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Grey - the making off

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

I'll just go ahead and write a few words about how the songs came about. Some really stretched out for long periods, some came together quite rapidly. Some stayed unrecorded for years, some got recorded as soon as they were finished. I still have songs bottlenecked just sitting there for years as I was not able to bring that little thing that completes them. It will come :)

Snippet from the video recording session (Rahul Venkit)

In big lines Grey is a somewhat classic song, probably it has a hint of something else out there. However, I made a conscious effort to disregard any thought of "resemblance" as I know for a fact if I get overwhelmed by that thought, I would end up writing nothing. There is so much music out there it's almost impossible not to sound like something or someone else. From the composition point of view, Grey started on the four chords and I kept the chorus on the exact same structure changing just the metric. The lyrics are somewhat positive, a bit of an acknowledgement of being lost, like many of us sometimes feel in a certain time of our lives, that kind of message that tells you you're not perfect but not really useless either, that you can carry on and go for higher purposes. The verses constantly reminds these antitheses of "good" and "bad", you end up being worried for creating such intriguing inquiring, but the chorus turns that antitheses into a positive message and I think "grey becoming one's middle name" is an acknowledgment that some things don't change, you must accept and make the best of what you have, there's always going to be some grey, you might as well make a lighter shade of it. As simple it might seem, it took me more than one year and a half, to actually make it happen. I started it in 2016 and finished the video production in February 2018. Grey was the first original recorded and arguably the toughest nut to crack. To start with it shaped out quite fast but I couldn't put the pieces together for a long time. Once finished on paper however, I realized that orchestrating your own songs is very different than orchestrating a cover. With a cover you always have the means to rapidly achieve that, you have strong guidelines from the original so you just go out and about what the song expresses. Coming up with themes "marrying" all the guitars, using the ukulele on the top, the voices and everything else proved to be very challenging for me at the time and I left the project for months untouched because I was lacking the vision of ... what's next. After a long struggle it came about.

The video: Grey was shot entirely by Rahul Venkit, an old friend and former member of Belgo Cowboys. He organized the shooting session majestically opting for the Wild Geese as location, partly because it is a gorgeous venue, partly because it is our "spiritual home", the place we laid most gigs and we enjoy not just the location but the staff there and the crowd enlisted on the establishment. For this song I invited the band to be part of the video as I planned along with this to pursue them endorsing my music rather than covers on our live shows. Till this day it is the best video, somehow I never got the chance to re-make the Grey vivid atmosphere on any of my featured videos. I'll probably always remember the rush and the stamina of the whole event, as we were crazily timeboxed and inevitably we stepped our shoes in the heat of getting things done, between cables and lights, collars, jackets and smoke blend. I left some photos from the actual shooting, it was a lot of fun to take that session and just to point out the effectiveness of Rahul, the whole thing it lasted 3 hours, camera, lights, placement, gear up & down, shoots and even we had time to do some smoky shots before the actual shoots.

Technicalities: I shot all the guitars, ukulele and voices, Derek did the bass. The drums are studio made by Adrian Stavian. He did all the mixing and mastering for Grey as well (and all the rest of my songs until this moment) I used my pride & joy Gibson J45 for the acoustic part and for the electric guitars I combined the sounds of my stage American Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul studio. I bought particularly for this song a mahogany Kala ukulele which would constitute an arrogance in essence because I never used it since. At the time I was still recoding on my Zoom H4N, so Grey is the first and the last original song partially recorded on my old Zoom. However since the recording actually stretched for months and months, the final guitars were done on my actual set up, Scarlet Focusrite and GarageBand on Mac.

Are you still here ? Holly ... grab a chair, perhaps not for the most amazing song but some great video inside the iconic Wild Geese pub in Brussels

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