Open Spaces (About Miles & Years)

I read in a book by Madeline L’Engle once that: “In art, we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered among the stars. We write, we make music, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing.”

In Christian art, we often find ourselves fighting against these invisible lines that our culture and religion have drawn. It makes creating very hard and limiting. I fought for years with what was holy enough to be considered “Christian” art, or “worship”, and whatever fell outside of those lines I assumedly had tossed to the secular. But that has never sat well with me. I believe true maturity as a Christian is being able to digest any work of art, and not to take personally the parts that don’t resonate with my Spirit. But to let the ones that do, move me. And to trust that God will bless anything I do, as long as I do it in honesty, purity and faith.

So I began to listen and feel for the music. And I began to write for myself. To say what I wanted to say. And suddenly, I found myself in an open space. There were no lines, there were no rules, there was no body else, just me, just space, just potential.

The creation of Miles & Years took 3 years to produce, though most of the songs had lived with me far longer. I recorded and produced everything myself. My Dad bought me my first $90 Audio Technica microphone, and I got a $100 M-Audio interface. I had my upright moved into my studio, along with my keyboard, my free acoustic guitar, my electric and my friends bass and drum kit.

I had dreamt of doing an album for years but never thought it would be any good, and didn’t have any money. But I felt it was necessary for me to make this record, and to make it by myself. It was a challenge - a big one, but I was committed to doing all that I could, with all that I had. I knew that I was capable, it just required me to put my head down, and do it. I had a $200 setup, and I made time for it, which meant saying no to a lot of things.

I didn’t play the drums or the bass - but I had no choice - I would learn. I ended up recording each part of the drums separately, mostly because I had only one mic.

Half way through the album I upgraded to a $1,000 interface and two $500 mics. Which is hilarious to me because everything sounds the same.

My sister was a huge part of this record. She made the art work for me. I named a few of the songs after her. She ended up passing away right before I finished the record. That was heart breaking. That’s when I wrote “Fall” and “Good Hands”.

I went on to write for another project after this album which ended up landing me a record deal. But this album taught me how to listen. Taught me how to take time with the process, take chances on myself, and let the process lead the way. Sometimes we have a concept when we go into the studio, and if we try to force that concept, we’ll walk out with nothing. But the magic of music is that it has a voice of its own, and if we let it, it might take our own voice and give it some wings. Our job as creators is to capture what is already being said, and translate. I strongly believe that all of life, is listening.

The outcome of a work is always for the consumer, but the process is for the artist. But together, we cry, we laugh, we cuss, we learn, we listen, we fail, and then we do it again. And with each step we look back and celebrate our growth. I believe that’s how we are meant to live life.

Allie Merrill3 Comments