I began work on “Sleep In Front Of” while living in the most northern major city in all of North America: Edmonton, Alberta, and completed it after moving to Montréal, Québec. Although not intentional, I can hear the effects of my move throughout the song. Halfway through the piece, there is a shift, where the density changes and another emotion is introduced. As often is the case with my work, a finished piece follows a fairly straight trajectory. By straight, I mean that once an idea is introduced I develop it and then move on, rarely returning to the previous direction.
The main idea behind “Sleep In Front Of” (and most of the tracks on Inland) was to build a song from strands of edited and processed instrumentation. I arranged the piece to embody characteristics of a pop or folk song. These traditional elements – chords, voices, rhythms – can be heard buried under layers of themselves. They have been deconstructed and then reconstituted to form a new composition.
The track began by improvising over some chords on the acoustic guitar and then editing these in the computer using a variety of effects processes. This gave me a basis to work with. Subsequently, I tampered with the voice, which included short, recorded phrases hummed, sung and edited.
A couple of years ago I started to experiment with using the voice as a sound source. I felt very connected to forms of music where the voice is prominent in the mix, as in folk or pop music. As a result I started working with prerecorded vocals, processing, editing and then arranging them with other acoustic instruments that I had recorded. For example, I worked with Kate Bush’s vocals along with acoustic guitar on “I Cut Along Lines” off of the Holden Into Ryley EP. I also used a portion of a vocal line from an old 10” that my parents picked up at a garage sale. Not sure what her name was, but her voice can be heard on “Rest Near Grey,” off of the various artists release called Tracks In The Snow. This was the jumping off point where I then decided to use my own voice as a sound source, first in a live context and then more fully realized on Inland.
I have continued to capture, build and reshape my voice. In both a live and recorded setting, my voice is an immediate expression that is unpolished and improvisational by nature. This improvisation and immediacy is meant to be edited and processed later, rather than to be a “good take” in its own right. This idea is not necessarily specific to “Sleep In Front Of,” or other tracks on Inland, but I am uncertain what role my voice will take on future recorded works.