Music and Podcasts by Jay Croft

It's Been a While

Months have passed since I last used this blog. To be honest, the writing process since “Haunted Dreams” has been slow and steady. I’ve amassed dozens of guitar riffs over the past few months and only a few have really been worth investing time into. One of them I ended up writing a song around and have a pretty good arrangement for. However, it doesn’t really fit the mood of Warm Chord Music in my opinion. It’s a song I might record and tuck away for awhile until it makes sense to release it. One of the other riffs I wrote definitely fits the style I’ve been going for lately, but I only have one part figured out so far. I’ve decided to try some different tunings lately, so my friend is setting up one of my Les Pauls and my bass so I can experiment a little more. Stay tuned!

The Reviews Are In!

So for the past few months, I've been working on getting some additional press attention for "Haunted Dreams." While I was successful getting licenses for reality TV, I realize having some press would be beneficial for Warm Chord Music's future. I recently had about 4 or 5 reviews published online, which you can  find on the "Press" page. Some of them are long reads, but totally worth the time investment. Take a moment and check out what they're saying about my latest song.

As I continue to push "Haunted Dreams," I am working on new music. I have about 5 or 6 riffs that I've been playing around with and I think I've found a few ideas worth holding onto. My hope for the next release is to do an EP, not just a single. However, it all comes down to the songs. So far I hear a few ideas that sound like they could go on a record together. I hope to have some more news on this soon.

Pandora Update, Podcast News, Other Rambings

It's been quite a while since my last blog, but I have some exciting things to share! First of all, the WCM Podcast just hit 1,000 downloads last week, which is great. One of the major factors was episode #10 (Jack White) - which brought in over 250 downloads since being published in early June. We have several future episodes in the planning stages and episode #11 (Jack White part 2) should be online this week!

"Haunted Dreams" has been on Pandora since late April and it's been doing quite well. Nearly 60 listeners have actually created a "Warm Chord Music" station from this one song, which has spun over 15,700 times since being released and over 9,000 in the past month! I also received good news that my first single, "Indecisive" was approved to be added to Pandora and should be live within the next month. 

I'm eagerly awaiting some good news about some music licensing opportunities for "Haunted Dreams," as I've been working with a PR firm on getting it front of the right people. I'm hoping to have more info on this later this month. 

Last month I attended Sweetwater's Gearfest in Fort Wayne, IN. This was the 4th time I've attended and it was great fun. I picked up a Gibson J35 acoustic guitar, which was one of the main reasons I went this year. Adding an acoustic to my gear arsenal provides more opportunities to write different types of music, while staying true to my sound. I also picked up a Ludwig 8x14 raw brass snare, which is the same thing as a Black Beauty, without the black plating. It's a monster of a drum and I can't wait to get it recorded on some tunes. 

Lastly, I decided the Axe Fx 3 I bought in May just wasn't a good fit for me, so I sold it for a profit, bought another Kemper profiling amp, and then paid off a credit card with the rest of the funds. I couldn't be happier with the decision to go back to Kemper. I already had a lot of great profiles, but I've since picked up a bunch more for my Fender Strat, using Tone Junkies. Next to Michael Britt, they have the best profiles for low-mid gain amps, so it's a perfect match for my strat. My goal for sometime this summer is to get my Revv Generator 120 amp and cab into Woodshed Studio to do a complete profile pack of that amp and possibly make some of the profiles available for purchase, and give away a sample pack to the Kemper community. 

We're on Pandora!

If you haven't already heard, "Haunted Dreams" is now on Pandora. So far, it has over 2,000 streams since being added earlier this month, and over 20 people have created a Warm Chord Music station, which is awesome. If you're a Pandora user (free or paid version), please do the same and give "Haunted Dreams" a thumbs up! This type of engagement helps get the song played on other stations more frequently.

In other news, the college radio campaign is going well. After starting out at 400+ on the college radio charts, "Haunted Dreams" got up to 184 last week before getting pushed to 236 or something like that. The important thing is that we have several stations playing the tunes regularly, so that kind of support is really appreciated. I'll be sending out some personalized thank you notes soon to these folks in hopes that they'll continue to support WCM.

I haven't written anything new lately, but I've been doing jamming and I hope to get a few solid ideas worth developing this summer. I would love to do some sort of EP instead of a single next time around.

I recently purchased a new guitar, which I then had modified to be more comfortable. Its 2018 Fender Strat, original 50's vintage style. I had the pickups replaced with noiseless Fishman Fluence strat pickups. The vintage tuners were replaced with Grover locking tuners and the pick guard was replaced with a tortoise shell guard with one less knob to give me more room. 

Radio Campaign

This week, promotional CD's were shipped out to 250 college and non-commercial radio stations across the country, in an effort to gain some exposure and build more of a national presence for sync licensing opportunities. I started working with a PR firm that has a ton of experience doing this, so I'm hopeful it will be a worthwhile investment. It's somewhat of a risk I suppose, but it's worth taking, as I really feel "Haunted Dreams" is a strong tune. I expect to have more news on this top in the next month..... 


Haunted Dreams Release!

On Friday, March 9th, Haunted Dreams officially was released online. Thus far, I couldn't be happier with the response. In addition to the downloads and streams, about 12 new Spotify users followed WCM and Pandora approved the song to be included on their free platform. The Pandora thing was honestly a big deal to me, as my previous three releases had been rejected, so I was a little anxious to find out what their response would be. I honestly felt that if "Haunted Dreams" didn't make the cut, nothing would. Quietly, I was confident it would get approved because its a little easier for them to categorize and the production value is really good. I'm in the process of working with a PR firm to get the song (and a few others) played on college radio, and to shop it around for sync licensing opportunities. There's no guarantees in the music business, but I honestly feel like this song gives the best chance to get something going. 


Artwork Completed!

The artwork for the new single, "Haunted Dreams," is now complete, so I thought I would share it with you. The design was done by Brandon Moses.   The song should be available to pre-order on iTunes tomorrow, with the release date being March 9th.



Kim Rosen did an amazing job on mastering this song. Its loud, proud, and still dynamic. I was really surprised how much bigger she made it sound, even though the mix was pretty hot as is. I'm having her also master an instrumental version I can use for licensing and other purposes. Artwork for the cover is in progress as well and should be done by next week. Looking forward to getting this out to everyone!

Ready for Mastering!

After a couple of very long nights, I managed to finish mixing the new song, which I plan to call "Haunted Dreams," or just "Haunted".......I'm still on the fence about that I guess. Anyways, I received some guidance from one of my closest friends near the end the process, which helped me finalize things. As a musician doing mostly everything myself, I started to doubt whether I could do this song justice. I even considered having someone else mix it, but I continued to push myself and learned some new techniques while doing it. At the end of the day, I'm glad I did this one myself. It really came out well and I'm sure with Kim Rosen mastering it, the result will be a radio-ready song I can shop around. The next thing to happen is to get the artwork done, which is process and should be done soon. 

Almost Done......

The new single is near completion. I have a few minor tweaks to make to the mix and a couple friends of mine are doing some listening and providing feedback to help give me an objective opinion. It's been a long road to get this done, but it's been worth it. At the end of it all, I'm going to have a song I'm really happy with. On another note, the Warm Chord Music Podcast had a big surge in downloads this week with over 70 today alone!

Podcasting Progress

Yesterday morning, I published episode #5 of the WCM Podcast, featuring an interview with Ed and Chris of Eva Under Fire. I recorded the interview for this podcast back in November, and planned to edit and publish in December. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to devote enough time to the episode until this past week; better late than never! All jokes aside, I've been spending so much time working on this new song that the podcast needed to be set aside for a while. When I finished the episode and published it yesterday, I wasn't expecting much download activity until I could promote it properly. To my surprise, the podcast has already generated nearly 40 downloads in less than 24 hours. For any of my subscribers, I want to personally thank you for listening and look forward to getting some new episodes published soon. Once my new song "Haunted in Dreams" is completed, I anticipate having more interviews lined up so new episodes can be developed more often. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the episodes that have been released so far and look forward to your feedback.    --- Jay

Cutting Your Losses

So the first person I worked with in getting some female vocals going for the song didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. I wasn't able to get a refund, but there wasn't much I could do. I would say for anyone looking for a session musician that doesn't have local resources, proceed with caution. There's a lot of sites and freelancers out there that seem to be legit and talented people, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. I was finding that the person I had chosen to help me with this song wasn't the right fit. She had a good enough voice with the right amount of personality, but tracks were coming back flat and with plosives. It would have meant hours editing it and possibly paying to get it tuned. When you pay someone to record vocals for you, it's pretty much expected that the vocalist is going to provide the best takes and that they'll be ready to be mixed.. When you only get one take and it's flawed, you start to doubt yourself and your decision to go that route. 

Thankfully I found the right person last week. I went through another agency; one that utilizes a producer to work between myself and the singer. We discussed the project and he confirmed the voice I liked best for the song was a good choice and that she'd do a great job for me. A couple days later I get her tracks and holy s*** I was happy to hear what was recorded. This song is definitely going to be different and hopefully something more people will latch onto. More news to come.....

Moving Forward

As you could probably tell from the last post, I was getting little concerned about the vocals for the new song. Thankfully I heard some cool tracks the other day from the vocalist and the new pre-chorus is pretty damn cool sounding. I'm still considering working with another vocalist to get another option to consider, but I'm hoping that turns out to be unnecessary. I was able to finish Episode 4 of the WCM Podcast, and I'm pretty happy with how that turned out. It was posted last night, so if you haven't already done so, give it a listen. My guest of that episode is Matt Dmits, a good friend of mine that I used to be in a band with. Matt has a new album coming out in January called "Thinnest of Threads," and it's freaking awesome. If you haven't heard Matt's songs before, you really need to check it out. The guy is crazy talented and I still have great memories of jamming with him back in the day. Not only is he talented, but he's just a great dude in general. One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Anyways, Matt and I had a discussion about how he goes about writing songs, and how the album was put together. The two of us are about to record a Tom Petty song called "You Wreck Me," which is one of my favorite songs from him. The drums have already been recorded, so once the holidays are over, I'll be working with Matt to finish the tune up so we can get it out there. 

Small Holdup

Remember when I said it can be scary to put your songs out there and hope the collaborator you're working with hears things the way you do? Well, this week proved there's good reason for me to feel that way. I received the vocal tracks from the singer I'm working with on the new song and while the choruses sound really good, the verses and pre-chorus isn't quite there yet. I'm hoping to get some revised tracks this week, but it's been a few days since I've heard from the singer, so I'm not sure how long this is going to take. I'm already starting to think of some alternative ways of handling the vocals in case some of this doesn't work out how I had hoped. On the bright side, I've been getting some really good guitar tones lately with some new speaker impulses from Joey Sturgis, as well as some cool Kemper profiles I picked up over the weekend. 

New Song and Podcast Episode Update

Episode 4 of the WCM Podcast is almost edited and just about ready to be published. I have to record an intro, but that's about it. This one is taking a little longer due to the length (over an hour). It's a really good interview with local singer/songwriter, Matt Dmits, whom I used to jam with back in the day. We'll be collaborating on a Tom Petty cover very soon, so there will be some news on that in the coming weeks!

As for the original song....lyrics are done and have been sent to the vocalist so she can do her parts. I'll fill mine in afterwards. I will say that this experience has been a good one, but it's not been without it's challenges. Tracking guitars/bass AFTER vocals will be interesting as well. I hope to start hearing the vocal tracks within the next week. Stay tuned!

Back To The Woodshed

Ok, so today is studio day. It's about 10:45 in the morning and I'm sitting in my basement listening to the Metallica Master of Puppets Box Set. A rough demo version of Welcome Home Sanitarium is playing on my computer and it's reminding me of all the basement tapes I've recorded and probably have sitting in a crate somewhere. I should look and see if there's anything cool worth sharing..... Anyways, I'm getting my drums tuned up and ready to be packed up for the ride to Woodshed Studios in Oak Park. This is the same studio Bedford Drive recorded it's first two albums, which I played drums on. Come to think of it....this is the first time my drums have been at woodshed since the last tracks were recorded for the BD Bearsuit EP in 2003. 14 years; that's just insane to me! 

I'm meeting Ed (Sertage) at the studio at 1pm, so that gives me a couple hours to pack everything up, run to GC and pick up some grip tape for my sticks, get something to eat for lunch, and head up to Woodshed. On the agenda is recording drums for two song. First up is an original I've been working on for the last few months. The other recording is a cover of "You Wreck Me," by Tom Petty. With Petty's death the other month, I did what I'm sure a lot of people do when a songwriter dies, you dig into their discography and remember how much you love their music. Ok, so maybe I didn't do that with Prince or Bowie (both legends), but Petty's music always spoke to me. I've covered his songs before (on drums) and always thought he was a great songwriter and his songs were fun to play. 

Back In The Saddle

Since I learned my good friend wouldn't be available to record the drums for the new song in the studio next weekend, I've been using my spare time to finalize the parts I'm going to record. It's funny how I didn't think 173 beats per minute would be that fast when I was recording the scratch guitar tracks, but on drums, it's been a challenge to nail some of these drum parts. There's a cool thing I'm trying in the 2nd half of the verses where I'm playing cut-up sixteenth notes on between the ride and hi-hats that seems to sound cool in the context of the song. Playing it clean isn't an issue, but at 173 bpm's, I can feel my hands cramping up like crazy, sort of how I used to feel when I was in Bedford Drive. I don't know if it's tendonitis or what, but it was one of the reasons I stopped drumming in BD in the first place. It kind of sucks  when it hurts to play your primary instrument, but for one song I'll be recording and never playing live, I can suck it up.

The goal for the rest of the week is to go over the parts again and make sure I have everything figured out before studio day (Nov. 18th). The only real decision left to make is whether I'm going to ride on the crash or hi-hats for the chorus. This is what pre-production is for, so thankfully I've been able to record these ideas and I think I'm getting closer to making that decision.

The vocals/lyrics are starting to happen lately. I've exchanged messages with the singer for the song, Vio, and sent her some lyrics so she can start working on finalizing her parts. I'm hoping to collaborate with her on the lyrics, now that I have a concept she can work with. To be honest, this process of working with a remote vocalist is more challenging than I thought, but it's been a positive experience so far. More info to come soon!

Vocal Melody For The New Song

Last night I pull in the drive way after a long drive home and quickly check my gmail inbox, hoping to hear from a freelance vocalist I've hired to sing on the new song. I'm excited to see that she's about to send over a sample of her ideas for the vocal line. I get in the door and about 30 minutes later, she sends another email with an attached MP3 with her singing along to the song, only without real lyrics. If you're not familiar with this process, basically its like when you're singing along to a song in the care but you don't know all the words. Imagine hearing an Adele for the second or 3rd time and you know how the melody goes but instead of singing words, you're singing "na, na, na------na" and so on.... That's basically what I'm getting from the vocalist. Hearing someone else's take on your song can be nerve-wrecking. You have to trust they have a vision for the song and that they can execute it. For the sake of the song, I was willing to do this, and it's paid off so far. I heard the melody ideas for the verses and I'm thinking "holy shit, this is great!" As someone who writes lyrics after the vocal melody, I'm now feeling like there's a path to follow and build lyrics from. I'm anxiously awaiting the next set of ideas for the vocals, this time for the chorus..........

Stepping Back Behind The Kit

So I woke up this morning to a text I thought was a bad joke from one of my best friends and probably the best drummer I know. The text informed me that he had broken some bones in his dominant hand, which I immediately blew off and figured it would be followed by "j/k," but that follow-up text never came. A quick phone call later confirmed the text was the real deal. With the upcoming launch of the new site, podcast, and having already paid for a session vocalist to appear on this new song, pushing the drum tracking beyond November really isn't an option, so I'll be moving forward forward with recording the drum tracks myself for this song. This is the first song I've recorded drums on since the first WCM release in 2013, "Indecisive." I've sone some messing around with this song on drums a while ago, but never expected to record it myself. I guess I have some work to do before tracking it on the 18th!  - JC


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