The Versions of Ablaze
Today is a very exciting day for me as I finally release my first single out into the world. It may not seem like a 'finally' to you, but it definitely does to me. This has been a long and educational process for me and I thought I would share some of the steps along the way through the many (and I mean MANY) different incarnations this song had until we got to where we did today.
Version 1 - Original Sketch - 2015
Back in 2015 I was coming to the end of my first year of University and studying the thing that I had been doing in my free time up until that point. Without making this post too long let's just say that I found the adjustment difficult, certainly more difficult than I was expecting to. Having a crisis about the fact that I now had to force my creativity to meet a deadline, I found myself coming up with nothing. Then, in true artist fashion, I decided to write my next song about this struggle itself and Ablaze was born. I nearly always write my songs at the piano, so most first versions of a song sound something like this one did. However, I was also trying to upload a song every month to YouTube at the time (as if I needed any more pressure) which means we have a very very early version of this song available for all of us to see where it began as well as my thoughts on it at the time.
Version 2 - First Demo - 2015
As I told you at the end of that video, we were meant to be inspired by/writing in the style of another writer and though this slower version may not sound like it, I was aiming to write in the style of Sia. This is largely how my first demo was born; my very first experiment with music production software which I didn't have any of at the time. Shoutout to my first boyfriend for letting me use his stuff to concoct this!
It sounds very stilted and 'beginner' now, but this was my first attempt at conveying a song's production style in a demo and I was incredibly proud of it at the time.
Version 3 - Band Version - 2016
Following this project, in my second year of University we were teamed up with a group of performance students to provide them with a setlist of original songs. I was feeling pretty proud of how this song had turned out so decided to submit it. This was a really important lesson for me because as you can tell from the snippets I've chosen, it definitely didn't sound like Sia, and was a huge departure from the style I had intended it to be in. But, that was also okay? And fun? In 2020 I adore this version and I'm really glad I got to learn to let go of my things when I hand them over to other people - just because it's not what I had in my head, doesn't mean it wasn't freakin' awesome.
Version 4 - Second Demo - 2018
After graduating Uni and wondering what on earth to do next, I set out to use some of my newly learned production skills and make some better demo versions of the songs that I felt had the most potential. Even though Ablaze had a couple of versions at this point, I still didn't feel like I'd given it a proper chance to live its Sia fantasy, so I set out to really focus on the production side. I am still really proud of how this demo sounds and often refer back to it when I want to see how I made it sound the way it does. I would leave it for months, then come back to it and tweak something else, it truly was me properly exploring the software and my capabilities with it. In fact, the vocals in this demo are the same ones that were used in the final mix and master, including my pals the self-titled 'Flame Choir' for the extra support in the final chorus. Still wondering whether I should have released this under 'Lizzie and the Flame Choir'...
Version 5 - Final Master - 2020
So, I had the song and the demo - what next? I'd been deliberating and waiting for the right answer to come to me but it obviously hadn't. Unsure what to do or how to get my songs out there, I was inspired by seeing friends of mine such as Le!ghton and Liv Ellen release their own music and just generally be awesome. I mentioned in passing to Le!ghton about releasing it myself just to get something out there and was instantly given an email to her producer and insisted I email immediately. I am so grateful to these girls for the support and the push to just do it.
Working closely with a producer was a super exciting experience for me; it helped me learn the importance of reference tracks, knowing who you sound like and who you want to sound like, as well as when to accept new ideas and when to insist on your own vision. This process was made really easy by my producer Jorge, and he was incredible to work with.
The mixing and mastering process was also one that was completely alien to me and I wasn't entirely sure of the benefits. Let me tell you, it just opens up the sounds you already have to be just MORE. That's the best way I can describe it. Again, I can't thank Philip enough for his efficiency and patience in explaining the process to someone who was completely new to it.
Releasing this version has solidified the direction I want to take as a writer and shown what I think is my first 'professional' go at learning how things work and producing something that sounds radio ready. It's still the same song as version 1, just with all of the bells and whistles that I didn't have the skills, patience or connections to put into place in 2015. I don't know about you, but I think it was definitely worth the wait.
I have been blown away by the support I've received on just day one of this song's release, so thank you so much if you have streamed it or shared it with anyone!
Have a listen to the versions of ablaze right here: