In the studio: reflecting on my growth as a musician

Out of all the things that come with being in a band, it’s easy for me to say that studio time is one of my favorites. Being in the studio provides inspiration, bonding time with band mates, and most importantly, it allows you to see your songs finally come to life. Though my band, The Ones You Forgot, and I have experienced this before, our recording session this past week has impacted me in a different way than usual.

  1. It was the first time I felt truly confident in our songs.

In the early days of The Ones You Forgot, I can recall countless times that I felt absolute dread before showing the rest of the band my lyrics or song ideas. I constantly wondered if what I was writing was good enough, and had an ultimate fear of ruining songs once I added my part to them. Showing your art to someone, no matter what the medium, can be a scary experience, especially if you’re someone like me who is afraid being seen in a vulnerable state. I didn’t realise at first that other people can feel afraid too when it comes to their art. I felt like such an outcast for being self-conscious about it, but the realisation that I’m not alone made a huge difference. When it came time to write for the new EP, I didn’t want to hold back what I was feeling anymore. I wanted to say what I truly felt, even if it would be interpreted as “being weak”. I came to realise that expressing my struggles through music is what makes me brave, not weak. This new found confidence then contributed to my next new studio experience…

  1. I was not nervous in the vocal booth.

Before I even got to the step of writing music with The Ones You Forgot, I faced another roadblock: stage fright. Though it was my absolute dream to play music for a living, it took years for me to find the courage to play guitar for an audience, let alone sing in front of anyone. The first jam sessions that we experienced as a band were met with me standing dead silent in front of the microphone. I’ll forever thank them for believing in me and sticking with me, even if they barely knew me at the time. Though I eventually conquered the fear of performing, my first studio experience was here before I knew it, and suddenly it seemed even scarier than the stage fright. Most people I tell this to find it hard to believe, thinking that singing to a crowd would be worse than singing to a producer and your friends in the other room. Maybe they were right, but I couldn’t convince myself otherwise. In the booth, my warm ups were shaky, and my tracking was even more sporadic. My heart would be racing so fast that I could feel the beat in my throat. I could feel my skin getting hot. I didn’t want to let my band down and I didn’t want them to think that I sucked. What was worse was the incredible force I would put on my body to try to hide it.

This past week I stepped into the booth like I owned it. I warmed up loud and proud outside, even if it meant being stared at. Though sometimes I got a little flustered, I took a few breaths to bring myself back down, and kept singing. I was loose and found myself dancing and even smiling while tracking. It’s a shame that it took me so long to feel this way, but everyone fights their internal battles differently. It also helped that Rob, our new producer, is awesome to make music with, and will work with you until he’s absolutely sure that you gave your 100%. With these two new experiences, I felt another was lingering beneath.

  1. This studio experience made me realize that I’m starting to feel strong as a woman in music.

Though I didn’t notice it then, I feel like a lot of my self doubt built off the fact that many still don’t believe that women can make music. I’ve always had interests that were “male dominated” growing up, and the constant feeling of having to prove myself for each one was ridiculous. The music industry, unfortunately, still has a lot to work on in this aspect, and I think that scared me right off the bat. When the band and I came together to make this new record, I wasn’t going to let being a woman prevent my message from reaching others who need it. Though I’m still learning how to approach misogyny (I’ve been very lucky compared to some of the terrible stories I’ve heard), everyday provides me with the chance to grow and learn to conquer it.

If you haven’t noticed, fear is a reoccurring topic in this post. When the EP comes out, I think you’ll notice the same theme as well. You can fight whatever problem sits in front of you, no matter the size.

Jenna Bruno

Image: Dieter Unrath (Instagram: @DieterUnrath)

 

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