I’ve Changed, I Haven’t Changed

A return to scheduled programming in today’s blog. That is, talking about me some more as opposed to GPP.

Yesterday I finally got around to writing an artist bio for myself. You can read it here on my official website. I wanted to put in a few pictures showing me at different stages so I had a look through an old folder labelled ‘website’ (we’re talking things from 2004 onwards, so really rather old). I came across this photo, and it really got me thinking.

Old Caryl
The old me: is there more than meets he eye?

I seemed pretty confident in this picture, secure, like I had a definite goal. I began reminiscing. Was I really a better person back then? Did I second-guess myself less back then? I used to make music without fear.

I remember when I was setting up my camera for this picture. I had somehow made a black background for myself using black card from an art project I’d made on my A’level. In fact, I’m quite sure there are charcoal drawings of seashells on the other side of that card. I think I propped my camera up on some books stacked on a stool or something equally ‘ghetto fabulous’.

I also remember trying to force confidence. I had to give the camera a specific look. It was supposed to say, “Oh, hello, I’m making music here. This is what I do.” I had to tell people visually I was a rock star. I also had to be sure to edit my marine-themed wallpaper out of the finished picture. Oh, the things you do when you’re an independent musician…

This got me to thinking some more. Was it true that I was actually more confident back then? I rooted out my old diary/song book, a recording journal that I kept while producing my first album in 2005. I thought maybe I could find a different Caryl in there, but I was surprised to find the exact same me I am right now. Initially I was a bit disappointed. Had the act been so good that I had fooled myself? I’m reminded of the truth. Those years were very difficult for me. I was studying four full A’levels, I had recently been dumped by e-mail by the man I thought I wanted to marry, and I was coming out of my first ever bout of Seasonal Effective Disorder. I can’t pretend to myself that time was all sunshine and roses.

Song Book
My song book and recording journal, 2005.

And then I read this:

“28/8/05 Top 40 Perfect

I think all this time I’ve been worried I’m not good enough. Today I learned a few things:

  • I don’t need to write a load of strictly contemporary Christian tunes to please God. I think just so long as I have the desire to follow him in everything I do , the songs I come up with will always be worship.
  • My ‘bad’ recordings aren’t that bad. Pretty bad, but not hideous, thankfully. Another thing: I don’t have to be a fabulous producer to be a songwriter. Just so long as I can put my songs into recorded existence, it doesn’t matter if it’s not ‘top 40 perfect’.”

Wow. I forgot how wise beyond my years I was as a teenager. Of course, that has been the limit of my wisdom ever since. A bit like how the first girl in your class to become pretty never gets any prettier than that.

Today I have a lot more production experience under my belt. When it comes to acoustic-style and indie/experimental recordings I have a reasonably good grasp of what makes a good, or at least listenable recording. If I hadn’t taken the leap and just made stuff back then, there isn’t a chance I would be even vaguely good at it now.

Dave challenged me today, in that wonderful way he likes to. He said, “Your problem is you’re not happy with yourself, and you’re not happy with your music,” and that was my reason for not advertising the things I make beyond a casual link here and there. I’ve really pushed the boat out promotion-wise for anything I’ve done with the Glitter Punch Project. Why is that? Because I don’t want to let the two of us down. Matt pulls some early-hours-of-the-morning style work sprints just to make sure we don’t miss opportunities. The least I can do is blog like I’m happy about it.

But my music? Just little old me on my own? I’m reluctant to talk about that as much. I guess I just don’t want to be like those bands that pester people for views and ‘likes’. Nothing but meaningless hoops that they think strangers will want to jump through for them. Seems I’ve taken things to the other extreme.

That is why I have decided I need to make Digital Delight a ‘proper release’. I’m going to use the digital distribution service offered by CD Baby and I’m going to put that thing on iTunes and elsewhere. There’s honestly no reason not to. I’ve heard some hideous things on iTunes. I’m still not a brilliant producer, but I still craft my songs. Crafted songs need a platform.

I think it’s time to take the plunge. For the sake of the old me was well as the new.

I’m actually scaring myself.

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