admit that my abilities as a DIY artist are a constant work-in-progress.
That said, I hope you can appreciate the songwriting on my earlier work, even with the somewhat limited production value. In my experience, I often find that the best way to grow as an artist is to create.
Here is another song that I thought I would share. It's called Be Civilized, and it's about how civility is a requisite to civilizaztion. To date, it is my most streamed track on Spotify, taken from my 2019 album Better Days.
"I hope you realize... what it means to be civilized"
Enjoy. As always, if you like my music, please share it and add it to your playlists. If you want to listen to it at your leisure, you can always buy it, too.
Thank you for supporting independent art.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Click here to listen to my song Gravity from my 2019 album Better Days on Spotify. As Drumpf's second impeachment gets underway, it seemed appropriate. Call it wishful thinking. It's still one of my favorite songs to play.
"They are going down... like gravity."
While I'm at it, here is another track from that same album. This one is called Entropy. It follows a similar theme. I wrote it when the Mueller investigation was still in progress -- more wishful thinking on my part, I suppose.
"The 'president' is a criminal, but it's just business as usual..."
"The world is changing in strange ways... it's getting stranger every day."
When I wrote that song, I had no idea. You can find other protest songs among my work as well. These just seemed the most pertinent for the events that are set to transpire this week in the US Senate.
Enjoy the music. May justice prevail.
Monday, February 8, 2021
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
The term "Do-It-Yourself" may seem pretty self-explanatory, but I want to talk a little bit about what that entails when it comes to making music.
Basically, unlike most music that you hear, which is very much a collaborative art, what I do is singular. I write the music and lyrics to all of my songs. When it comes time to record them, I not only do the recording myself, but I also play all of the instruments. With the drums, while I do have a drum kit in the basement, I find that I get a cleaner sound using sequencing software, and it's a lot easier to work with in the mixing stage -- which, incidentally, is also my responsibility, as is the mastering.
On the other side of the equation, I get to decide which songs make it to the album and what order they appear in. I decide what the cover art looks like. I decide where it streams, where it sells and for how much. Basically, I have complete control over every aspect of my music. Every decision that brought it into existence was made entirely by me. Another bonus is that if I want to record a guitar track at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday, that's my prerogative. I can even re-record it a hundred times if I want to, and it doesn't cost me anything because I'm not paying for studio time.
The downside of this is that my laptop and my hundred dollar microphone in an open room of my house aren't exactly capable of capturing high-fidelity sound in the way that a professional studio setup can. I am also not nearly as good of a bassist as someone who plays that as their main instrument, for example. For that matter, I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who could play all of these instruments far better than I can, just like how someone who is trained in sound engineering could do a much better job than I can in terms of production value, even with the limited equipment that I have at my disposal. That said, if I could afford better equipment, I would, and over the years, piece-by-piece, I have upgraded a lot of my gear. Still, I feel like the somewhat raw aesthetic of my music kind of fits with what I'm trying to do, at least with these past five albums. They all bear my name beside the title because every part of it came from me.
For what it's worth, I have played in numerous bands in the past and have spent time in recording studios before. While I do very much enjoy working with other artists and technicians, on some level, that's not really the point of what I'm doing here. My five solo albums, all self-produced, are me saying: here's this thing that I created. It's like an art project. I hope you like it, because frankly, it's about the best I can do with what I've got.
To be perfectly honest, I would probably love it if other musicians took my music further (as long as I still got credit for the songs, of course). As a musician, I am kind of a peculiar sort. I like writing and practicing music more than I enjoy performing it, and I do what I do purely for the love of my craft. That, and I couldn't imagine not playing music -- and I figure that if I'm going to play music, I might as well write my own. Taking that rationale one step further, since songwriting is something that I have a strange knack for, then I feel like it would be kind of waste not to use it.
In a nutshell, I write music because it is something I love to do and that I want to share, plus I happen to have an unusual collection of skills that allows me to produce this stuff all by myself. I write songs that don't yet exist but seem like they should. Sometimes it feels like I'm just pulling them out of the ether. In that sense, I am merely the vessel for transforming them into something tangible. As a DIY musician, I then take these songs as far as I can within my relatively limited means, which to me, is still infinitely better than when they did not yet exist.
Still, I must say, there's no reason why my process for making music can't be something closer to what we consider normal. After all, there are lots of other people out there doing what I do as well, and while we may not be able to get that polished radio-friendly sound that you're so used to hearing, this is a far more direct conduit between artist and audience, and I think that there's something to be said for that.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Embers is now available on Spotify. You can listen to it here.
It's also on iTunes/Apple Music. Click here for the link.
And here it is on Amazon Music.
You should be able to find it on other streaming services as well.
As always, if you like my music, please share it, add it to your playlists and purchase it.
Thank you for supporting independent art.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Since I'm done working on this album, although I will continue to post updates about its pending release on this site, it is time for me to move on to other projects. With that in mind, I decided to create another blog that helps link together all of my creative endeavors in one place, where you can always check in to see what I'm working on now.
You can find it here.
Over the weekend, I sat in my car and did the Pepsi Challenge with about seven different versions of every track on the new album until I was able to narrow it down to a winner. Unfortunately, I wore out my car battery in the process, and then I learned that my charger doesn't work anymore. On the bright side, at least I don't have to go anywhere -- plus the album is now officially done.
I submitted the final audio files for CD production and digital distribution. It should be available through online retailers and streaming services in about three or four weeks. I will post new links once they are available. The songs will sound similar to those that I posted on reverbnation, but with slightly better sound quality.
In the meantime, I'll hook up some jumper cables to my car battery and develop a creative strategy for my next project.
Friday, January 22, 2021
I should know better than to say that I'm done with something, because more often than not, the first time that I'm done with something, I'm not really done with it.
That is to say that I'm still mastering the album. It's a work-in-progress, much like my audio engineering skills. As I go, I'll continue to upload the newest versions to that website that I linked to in earlier posts.
A few months ago, I was singing the only Gordon Lightfoot song that I know by name while making something to eat in the kitchen. It might have been the fact that I only knew about a third of the lyrics that inspired me to write my own song about a historic event -- but rather than write about a shipwreck in Lake Superior, I wrote about something that happened on August 23, 1989 in the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
This was when they declared their independence from the Soviet Union by holding hands between their capital cities: over two million people stretched out over about four hundred miles. I thought that this was a pretty amazing story that more people should know about, which is why I wrote Black Ribbon Day:
A revolution need not be violent. In fact, had the people of the Baltic States chosen that route, they almost certainly would not have achieved the same results.
When I wrote this song, I knew that it was time to start putting together another album.
You could call this my quarantine anthem.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
As always, you can hear my most recently polished tracks here. Press the play button beneath the album title to play the tracks continuously, otherwise it will only play one at a time. No advertisements, either.
I'll come back to it in a few days. If I still think it sounds good, then I will officially be done producing this album. I'll also burn another CD of it and make sure it passes the car speaker test.
I updated my lyrics page to include the songs from Embers (2021) as well. You can find lyrics to all five of my solo albums here.
Cumulatively, over the past five years, I have written and recorded fifty-four songs, totaling almost twelve thousand words. No wonder I forget a line from one of my songs every once in a while. I suppose that's why we practice.
Monday, January 18, 2021
I am still mastering the new songs, but I think they're coming along. As part of my production process, I upload new versions as I go so that I can then listen to them on different devices. The other day, I had the entire album sounding great on my headphones and monitors, but then when I burnt a CD of it to play in my car, it was really bass heavy. That same mix, when I played it through the shitty little speaker on my tablet, all that was coming through clearly was the mids.
As someone who is self-taught in all of this stuff, this is more or less my understanding of the mastering process: keep fine-tuning the songs until they sound as good as possible (within the realistic limitations of DIY home recording) through whatever speakers I play them through. I read a long time ago that this was how Frank Zappa did it. His theory was that once an album sounded good through even the worst system, then he knew that it was done. While I've admittedly never really gotten into Zappa's music, I've always thought that this approach made a lot of sense.
In any case, if you want to follow along as I continue to master these songs, I'm uploading new versions usually at least once a day, sometimes more. You can witness firsthand the evolution of this album here, as I continue to take it as far as I can with the equipment I've got. Frankly, mastering seems like a misnomer, since this is one of those things that I don't know that you can never truly master, considering that the process and the products are themselves part of a constantly evolving enterprise. I will say, however, that the more I do this stuff (while, of course, learning as I go), the more pleased I tend to be with the ultimate result. I hope you like it, too.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
You can now listen to Embers in its entirety here. This is essentially the unmastered version of it. Once I finish mastering these songs, I will submit the hi-res versions to other online services, where they will be available to purchase or stream.
You can also copy and paste the following link:
Thank you for supporting truly independent art.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Friday, January 8, 2021
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Saturday, September 1, 2018
If you like it, please buy it, share it and add it to your playlists.
Thank you for supporting truly independent art.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
In June 2017, he simultaneously released three full-length albums: "Weather Patterns," "Mechanical Bull," and "Good Night, Fahrenheit," all of which he wrote, recorded and self-produced between 2015 and 2017. On every song, he composed every track and plays every instrument. Zach even took the photographs from which he made the album designs.
You really can't get any indie-er or deeper underground than this.
If you like his music, please buy it, add it to your playlists and share it with your friends. Listeners like you are the only way that truly independent artists like Zach Sands are able to reach an audience. It all starts with you...
Original song lyrics for all four albums can be found here.
Thank you for listening and for supporting music that isn't corporately owned.