How I find musical collaborators

When I first returned to making music after long absence, I knew few musicians. The last two guys I'd been in a band with were dead. The old clubs I'd played in were closed. My jam buddies Tony and Margo had moved home to England. I was playing a few open mic nights with my friend Joe, but he was trying to focus on his bluegrass work. I started messing with GarageBand, learning the basics of digital recording. I picked up two lovely jam partners (hi Wade and James!), but I wanted a way to reach a wider audience.

Enter Twitter. I hadn't met any musicians there yet, but I'd become Twitter friends with a few folk who had Internet radio shows, and had found new favorites in their carefully curated programs. *These folks* knew musicians. And one day, one of them said that a musician friend was looking for vocals for a track. I jumped.

The friend sent me a track and I recorded some vocals. I followed the friend, and he had musician friends, too, and I followed them. And then another friend of a friend asked for some vocals and a melody and lyrics. So I jumped again. Twitter is how I ended up meeting and collaborating with Hilliat Fields and Gary Gahan, both of whom appear on my new album, Everything.

As an amateur, I felt it was important not to be too precious about my contributions. It was a new experience to write to others' musical backdrops; I took it as learning experiences and practice. Sometimes there was back and forth. Sometimes the artist took what I'd done, wove it into their work, and the first time I heard it was on the finished album.

With every new musician I worked with, I met more their followers included interesting people, many of them creators. I started conversations in response to their tweets, or reactions to their music — just making conversation, getting to know folks. But when you chat with musicians, collaborations happen!

In mid-2020, at the height of the pandemic, Gary called me with an idea. He'd joined a Facebook group around music collaboration, and wanted me to join too and collaborate with him on a cover track. We hadn't yet worked together, but we had a great time creating a Cocteau Twins cover (you can find that early project in Gary's collection) and we went on to create a couple dozen tracks together including Gary's great sax work on Everything.

The Facebook group and there are *lots* such groups, Discord servers etc for different kinds of music collaboration, many of them open to all got me working with other talented musicians, too. Each month, in response to the current challenge, folks make their skills available for others ("if anyone wants guitar on their project this month, lmk") or ask for contributions ("I could use a vocalist on this one"). I volunteered for whatever I could, and met lots of delightful people. That led me to ask Pete Nickerson, Garry Franklin, and Michael Wojtasiak to join the party on Everything.

I've found any environment where you can meet other people Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook groups, blog comment parties, Discord servers, communities around other creative interests (art! knitting! photography!) is an opportunity to meet collaborators. Musicians, it turns out, are everywhere. 🎵

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