About ten years ago, a friend sent me an e-mail on February 2nd. It included a URL to an NPR article and a single sentence: "We should do this." That article was about RPM Challenge. The premise was enticing and straightforward--record a whole album from scratch in February.
Before that e-mail, for a couple of years previous, my friend and I had been trying to start a band. We had written a couple of songs together, but nothing had come of it. We lacked motivation. The RPM Challenge intrigued us because it offered a strictly arbitrary kick in the pants. We were already one day behind, but we recorded and later released an album that year.
The next year we did it again. Then again, then took a few years off and did it again. We could only seem to be productive under the construct of the Challenge.
Hello, Afternoon Author
That project, [redacted], has come and gone--I think. For the past couple of years, I've been slowly recording songs for a new project. So far, it's a solo project, but maybe it won't end up that way. Anyway, I realize I'll never get this project off the ground without that adrenaline jolt that the RPM Challenge provides.
I have a laptop with precisely 40 songs that range from "just needs to be mastered" to "20 seconds of a cool synth sound." This February, I'm going to fix that.
Since I haven't released anything yet, it's hard to describe exactly what Afternoon Author will be. I can state a few facts. From the few nearly completed songs, I can hear how I've been influenced by Radiohead, James Blake, and The Books. I can hear some Baths in there and Tycho. I'm sure Jamie XX and Burial will seep into the stew.
I haven't done the RPM Challenge in several years and was surprised at how little I could find about this year's challenge on the internet. Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton used to do the challenge every year. Son Lux recorded a great album doing it. My city would throw listening parties for the winners.
If I had to guess, albums aren't what they used to be. Nowadays, its smarter for struggling indie artists to release a steady stream of single songs and hope that one will catch onto a curated Spotify playlist, or that they can drive some traffic to their Youtube channel. That is fine! That's how music is these days. But still, there is some value in crafting an album, in my opinion. Singles will get you some attention, but if you want to cultivate a fan-base, you need something more substantial for them to grab ahold of.
It's About to Get Fun
In six days the grind begins, and I can't wait. This time, I hope to blog my experience daily and maybe even put up a few videos.
This RPM is going to be a little bit different for me, and I'll explain more in a later post. Regardless, I hope to finish the challenge properly and I can't wait to see what comes out at the end.