“After All This”: the story behind the album

Senior+Azalea+Twining+smiles+for+a+photo+while+goofing+off+in+the+recording+studio.+

Photo courtesy of Azalea Twining

Senior Azalea Twining smiles for a photo while goofing off in the recording studio.

By Clare Kirwan, Harrisonburg High School

“She was sitting by the front of the school one afternoon, so I quickly introduced myself, and suggested I help her make her album. That’s where it all started.”

Producer meets musician. Producer asks musician to produce their album. End scene.

The story described is that of seniors Azalea Twining and Corey Beshoar, who have been creating an album with the working title “After All This.” The album is a combination of Twining’s music skills and Beshoar’s insights into the world of producing.

“As it stands right now, the album is really about relationships, which I mean in a broad sense- your relationships with your family, yourself, a stranger you’ve never talked to, all of the above,” Twining said.

Twining grew up surrounded by music. The main concepts and harmonies that make up her album stem from this creative influence.

“My inspiration really just comes from my everyday experiences – conversations, daydreams, observations. There are also times when I have no clue what exactly inspired a song until months later, when I’m able to look at a situation with a clarity of mind that I was somehow already able to express through another medium,” Twining said.

My inspiration really just comes from my everyday experiences – conversations, daydreams, observations. There are also times when I have no clue what exactly inspired a song until months later, when I’m able to look at a situation with a clarity of mind that I was somehow already able to express through another medium.”

— Azalea Twining

Rock, pop, indie, country, the genre ability for an album is endless, but much like the way Twining writes her songs, her album doesn’t have one conventional theme or genre.

“The songs are all over the place. I don’t really stick to a genre which I like because it gives me more freedom to try on different hats. For me, the genre, vocal timbre, instrumentation and the musical aesthetics of a song feel most authentic when they’re allowed to be fluid,” Twining said.

With about six out of 14 songs fully completed and the others written, Beshoar has taken to finalizing songs with producing techniques.

“Azalea has already written all of the songs, so my role is to get her into the studio to record. I use a Digital Audio Interface (DAW) called Logic Pro X to mix and move tracks, create instrumentals, and layer vocals. Azalea does a lot of the instrument playing of course, so I take those tracks and add effects such as reverb, delay and EQ,” Beshoar said.

As two high school students, recording in a real studio seemed unattainable. That was until Beshoar worked with his father to create a studio in their basement.

“The studio in my basement was actually a project my dad came up with. He wanted a space where we could all have the creative freedom to do what we wanted. It includes a synth, a recording booth, a couple guitars and a couple keyboards,” Beshoar said.

Despite Twining’s wide range of musical abilities, she has left most of the production up to Beshoar. The two have formed a perfect pair, where one is lacking, the other fills in.

“We’ve been working in [Corey’s basement studio] some this summer. Depending on how complicated a song is, especially if we want instruments in it that I can’t play. Corey helps me find a way to create that sound using synth patches and some features in Logic,” Twining said. “With other songs where it’s just me and the guitar, we hit record and usually get it in a take or two. It’s fun, we can get so focused on a song that we forget we’ve been working at it for five to six hours straight,” Twining said.

The songs are all over the place. I don’t really stick to a genre which I like because it gives me more freedom to try on different hats. For me, the genre, vocal timbre, instrumentation and the musical aesthetics of a song feel most authentic when they’re allowed to be fluid,”

— Azalea Twining

Beshoar starts Twining’s tracks off with percussion, adding in instrumental parts and vocals. From there, it’s layering, mixing and mastering.

“Never in a million years did I ever think producing would be a hobby of mine. I took guitar lessons for a few years and hated it. I just wanted to create my own melodies without having to read music off of a sheet of paper. We have a piano at home so I started pressing keys. Slowly but surely I began to hear melodies in my head. By a certain point, I was able to perfectly recreate them on piano. 11th grade rolled around and I was introduced to a program called GarageBand. There were so many cool features I’d never seen. I could create baselines, drum beats, piano chords and add melodies on top of it all. That’s really when it all took off for me,” Beshoar said.

Though Beshoar is fairly new to the world of producing, Twining believes his talent has brought something special to the album.

“I leave most of the production process up to Corey. I’ll come up with all the harmonies and little extra parts that we want in the song, but he knows how to mix and add all sorts [of] details that make it sparkle. We’re both open to trying each other’s ideas, and usually the craziest ones end up working the best,” Twining said.

Twining’s magic lies in the writing process of the album.

“The writing process is different for each song. There are songs we’re recording that I wrote in five minutes the night before a session and there are songs I’ve been working on and refining for a year. Each of them are different and it’s hard to trace where they came from or link them to a clear piece of inspiration. Most of the time, I just think up a melody, or lyric, or latch onto a motif while improvising at the piano or guitar and go from there. Sometimes a song’s meaning is clear to me, other times I couldn’t tell you anything about it except that I felt the need to write it,” Twining said.

“After All This” is only about halfway through its creation, but Twining hopes to share it on Spotify and other platforms when it’s finished.

“The hardest part for me is knowing when to stop tinkering with a song and let it be. I’m especially picky with my lyrics because they don’t come to me as naturally and quickly as the music does. I always want to go back and rewrite lyrics that express feelings or thoughts that I don’t still hold,” Twining said. “I’m working on learning to honor what I was thinking and feeling at the time of writing a song, knowing that my perspective has changed. It’s hard because you don’t want people to hear a song and get an idea about you personally without really knowing you. At least that’s the hard part for me. Actually writing the songs initially feels incredible, it’s my favorite kind of catharsis.”

Both Beshoar and Twining are excited about the progress they’ve made on the album, but the work is far from done.

“The problem is I keep writing more songs, so it might be a while before we’re completely finished. We’re not in a rush, I’d rather do the work diligently and make something I’m really proud of. I’m just glad Corey is also willing to put his time into it,” Twining said. “It’s important for me to work with people who I know will be honest with me and whose ears and ideas I trust.”

Click the link below to view a sneak peak of a song that will appear on “After All This.”

http://drive.google.com/file/d/1_iNpDruAqTvqM2v10cGwqLHb8jsXV3U_/view

This story was originally published on The Newsstreak on September 6, 2022.