Watermelon Time

 

Contact Ty Ford for bookings here.

Paul Iwancio

President Emeritus

Baltimore Songwriters Association


“Wow!  In just 5 songs Ty Ford will take you on a rich, varied and colorful journey through his musical world-more entertaining and engaging than many vacation days I've taken.”

Paul:  There are 5 songs on your CD,

could we call it an EP?


Ty:  Yep, it’s an EP


Paul:  What led to your decision to release an EP?


Ty:  Looking at the rate at which I complete songs, I knew it would be a long time before I had 12 songs for a normal length CD. Also, the thought of making someone listen to me for twelve songs just sounded unappealing.


Paul:  Where does the title of your CD/EP come from?


Ty: The CD came together in the summer around watermelon time.


Paul: Sounds like a nice treat! Where did you record it?


Ty:  I'm in Baltimore County. I am fortunate to own my own studio. I'm fortunate to have a collection of really good gear. I have had years of experience in recording and mixing other people's music as well as my own. I also mastered here. J. P. Reali came up from DC to do his CD here this year. He's the guy in charge of all audio at the Kennedy Center in DC. He used it as his entry in the International Blues Competition and won the top spot to represent the DC Blues Society at the big event in Memphis in 2011.


Paul:  I would call that some good cred in the recording world. Congrats. Can you tell me more about the instrumentation on your EP?


Ty:  ”Existential Boogie” came to me as a folk tune. I played it at a BSA song circle and Ken Gutberlet said, ‘You use the phrase Existential Boogie. Shouldn't the song be a boogie?’ So that made me rethink the song. By the time that was over, it was a country rocker and I had added Ken Gutberlet on dobro, Ed Kaitz on harmonica, Carey Ziegler on Bass. On "Swing Low", I had Ken Gutberlet on mandolin, Seth Kibel on clarinet, Laura Cerulli on all things percussion, Carey Ziegler on bass and backup vocals by Randall Williams, Karyn Oliver and Claudia SanSoucie. It's a dark little tune that they really shine up for me.


Paul:  Did your record live in the studio, or with a click track?


Ty:  Some with a click track, some not. On "Existential Boogie" I created a drum arrangement for a click track. On "You Are So Dear To Me" and "Look Ma, I'm Flyin'" and "Billy", I just went for it.


Paul:  I’m curious, how did you decide on the order of the songs on your EP?


Ty:  "Look Ma, I'm Flyin'" was a landmark instrumental for me. I get a lot of comments and requests. I built up from there to "How Dear You Are To Me", a simple love song for my wife; acoustic guitar and vocal. "Swing Low" is a fully developed dark/light composition with minor key verses and major key choruses I had the song almost done and had been hearing clarinet in my head, but didn't have a clue what to do about it.


I called you, Paul, as you may remember, and asked if you knew anyone locally with outstanding clarinet chops and you turned me on to Seth Kibel. I called him, sent him an mp3 of the tune and paid him to come here to record. Best money I've spent on one of my songs. Seth smacked that song out of the park.


I had several other tunes, but I wanted to end with "Existential Boogie" because it's another full out "band song" that always gets a good reaction. I needed a song that would dip slightly and I had "Billy", that has this jazzy/bluesy up tempo arrangement with a comical start about the guy found one morning at Fort McHenry with his tongue frozen to the flag pole and his pants pulled down. Arlette Thomas-Fletcher heard it and asked me if she could write a short film script using it as the theme. It's about spousal abuse. She finished the script and is looking for funding.


Paul:  Do you have any creative ideas in mind for marketing your CD/EP?


Ty:  Well, I'm sort of backwards. I see "Watermelon Time" as a tool for marketing me. It's available on iTunes and several other download sites but not that many people who know me know that I'm a musician, although with over 10,000 YouTube views of "Look Ma, I'm Flyin'", that's changing. "Watermelon Time" is a snap shot that covers three or four years of work and I'm proud of it because of the writing, arrangements, mixing and wonderful work done by others to shore me up, but I don't really expect it to turn any heads. I think pushing too hard right now would be a bad use of energy. Maybe by the time the next release comes out more people will be ready to hear what I have done.


Paul:  How are you handling duplication?


Ty:  I'm doing that here. I spend the few extra dime for the really good CD-R blanks, so I don't have playback problems. I have a good burner and do color printing right on the CD surface. Apart from that, my tunes are downloadable from iTunes and half a dozen other sites.


Paul:  Who took care of your CD design?


Ty:  I did the first leg of the work and Jeep Watson took my files and tweaked them. He always makes things look better. They go from "yeah" to "Wow!" He also prints the inserts and tray cards for me.


Paul:  Are you having a CD release party?


Ty:  On the grand scale of things, I don't think "Watermelon Time" warrants a release party. It's done. I'm happy about that and I can move on to new songs. Besides, it's usually after the CD party that the group begins to grumble and they fire someone, or someone leaves. I'm the only one in the group and I have to deal with self loathing in a different way.


Paul:  Well I think you should at least have some kind of party! Even just for friends!


Paul:  I know you have a really good ear for recording(s), but not everyone does. When it comes to mastering, would you recommend most musicians go to  another place for mastering, away from their main recording studio?


Ty:  It does depend on the ears and years of experience. A good fresh pair of ears and different monitors can reveal things you might have missed. I mastered a CD for one of our BSA members that he had recorded and mixed. I heard distortion on the mixes and showed him what the distorted waveforms looked like and directed his attention to where in the mix it was distorted. Then I told him how he had arrived at that point and he said, "Yes, exactly! How the heck did you know that?" I said, "Been there. Done that. Heard it. Didn't like it and didn't do it again." In that particular case, he went back and remixed, making the changes I suggested to get rid of the distortion and was a LOT happier with the project.


Paul: What are "the really good CD-R blanks" you mentioned. How did you determine their quality?


Ty: I’m part on an international forum of audio geeks on the Internet. When people started having problems with CD-Rs, we pooled our research and decided on Taiyo Yuden and Mitsui Silver. We've heard that JVC has purchased Taiyo Yuden, but it appears to be just the opposite, but the Taiyo Yuden brand name has been changed to JVC. I also do on CD printing so I get the discs with the printable white surfaces. I pay a few more cents a piece for the Taiyo Yuden/JVC, but it's worth it because I hardly ever get playback problems. http://www.gotmedia.com/blog/taiyo-yuden-media-now-jvc-advanced-media/


Paul:  Do you have any expectations in regards to CD sales vs. downloads?


Ty:  I think downloads will continue to erode CD sales, but I expect some sort of market reaction when some folks start missing the printed material. We went through that with the shift from vinyl to CD. There was something about the album format artwork, sleeve design and inserts that really appealed to some people. A CD booklet approaches that, but it's not the same as a vinyl jacket. I'm seeing more download activity on my Chakra Balancing CD than CD sales.


Paul:  I think it’s a great recording and hope it does well for you.


Ty: Thanks Paul. That’s extra special coming from you. Especially because if it weren’t for all the hard work you’ve done as President of the BSA, these songs would very likely not exist.

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