Hi, fellow grumpies! It’s update 2 of 2—more accurately, this is the third one following two “update 1” entries!—and now we’re back to get a glimpse behind the fourth wall again. You know that I love writing about stuff, so allow me to tell some stories from the grumpy.
It’s been a while since my debut EP “Show Me The Kibbles” came out. As always, I scheduled a Facebook live stream on the night of the release and invited people over to celebrate the launch. I’ve been setting up my “TV show” (as I like to think of it) weeks prior, putting together title screens and overlays for the stream and editing the lyric video for “Dark Skies” from GIF animation loops drawn by visual artist Yuna Kim. I extracted relevant synth stems for my backing tracks and arranged them within my DAW so that I can perform live with them. I even ordered two boxes of cauliflower-crust pizza a couple of hours before showing up live because I don’t want to go hungry late past 10PM!
It was exhilarating to finally present creative work I and others in my small team have worked hard for. And yet the weeks of preparation for the live stream were nothing compared to the amount of time that lapsed since I first started production for my first EP project ever. This takes us all the way back to spring of 2019. I remember showing Jason (my then-new student) early synth demo versions of “Blue Eyes” and “Sparrows Fly” during our lessons, and I also contacted Marie-Luise Calvero about doing the mixing and mastering of the upcoming tracks. Buying a new condenser microphone for recording purposes became imperative, and I remember stressing about having it delivered on time since I had to bring it with me to Nebraska for the summer. After premiering a new contemporary classical work (“Time moves, straightforward…“) during the last week of July in Toronto’s Array Space, I hopped immediately on the plane to start a four-week artist residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. (And yup, this was exactly the flight where I conjured up the lyrics and music of my debut single “Airplane Wings”—music links here!).
I worked on various artistic projects during my time there, but Grumpy Kitty Boy’s EP was on top of my list. With my new microphone in tow, I recorded lead vocal tracks for six songs at the Center’s music studio. (“Train Tracks” was a later addition in the final track list). I had worked as much as I could to finish instrumental tracks prior to the residency. Marie-Luise and I started working remotely on “Dark Skies” during August, but circumstances caused her to pause work. We didn’t resume work until July of 2020 during the pandemic—at this point, I just wrapped up my collaboration with Rojh Baquiran of The North Hit Project (Philippines) for the release of my debut single. As Marie-Luise’s husband Sebastián Gómez Mancheno took care of its mastering, it became easier for us to pick up where we left off.
It wasn’t that easy though with the visual side of things. Yuna Kim was working tirelessly on sketching the animated music video of “Airplane Wings” from July until October of 2020. I remember that she only took a one- or two-week break before coming back onboard for doing all the artwork assets of the EP all the way until February of 2021. I had since decided that “Show Me The Kibbles” is a proper title for a debut EP, and we had to work on album artwork that combines her iconic GKBoy illustration with photos from an October photo shoot with Prince Requino. Two lyric videos need to be completed before the release date (as well as stuff that you’ll have to find out later on). It was a back-breaking time with constant emails and such.
While it was my idea to have looping GIF animations for lyric videos, Yuna thought about capitalizing on the idea of “circles” for “Blue Eyes.” She told me that the music gave her the feeling that things are going on and on in circles, which was quite enlightening once you add that to the story of “Blue Eyes.” Features in media outlets like Tinnitist, Canadian Beats, and others have written about the background behind the song, and Yuna’s commentary added more dimension to thoughts about powerlessness and how we easily spiral down into never-ending daily grinds. (But also, if I may add, I really love Raccoon’s looping walking animation!). The animations for “Dark Skies” are a different story—I had to pitch specific images to work on, and some of them I even relayed on the spot! “Dark Skies” is a jam-packed song in terms of imagery, and my favourite loop among all of them was the one where Grumpy Kitty Boy looks at a big keyhole, unable to come out but also not wanting to come out at the same time.
And “Show Me The Kibbles” is finally out! Listen to all six songs from the grumpy—all music links HERE! Hopefully, I’ll write more in depth about each of the six songs in the near future. In the meantime, I’ll divulge some bits of trivia with this EP:
- “Niagara Falls” is the earliest song written among all the songs in the EP. I wrote it as a love song during end of August 2018, five days before the “surprise” breakup.
- “Train Tracks” is the latest song written, having gone to Winnipeg by train and writing a song about it on September 2019. I didn’t originally plan to include this song in the EP!
- “Sparrows Fly” was written during a friend’s visit to Toronto. I showed him around the city, and the places we visited became useful imagery as I sat down to write a song one Sunday morning while my friend went to church.
- “The Smalls” is named after the Smalls Trail, one of the hiking trails around the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts (Saratoga, WY). Inspiration came from meeting a lone stag looking out the void on my hurried descent from a mountain, as darkness slowly engulfed the mountainside during sunset. (You would never, ever want to be out on back country unequipped when darkness falls!).
Thanks for supporting the grumpy! And don’t forget to buy music to support me financially—buy all six songs of “Show Me The Kibbles” only at Bandcamp!