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Know that you were made to fight the odds you’re in

June 21, 2020

Okay, so in 2019 I had released some tracks. And of course, it wouldn’t be me if there was no drama in the whole process.

From the 2-days worth of being in a Spotify playlist (Choose Stay) before a mismanaged track deletion ruined everything. Ha ha (this is a tragic laugh, btw). And also the fact that at that time I spent weeks on bed due to the foot operation I had. A result from a dog bite that ripped my tendonitis. Told you it’s not Raygava’s music if there aren’t some kind of weird incidents involved. Have always accepted that as part of my continuously failed musical journey. Ha ha (again with the tragic laugh)

So I had finally released ‘Choose Stay’, ‘Tapi Hatiku Bermasalah’, and ‘The Beacon’, with all their flaws. These songs were already partially recorded from 2017. So what I did was only added and revised some sounds here and there. Tried to improve the mixing quality and all that. But my skill was just too limited, and I couldn’t be bothered with recording them all over again. So last year I’ve decided that I will let those 2017 songs to NOT be as part of the new album. This means I had to start from scratch. Even the catchy tune of ‘Tapi Hatiku Bermasalah’ will not be part of the new album. But I’m sticking with my previous plan: that the album will be performed, produced, mixed, mastered, all by myself. Even the cover artworks. Many times I contemplated whether or not I should just take my tracks to a professional mixing engineer. But it wouldn’t be fun, would it? If this is my last ride, then I want to enjoy every part of this album-making process.

If those 2017 songs are not getting into the new album, then it was time to explore something new. My guitar searches throughout 2019 opened some new dimension. For decades I’ve been a Fender player. But last year, the sounds and tones of Gibson introduced me to different playing style and also different genres I’ve never written or composed. From the hot humbucker sound of a Les Paul, the PAF sounds of ES 335, fingerpicking on a round-shoulder flat top acoustic guitar, to understanding the sounds of true hollowbody guitars. I’ve tried to explore and use them all in these new songs.

So at the end of year, I released ‘Keep You in My Memory’ (KYIMM) that is expected to give a sneak peek on what type of music I’ve been working on. Also not without a drama of its own. I had to change the lyric and phrasing due to some extreme similarities to a popular country song in the 1990s, which I seriously haven’t heard, or at least did not pay attention. But what are the odds, if you think about it! Anyway, when I composed KYIMM, I used this song to explore the hollowbody guitar tones which I’ve learnt to be quite similar between popular hollow bodies like the Gibson ES330, or the Epiphone Casino, or in my case, my Gretsch 5422. The sound has a more piercing bright character. Different from a semi-hollow body with a centerblock wood inside, like a ES335. I couldn’t be happier when I saw John Mayer pulled out his Epiphone Casino during his show in Jakarta. So I have to admit that for this song I was still much influenced by his playing style (and his Epiphone Casino sounds!).

The start of the year also wasn’t easy. Full work schedules, followed by some changes in my company, and then the coronavirus, all have made the process difficult. For full time musicians, music making is an easier effort than for us full-time workers. Time for tracking or mixing had to be made and allocated wisely. We can’t wait around for creativity to come, because our time is much more limited. Creativity is made, and thoughtfully designed. Some of you may have seen my IG story posts. And some even asked why it took me so long to release the songs. Well, if you’re doing everything yourself, from the performance, to the composing, to the mixing, of course you can’t have things done in parallel. Everything has to be one step at a time. Did it drive me crazy? Of course it did! What d’ya think? So there has been this unwanted gap between KYIMM and the next single releases, before the album is ready. I am sorry about this. Hopefully 7 months didn’t feel too long. Definitely not for me. These past 7 months felt like only 3. As if new year’s eve was only a few months ago.

As I’m writing this, all the tracks are finally ready. But not yet done. Some have been fully tracked, some have been fully mixed, and some still needs work. I had for a long time wished for this last album to have more tracks than Where I Belong (2009 – 13 tracks). If I were to pull the curtain and finish my journey, then I would want to give everything I’ve got left in my tank. So yes, I’ve lined up more songs for this one, so that people who still appreciate albums as form of artworks, at least can enjoy an hour of music.

I’m very happy with the songs I’ve written. I was very much aware that I am not doing this to please everybody. It was more of my own exploration. To be honest, I’m not even sure people will like and enjoy the music, because some are really weird. Haha. But I just don’t care.

The second single that will be part of this new album is titled ‘Loneliness is The Shape of Modern Days’. This song is also special. Not only because I tracked the acoustic guitars and the vocals the very night before the dog bite accident. But the lyrics were very positive that it was on my head the whole time I felt really down fighting the pain, trying to recover, lying on the bed. It was as if I had wrote that lyrics for myself. With all the drama that was happening, the struggle I was facing, the song then said to me, “…know that you were made to fight the odds you’re in …”

LONELINESS IS THE SHAPE OF MODERN DAYS will be released on July 14th. STAY TUNED ! Go to spotify and follow me, Raygava, if you haven’t already, so you will not miss the upcoming releases.