Roots Recording Retreat
One house, 5 producers, 5 recording studios, and 20 songwriters working together to create beauty and expansion. This was a powerful and moving experience for me. Co-creation, healing, and awakening. Many Creative Spirits, One Love.
It was a full experience. 2 days starting at 10am and ending somewhere after Midnight and before morning. There were yummy vegan eats. We experienced deep sharing, respect, and the growth that comes with working together to create 10 songs in 2 days. We were pushed to write and rewrite lyrics, digging for honesty and depth. We laughed, danced & cried together in the process.
Hosted by Tubby Love and Amber Lily in Boulder, CO. Ahh, Boulder. Let's start how I got there from where I am Now, back in Wisconsin. Let me take you back two weeks prior when I was opening for Mike Love in Rochester. The people I stayed with that night in an air BnB were showing me some other music similar to Mike Love and amongst the mix was Tubby Love, Amber Lily, The Mammoth, and other bands that frequent Harmony Park in Minnesota. I was vibing on Tubby's tunes and liked him on Instagram. The next morning I saw that the Roots Recording Retreat was happening in 2 weeks. I followed my excitement.
I left at 5am, drove 15 hours straight to a National Forest campground outside of Lyons. Of course I stopped at a dispensary along the way and picked up a $2 Jay. I spent the next 2 days camped out, wandering the mountains, and meditating outside of Nederland. When I finally rolled into the Retreat I hadn't spoken to anyone in 3 days!
We sat down in a circle in the back yard and started the process of sharing who we were. Many people there already knew each other. Many people there were already family. In these moments I feel so weird and awkward. Questioning myself and what I was doing there. These feelings came out in some of my lyrics for the song I would later work on. Despite my own insecurities, Tubby, Amber, and Feather our hostess, made everyone feel welcome. Then there were lots of VIBES... lots of vibes.
We split up into assigned groups and we hit the studio. Our only prompt was the question, "What is living in you right now that needs to be expressed"? We all shared in a circle and came up with the metaphor of a boat floating on the water of emotions. Someone came up with a guitar riff we all liked and we floated on. The chorus magically appeared and we each worked on our own 1/2 verse. My verse came from the scaryness of showing up as a stranger in a new town with a bunch of people I didn't yet know. These are the lyrics I wrote, "There's times when I get scared along the way, but somehow I'm still here alive today, in the boat that drifted out, and I still don't know my route, My Star is Finding Me". As they say, strangers are only friends you don't know yet. In the meantime, our assigned producer worked on the framework of the song. Carry Us Home came into Life!
After our yummy vegan catered dinner we all gathered in the downstairs studio and had a listening party. We celebrated each other and our collaborative songs. It was a beautiful moment of support and acceptance. Then I wouldn't hear the songs again for another week.
Late into the night we talked, sang, danced, rapped, beatboxed, laughed the night away. I met Tha Mammoth. I shared some songs with him on the porch and I showed him my flute collection. He sample beatboxed all of them. It was so fun! He double time raps! It's so mind-blowing!
The next day we split into new groups and were assigned new producers and studios. This time I was put in a group that had a pre-conceived hope that we would create a song that encouraged building a bridge instead of creating walls. Specifically for what is going on at the Mexican/US border with immigrants seeking a better life. We had some very intense emotional conversations on the subject. We discussed, debated, and pondered. We wrote down lots of lyrical ideas. We edited and tossed out most of them. We ended up with the idea of the Great Migration throughout history of all living beings. And that Movement is Life. Our producer worked quickly at the board like a mad scientist. This co-creation process was different than my experience the day before because this time we collectively wrote the song together. It was a consensus process in which we all contributed and agreed on the final outcome. It was our song. It is so much more powerful because of it.
I can't really explain exactly how, but this was such an emotional and healing process. We were vulnerable with each other and there was an accelerated comradery that was birthed because of it. I hope to see collaborations continue! This group of people who came together for this moment created something special.
These co-created songs are pretty special. Honored to be a part of the process. Big thanks to Andrew Love and Amber Lily Uilani for dreaming it up and making it happen. We wrote and recorded them each in one day, listened to them once as a group, and I haven't heard them again until now. They turned out even more powerful than I remembered.