A short story: When a Canadian recorded songs from coast to coast.
Hi. I'm here to tell you that I reached the studio finale of my next album Coast to Coast! The first three acoustic tracks were recorded on tour in British Columbia on July 31st, 2015. Last weekend I recorded the very last piano tracks at home in Toronto, January 9th 2021.
Not only did I travel from Vancouver Island -> Toronto -> Ottawa -> Montreal -> Halifax and back while recording this album - I lived a lot of life in between these 6 years, which is the main reason it's long overdue. Here's some of the stories that the music will tell, the good and the bad, I'll recap here if only for my own reflection:
2015: I got off tour from the west coast of Canada (and my first studio visit in Comox Valley) and I immediately went into clinics and hospital wards in Toronto with wrist injuries that skyrocketed before and during my tour. It took a few visits to be diagnosed with fairly severe tendinitis in both of my wrists with some accompanying complications. I had to quit my job, cancel all my shows, rest and recover in braces for so many months on end without ever playing my instruments. I basically went bankrupt in a few months time after loosing all my work, paying for weekly clinic visits out of pocket, eventually working 2-3 jobs at the same time just to recoup. I was juggling a few odd jobs and working up to 28 days in a row without a day off. Fuck, that was a terrible time. And it lead me to an ushering job at Massey Hall where I met my girlfriend. It changed my life forever. My wrist injury was the worst thing that ever happened to me and it lead me to the very person that keeps me alive and happy today.
2017: I finally released my double album "Winter". Another absolutely massive back-pocket project that I had to pick up and dust off and attempt to finish despite the hardships to do so. Oh boy am I ever glad I didn't let that one slip...
Summer 2018: I got the strength to practice and prepare the rest of the songs for "Coast to Coast" to be recorded out east, this would complete my cross country album from 2015. I was given my first grant (ever, after 8 years of rejection) in 2018 to travel to Halifax and back to record this project. So Jess & I road the train and finished the other 6 songs in a few days on the road.
Fall 2018: I came back home from the recording trip out east and was right in the middle of some domestic problems with some very sour vengeful people who sidetracked my work on the album at home for months. They ultimately vandalized the house and my belongings and then disappeared forever. After cleaning up the mess for a whole week and renovating to paint it all over, I got back to the music I had left unfinished, Coast to Coast being one of many...
2019: I booked my first tour in 5 years to celebrate my 10th anniversary as The Sun Harmonic, bringing a 7" vinyl that I decided to prioritize and release over other projects (our band EP and Coast to Coast once again), this took most of the year to book and pull off, bringing me to winning some contests and feeling as if my music "career" (a word I'd refrained from using most of the time) was finally starting to grow even a tiny bit. Then...
2020: PANDEMIC! All my music career momentum came to a grinding halt and I've been rejected by almost every opportunity since, no grant money to be found, all shows cancelled including an opening set for The Trews lined up in April. I had so much work at home that was piled up around me (ie. writing grants that I'd eventually be denied, releasing our new EP without any shows to promote it, etc). I also chose to remix/remaster my first three albums that weren't even on Spotify, that took three months (HA!). AND, WE GOT A DOG! He was a big cute handful, our isolated pandemic family grew...
So, it wasn't until September 2020 that my days were open to tackling this album. I spent just about 8 weeks working non-stop on this album in the studio, juggling a furnace replacement tearing up the studio and a family funeral that we faced along the way. Months after loosing my pre-pandemic job I had to take a delivery job with an essential service that took up all of December, another creative pause. By now I've narrowed down the last tracks to be recorded: I did a full drum kit setup, we arranged a socially distanced recording of singers in a church (masks on of course) and this weekend tuned my honkytonk piano to record the very. last. tracks... Wow.
All of this glory and beauty and bullshit has been engrained into these songs, pain and happiness sunk in to the recordings. There's parts of these tunes that have made me cry as I'm working on them, some vocal notes that are either silky smooth or that I basically screamed, all of it is real emotion soaked in these experiences above. I hope you will hear that in the songs too.
I've poured my heart and soul in to this record, going through the motions with well over 40 days of solitary studio work that I've spent recently without making a dollar for it. It's all for the sake of making this album my best yet. Recording is always most enjoyable process in the album cycle, now the fun is over and I'll sit at my computer for a few more weeks just finalizing the mixes and pushing the production forward. Not to mention the agonizing task of promoting and releasing my music to the very small audience I have at hand (I love you/them, but I always wish things were different and my music made more of an impact. That which is out of my control!)
In hindsight, I had to pick the album up off the ground and dust it off a few times over the years, with the pandemic unexpectedly giving me the time to catch up on life and somehow dedicate almost 8 full weeks of "working from home" Mon-Fri in my studio to complete this massive project. But today I somehow tackled that long To Do List to finish recording it and now all that's left is studio hustle to mix it down and master (for vinyl, ASAP).
I'm really excited to share this with you and whoever in the world is interested to hear it. Who knows if it will be a mild success or a major flop, that's out of my hands, but I've poured my heart all over these recordings and for that reason I'm very proud of it.
"Coast to Coast", coming sometime in 2021. Stay tuned...
Kaleb Hikele (a.k.a. The Sun Harmonic)