I wrote and recorded Live From Big Gnome during the winter and spring of 2010. It's just me in a room with a pile of instruments, playing songs of personal importance in front of a microphone.
Big Gnome is the name of my house, where I have a music room/recording studio in an upstairs room. I wanted to create an album that felt like you were visiting me in that studio for a private concert. I prepared for your visit, of course, but once there, we were happy to go off script a little and just enjoy one another's company.
The recording process was very simple. There are no effects, other than what the room itself creates. My criteria for instrumentation was that I had to use instruments I already had in the studio, and that on a given song, I had to be able to play any included instruments simultaneously.
This strategy both completely exposes the performances--you can even hear the minutiae of clacking accordion keys, for example--and the quality of the songwriting (good or bad).
The result is a raw and personal album that I hope provides an enjoyable and meaningful experience for the listener.
The title of "Mere Songs" may appear to be tongue-in-cheek or self-deprecating, but it's actually a simple reference to the concept of this album. As a composer, I can't help but write in sets or collections, or at least on general themes. For example, "Secret Hillbilly" is based on a love of hillbilly music, and all the songs on "Live From Big Gnome" were written and performed in a certain way and for a particular purpose and time.
But occasionally, a song will arise on its own, as an individual, with no affiliation to any other song, album, or theme. I found myself with a number of these orphan songs and decided to put them together in an album with other loners. "Mere Songs", therefore, is simply a collection of songs, each written and recorded under its own special set of circumstances.
And you got me--the title is indeed tongue-in-cheek; I don't see these as "mere" songs, as cast-offs or B-sides, but rather as a bunch of tunes that I think deserve to be heard on their own merit. Some were written very recently, others many years ago, and the rest somewhere in between.
I love hillbilly music. It’s simple and powerful, but elegant in its own way. It’s a bit like punk without the suburban teen angst. Despite my years of art music education, I always return to it for inspiration. This is sort of a love letter to hillbilly music.
all materials copyright 2004-2014 seth colaner, all rights reserved