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Producing Gum

Updated: May 3, 2021

Isn’t it a joy to work with the people you love? When I say that, I mean literally people you love like your spouse. If there’s one good thing that this pandemic made possible, it’s the opportunity to create music with Sheryl. And we did it. First rather informally with Facebook live shows covering songs and playing some random originals, which our friends apparently enjoyed. And then now formally with a brand-new band with fresh songs – Scarlet Gum!

When she’s on a creative zone, Sheryl is incredibly intense and productive. She writes deep, direct, and personal lyrics, which is the exact opposite of my style, which is shallow, cryptic, and objective. She’s never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, which to me is a bit to forward so I tend to mask my words and write about other people and things. Perhaps, the only song that I wrote, where I basically spelled my soul out is End Notes. For Sheryl however, typical of introverted creatives, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sting.”

She also has a natural ear for what works in a song and can identify tunes that work in just one hearing. An A&R of the most natural order. An inborn skill that is incredibly useful when crafting and producing music in this age of direct-to-consumer music delivery.

Of course, there are challenges when working with your spouse. Sometimes, creative arguments carry over to the dining table and become something else.

Example 1:

Sheryl: That synth sound you used in that solo is a little too harsh.

Ted: Well, why don’t you hire Liberace instead!

Sheryl: Oh, so you’re going there?

Ted: I am angry because I miss that pork belly place. I need that fat fix!

Example 2:

Ted: Hey hon, that beginning note, can you just sustain it a bit more?

Sheryl: (leaves the studio)

These are super minor compared to other sessions I heard of where allegedly an engineer got stabbed by a keytar and a drummer got force fed boiled Okra.

Sheryl and I have a lot of plans for Scarlet Gum. We have a list of songs that we plan to cover and create videos for and we have our second single ready to launch next month since we just got it back from the mastering house. And three more singles are coming after that so yes, we are rolling!

In regard to our debut single, Tulips & Twigs for a Boy is an old song of mine that I never released since it was severely lacking something. I love the melody of that song as well as the fun and quirky lyrics, which is basically about seizing the moment, having fun because tomorrow is never promised.

There are many versions of this song in my possession since I wrote it in 2003. There’s a baroque version with a harpsichord and a Moog lead patch, a folksy version with acoustic guitar and a 12-string Rickenbacker, a piano-only version, and a bass and voice only version. But as soon as Sheryl gave this tune a go with just an acoustic guitar, I knew that was it. The final version had finally arrived.

The track was produced with sounds from a Moog Grandmother, a Roland TR-8s, an ARP Odyssey, and Sheryl’s acoustic guitar. Very simple really but worked well. I love how Sheryl delivered the vocal that’s both giddy and melancholic at the same time. I know only she can deliver that kind of feel. It’s like she’s unsure how her emotions would handle what’s going on in the lyrics, which is perfect. When you are seizing the moment, you have mixed emotions, right?

“That’s the way it goes for this life I know. Take the happiness and never mind tomorrow.”

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