Breaking the Record with Roan Yellowthorn, Part 48: Making Progress

Breaking The Record 2020
Breaking The Record 2020
Jackie McLean of the indie band Roan Yellowthorn grants us an inside look at the making of an album from start to finish in her ‘Breaking The Record’ column.
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All I can say right now is that we are making progress. That’s how it feels. And it feels really good. Sometimes things sneak up on you. You’re pretty much doing what you’ve always done, putting in the same amount of effort and hard work (a lot) and it starts to compound. I kind of feel like that’s what’s happening.

Just jumping into the Breaking The Record series documenting the making of our album from start to finish? Read part 1 here!

We put out a cover album a few months ago. And a friend of ours recently found a TikTok video featuring a song from it that had almost 1.5 million views. We didn’t even know about it. I’m learning to think of putting in work and effort as planting seeds. You plant something with equal parts faith and intentional forgetfulness and then you see what happens.

As someone wise once told me, some seeds take a different amount of time to sprout. Everything grows in its own time. And there’s no use trying to make something grow more quickly than it’s meant to. In some cases, it’s the seeds that are the most closely watched that end up being dudes and don’t grow at all. And, in some cases, it’s the seeds that you forget most about that end up blossoming into something lovely and unexpected.

That’s part of the fun (and frustration) of the whole thing. There’s an illusion of control. But, essentially, there’s a complete lack. You do what you can, you put in the work, and you see what comes to life. That part is mostly out of your hands. I’m used to putting in the work. And it’s a nice motivator to see things starting to bloom.

To continue with the seed analogy, some seasons are more fruitful than others. And sometimes, a whole bunch of things bloom at once. Sometimes seeds germinate on their own or by the hand of another and, when they bloom, you marvel over how you weren’t even the one to plant them. The takeaway, I guess, is that the amount of work that you put in matters. Sure, you can choose the kind of seeds you plant – go for the hearty varieties that have more chance of surviving – or you can go with an heirloom and take even more of a chance for the possibility of something more rare. But, either way, you have to keep planting if you want to see results.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been doing a lot of things – filming music videos, approving designs for merch, getting promo ideas set up, coordinating with collaborators and industry folks, and balancing all of the daily elements of life. My house is an absolute mess. Something’s got to give, I guess. Anyway, I don’t think anyone dies wishing their house had been cleaner.

We have everything ready for the new album. Everything. It’s all come together really quickly and I have to give credit for that to my project manager. I trust her so very much. I really can’t wait to share everything we’ve done. It’s been such a long process. So much work and so much waiting. And I’ll be able to share it with you soon. A new round of seeds – ready to be planted.

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