Is it Possible to Pursue Your Creative Passions in the Context of Busy, Everyday Life?

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My  journey as a musician and composer might be somewhat unconventional.  I have pursued my music over the past thirty-plus years in the midst of a demanding, non-music related career, and in the context of being married, raising a family, and pursuing other interests and obligations.  Over the years, I have played in many musical situations – both in cover bands, original rock music bands, and at various churches.  But the one constant that I have always been passionate about, and pursued, has been my own original instrumental music.  In some form or fashion, I have been composing and recording my own instrumental rock music from the time that I first picked up the guitar at age eighteen.

Here’s how my instrumental music has evolved into what it is today.  About five years ago, I became good friends with Robbie Calvo, a very talented studio guitarist and music educator from Nashville Tennessee.  Robbie has not only been a good friend, but has also been my teacher and mentor in all things music.  In 2015, Robbie encouraged me in my personal goal of recording my own original instrumental music at a higher level than I had done previously.  That encouragement, in turn, led me to record my first four-song original instrumental rock music EP, ‘Synergy’ in 2015, and then my second four-song instrumental music EP ‘Psychedelia’ in 2018.

The process for recording both EPs was the same.  Each time, I wrote four new songs for the project.  I created full demos of the songs, and charts, in my home studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then the demos and the charts were sent to Robbie, who as the producer, sent them to the amazing team of musicians and engineers that we worked with on each project:   Jason Webb (piano and keyboards), Amanda McCoy (bass), Grady Saxman (drums and percussion), as well as Robbie Calvo and myself on guitars.  In addition, Casey Barker worked as the session and mix engineer for both EPs.

We then spent a day in the “big room” at Paragon Recording Studios in Franklin Tennessee, tracking all four songs live as a band, much like how albums were made back in the seventies.  In recording these songs at Paragon, I gave this great line-up of musicians free reign to interpret my music as they saw fit.  After the session at Paragon, I returned home to Albuquerque, and Casey sent me rough mixes for each song which contained all of the tracks except for my guitar parts.  I then re-imagined, reworked, and recorded my final guitar parts for the songs in response to what the other musicians had played on each song.  Using this process, the final versions of the songs often evolved and changed from what the original demo versions sounded like, because of the give-and-take between the musicians who played on the project.  Using this approach, I created my final guitar parts that you hear on the EPs in response to their musical contributions.

It took me a year to record my guitar parts for the songs on ‘Psychedelia’ – in part because I am so busy with my day job and the many other aspects of life.  In fact, I recorded my guitar parts for both EPs between the hours of 5:30 am and 8:30 am, before going to work for the day.  Once my guitar parts were finished, the entire EP was mixed by Casey Barker at Paragon Recording Studios, and the songs were mastered by John Mayfield at Mayfield Mastering in Nashville, Tennessee.  The result was an EP that was critically acclaimed, and even won an award from a music review web site for best instrumental EP for the month of January 2019.

I think that there are many other people out in the world today that have an artistic dream but may not know how to make that dream a reality.  I hope that my story inspires anyone with a passion for their music to try to find an avenue to pursue that passion to the utmost of their abilities.  The world would be a better place for it!

If you are reading this blog post, then you probably received a free download of my song “Miguel’s Last Stand” from my EP ‘Psychedelia.’  If would like to buy the additional three songs on ‘Psychedelia,’ for less than a large coffee at your favorite coffee shop, then click here.  And thank you for your interest in and support of my music!  I really appreciate it, and would love to hear what you think about my music.  You can email me at mike@mikedeklevamusic.com.

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