Hey guys! Thrilled that my song “Turning Page” and “Turning Page (Instrumental)” will finally be available for purchase individually on iTunes and all other digital music stores on JUNE 19th!!! Until now, this song was only available via purchasing the entire The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Official Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Above is the brand-new cover art for this single!
For those of you who have waited to purchase this song, thanks for your patience! Hope you enjoy “Turning Page” on June 19th!
So, as a kid I devoted countless hours of my life playing video games. Nintendo games like “Little Nemo,” “Mega Man” and “Contra” – all have a special place in my heart. Which is why the idea of turning a few Sleeping At Last songs into 8-bit (Nintendo-style) music felt like such a fantastic idea!!
As homage to my childhood summers of video games and fun, I proudly present you with this FREE Summer Surprise EP entitled, “8-Bits” available now for a limited time on NoiseTrade!
My pals, Steven Padin and Mike Carroll from an insanely talented band called The Reign of Kindo made this possible! They spent many hours over the last year and a half converting these songs note by note to make the most authentic 8-bit versions as possible. They did a truly fantastic job!
The “8-Bits“ EP features 1 song from each of my records, magically transformed into retro Nintendo-style video game music:
1. Currents (from “Ghosts”)
2. Umbrellas (from “Keep No Score”)
3. Porcelain (from “Storyboards”)
4. Next To Me (from “Yearbook”)
(EP Includes the original recordings of each song too!)
“pacific blues” is the 22nd song in the yearbook series, track 1 of the “may” ep.
a couple months before this song was released, i reached out to an incredible company called GForce software from the UK. they specialize in sampling vintage keyboards and synths, preserving their unique characters and incredible sounds, converting them meticulously so as to be played on modern gear. in other words, they do awesome things. (learn more about them here!) anyway – having been a fan of theirs for nearly a decade, i decided to write a note to tell them so, spilling the beans about my adoration of their work. they responded with much kindness and shortly after, to my delight and surprise, we partnered up a bit.
i was honored when they sent me a brand-new super secret set of sounds they were preparing to release, for me to play around with in advance. that “secret” set of sounds has since been released: the “ChamberTron” set for their m-tron pro software. if you are unaware of what mellotrons or chamberlins are, read here. a brief history about the “chamberlin” instrument:
in other words, these little beauts are my favorite sounding instruments ever. i’ve been a fan for many years – it was love at first listen. so when GForce sent me their brand new chamberlin set, which was sampled with surgical precision, i couldn’t have been more excited!
i was just about to begin writing the “may” ep, when these sounds arrived at my doorstep. i decided right away that it would be incredibly fun to write and record an entire song using ONLY this gorgeous chamberlin set of sounds. so with the immediate inspiration of playing around with the set, “pacific blues” started coming together.
the rule for this song was to ONLY use the chambertron pack, with only one exception – my voice.
as i was writing this one, the melodies and tone felt in some unusual way related to the previous yearbook song, “pacific” – so the writing process went along, i decided to lean this song musically and lyrically even closer, with the idea that both songs should be related. they might sound more like distant cousins, than brother and sister but for some reason, i always hear the two songs as being immediate family in some way.
those slightly odd trombone sounds in the beginning are the origins of this song. those types of sounds aren’t usually a favorite of mine, but i just loved these… they sounded slightly goofy, but also had this perfect contrast of sadness. so, i started there and began building the song around those quirky trombones.
next came that constantly moving upright bass line. again, a bit unusual for a sleeping at last song, but i loved how it fit. since the chamberlin instrument is a semi lo-fi vintage instrument by nature, there isn’t a ton of low-end bass in any of the sounds. and i didn’t want to artificially add bass, so i decided a fancier, more active bass line would do the trick.
after playing around with chamberlin “vibes” (bells, etc) sounds and some other horns and strings, the shape of the song began to surface.
the vocal melody for this one took a bit of time to find. it was the trouble child of this song… took several days if i recall. but thankfully, the lyrics for this song came together very quickly… so it made up for it.
this song is very much about wresting with faith. i wanted to write about the struggle directly, without any fabrications. so the opening verse felt right:
“if i could rearrange my words, i’d say what i mean. if i could learn to count the cards, i’d risk everything. imagine how brave i’d be if i knew i’d be safe. if i could only know the end, i’d be a prodigy of faith.”
which is all obviously a bit absurd on the surface, but in my head that’s exactly the math that goes on. if i could know the answers, then i’d trust so much more easily. i liked the idea of uncovering how silly of a concept that is… how it directly negates the definition of faith and trust. it’s childish logic, but at the same time, for me writing this down honestly was almost like taking mental inventory. when i talked, or even thought about faith in any measure, i would clean all of those ridiculous ideas up and make them feel more presentable. less absurd. which is what inspired the next lyric:
“if i had a treasure map, oh the answers i’d find. i’d dust off the artifacts ’til i made ‘em all shine.”
it made me happy that the words for this song came somewhat easily… like i had tapped into some very honest part of me that i haven’t worked through yet. it felt like these words were in a hurry to come out.
this entire “may” ep was mixed by the very, very talented chris bethea, whom i’ll talk about in more depth in the next post or two, but chris did a fantastic job! as a mixer, it’s extremely challenging to work with a song made up of sounds from one instrument – especially a vintage and very lo-fi sounding one. it doesn’t leave a lot of room for dynamic or definition or even variation. but chris tackled this song head on and did an incredible job!
thanks for reading! oh and the kind folks at GForce software did an interview with me about my experiences using their instrument for this song – check it out here.
much love, ryan
if i could rearrange my words, i’d say what i mean. if i could learn to count the cards, i’d risk everything. imagine how brave i’d be if i knew i’d be safe. if i could only know the end, i’d be a prodigy of faith.
if i had a treasure map, oh the answers i’d find. i’d dust off the artifacts ’til i made ‘em all shine.
everything i know is borrowed, broken or blind, and what i’ve seen of beautiful feels merely implied. is it the treatment of symptoms or a touch of divine? i guess the truth is that the truth is of complex design.
how i ache to know.
God knows that i know we’re little boats in the great big sea. setting sail after sail in the hopes of finding a breeze.
every compass i have followed i’ve trusted and denied. so it goes with an ever-changing definition of right. is it the treatment of symptoms or a touch of divine? i guess the truth is that the truth is of complex design.
if ignorance is bliss, then i guess i’m in heaven. but this hesitant kiss sends me back to the grasp of the sea.
setting sail after sail in the hopes of finding a breeze.
my beautiful and talented wife, cayt is a fantastic writer. this is a fact. she has a genuine gift with words and story. i’ve had the privilege of reading bits and pieces of her writing over the years, but until now, she has kept her incredible talent shyly under wraps. which is why i am so delighted to introduce you to her brand-new blog, “lumièrepure” (which means “pure light” in french), where she will be sharing bits of her writing, thoughts on the craft of writing and lots more. obviously i am a bit biased, but lumièrepure is exactly that, a place of pure light and if you’re a fan of words, story, imagery and the craft of knitting all of those things together, i hope you’ll bookmark her page and visit often!
“in the meantime” is the 21st song in the yearbook series, the concluding track of the “april” ep.
this song originated from a very small idea i had right before yearbook began – a piece of music that would be built around this particular rhythm on guitar… i liked the idea of having this frantic, and almost out of control type of acoustic acoustic guitar rhythm, while layering simple, gentle and romantic melodies over it. i liked the idea of that contrast.
when it came time to write the final song for the “april” ep, i remembered this fraction of idea via a small recording i made of the guitar rhythm, and began sorting out the chords and structure of the song.
it took many hours of me playing that rhythm on the guitar in order to play it sturdy enough to record. i’m not a very technical guitar player, so fast movement and many fingers picking at once definitely stretched me a bit. i loved it playing through it though… it felt like a good workout or something! it’s funny to play this song now, as i can pick and up play it with no trouble, but when i was first working through it – it was wobbly at best.
as i was working out the arrangement, i decided to reflect the subject of the lyrics with the music… (more on that in a minute) as i mentioned in the previous blog post (read here), this song was written as the 2nd half of the song “”intermission,” which was very much a song about the frustration and challenge of transition, being stuck between point a and point b. “in the meantime” was intended to be an answer of sorts to those feelings… a different and more healthy thought process… not necessarily a conclusion, but a more hopeful way to interpret those feelings.
“in the meantime” was written about the art of patience. especially in relation to faith and trust (since both of which require an immense amount of patience to fully understand)… so this song is very much about making the best of our meantime, our middle place.
in sorting out what it means to truly be patient in these lyrics, it felt necessary to address fear. in my life, i’ve been realizing more and more every day that fear is truly the most paralyzing emotion there is. it drives every negative reaction i have to the surface… frustration, confusion, sorrow, anger, doubt and of course, impatience. the lyric that best captures the thought process about fear that i’d like to have is:
“fear is illogical math- an impractical skill to have.”
so that lyric is a reminder to me that fear (when left unchecked) is rather impractical, to put it gently.
my answer to the challenges of being stuck, suspended in mid-air, are in the final lyric of the song… a prayer:
“here, in the meantime, in the gospel of nearsight, may we learn to live a nourished life.”
so the arrangement of the music was meant to represent all of these mood swings. i wanted the music to sound romantic and sweet in a way, representing ideals and hope but at its core, i wanted there to be a pushing, frantic feeling as well, to represent the challenges of impatience… i wanted the music to swell up and down, to represent the lack of control we have to tame our worries and fears.
after i finished up the lyrics and vocal melodies, i wrote to my pal brooke waggoner (who is one of my favorite artists/songwriters making music today!) an email and asked if she’d be up to singing some harmonies throughout this song. she accepted my invite and did such a beautiful job… really lovely to have her! mini side note: one happy accident that happened – i sent brooke an early draft of the lyrics to sing and there was one word that i ended up trading out for another, and after she recorded it the old way, i didn’t notice and sang the lyrics the new way… after i finalized my vocal takes of the song, i noticed that we were singing different words… but i left it because i love the double meaning… the word is “farsighted” and the brooke sang the older version which read “foresighted.”
“though our patience is always in short supply, we’ll leave our foresighted/farsighted worries behind.”
i sent another invite to another pal of mine (and no stranger to yearbook – she’s on a bunch of songs!) to contribute to this song, the incredibly talented laura musten. i asked laura to record some clusters of strings for this song, weaving in and out of the vocal melodies and honestly couldn’t have done a more lovely job! was such a delight to hear her tracks sent back… her playing is so gorgeous and her ability to overdub is just wonderful. i love the lines she played – she really understood the idea behind the arrangement of the music, mirroring the lyrical subject. side note: laura recorded all of these violins on her laptop with garageband and a usb mic, and yet they sound rich and lovely as ever. in your face, expensive recording gear!!
yet another side note: i met laura through brooke, so it only felt fitting to have them both be a part of this song.
and lastly, my bestie, dan perdue contributed some lovely rhodes piano throughout.
this one turned out to be a fav of mine… from concept to completion, i was very pleased with how it all came together.
thanks so much for reading!!
IN THE MEANTIME
maybe there’s no answer here, at least one we’re ready to hear. no string of words will satisfy. no simple equation to edify us
here, in the meantime, may questioning nurture life.
fear is illogical math- an impractical skill to have. still, we talk of our future ’til we have no voice; we’ll try to outsmart it with noise.
but here, in the meantime, may the unknown harvest life.
we’re conditioned to mourn our empty glass long before it ever poured out our past. though our patience is always in short supply, we’ll leave our farsighted worries behind.
here, in the meantime, in the gospel of nearsight, may we learn to live a nourished life.