Case study: The creative process of writing an album

This is part two of a three part case study series, about writing and recording your first album.

Kylie_Whitney2.PNGThe case study is based on JMC lecturer Kylie Whitney's debut album, produced by fellow lecturer Michael Carpenter - Something About Ghosts. In part one, we focused on the conception and pre-production of the album, which was released on September 23rd – now available on iTunes, Spotify, and via Kylie's website. In this instalment, we focus on the creative process of writing an album, and the importance of a good producer. 

Read the transcript: 

KW: I’m very grateful to Michael. It’s not every day that someone comes along and kind of goes, “This is what you’ve dreamed of doing your whole life, here it is!” So, it’s been wonderful! He’s taught me everything! You know, from the time I was a student in his classroom, I had a lot of admiration for him at the start, he was someone I respected, and all the lecturers there, I really had a great deal of respect for. So, it’s surreal for me still, even after I’ve worked with you for three years now, it still amazes me how he can just take what’s in the artists’ head and make it real. And, I think that’s very unique and I just want to continue to learn from him, every day that I work with him – and I do. There’s something new that he teaches me every day. So I don’t think the student/teacher relationship every really ended. I still think of him as a teacher, even though he’s one of my closest friends and my boss and all of that! 

MC: Having gone through the process of knowing Kylie as a student, seeing her come out of her shell as a great student, seeing her become a part of this team and then seeing her become a great artist and how far she’s come in a relatively short time just because she was willing to dive in. She was willing to go, “right, I’m in this thing and it’s not just about the degree. That gave me the foundation to be able to go off into this world.” So that’s the main thing for students to understand, there has to be time. You have to allow yourself time to go through this process, and there isn’t any shortcut to that. There just can’t be any shortcut to the idea of experience. 

KW: That’s when your learning starts, once that ends. You’re in it for life, you never stop learning, and never stop evolving your skills at all. Find a producer who’s going to bring out the best in you, and who’s going to serve your songs and serve your album, because you are sharing a piece of yourself. A lot of the time, it feels like someone is reading your diary. That’s exactly what songwriting is like. So you have to be comfortable with the people you’re working with. And be comfortable that you can convey as much of the emotion as you want to, with another person. It’s one thing to be able to sit in your bedroom and write a song and sing a song, but there have been plenty of times where I’ve frozen completely sitting across from Michael, because of what I’m revealing in my songs. So to find someone who can nurture your creativity and find what you’re actually trying to say, and bring it out of your head and on to tape – it’s not as easy as it sounds. So shop around for a producer who can do that!