About the Music #1: My First Three Releases

About the Music #1:  My First Three Releases

For anyone who might be new, Sunstrike Piano is on its third release since it first launched back in May. Sunstrike Files #1 talked at length about what led me in this direction. You can also get a peek at the ancient artifact I use to record the music. My first release – Lil’ Kat Brook – was the initial experiment where I purposely chose to release an album (of originals) as cheaply as I possibly could out of nothing more than morbid curiosity. Putting together and releasing that “secret” album under this name quickly spiraled out of control, because next thing I knew I was buying/creating a website and then setting up Instagram and Twitter accounts so I could get access to my Spotify Artist pages.

Now that I had three social media pages and a website, my next thought was that I should probably actually put something on them so people think I’m actually doing something. I picked up my cell phone and started hitting my local parks (and a church) to take pictures and record video. Next thing I knew, I had to dig up Adobe Photoshop and Premiere – that I purchased in 2011 – and figure out how to get my logo on there. It was a pain and wasted many hours and I still don’t know how to do some basic stuff. (If you ever have to learn how to do JUST ONE THING on Adobe Premiere, do yourself a favor and just stay away from online forums. In fact… Staying away from ALL online forums is generally a good idea!)

Then, there was the process of scheduling these posts. The Facebook Page was simple enough to figure out. Using HootSuite for Instagram and Twitter? Now, I’m looking at getting the Instagram Business page set up (pain in the ass) and dealing with maximum photo sizes. And an actual content curation strategy?

Wait… What? FACEBOOK ADS?!

Gary Vaynerchuk has barefoot interns fighting with steel chairs on top of greased tightropes fifty feet high strung over a pit of broken glass and super-heated rusty nails to do this stuff for him. Me? I’ve got me. We didn’t cover this in school! I’m a freaking dinosaur with an “every day” life who will probably be borrowing gas money to get to work before this week is out. I don’t have time or mental space to figure this out!

(On the outside chance Gary Vaynerchuk actually reads this: I’m joking. Sort of. Whatever, Dude. I don’t even watch football and I know the New York Jets don’t have a chance.)

Well… I’d love to say I pushed aside all my concerns and got the job done and have been killing it ever since. NOPE. This may sound insane – particularly as an artist – but everything I am doing is something of an exercise. Sunstrike Piano is my place to experiment and play around and do everything wrong while figuring out how to do it right. There’s a hypothesis I am testing and it will take some time to see if it bears out. For now, I’m going with the flow.

So… Now I have gone over why I went in this direction and what I’ve done, I’ll get into detail about the one thing I have yet to address: the music.

Although Lil’ Kat Brook was a “morbid experiment”, there actually is a theme. As you know, I took pictures and video of outside, concentrating on nature. Geese. Ducks. Flowers. Trees… All the stuff you think of when you see the outdoors. Given the name of my company and my logo, I thought it was a natural fit. It also gave me the excuse to play around with Americana styles, themes, and imagery. Yes, I wrote every single one.

What I can tell you:

  • “Steps of My Fathers” was inspired by stories I heard of my ancestors settling in the Appalachian Mountains after the Civil War.
  • “Steps of My Fathers”, “Dance by Moonlight”, and “Where Are You” were all written well before I even thought about Sunstrike Piano.
  • “Paw Paw Pass” is not a physical location. Paw paws are fruit. I’ve never actually eaten a paw paw, so I hope they taste good.

My second project – This is Home – was more of an impulsive decision. I was heading out of the country the last week of June and really had a strong urge to put something new out there, particularly with the approaching Fourth of July holiday. My home town was holding its bicentennial celebration, so I wrote it a love letter. Does my hometown know or care? Honestly… Probably not. That doesn’t matter to me. I’m doing this to learn.

  • “Star City Song” has nothing to do with Green Arrow. Star City is my hometown’s nickname.
  • “This is Home” – the title track – was inspired in the same vein that I was exploring in my first album.
  • “Phosphorous” is about something that happened. Anyone from home or the surrounding areas knows exactly what it is.

My third release – My Shelter – is a little bit of a departure, inspired when LANDR recently made it easier (and more affordable) to digitally release cover songs. (It was originally a no-no.) I had already recorded and mastered a few from a couple other genres so there were a few directions I could go. Contemporary Christian Music won out.

Disclosure: I’m a worship leader at a new church start-up.

Confession: I had no deep spiritual reason for choosing to release an album of CCM songs. My choice was made solely out of convenience.

Will that change in the future? Totally possible. What does that say about the release?

Music is a vehicle, not the message. Jesus can (and has) used spit and dirt to get the point across. He laid hands on people with festering, oozing sores to deliver the message. If He chooses to use my album, He’s going to do it, regardless of why I released it. It doesn’t matter if I contract the New York Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and The Roots to accompany a resurrected Mahalia Jackson on one of my choral arrangements. Jesus does the work, not me.

He’s going to do what He’s going to do when He’s going to do it and how He’s going to do it. The rest of us are just here to witness, obey, and enjoy the ride.

That said…

“My Shelter” (the title track) is the only original on the album and practically wrote itself at the piano. The pictures had already been taken. As many references as there are in scripture to shelters, encampments, tents, refuge… The title was just obvious to me. You go home to sleep. You go inside to get out of the heat. You go inside the shelter to get out of the rain. A shelter is a sanctuary. For your spirit, that sanctuary is Jesus.

Okay… So there may have been more consideration in it than I thought.

In case you have read this far and still haven’t picked up on it: I’m making this up as I go. There are a few more things I’ll be playing around with. Either they’ll work or they won’t. I’m just seeing what’s going to happen.

Peace and Light,

Sunstrike Piano



Published bySunstrike Piano

I'm a pianist with a cell phone who decided to take bad pictures and videos and slap my logo and music on them.

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