Brian Walker of Philadelphia is a good friend of mine, which you might know if you read this blog regularly. We’ve toured together and we’ve griped together over the whole of DIY for a couple of years now, after meeting via Sounds & Tones. Over the past two years I’ve been able to hear snippets (and eventually a whole unmastered track list) from his new A Day Without Love record, Diary, a raw collection of songs about equality, economic hardship, and perception–either being perceived by the world, or Walker’s own perception of it. Now that the record is out, I spoke to him about the process, the nature of bedroom recordings, and more.
DWP: Diary took a long time to put together. How did the original concept come to you, and how did you build on it as you continued writing songs and finalizing a track list?
ADWL: The concept for Diary came out for four reasons, which then drew a concept out of my mind:
1) I was interviewed about Solace (the prior ADWL release) that I spoke about racism and was asked were there other topics I wanted to explore. I said there were, but I was afraid of speaking about the because I was afraid about what the scene would think about me. Then I started to realize I did not have to fear anything so I decided to write about mental illness, politics. religion, racism, friendships, and love.
2) I never got to write a proper acoustic album. Songs for the Lonely was a solo record, but really a rant record, to be honest.
3) I wanted to create something that was my own in the most purest way possible, not just out of financial distress, but to make myself better, so I stuck to the topics of mental illness, politics. religion, racism, friendships, and love, and wrote five songs on each. I threw away the songs that did not fit and ended up with Diary, a bedroom tracked album with no click track or professional mixing or mastering. These are my raw thoughts and I wanted to pursue this with my limited recording knowledge for the art.
4) Lastly, thematically I realized in Solace I spoke about finding comfort in my own suffering, but in Diary I am speaking about my suffering from my past and present. Think of Diary as a prequel and a sequel at the same time.
DWP: What was your songwriting process like for this album? Did you do anything different/try anything new?
ADWL: Traditionally I have written and rewritten lyrics and melodies for songs. In this record I kinda just stuck to the first thing that I wrote, like diaries are. I added layers and wrote my own lead guitar and bass parts and harmonies. In the past I have worked with producers and bandmates to make the recording come alive. This time it was 100% all of me and my own decisions and creations in my bedroom.
The one thing that is new is this record is out of time and has a lot of recording faux pauxs, but I did my best to make it sound coherent and cohesive.
DWP: Tell me about recording, too. These were all recorded at different points and times, right? How did you get them to be in line with each other sonically?
ADWL: To be honest, for the past year and six months, I somewhat started hiding a lot in my bedroom and started to get good at listening to myself. Obsessively almost, to nail and aim the sound I want and the songwriting approach. I would walk to different places on tour to get the sound bites I wanted. I would sing to myself. Every song was recorded in different times of the day and different parts of 2017 and 2016, but I think getting them in line was a product of having experience with previous records and listening to myself repeatedly. I also used friends like Francesca Olsen (House Sparrow) (editor’s note: lol that’s me), Elaine Rasnake, Jake Detwiler, Andrew Sheldon and Luke Shefski to give me input on how to navigate.
DWP: What do you want people to take from this record? What’s something people often misunderstand about your music?
ADWL: I want people to understand that there is a lot I want for myself as an artist. I am not just another DIY artist, I am trying to share that I know my internal struggles are not unique to me and that these struggles represent issues of people who are like me. Confused people, Black people, social outcasts, those who have been financially insecure. Those who are older and lack romantic and healthy relationships. Those who use faith to get through each day. That is who I am and I want to be able to share those thoughts with other people.
I think a lot of times people think about this and think I am snooty or arrogant because I am not writing about everyday topic like exes, pizza, and beer. But little do people not realize, I only had one ex and that was 10 years ago and she was not toxic, we left on good terms, I don’t drink booze, and I am lactose intolerant. So that leaves me singing my own story, a story that I am not afraid to tell regardless of judgement.
DWP: What’s next for you? Any big ideas, news, tours on the horizon?
ADWL: I am going on tour with Marcelyn, who is also releasing her album soon and will be playing the following dates (see below) also I am working on a series of collaborative EPs with songwriters from the East Coast and will be releasing the collaborations in small sets while continuing to tour. After I am done that series I want to write my third LP, which is TBD.
See ADWL on tour starting June 21; a full list of dates can be found here.