To Be Honest – the long writing process of a very personal song

So proud to present our fifth project: To Be Honest!

A long time has passed since we released our last project – Quartet for 2 Stringers – and a lot has happened in my personal life. This project has been under way for quite a while and it didn’t come that easily, since it was somewhat of a therapeutic process for me. I am so grateful for Joe being so very patient and supportive through the writing process. While I struggled a lot with the verses and pre-choruses to turn the story I wanted to tell into a lyric, he managed to condense the essence of the song into a powerful chorus – words and melody. Thank you, Joe! This has truly been a mutual endeavour.

Joe and I had talked about the conceptual idea of a song for vocals, piano and a horn section played by two musicians for some time, but what kind of song it would be was still up in the air.

So when I earlier this year went through my belongings after having read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, I at some point reached my pile of diaries. As you may know, the question on which Kondo wants you to base your decision whether to keep a certain item or part with it is: “Does it spark joy?” So I looked at the bunch of diaries, re-reading some of which had only made me cry earlier in my life, and decided that I would need to create something out of the things I had scribbled down in them. That way they would be able to spark joy – by fuelling a creative act. Luckily Joe supported my idea. And as we worked on it, the song brought a slight shift of our focus with it. We focused much more on writing a good song than on making the concept as innovative as possible – though we still challenged ourselves musically.

Although the chorus did not end up featuring the phrase “To Be Honest” we stuck to that song title. It had been the working title of the song from early on and worked as a guideline for me while writing the lyrics. But I will let the song do the talking. 😃

“To Be Honest” also is the first project for which we chose to record the sound separately from the video. There are two main reasons for this:

a) We wanted to ensure the best possible sound quality for the recording, without having to invest in lots of microphones to close-mic the various instruments and a sound engineer to take care of everything during the video shoot.

b) We wanted to give our awesome photographer, Mads Hoppe, the best possible opportunity to get shots from all the angles he wanted without having to fit them into a one-take video.

So there has been a lot more editing to do, but we ended up with a beautiful video and a nice recording. Chance would have it that Joe, while we were in the sound recording process, was introduced to a seasoned sound engineer, Mads Stagis, who took it upon himself to mix our recording. Thanks a lot, Mads! 😃

In light of the result, we even talked about re-recording the sound for one of our earlier projects: “I Need to Move”. Our performance of that one was captured so beautifully on camera by Mads Hoppe and Kim Jensen, but the sound suffered under the fact that we only recorded our live performance with one set of microphones – in a hall that looked great and was perfect for our choreography but had way too much reverb to justify recording everything just with one set of stationary mics. So who knows – we may do a re-launch of “I Need to Move” with a sound recording that actually captures the nuances of what we do musically.

We shot the video of “To Be Honest” at the beautiful facility of the Musicology Institute of the Copenhagen University, where we also recorded the piano part.

We hope you will enjoy the video! 🙂

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