The following post was written by Drew Worden and Ivan Trevino, members of the group The Big Trouble.
Hey everyone, it’s Drew and Ivan. We started a band called The Big Trouble and wanted to share a few things we’ve learned after our first year working together. In 2017, we were awarded a $15,000 Arts Grant from The Boston Foundation which enabled us to compose new music together, record and release a debut album, and produce two professional quality music videos. In 2018, we have been composing songs for a new album together via Instagram. Ivan lives in Austin and Drew lives in Boston, so we’re sending 60-second videos back and forth to build our songs track by track. Instead of keeping the tracks all to ourselves until they’re complete, we’re publishing on Instagram as we go.
That’s also how we’re going to write this blog! Drew’s the black text, and I’m the blue.
Thanks, Ivan. Jump in with anything I’m missing okay?
We’re still learning a lot as we go, but here are 4 things we’ve learned through our Insta-song challenge:
- Obstacles = opportunities
The 2,000 miles between Austin and Boston make rehearsing and writing for this band tricky. Instead of waiting for the few times each year we can be in the same room, we’re embracing our situation the best we can. If we can’t change the obstacle, how can we reframe it as an opportunity?
IT: Drew’s exactly right. I love Boston, but I’m not moving there. The tacos just aren’t as good, and Austin is home. And now we have Madeleine McQueen involved, another songwriting collaborator from Rochester who helps us write lyrics and vocal melodies. Given digital connectivity, we can still collaborate over distance, continue to grow our project, and still live our own lives.
- Finding new listeners
By releasing music regularly, even just 60-seconds at a time as we write, we’re finding people who connect with our music. We’ve heard from new friends in the UK and Colombia and France and across the US – people we might never have connected with otherwise. And we’ve even been noticed by The Percussive Arts Society, who recently accepted our proposal to perform at their 2018 International Convention. I’m not sure this happens if we aren’t staying active online.
IT: Also, I think people really enjoy the transparency of putting our composing process out there for everyone to see. By the time the songs are finished and put out on our next record, I think our listeners will feel more connected to the songs because they saw and heard them grow over time.
- Deadlines: out in the open!
Every time one of us posts a video, we’re pushing the other to keep writing. I love this about our project. An email can be easy to postpone for a few days. But when Ivan posts a video playing a new marimba lick and laying down some chords — sometimes with his super cute baby in frame — I’m inspired to get to work!
IT: And through the process, we’ve learned a lot about video recording and telling a story through our posts. We’ve become amateur video directors, and that’s been fun too!
- Invest in gear
Because we want these tracks to turn into full songs someday, we’ve made modest investments in quality gear. For less than $1k, I bought a nice microphone, a DSLR camera, and some desktop monitors for the mixing we do as we go.
IT: Here’s the gear we use:
- Mackie CR3 3” Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors
- AKG P420 Large-DiaphragmCondenser Microphones
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Interface.
- LOGIC for recording. Nothing crazy here, but good enough to bring our music to life.
Writing with TBT reminds me that we don’t need a well-polished 4 minute song in order to release something online. Sometimes, four chords or a simple groove is enough to send to a bandmate who will add, subtract, or remix to make it better.
IT: And going back to this idea of transparency, there seems to be a cloud of mystery that exists in the classical community surrounding a composer’s process. By being open, we’re making the process a little less classical and a little more accessible. I can’t imagine that being a bad thing, for us or for our audience.
—Drew & Ivan