I’ve been revisiting my old songs a lot over the last couple of weeks. To me, my songs are like a diary; they make sense of whatever I’m feeling or experiencing at the time a lot better than I could write down in any other way. It’s not just the lyrics (although obviously this is a big part of what I’m trying to communicate to myself when I write songs); I can also hear a lot of the music that was inspiring or informing my own music at the time. I can listen to an old song of mine and think ‘wow, I can tell I was listening to a lot of [insert band here] at that point.’
Of course, like any diary, there are plenty of times where I can’t help but cringe at my emotional, musical or technical ignorance, or at the memories that the songs bring back, which at times are painful to revisit. This said however, I’m kind of proud of my old songs too. They may not be perfect, but they were honest at the time that I wrote them. They were a step in my life, whether good or bad, that made me who I am now. For this reason, I can get over the embarrassment of a ‘bad mix’ or a ill-conceived lyric and celebrate them for what they are.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to work on a couple of retrospective projects, before the release of my new album-in-the-making ‘And Into the Woods.’
Firstly, I’m putting together a collection of some of my favourite songs from the last 10 years; which I’m calling ‘Retrospective Introspective: 2007-2017.’
I thought I’d call it this because my music is so introspective and brutally honest (for better or for worse!) and looking back through it is often fascinating for me, to see how I’ve grown or the places I’ve been musically in the last decade.
It’s difficult to call it any kind of ‘best of’/’greatest hits’ etc.. because I never ‘made it’ and am unlikely to make it as a ‘successful’ songwriter now as I career towards my 40’s! In fact, most of the songs on the collection will be unfamiliar to anyone except for perhaps the most supportive (or long-lasting) fan of my music.
But, as I’ve come to recognise over the years, however unknown or perhaps even unloved my songs are; they are valuable to me, and I shouldn’t shy away from sharing them with others who want to listen. So, there it is…a collection of some of my favourite songs from the last ten years will be available to download from my bandcamp page from APRIL 1ST (no really), and I’d really appreciate your support in listening to the tracks, letting me know what you think and maybe even downloading a couple of tracks that you like. It won’t break the bank, and it will help me to continue to make music in the future!
Secondly, and further to this ‘retrospective’ collection, I’ve decided, over time, to make ALL of my self-made albums of the last 10 years listenable online! This comes from a few requests from people to hear my old music; but it also comes from a practical need to want to take care of my music so I can listen back to it in years to come. For many albums, I only have one remaining CD copy, so to have them accessible somewhere like Bandcamp is invaluable to me.
A good friend of mine (who’s opinion I value a great deal as he is a superb musician) once said that it’s a good idea to refrain from sharing TOO MUCH of your music – essentially ‘less is more,’ ‘keep them wanting more’ etc.. And I can totally see where he is coming from. To share too much is to overwhelm your listener and especially your casual fan or page visitor; you can easily put people off when accessing your music if there is too much on dispay. He is of course right. But I also have the nagging feeling that if I don’t share my back-catalogue somewhere, in time these personal songs of mine will be lost forever. And as it’s taken me many years to learn to have pride in my songs; I can’t bear to see them fade and disappear; no matter how low or high the interest of others might be.
If you’re still reading this, and want to find out more about the albums that I have made over the last 10 years (that I have drawn my new retrospective collection from); here is a quick synopsis of what they are all about. If you’d like to check out any of my music, I’d be honoured, and you can find ALL of it FREE to listen to here (please don’t be overwhelmed!): https://timlee.bandcamp.com
2007: The ‘Breakdown’ Years: ‘Stalemate’ and ‘Fatal Fiction/Fatal Fact’
Without sounding too pretentious, 2007 was a bit of a ‘point zero’ for me, as a lot of changes happened in my life and I had a bit of an ‘identity crisis’ about who I was and what I was going to do with my life. My music from this time reflects this; from the breakdown of my relationship to my struggling sense of identity and purpose. A dark time that is difficult to revisit, but some of my favourite musical moments.
2008-2009: The ‘Experimental’ Years: ‘YOU,’ ‘Me’ and ‘Us’
Picking myself up, trying new things musically and lyrically. YOU in particular is a very experimental album for me; incorporating heavy metal, dance music, industrial and even some rap! Me in comparison is a completely acoustic, stripped down album, whereas Us sees me working on older songs with different musical friends, and finding a lot of fun in music again.
2009-2012: The ‘Suzie Does It’ Years: ‘Heal the Thunder,’ ‘Get Lucid!’ ‘The New Resentment’ and ‘Cooper and the Giant.’
After a few rough years, I was ready to have another go at trying to put a band together to play my compositions. I was lucky to meet some very talented people, and over the next few years I put all of my efforts into a new band called ‘Suzie Does It.’ Ironically, my ‘solo’ albums suffered a bit around this time, as I put my own albums on the back-burner. Many of the songs that came out at that time were really ‘demo’ versions of songs that would be fleshed out by the band. That said however, when I revisit these albums, there are a lot of good songs I’ve totally forgotten about; which stand on their own merit.
2013-2016: The ‘Post Suzie’ Years: ‘Blossom,’ ‘Headspace’ and ‘Hermit and the NotWe’
After the Suzies fell apart, I had another crisis of confidence with my music. I found that leading a band just wasn’t for me, and I was unsure if I could still create music that interested me. Over the next few years, I tried some different ideas, and grew in confidence as a solo performer and amateur producer again; thanks to the support of a wonderful new partner (now my wife) and friends. Firstly, Blossom found me examining my love of pop, in particular the music and styles of the 1950’s on songs like ‘Alisha.’ On Headspace, my love of acoustic instruments returned, and I got to work with some incredible musical friends on some instruments I’d never attempted to record before, such as violin and saxophone. Finally, on Hermit and the NotWe, I returned to my teenage ‘garage-rock’ days of making a simple but passionate racket at my friends’ houses; finding more heavy hitting riffs and lyrics along the way.
This brings me up to my latest album ‘And Into the Woods,’ which you can find about here:
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out ‘Retrospective/Introspective’ and let me know what you think!: