The Story of the Song

Spencer and me, in less socially-distanced times

One afternoon, my duo partner Spencer Capier texted me an mp3 file of a short piece of music. He told me it was called “After This,” and that he had written it as a soundtrack for a podcast his friend Todd Wiebe was producing.

I wished Spencer could play new music for me live, in real space and time. But considering we were at the highest levels of COVID-19-related lockdown, we had to settle for virtual communication.

So, I put in my earbuds, unaware I was about to ambushed by a new-but-timeless fiddle tune that somehow tapped into the pathos of this strange season of disorientation and isolation. It was haunting, and beautiful.

Man playing violinIt made me cry.

I messaged Spencer back, asking him if maybe I could try writing lyrics to the tune. He said yes.

But I couldn’t seem to find my way forward with it. Everytime I listened to it, I loved it more. But it didn’t seem like I should mess with something that already felt so whole.

(Also, the only thing that rhymes with “coronavirus” is “papyrus” – and, really, we don’t need more papyrus in the world, heaven knows.)

After several false starts, I composed an apologetic text to Spencer, explaining that I’d hit a wall and the song was either meant to just be a fiddle tune, or perhaps (sob) he’d need to find another collaborator. But, when I went to press “send” on the text, I couldn’t make myself do it.

I wandered out to the kitchen and told my husband my dilemma.

“Don’t send the text,” said Mark. “Just go write the song.”

Can you believe that? What arrogance to think you can tell your wife to just go and write a song. It made me so mad that … I went and wrote the song.

I broke through on the lyric by thinking about other times in human history when people have longed for an “after this.” Because the fiddle tune reminded me of Civil War music, I imagined myself in the throes of a war that seems like it will never end. What would I say in those conditions? What would I need to hear said?

I got a lyric, and a verse melody to compliment Spencer’s chorus melody, and I texted him a rough version of it all, recorded in the “voice memos” app on my iPhone.

Spencer said he liked it.

We felt like maybe we should share the song with other people. Spencer was able to record his instruments at his home studio. I made special “social distancing” arrangements with my long-time co-producer Roy Salmond to get the vocals at his studio — I came in the back door to the recording room, he came in the front door to the control room. We waved through the glass, and I got the singing done. Plus, Roy added a couple of extra spices to the track, the way only he can.

Then, we sent all the recording files to our pal Rick Colhoun, who was able to mix at his place and send us versions back and forth until we all felt like the song was speaking the sonic language of our hearts.

After that, Greg Reely did the final mastering touches from about 400km away in Osoyoos. (Yes, there really is a place called “Osoyoos” in BC. It’s very nice, and there is a great mastering engineer there.)

We had us a song.

The assistants at Rick Colhoun’s studio, The Soundcastle.

The Story of the Video

Ah, the hazards of the at-home video shoot. (The “After This” single with Spencer Capier comes out May 27th – and the video will hopefully come out even sooner, if my dog doesn’t eat it first.)

[The pup is Mondi, and he’s a boy.]

I don’t recall which one of us said, “We should do a video.” But it indeed got said, and then we couldn’t shake the idea.

We were still limited by social restrictions. But we noticed a lot of our friends were sharing moving images capturing their own experiences under lockdown. We got to thinking about what an honour it would be if we could use our song to tell their stories.

So we sent out the word. And the photos and videos – real treasures – came streaming in. So many powerful, funny, heartbreaking, beautiful moments. We were blown away.

To get a little performance footage – Spencer in his house and me in mine – our offspring were pressed into service as camera operators.

Then we bundled up all of our footage and our friends’ photos and clips into a dropbox, and gave it to Ryan Shroeder at Transposition Films. Ryan helped us wrangle it all into a story, the way only Ryan can.

We had us a video.


The Story of Supporting Barnabas

beautiful sunset over waterOne of our sadnesses in this season is the necessary closure of Barnabas – the wonderful family camp where both the Capier and Arends families have gone for a week every summer for the last 18 years to teach, play music, and enjoy the camp’s incredible hospitality and beauty.

Barnabas is one of the places we can’t wait to return to after all of this. And so, we got to dreaming about how cool it would be if we could use some of the proceeds from this song to help support the ministry while they deal with the difficulties of losing an entire summer’s worth of camps. If you’d like to support Barnabas directly, please visit the Barnabas Family Ministries website. We’ll also be passing along to the camp a portion of the proceeds from all streams and downloads of the song.

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