Author: Brendan Hamilton
"Let's just do it, hit record" dynamic sonic duo, Michael Steibel, and I, Brendan Hamilton, said.
We started the project 'Cotton Swabs' as a frustrated giggle, honestly. As a half joke I think made from our frustration with past musical projects. We would make awesome songs and just never record it. Kind of a treasure that was as delicate as time and air. Once the songs ended they were only pressed in our memories. I think Mike and I were sort of frustrated with ourselves, feeling like we would never quite hit our own ideals, at least in the recording of things.
An interesting thing about creative types is... well.... they create!
So both of us did what came natural, we made an opportunity to express something and make a path where there wasn't one before. We literally decided to record, on the spot, anything at all, just to have something. The name came up because Mike called me in excitement thinking about a name. Right after we ended the phone conversation I took a picture of the first thing I saw. It was a box of cotton swabs.
When I say anything.... I mean it! Immediately we started finding unconventional instruments in the kitchen, on the floor, and probably on the ceiling to just get something. All of the tracks were made on the spot with little to no preparation, intention, or expectation on them. Some pieces are collaborative, some are solo work by Mike. The underlying theme and concept of the entire thing was to allow things to be what they are and realizing the beauty it already was.
A unique aspect of Cotton Swabs, and probably the most fun aspect of it, was it's audio visual experience. Slightly reminiscent of Pink Floyd, mixing the senses to create a unique experience.
We both took our cameras and just shot stuff we thought was interesting. Something that would create a feeling. I took footage on trips to Washington D.C. & California and even at our local thrift shops. Beauty and experience can be found anywhere and are everlasting.
We both have a strong Christian faith, which is why there are so many public domain audio samples on the topic. I think in a way even the audio samples purpose was to make some topics that people make into heavy issues feel lighter. This is similar to what we were doing with the recordings in general.
Something I appreciate about Cotton Swabs is how I feel it really used Mike and my strengths. Mike tends to be better at foundation work whereas I feel more comfortable building from that. We are both great artists on our own, but we have a way of complementing each other in terms of style. Another aspect of this collaboration, at least for me, is there is a real sense of pointlessness if there is no one to enjoy creating with. It really helps me to work with someone else because I find imyself more motivated and creative.
All in all Cotton Swabs was a humbling experience; an effortless and flowing process. A rebellion against what everyone else is doing with these high production albums and idolization of ideas, people, and art.
Check out Cotton Swabs HERE