Words by Lisa Maps.
This isn’t an article about how to be a DIY musician. I’m not even sure I’m qualified to write that article, because honestly, I’m still trying to work out how to be one myself. It’s an article about why I chose that approach. Because I think it has really defined the year that I’ve had, and we are, of course, in the part of the year when we all reflect on these things.
With a new video for Come Home (A Christmas Song) fresh under her belt, Lisa Maps chats with us about the importance of DIY songwriting.
In 2019 I released my first EP, Colours, as well as a Christmas single. I recorded all of those songs in my bedroom, and mixed them myself. I don’t remember there being a specific moment where I decided that I was going to learn to do that – I started out with a plan to do some basic demo recordings and it escalated. But I’m glad to have reached a point where I have enough skills and equipment to put a new song out into the world with the resources I have on hand.
I think of myself as a songwriter first and foremost, and for me, music has always been a vehicle for telling a story. In some ways, I think the production process is a natural extension of that, because what you are doing is really adding extra layers to your storytelling. But I’m lucky because it’s also a process that I really enjoy. It is tricky and time-consuming, and definitely not for everyone.
We live in a time when musicians can manage our whole careers by ourselves. But it takes a very broad range of skills and it means a lot of time and effort diverted from our craft while we are trying to learn to be producers, and graphic designers, and business people, and possibly also successful adults. As independent artists, we are constantly having to make judgments about when to attempt something ourselves and when to pay someone to do it for us. There is never a right answer, and there’s never enough money to cover everything. So as much as you can you have to learn to love those parts of the job as well.
For all its drawbacks, I’m glad to be starting my music career in this world. I can see my songs through to completion in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past, which is incredibly empowering. My first attempts at it have been deeply imperfect, but they are authentic, heartfelt representations of my songs and I am immensely proud of them. And I learn so much from the process each time that I’m quite sure that my best song is definitely (always) my next one.
Come Home (A Christmas Song) is available now. Watch the new video above.