Sound Stories: Collaborating with Xion and Sur Ellz
This weekend I invited a group from Lincoln, Nebraska to come perform at our concert series, Reading into the Music at the Tattered Cover Bookstore. I met them a few months back on a project I did with Samantha Marie Ware. They were her back-up singers and when I heard their solo project I was captivated by their performance. It was so beautiful and honest. Extremely unique. I had never heard anything like it. They immediately made my wheels start turning.
I invited them to perform on our concert series as part of a greater scheme. I really want to release their music and help develop their sound. I asked them to come stay in the house with us for a couple days and we could take advantage of them being in town and make some music together and record for a couple of days as well. I wanted to work with them for a couple of days to earn their trust and show them that we are the best possible environment to be in to create. That human connection is what makes collaboration so beautiful. I like to get extremely personal with artists I am working with so that I can truly understand what they are trying to say, and help them present it in a way that gets their point across. Being in the studio and writing and trusting someone with you art is an extremely vulnerable exoerience.
Last month I mastered an album for an incredible up and coming Denver artist named Sur Ellz. I was honestly honored to be apart of the project! His music is so incredible. He is truly one of the most talented and hard working musicians I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The way he hears harmony and brings his lyrics to life is truly a gift. I knew he would love the opportunity to work with singers that were on the same level. There are not many of those here in Denver and I had three of them living in the house for the weekend. It was a no brainer. I asked him and Lawrence, his producer, to come write a tune with Xion. That session was tonight.
There are moments in my life where I am truly astonished that I get to be present to bare witness to that moment. Tonight was one of those moments.
At first the session was a little tense and I didnt know if something great would come out of it. Sometimes having that much talent in a room can cancel out. We played through a few ideas and soon Khalil (Sur Ellz) grabbed a pen and took the first leap. There is a lot of trust when writing with people. Fear can eat you alive. You have to be brave and expose a vein in hopes that it will be accepted and not judged. The minute Khalil made that first leap of faith the flood gates opened.
That moment when all of the artists let themselves go and began collaborating was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
We flushed out a song from nothing within two hours! We began tracking and the track began to come to life. The artists were rotating on and off the mic like a batting line up. I have never changed heights and levels on a mic so many times in a session. Everything everyone had to say was exactly what the track needed. I cant tell you how many times we screamed yes after a great idea was presented, because it was gold. The track came together so quickly.
I am so exhausted. We had reading into the music all day only to take an hour off and come into the studio to write and record until two a.m. I have never been so tired. But it was all worth it.
The music that was created tonight was one of the most positive moments and songs I have ever created.
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