On July 9th of last year, I had a dream in the middle of the night about a house that I could move my studio into. It was a space where I wanted to family and friendship to grow, where artists would be inspired, empowered and impacted in a deep way. It’s a long story, but the next day I found a house on Reese St. and invited my friends Zac and Joe to live there with me, and all the details to acquire the space fell together. As I approach a year of recording, producing and creating music full time, I have felt very nostalgic. I have been reflecting so much on the last year - things I have loved, things I would do differently, and all the lessons that have come from my time producing albums at Bloom Sounds and making music as an independent artist.
I thought it would be cool to take a moment and reflect on this calendar year since I quit my day job and tried to do this music thing for a living, and I also wanted to include some of my favorite film photographs along the way… to create a photobook of sorts of some special times in the studio and on the road. So, in chronological order, here was my year in music!
Beginnings Tour (August 2018) wow, exactly a year ago, Zac Crook, Carly King (The Little Strong) and I embarked on our very first tour. Independently booked, we played sixteen shows all around the southeast. There could be a small book written about how special this time was, and how deeply I cherished that time. Not that it was easy, but the specialness of the experience and what it taught me was invaluable. I felt like I grew twice as fast during this time… learning patience, persistence, and just how to run a tour and connect with people in different places.
Lion’s Den Recording (August 2018) The first recording in the new house was Lions Den’s first EP. This is a group of people I hold so dear to my heart. We decided to go ahead and record the songs we had been writing together before Bobby moved to Portland. So, we scrounged up some mics and asked some of our friends to join us. The house was so packed, but we made it work. The journey with Lion’s Den this year has been insane, as we’ve all traversed many things individually but have gotten to lean on each other and work through our live’s together. I can’t imagine this year without these very special people. I engineered, mixed, and performed on this album, called “King Of Every Seasons,” which you can listen to here.
Humility (August 2018) - This is a picture taken during the making of my single released on September, called “Humility.” It took me two or three days to finish this song from start to finish. It was one of those things that seemed to just create itself. This is a photo of my dear friend Shelby Frank helping me finish the song with some harmonies. I wrote, produced, engineered, and mixed this song, and you can listen to it here!
Common Hymnal (September 2018) What could I possibly say? This was one of the most insane weeks of my life. This is a photo of a group I am a part of called Common Hymnal. It is different than I have ever experienced. These people have also become such special people in my heart. During this week in Nashville, we basically rehearsed and recorded music for 5 days straight stopping only to eat and sleep. Literally. We’ve been releasing this music already, and you can listen to it here! I play electric guitar on some of these songs, and am a songwriter and collaborator within this group.
More Producing! (October 2018) In October I worked a couple of records, including a single for Sarah Howe, and EP for Garcia Free and a Christmas EP for Rawls Grimsley. The above photograph is of my friend Annie Leeth, who is an incredible music and engineer. I think here, we were working on Sarah’s single. At the end of October I met Rawls and helped him do his record. From that point on we became such special friends. I don’t think I was shooting film during that time because I can’t find any of us together. But, this was a special time for sure, my friend Will and I have officially dubbed the last week in October as “Rawls’ Week.”
Starting My Album (November 2018) In November I embarked on creating my first full length album as Andrew Blooms. I recorded my first two songs “My Time Will Come” and “Never A Waste” up in Knoxville with Will Reagan, Brandon Hampton, Abe Choi, and Gray Hauser. This marked the beginning of an insane process that I had yet to perceive. I thought I was going to finish it in February, but have only just finished it last week (July 2019). But it has been so worth the wait.
New Years with Family & Friends (January 2019) Got to ring in the New Years playing keys for one of my favorite groups, Family & Friends, at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. It was a dream come true to team up with these guys, as their music has inspired me for a long time.
Producing Carly King (January 2019) Being a part of Carly King’s music has been one of the most special opportunities as a producer. She is a force! This year, we got to work on a couple singles, “We All Need Loving” and “Lily of the Valley.” I am so proud of this friend, and the values and beliefs she is continuing to embody. The photo above is from arranging some string parts on “We All Need Loving.” I produced, engineered, and mixed this music.
Producing of Elijah Johnston’s “Wonderful” (Jaunary 2019) - One of my favorite projects to date. Being able to be a part of Elijah Johnston’s first studio EP was a treat. Such beautiful music. You can listen to it here.
Ryan Carr and Brandon Hampton play on “Never A Waste” (February 2019) In feb my dear friends Ryan Carr and Brandon Hampton came all the way to Athens to help perform drums and bass and add some additional producing on my album. We worked on my songs, “My Time Will Come” “Reasons Why” “Tethered” and “Humility.” Can’t begin to describe how thankful I am for them!
Producing Brendan Abernathy (February 2019) I have been mentoring Brendan for about three years now. When we first met, he was just finishing his freshman year in college, and decided this year to pursue his dream in music and release his first solo record. I have been so proud of how he is taking risks and going for it. We had so many conversations leading up to it, and it is so encouraging to see him choose a path that requires more risk and faith. Brendan is releasing his music here. I produced, engineered, mixed and played additional instruments on this music.
Producing Jacob Mallow (March 2019) Jacob interned at the studio in the fall of 2018, and over the course of that time became one of the most special people in my life. His story is for him to tell, but I see so much hope in his life and future. When Jacob approached me about producing his EP in the spring, I was delighted. We’ve just recently finished the mixes, but you can hear what Jacob has released here. On the upcoming music, I produced, engineered, mixed and provided additional instrumentation.
Mixing and Producing in April (April 2019) In April, I stared a full length instrumental and poetry album for my friend and poet Artist MD from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I created twelve soundscapes and beats to serve as a backdrop for his poems. This music has not yet released and I didn’t seem to take any film from that week. The above picture is of me and my friend Kevin Dailey, who is is a genius producer and engineer in Nashville. We met through Common Hymnal. I love this guy so much, and he helped mix a lot of my songs on the new record.
Producing Margot Osborne (May 2019) In May, Margot Osborne and Noah Rubin flew all the way out here from Orange County, California to do her EP with me. I was so honored to be a part. This week was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had making records. We ate, drank, made music and played basketball. What more would you want? Margot has begun releasing her music recently and her first single can be found here, which will be followed by a five song EP. I produced, engineered, and mixed this project.
Germany Tour (May 2019) In May, I went on tour in Germany. It was a deeply impactful experience that I stil l don’t quite understand. It was humbling, eye-opening and I believe set something in motion in my life that will change it forever. We met so many incredible people there, and saw some some of the most beautiful sights you could imagine in Europe. Shelby, Kerri and Rawls were crazy enough to go on this adventure with me. Pictured above is our last night in Frankfurt with our friend Jan and Lena.
June and July. This summer has been a lot of mixing, and also a lot of re-evaluating. Again, it’s been such a time of reflection after a busy year… sifting through what is working and what isn’t… what’s been healthy or unhealthy.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT THEN?
This year, I’ve produced 8 EP’s, 2 Full length albums, and a handful of singles - which makes upwards of 70 tracks that I have produced, engineered and mixed. I have also been on the road with Andrew Blooms, Lion’s Den, and Common Hymnal. My studio also has developed somewhat of a consistent internship, where students from the University, or sometimes just curious musicians, get to shadow and help around the studio during projects. So, needless to say - It’s been a busy year. I’ve grown a lot in my craft. I’m proud of how I’ve pushed and reached. I’m happy with the work I’ve made and all I’ve learned.
But as I round the corner of my year, I’m tired. I reflect on how much all of this has cost me. And as cool as it might seem from the photos or instagram or whatever to always be making music and working until the wee hours of the morning… it definitely has come with a price. I began to realize in April or May that ever since I stepped out to do music full time last August, I had put myself on this insane hamster wheel of striving and work. For eight months I never set any boundaries for myself. I had to succeed. I had to make it, no matter what. My work days had no end time… it was just until I was tired. And after doing that for a long time, it caught up to me. I crashed, burnt out, and found myself disillusioned with making music and the original vision I had for myself as a producer. My vision was to serve, to create a safe environment, to encourage and inspire… but after a while I grew weary. I began to resent the very work I loved because I never learned how to say “no” and rest, and trust. But that’s where I want to make my ground zero, and that’s what I’m returning to now.
So as I moved forward, and thank God for every moment and opportunity to make music this year as Andrew Blooms and Bloom Sounds, I want to adjust my posture and return to my work from a place of security, love and trust… not fear and anxiety of where the next opportunity will come from. If anything, this year has made me sick of the perpetual race… the feeling of not doing enough or being enough… or not being as far along as I should be. Whatever that means. I’ve actually taken a part time position doing coffee at my favorite local shop, a choice I made to slow down and to get myself out of the studio a couple days a week. It has been a critical decision, as I’m already a few weeks in and have loved getting to interact with customers and co-workers and delve back into craft coffee. i’m giving myself space to rest, to not constantly be under a mix deadline or pre-production mode for the next album, and have found this decision to be such a healthy one for me right now.
I am expectant for my album to come out too. I have been working on it slowly and persistently over the course of the last year, making sure it is coming out just like I envisioned it. I have a feeling, so deep down, that this next album is going to play an important role in our cultural ecosystem. I chose to be extremely honest, and I am hoping it will pull others out of their darkness too, as making the album did for me.
The list of people to thank is endless. If you’ve been in my life, read the blogs, hired me to work with you, believed in me, but most of all just been my friend… thank you!
Here’s to year two.