Love & Loss & Stuff Like That

The Birth of A Collaboration

Often artists view thinking outside the box as simply in reference to their inner world, but evolution in online and social tools have greatly broadened a musician's toolbox for collaboration. Thinking outside this particular box can bridge artists together across thousands of miles for surprisingly soulful and productive musical relationships. Elizabeth Butler and Solveig Whittle live 2500 miles from each other; Elizabeth is a songwriter and founder of Running Home Records in Houston, Texas, and Solveig is the lead vocalist of Solveig and Stevie in Seattle, Washington. They have created an impressive partnership creating heartfelt original music through social media and online collaborative tools.

Both artists were active online with various social media sites, music sharing services, and found themselves increasingly in each other's online sphere of existence. It was social media expert and GoGirls (gogirlsmusic.com) founder Madalyn Sklar that brought Elizabeth and Solveig together in October of 2012. Elizabeth was working on a track that needed rearranging and updating and recalls after hearing Solveig's SoundCloud tracks, "I was blown away by her vocals, thought the contrast in our different vocal approaches would be cool, and immediately sent her a message asking if she'd be willing to collaborate."

Elizabeth and her co-producer, Troy Warren, Jr. (troyboyjr.com), transferred her files to Seattle via Dropbox, and Solveig went to work in her backyard studio in Washington with her producer partner, Stevie Adamek. "The online interaction gave an extra comfort to the musical working relationship," says Solveig. "You can get a real sense of someone from their website and social media presence, not only with how they interact with you but how they interact with others and the community at large." It didn't take much back and forthing to determine that the mixture of Elizabeth's jazz-influenced vocals and Solveig's soulful harmonies was a winner.

The typical working musician-for-hire relationship is also condensed down to the essentials when artists connect online. Instead of choosing collaborators who are geographically close, artists can be choosier about who they work with on projects. "This is a studio musician job, and the work really gets distilled down to the professionalism and musicianship of who you work with," explains Solveig. Working in home studios also affords the collaborators the luxury of a low pressure working environment that lends itself to musical experimentation. Solveig, who has been working with acting and vocal coach Jan Linder-Koda (angeldivamusic.com), is able to truly capture the essence and mood of each song, which Elizabeth finds invaluable in a collaborator. Elizabeth subsequently began working with L.A.-based Linder- Koda, and quickly saw a difference in her own singing as well. "It's not meshing on a tonal level, its emotional meshing through the song as well," explains Elizabeth. Working with Jan, who focuses on both singing and acting, makes the storytelling aspect of the song come out. "Our goal is to connect with the audience in the studio, even if they aren't present when we are recording. The truth is that a recorded performance has the potential to stick with people forever, while a live performance floats away," explains Elizabeth.

It's not meshing on a tonal level, its emotional meshing through the song as well...

In April 2013, after 6 months of collaborating, the pair finally met in person. Elizabeth flew to Seattle to attend Solveig's CD Release show. While they knew their working relationship was already solid based on their creative output, they found out they shared commonalities outside the music world. "We both have three children, we have busy family lives, and connected on a lot of non-musical topics as well," explains Elizabeth. Solveig adds, "Social media is great, but in-person is an important part of any relationship. That extra mile enhances the business and the personal interaction."

Social media and online culture are constantly criticized for their lack of authenticity and true connection, but two musicians thousands of miles apart are proving that technology can still be a catalyst for strong collaboration between artists. The two plan to continue to work together, and the first fruits of Elizabeth's work with Solveig will be released on her new album due in mid 2014.

Track Listing

  • 1. A1A (Settin' Myself Free)
  • 2. Love Over Logic
  • 3. Time Before, Time After remix featuring Solveig Whittle
  • 4. Summer and Fall featuring Allison Lueking
  • 5. Walk On
  • 6. Credit Card Blues
  • 7. Come Back To Me featuring Solveig Whittle and Allison Lueking
  • 8. Mama Knew
  • 9. When The Troubles Get Too Much
  • 10. Light The Fire (guest artists: Solveig & Stevie) (bonus track)
  • 11. Summer and Fall instrumental featuring Troy Warren, Jr. (bonus track)
  • 12. Time Before, Time After remix featuring Solveig Whittle (ambient version) (bonus track)

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Reviews

http://forthecountryrecord.com/2014/09/27/featured-elizabeth-butler-a1a-settin-myself-free
Vickye Fisher @planmymistake in For the Country Record @FTCountryRecord