Back for his second PledgeMusic campaign, Will Black is excited to connect with his fan base once again. The Canadian rock and roller is turning up the amps and exclusives for his third album. We recently asked Will about the difference in campaigns, his ongoing gig in Bermuda and what to expect on the new album.
Now that you’ve had a couple albums out, did you decide to do anything differently in the studio for this third one?
For my third album, I’m engaging all the musicians involved to use their own home studios for tracking their parts versus a more traditional meet-up in studio together like I’ve done on the last two albums. Since I’m self-producing again, I’m able to audition the final performances in ProTools at home here in Bermuda before sending the files to my mixing engineer, L. Stu. Young in Toronto. Stu will do the core mixing in his own home studio, and then I’ll fly to Toronto to join him for final mixdown at a major studio like Metalworks -- same place I recorded/mixed the last two albums. Going this route has allowed me to cut my album costs in half for recording and still maintain the same awesome quality of production we got on my last record, ‘Dangerously Close.’
How far along is the writing and recording process?
The writing process has been off and on since the last album came out in 2013, but the album has about 10 finished songs right now in contention, with another eight or so coming down the pipe by end of year. When the album releases for Pledgemusic fans on February 23, I’m hoping to share a 10-12 track album.
If I don’t have a deadline, I don’t write. It’s that simple. Songwriting is not something I do for fun and find it a real bear to get going. I enjoy having the tunes once they are polished and written, but it’s like pulling teeth to sit down and commit to the time needed to get them born. It’s a delicate balance budgeting time between content creation -- i.e. songwriting, video performances, interviews -- and promotion -- i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, newsletter.
The recording process hasn’t begun yet and won’t until late October with drums and bass tracking first to my acoustic guitar demos. I’ll record my lead vocals and my electric and acoustic guitars in my apartment here in Bermuda using a Shure SM7 mic through UA 6176 pre-amp/compressor for tracking. Same gear as last record, but from my living room this time.
Your PledgeMusic intro vid is from Bermuda and it seems you play there quite a bit. How does a Toronto artist get hooked up with Bermuda?
I’ve been the house entertainer at Hog Penny Pub in Hamilton, Bermuda since 2005. It’s a full-time gig that I perform nightly from April through New Year’s. Back in 2004, I had a solo acoustic gig on the Celebrity Horizon that used to overnight in one of the cruise ship docks in town. I lucked out and discovered Hog Penny was looking for a new act just at the same time I was looking to get off ships and, boom, a perfect match made!
Having a steady house gig has been great. It’s allowed me to work on my music chops and stagecraft while sleeping in my own bed each night. These gigs don’t seem to be around much anymore. It’s also been a complimentary “day job” as I’ve learned about social networking online and growing my fan base for my independent original music side of things while making a living performing live five nights a week.
In my off-seasons from Hog Penny, I tour the UK and Canada in self-booked performances showcasing my original stuff.
You’ve had one go-around with PledgeMusic. What did you learn about your fans from the first experience?
The majority of people who support me are those that have seen me live. That’s why getting out and in front of people in my target cities on tour is so important. They need to meet me in person and have me sing right in front of them. The connection is so much stronger when it’s face-to-face and in the flesh. Having said that, I’ve made wonderful connections with fans on the other side of the world who have never seen me live, but only during my weekly live stream performances online. Fans also appreciate the professional and music-dedicated approach that PledgeMusic provides, which is why I came back for a followup campaign versus IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.
When you decided on another campaign, did you make sure to do anything differently?
More updates this time around – aiming for about three to five a week with consistent new content. I want to create a sense of community and “inner circle”-ness via the PledgeMusic campaign that will carry through the entire campaign – past reaching 100% – past the album release date and beyond. Give people more than they expect and they will keep coming back to support you.
Some fans can order a personalized song from you. Have you done this before?
On the first campaign I did four personalized song exclusives. It’s a high end pledge at $1,000, but it allows me to take the time to interview and craft a unique song special just for them. The folks that have got the custom song have been very happy with the result; it’s not something many artists are able to offer their fans. It’s a humbling privilege to be entrusted to write an individual song for someone.