NEW ALBUM: I AM A HIGHLIGHTER PEN
On November 8, 2019, "I Am a Highlighter Pen" will be released. This is the second full-length album from Progressive Dream Pop artist, G.T. Thomas. Click here to order your copy of the album!
The album consists of nine, vibrant, cohesively arranged tracks, written and recorded by Thomas in November 2018 (1 year ago). Her debut album, 2011's "The Luckless Pedestrian Years," was a compilation of various recordings she'd made over a period of about 6 years, and this was an approach that she had no interest in repeating, especially because of the varying quality and instrumentation from one track to the next.
But as G.T. Thomas pursued work as a freelance musician offering services (including lyricist, composer, producer, and vocalist) to other people's projects, no other approach to making a record of her own material had surfaced. Perhaps a part of her became convinced that releasing any more full-length records was simply not in the cards for her.
Luckily, in November of 2018, she had a change of heart that led her down a path toward reclaiming her identity as a recording and performing artist under her own name.
From the notes of G.T. Thomas:
"'I Am a Highlighter Pen' was conceived during a project entitled 'Novavember.' In November, 2018, it had been seven years since the release of my debut album, and four years since my most recent single. Many artists begin work on their following album before their current one even hits shelves... but that's not what I had done.
In the meanwhile, I played many shows and collaborated with dozens of artists on their projects. But last fall, suddenly the lack of new material of my own started to feel like a bit of a black hole. And this didn't reflect the fluorescence I felt inside.
So that month, I crossed everything off my agenda and challenged myself, instead, to spend every waking hour writing and recording a new song from scratch. Every three days. For the entire month.
I named this little songwriting challenge 'Novavember' so that the project might inspire me to become like a nova:
To shine with a sudden increase in brightness.
All month long.
Setting out to have nine new songs by the end, I achieved my goal! I posted the results in real-time on Instagram.
Between November 2018 and November 2019, only three things changed about the recordings:
1) The addition of a live vibraphone performance (recorded January, 2019 – in Kytopia's former Utrecht location) to replace the vibes I'd done in-computer, during Novavember; 2) Replacement/ addition of a few sounds and vocals for mainly technical reasons. (On "Our First Day," in the final version on this album, the vocals are much cleaner than in the original version. There's also a slight alteration of one melody line, because the song is so emotion-filled that I felt it really deserved a melodic rise that emphasized this more than the original melody had done); and 3) Mixing and mastering of the tracks by third-party audio engineers (steps I never skip on any official release).
Other than these adjustments, I decided that it would undermine the magic of having catapulted these songs and their recordings into existence on the short turn- around of 'three days per song' if I spent any more time fussing about details in some attempt to make them 'more perfect.'"
ABOUT THE ALBUM FORMAT:
As soon as G.T. Thomas had decided on the album title "I Am a Highlighter Pen" (a line from track 4, "Like Oxygen"), she knew she wanted to be literal about interpreting the title into the album's format.
"The album 'I Am A Highlighter Pen' comes out as a highlighter pen, obviously," were her thoughts on the matter.
As the project developed, she also opted to incorporate other elements of her artistic process – tools that had helped her to write the songs on the tight turn-around of, on average, three days per song. These tools in her process included listening, writing, looking inward, and highlighting meaningful texts so that good ideas stood out at a single glance.
That's why the album ultimately took the form of these five components:
- The cover art on a jumbo postcard
- A booklet with all the lyrics, the behind-the-album notes, and an ACTIVE LISTENING TOOL that I designed to offer simple prompts to help you think about the way you listen to music and hopefully grow even deeper connections with music you listen to
- Your unique download code for the songs (also available on streaming services, of course)
- The official G.T. Thomas Highlighter Pen
- And all of this is collected into a sturdy, clear envelope.
(The album is available for purchase at the website's shop page.)
Here is a video of G.T. Thomas assembling the very first copy, which reflects how she will proceed with assembling every single copy, herself, in this DIY+TLC manner:
Words and music on all songs written, arranged, performed, and produced by:
Gwen "G.T." Thomas
Except for vibraphone, performed by:
And backing vocals on "Frownfetti" performed by:
Iwan van Wijk
ABOUT THE SINGLES
On October 25, 2019, the Progressive Dream Pop single "Future Moving" was released.
The song explores the idea "the future is now," conveying that the more you feel into the future you want (thereby embodying it), the more you bring it to life in your word & deed, right here in the Now.
That's how to feel the future moving through you.
This songs' lyrics –along with the eight others on the upcoming album ("I Am a Highlighter Pen," out November 8, 2019)– were a concept G.T. Thomas discovered repeatedly popping out of highlighted passages in nine months' worth of her daily journals that she reviewed at the time she sat down to create this musical work.
FROM THE NOTES OF G.T. THOMAS
"'Future Moving' Fun Fact 1:
The opening melody came to me in a dream! I found myself humming it immediately when I woke up and went straight to the studio to capture it the way it sounded in my head, which was with a bit of a 1970s TV-music, nostalgic feel. Then I pulled that melody into a future that felt full of limitless potential and wonder to me, employing more synthetic sounds.
'Future Moving' Fun Fact 2:
This song was the result of a challenge I took on to write and produce a new track from scratch every three days for a whole month. I started with nothing and ended up with a new, nine-song album, with this as the first single."
On Nov 1 2019, the Sample Pop/ Glitch Pop single "Edges" was released.
"Edges" is a song about boundaries, and was the result of a challenge G.T. Thomas took on to write and produce a new track from scratch every three days for a whole month. She started with nothing and ended up with a new, nine-song album, with this as the second single.
FROM THE NOTES OF G.T. THOMAS:
I was working a friend's exhibition-booth at a Record Fair in late 2018, when I observed someone with exceptionally good boundary-setting skills.
The person in question was full of what I interpreted as a nervous energy – one that reminded me of myself, in many ways. However, for me, part of the anxiousness stemmed from not being very good at saying 'no' when I should, and getting myself into all kinds of trying and tiring situations, as a result.
In contrast to this, I watched in awe of this person's resolve to do exactly what he needed to, in order to look out for himself
It was as if he was able to read his anxiousness as a helpful alert stating, 'This is an boundary you do not benefit from crossing/ letting be crossed.' And then he actually paid attention to that and stood by it. And came out unscathed.
This concept correlated to an idea I'd seen repeatedly popping out of highlighted passages in nine months' worth of my daily journals that I reviewed at the time I sat down to create my new album 'I Am a Highlighter Pen' (out November 8, 2019). Namely, that whether you are pushing through whatever may have been your own edges in an act of growth –or– you are clearly demarcating where your edges need to be and stay in order to maintain healthy boundaries for yourself:
Simply acknowledging that the edge is there at all can be the first step in a process of deciding what to do with them next.
Being conscious about how our edges exist, and what we decide to do with them is, in my opinion, what differentiates a panic-attack-inducing overstep from say, a mindful, intentional act of growth and/or self-care.
I wrote this song to serve as a mantra to remind me that my edges are there for a reason. I get to notice them. I get to decide what happens next. I'm running this ship. My anxiety might just be a friend, inviting me to make more conscious decisions how to keep said ship afloat. Allowing me to decide 'I want to grow through this one,' or 'I need to self-preserve by holding this one in tact for the time-being.'
The piano sound the song starts with was a glitch in some software I was using. I instantly loved the way the glitch sounded and knew it could be the key to the whole song, so I rerouted some things so that I could sample it directly, as fast as I could.
I'm so glad I did, because within a few more moments, the software 'figured itself out' and was back to sounding like a normal piano (which I also employed in the recording). It was entirely impossible to recreated what had happened, and the sound of the glitch ended up contributing a very specific quality to the song that reflects the stumbling fumbling nature of how I feel when I'm not making conscious decisions with regard to my edges.
I wanted to give this track a jazzy quality in some way, so I applied a composed sax line, while leaving the flugelhorn improvisational. The later was, I'm certain, subconsciously inspired by three musicians who have had a meaningful impact in my career and life:
- My high school band teacher, Mr. Gary Evans (Everett High School, WA state)
- My mentor, Chris Dedrick (The Free Design)
- Producer of my 2014 track "Theater of Mirrors," Michael Leonhart (Steely Dan)
(Do note, I crafted those parts in software and, as is becoming one of my trademarks, I strove to make them sound not 100% realistic/ in some way or other 'off.' If I'm using software instead of real players –which a project on such a tight turn-around demanded of me this time– then I want them to create some sound that the real instruments don't. Another reason why I was head-over-heels for the accidental piano glitch!)
As with much of my composing, I added as many layers of vocals as I could imagine enhancing the mood/ topic of the song. In the first verse, there's nothing going on in terms of vocal harmonies. By the second verse, there's some development, and by the expanded chorus-outro, there are many more layers, which I hope suggests that through the course of the song, some edge has been consciously 'grown-through.' Like a flower bud created from what was once just green stalk, it has pushed through and ultimately transformed into a skirt of fragrant, colourful petals."