Inside my DIY process for “Options”
When writing a song, I generally start on an acoustic guitar or piano and write it from there, because I’m a firm believer that if a song sounds great stripped down with just a single instrument, it can only go uphill. That’s what makes a great song. From there, I work with my co-writer Ryan Guay to come up with a concept and write the song. The strategy we tend to follow while writing is to write fast and rough, and to edit and refine later.
We then track a rough demo with rough vocals and an acoustic guitar. After listening to the demo a few times, I usually know the direction that I want to go production-wise, so I produce another demo, this time becoming more complex and adding more instruments and sounds. Once I have a solid demo that’s headed in the right direction, I send the mix over to Adam Tune, who takes my vision for the song and turns it into a reality, cleaning up all the sounds and adding his creative electronic ideas to the track to make it as fine-tuned and complex as any current top 40 song.
Once the song is in the final mixing and mastering stages, the next step is to work on the visuals for the song. Things like promo photos, the album art, and most importantly, the music video are all things that need to be finished before the song can be released. Picking a concept for a music video is a tougher job than anyone might think. What makes it so hard is that the idea just has to come naturally. You can’t force an idea for a music video, which can be tough, especially when I’m sensitive on time.
When conceptualizing the music video I take into account the lyrics as well as the feel for the song. For example: most of my music that I’ve written for my upcoming album is pretty dark sounding, so it would be more effective to use contrasty colours, and cinematic shadowing in the dark, rather than having a video that takes place on a beach in the daytime. The sound has to match the visuals. Once a concept is created, I throw together a basic list of all the shots I need to film to have enough for the video. I then pick a date, call on some people to help on set, and film.
Pretty much everything you see in the video for my new single “Options” was thought up and created by me, from the lights that I built, down to the glitchy style editing. From there the promo photos and the album cover tend to come more naturally, since we already have a video shot. And finally, it’s time for promotion and release, where I post on my social media platforms, and then release the song to the world!
~ Jake Donaldson
Watch the official video for Jake Donaldson’s “Options”:
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Produced by/in collaboration with Jeff Gorra