Piano, Pageants & Politics

Behind the Scenes of X Post Facto: Part 1

If you're following me on social media, you know that I've been in the recording studio for the past several weeks working on some new original music for my sophomore album, X Post Facto. I'm very excited to announce that this Monday, February 5th, the first single, GOOD OLD DAYS, will be available on Spotify, iTunes, iHeart Radio, Pandora and more. But first, here is a closer look at what that process looks like.

After condensing a year of writing into six tracks, I was confident with my material, but unsure how I wanted to approach arrangements. Solo piano? Full band? A few of each? I ultimately chose the minimalist route: piano + vocals + light instrumentation. For this project, it was extremely important to me that the listener was truly hearing me and just me: my piano compositions, my natural range and my carefully-crafted lyrics. I didn't want the intricacy of complex instrumentation, over-processed vocals or a booming rhythm section taking away from my raw emotion or performance. However, this stripped-down album is just part one of what will ultimately be a two-part series; the latter, an exciting collaborative effort, will be a different take on the same songs, but reflect a more modern timbre.

Recording each tracks starts by laying down the piano track. In this project, I've incorporated many different styles of piano such as classical, jazz and even a little gospel. Some artists I was specifically inspired by include Norah Jones, Marina and the Diamonds (specifically her acoustic versions), Lana Del Rey and Adele (though my piano parts are much busier compared to the typical Adele record). After reviewing each recorded piano track, I moved on to vocals. For every song, I sang 3-5 takes to capture the best performance. Sometimes, we'd have to edit the piano part again to properly compliment my vocal melody. In some tunes, we added acoustic guitar, strings and light synth sounds to add additional texture and color into the tunes.

In the studio, I work closely alongside Alex Krepkikh, the engineer, producer and musician behind AlexKProductions. A classically trained musician from Moscow, Alex has an amazing ear for composing and producing and is proficient in several instruments. He truly does it all!

Alex is assisted by Matt, a talented student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell's renowned Sound Recording Technology program.

I chose to share GOOD OLD DAYS first because it truly sets the stage for the rest of the X Post Facto album. When premiering the song at the 2017 Miss Massachusetts pageant, I explained to the audience that the song was a reflection on my year as Miss Massachusetts, but from a personal standpoint, rather than the public persona. GOOD OLD DAYS celebrates small victories, acknowledges losses, but most importantly emphasizes the importance of learning from mistakes and becoming stronger from each experience. The song has certainly evolved since its last-minute debut in July, after writing it backstage on a few napkins in my dressing room. However, the themes remain steady and can actually be found consistently throughout X Post Facto.

Be sure to subscribe to my Spotify channel to catch GOOD OLD DAYS as soon as it released on Monday, as well as the rest of the X Post Facto album, which will be available sometime later this month. I'm also very excited to debut several new songs from X Post Facto at a private concert this Monday at the historic Wang Theatre, one of Boston's most visited cultiural landmarks. I'm looking forward to sharing more behind-the-scene looks on my blog, as well as the stories behind my songs and my creative process.


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© 2017 Alissa Musto