We finished laying down the first song of the morning and I check my phone. I’m anxious. I know I ordered the car on time, so he should be here any minute now. Even though we have worked together for over two years, I still can’t believe he said yes. He’s already given me so much of his time, by giving me advice when I needed it... and... my phone vibrates; he’s here.
He’s wearing the coolest pair of Nikes;
James Monroe Iglehart, gives me the biggest hug, “Hey, girl!” “Hi, James!” and I introduce him to the sickening band. I used to see him almost daily at Aladdin, but the joy he exudes is so selfless it’s addicting. As we set levels, he is free-styling with the band and everyone is relaxed and having a good time. He is a gem of a human, and our friendship, his humility, and generosity have made a lasting impression on me; and today, we are going to preserve that forever.
I was in college at Ithaca, showcase director Jen Waldman asked the seniors, “What is your 5-year goal?” I said, “An album, I wanna make an album.” Fast forward to fall of 2017, I haven’t made the album yet. But I knew I would regret it if I put it off and I kinda knew what I wanted the album to be. I wanted it to reflect several things, the music that influenced me a kid, heartbreak, and growth. I want it to have Jazz, R&B, Pop, and of course, I have to sprinkle in some musical theatre as well. Some people express their frustrations and excitement through writing, painting, cooking etc. but, for me, there is nothing like hearing a lyric that captures exactly how an event in your life felt and that’s what I wanted every track on this album to feel like.
So, the research and the hunt began. I knew I needed a producer. I talked to Bill Sherman, who connected me with wonderful Dominic Fallacro. Our first meeting was breath of fresh air, I knew he was the one. We met at a coffee shop near NYU and he asked me, “What do you want the feel of the album to be?” and I said, “I want it to go from big to small. Start with a larger sound and slowly create a more intimate space as the album goes on.” He is warm, inviting, and knew his worth. I knew nothing about the music business, so I was jumping at the chance to learn anything I could and he was the ideal producer to help me. I spent weeks in Brooklyn at his studio, testing different arrangements, hitting roadblocks, making discoveries.
I often reflect back on my first meeting with Dominic. He took my ideas and ran with them and I have never been more grateful. It’s scary working with someone new, who you barely know and I felt honored that he was willing to take a chance on me and furthermore create a space where I could learn with no judgment.
We recorded the whole album in four days. The first two days, the band and I recorded each song together and the last two were background vocals, extra instrumentals, and vocal cleanups. I never wanted it to end. The Bunker Studio is so comfy and at times you forget you’re even in NYC. From there it went to mixing and mastering. Which means I spent days in my bedroom going through different headphones and speakers getting different perspectives on how it would sound. In all it took four months to arrange, record and mix and the other eight months were preparation for the drop.
As I look back on the process of creating “Something Real,” I realize that the album is one long journey on discovering how to fall in love with yourself. Recognizing in the end that you must prioritize your happiness first in order to serve others properly. It’s a wild experience releasing something into the world that only a few have seen. I have never worked on a project this long, but I’m ready for the world to have it. Creating an album has taught me so much about being a good collaborator and how to advocate for what you want and need. Lessons that at times can only be learned while doing it. Which for women (especially young woman), learning how to advocate for yourself can be difficult. But being around an incredibly supportive and respectful group of individuals made it all the more worthwhile.
I wouldn’t take back a single moment of this process, it’s been a fascinating learning curve. My last wish is that I hope it brings audiences peace and a space to release the past and start a new positive conversation with themselves.