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The Process of Creating ‘Emotional Enigma’, My Debut EP

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.

On Friday March 3rd, 2023, my debut EP Emotional Enigma went live on all streaming services for the world to hear. An EP—and acronym that stands for Extended Play— is like a mini album. On my EP, I released 6 original songs that were recorded and played by all current or former Kutztown University students. 

This idea came to fruition in the Fall of 2021 during my junior year of college. I’ve written songs for most of my life, but that semester I was taking a songwriting course and I had started creating songs that felt different. They felt more representative of who I wanted to be as a songwriter. I wrote a song called “Thinking About You”, and decided I wanted to release it. Being new to the scene, I had no idea what that entailed. I reached out to a friend who had previously released an EP while she was at Kutztown, and she helped walk me through the process. She also was the one who told me that if I was going to release one single, I might as well release a whole EP. I thought it was preposterous, but after several weeks, I decided that I wanted the challenge it would bring.

I spent the summer of 2022 working on the materials for the musicians who were going to help me on the project. This includes sheet music, demos for them to listen to, and the vibe that I want the song to have. An example of this is telling them that the vibe of a song is if The Lumineers and Sara Breilles had a baby.I know, it’s a very official process.  As mentioned previously, everyone that was involved is a current or graduated Kutztown student, which helped make the project even more special. They’re all extremely talented, so they created the parts their instruments played. We had several long night rehearsals during the Fall semester of 2022. Then, on one Saturday in November, we were in the studio from 9am until about 1:30 am recording all 6 songs. This day was exhausting, but it was also one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. There were moments throughout the day that I found myself smiling and I couldn’t pinpoint why, and then I realized it was because I was doing something I had always wanted to do. I was actually going to put music that felt real into the world. .

After the initial recording day, we had a day of overdubbing, which entails rerecording mistakes or recording parts that are too quiet to be heard at the same time as the full band. An example of this is the fiddle part in “Body in Mystery”. The fiddle would’ve been too quiet to hear over the live drums or bass, so it was brought in separately. 

After the overdub day, there wasn’t much happening until the end of January. Smaller artists, or none existent artists like myself, use distributor websites to put our music onto streaming services. In order to have music released on said day, there should be at least three or so weeks as a cushion. More often than not, the song is ready before that, but it’s never a certainty. This was important because the single, and the first song on the EP. was to be released on February 10th. “First Love” was one of last songs I wrote for the EP, but it felt like it should be the first song released. Most obviously because it had the word “First” in the title, and less obviously because it conveyed the true meaning behind every song on the EP. It went live as a surprise to fans, and preceded the EP by three weeks.

The names for most of the songs came easy because it’s either in the song, or it’s the nickname the track was given during development and it ended up growing on me. Picking a name for an entire project is harder because the title has to encapsulate the meaning of the entire project, not just one tune.  Emotional Enigma was not the first title I had. Originally, the EP was going to be called, “Places I Could Never Go”. I wanted to convey that every song dealt with an emotion, but I could never let myself feel it fully. For example, I always had to qualify sadness with a misunderstanding, or love with anxiety. I eventually decided that “Places I Couldn’t Go” was a little wordy and didn’t quite communicate what I wanted it to. I went back to the drawing board. I was reminded that I always loved the word Enigma. I also love some good alliteration. Thus, the title was born. 
Working with everyone on this project was endlessly rewarding. Getting to collaborate with other musicians to bring to life. This EP helped me follow dreams that I’ve had since I was a kid, and it let me put music out into the world that I’m so proud of. Emotional Enigma is available everywhere to stream now.

Grace Heinlein

Kutztown '23

A music major writes for a blog. That's the joke. You get it?