On Compiling an Album

Katt here again! This weekend, Wax Chaotic went down to CONtraflow in New Orleans. (Awesome, awesome con. Go, if ever you can.) As we try to do whenever we go to conventions, we sent out word that we’d like to make a con video. This usually entails an informal performance of a new(/-ish) song and some fan Q&A. The only question submitted to us was one best answered by me alone, so I thought I’d write up my response as a blog entry. We also couldn’t come up with a song to perform for the video that was actually ready to be released to the world, so sadly, we have no con video from CONtraflow.

But we do have this blog entry! We were asked,

… how do you go about deciding which songs (or to-be-written songs) should go on the same album, or what seems like it would even be a good concept to start with?

I’ll answer this question a bit backwards.

First, how do I decide what a good idea for an album concept is? Well, I’m not sure the answer to that will be overly helpful—to date, every themed album of which I’ve conceived has been thought of completely randomly. I just get an idea for something, and run with it. “[untitled]” came about because I was writing songs pertaining to my own life—”Coat of Scars”, “Buttons”, and “[untitled]” itself just to name a few—and figured that if I were ever going to publish studio recordings of them, I might as well do so as part of some sort of appropriately-themed project.

“Faces in the Fog”, for the record, was never intended to have a specific theme. It just randomly happened to turn into a compilation of a bunch of songs that were, for the most part, spooky stories.

I have multiple other themed album ideas in the works behind the scenes, and I don’t want to say too much about any of them just yet. But I will say that, like “[untitled]”, they mostly came into existence by complete happenstance.

As for the second part of the question, concerning an album’s content, if I’m working with a theme, then that part’s pretty easy. The theme for “[untiled]”, for example, is, “Where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going”. Once I knew that, I knew that I wanted to have songs for the project pertaining to several very important aspects of my life—long-time friends (“Partners in Crime”), found family (“Lost Girls”), cats (“Wild Hair Time”), the love of my life (“In a Hundred Different Ways”), the effects and social ignorance of psychological abuse (“Hand-Me-Downs”), finding the value of hardship (“Coat of Scars”), and others.

I’m currently working to round out rough track list drafts for two future themed albums, and in the process of doing that, I’m mostly writing down ideas. I know that I want to include in an album a song about this thing or maybe this other thing, so I’ll note that down and think of ways in which I might write a story or discuss the idea in question.

I’m also working to round out the track list for “Vagabonds”, which is intended to be Wax Chaotic’s first album. We hope that it will be a live album comprised of performances of various songs from shows during our 2015 tour. And its theme is…no theme at all. Which I suppose is appropriate for a group calling itself “Wax Chaotic”. (One of the things I love best about that name is that it sort of gives us the ability to do whatever we want to creatively as we feel the need to do so.)

So how am I deciding what songs should go on this disc? Simple: They need to be things that don’t already have a studio version available. Even better if they’re songs so new that no one has heard them before. We’re considering a possible exception to both of these rules (largely because having a live version of “The Singing of Dragons” with some good audience participation would make us really happy bards), but for the most part, I’m doing my best to stick to them when conceiving of track list ideas to get Sean’s input on.

And that’s about all there is to it at the moment. I really enjoyed answering this question, so thanks, Gabrielle, for asking it! I hope I managed to give you some useful information!

If you’d like to ask us—or any combination of us (the both of us, just me, or just Sean)—a question, you can do so on our Facebook page. If it’s something we can both weigh in on, it might even be featured in one of our YouTube videos!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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Starting Out in 2014

We took a brief step out of our door this year on March 1st for the 2014 Indianapolis Masquerade Ball, but quickly ducked back inside after it was over. We still had work to do. The extended winter this year has served us well, affording us plenty of time to finish “Faces in the Fog” before we hit the road in earnest. That album, began in September of 2013, is now finished and available for purchase and streaming! We hope you enjoy it thoroughly, and that you keep an eye out for its sister album, “[untitled]”, which is expected to release this summer.

Now that spring has finally sprung—er, sort of—and “Faces in the Fog” has released, our 2014 tour has really begun! We hit the road hard at the outset, playing Chicago, Winnipeg, and Minneapolis all within the same week. And what a wonderful week it’s been! Chicago met us with enormous fog banks that obscured most of the city on our way in, and it was a beautiful way to be greeted. Life Force Arts Center, our venue there, was a great space, and contained a small but eager audience. We really can’t thank Joan enough for having us up, and we hope to return soon!

Wax Chaotic at Life Force Arts Center

After an evening spent with the two wonderfully gracious people who opened their home for us to rest the night in, we zoomed off to Winnipeg, Canada. That was roughly a thirteen hour drive, for anyone curious, which isn’t the longest road trip we’ve ever taken, but it was still grueling. We arrived weary and bleary-eyed to the warm and welcoming home of our Canadian hosts. They and the audience they invited to the concert were just wonderful beyond words. It was a taste of something a bit different than our usual science-fiction convention fare, and we really hope we can get more house concerts on our schedule.

Wax Chaotic in Winnipeg, CA

And we would like to send out endless thanks to Elizabeth and Dave Clement, who invited us to their table Tuesday night and filled us full of delicious chili.

After lingering in Winnipeg for a few days, we returned to the States for Minicon. We’d never been to this one before, but it was a lot of fun. (Thanks, Eric!) The people were all warm and friendly, the con suite was exquisite, and the music programming was terrific. In short, it was a great weekend. We had a good group for our concert, some of whom invited us out to dinner afterward (if you’ve never tried Malaysian food, we can now highly recommend it). There was laughing and joking and time spent relaxing in the hot tub. So if you’re within driving distance of Minneapolis and you’ve never tried Minicon, consider giving it a go next year.

Wax Chaotic at Minicon 49

Now we return home for a couple of weeks. It’s time to practice and to organize, to write and to plan. Also, some dear friends of ours will be getting married, and we have the honor of being in their wedding party. After that, it’s off to Demicon and lots of other events. As always, keep an eye on our schedule for more information on tour dates.

As the first leg of our 2014 tour winds to a close, we wish to very heartily thank our venue hosts, our lodging hosts, our audiences, and the people who aren’t afraid to feed us (which is quite akin to feeding a stray cat—they’ll never be rid of us). We also would be lost without the people who keep giving us feedback to let us know how we’re doing. You are all instrumental to how we grow and shape ourselves, and we love having you along for the ride.

Check out our Facebook page for photos from our recent events, as well as links to convention videos, tour information, or to ask us a question for our video Q&A. Until next time!

The End of 2013

This past weekend, we attended Star Base Indy in our hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. We led open filking Friday night, which was attended by some brave souls curious as to what this kooky “filk” stuff was, and performed one concert each on Saturday and Sunday. SBI is always a fantastic way to end a tour, because it is one of the best examples of all the good parts of the fannish community. And they know how to treat their musicians.

And this past weekend marked the end of our 2013 tour. This year took us to Michigan, either end of Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland), Iowa, and Texas, just to name a few places. We met lots of really nifty people and bade a fond farewell to Ally, the startlingly talented singer/songwriter/flautist/keyboardist/percussionist, whom we miss. We learned a lot about ourselves, as well as about what we’re doing it and how to do it. It’s been a really fantastic year in a lot of ways. As always, lovelings, we can’t thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to do all that we do.

And we’re going to keep doing it! I’d say we’re already looking ahead to 2014, but the truth of the matter is that we’ve been doing that since about April of this year. We’re just so excited by all this that it’s difficult to stop planning for the long-term. So here’s what we’re looking at thus far.

Next year will take us to places such as New Jersey, Washington state, and Canada. We’re reaching for more house concerts than ever before (or at least more non-convention concerts than ever before—the overhead for those is usually pretty painful), and we’ve already confirmed many. We’re making good progress in our efforts to get out to new crowds in different states, and we’ll be returning to some familiar stomping grounds, as well. Other confirmed shows include InConJunction and MuseCon. We’ll also be coming back to Cleveland as Featured Guests at the first ever Cleveland ConCoction. The official dates and times for many shows will be announced on the site and through the mailing list in January, with additional details for other shows announced as we work them out.

Next year will also see the release of Katt’s next two albums, which we are using an extended winter break to complete. Normally we would emerge from our holiday respite in February for shenanigans (and jam) at Capricon, but this time we need to stay home and work like the mad people we are to finish “Faces in the Fog” and “[untitled]”. Check out Katt’s studio blog for more information regarding these albums, including pre-order opportunities, which will become available in January.

We’re also toying with some ideas for new shirts, but they are as of yet only in their infancy, so we can’t say too much about them. Just know that they are on our minds.

Other than that, we’ve not much to report. We hope all of you have safe and happy holidays, and that you may be shown as much love as you’ve given us through all the craziness. Your encouragement and support mean more than we can say.

Love and light to you all.