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/ˌdiləˈtänt, diləˈtäntē/, noun
a person who purposefully dabbles in many different pursuits.
Songs by Nell Balaban
Dilettante is a collection of songs I’ve written and recorded over the last 10 years or so.
I'm excited to share them and will be releasing them
in this space one at a time over the next couple of months.
We could call it a record, an album, or a playlist.
All the tunes were produced and recorded in Canada in various locations; wherever Tim Thorney (the great!) has had his studio, Villa Sound, that’s where I’d go, from Toronto to the lovely Blue Mountains of Ontario.
First up is the collection's eponymous song. This one was recorded in Toronto with James Robertson on guitar, Adam Warner on drums, and Tim Thorney on bass and everything else.
I love process. When I’m listening to music or watching a play or reading a novel I find myself wondering about the artist's road from kernel of idea to so-called finished product. Sometimes the steps seem clear and straightforward, but often there seems to have been some sort of magic involved. In that spirit. I am including a few snippets of some of my original “worktapes” on the song page. It’s just me sitting in my living room, noodling, trying to let the song come through.
The idea for a song called "Dilettante" came about as I was reckoning with an old, deeply embedded story that was creating a self-defeating loop for me in my creative endeavors. That’s what it felt like, anyway. Oh, how a random comment can take root when you’re 16! A random comment from a beloved and important teacher/role model, no less! I must add that I am still in contact with this teacher of mine and I credit her with—well, my life in the arts and my career in the theatre really. I don’t want to imagine what my path would have been without her. I love her. But I did have to work out a few things.
By the time I got to turning them into this song, the sting had long since passed and all that was left was a choice to let the blunted-but-very-present pattern keep me down, or to move beyond it somehow. Ok, I picked move beyond. How? Reclamation. I changed my email address to include the word dilettante and decided I would own it, reframe it as a positive character trait that points to my varied interests and enjoyment of creative variety. Has it worked? I think so, yes. Though I still have to work on it from time to time!
So there you have a few of the steps in the making of the song Dilettante.
As for the magic—well, Tim Thorney, of course.