Arthur News School of Fish
The official art for Record Production Month 2021 by José González.

Gearing Up for the 2021 RPM Challenge

Written by
Spencer Wells
January 29, 2021
Gearing Up for the 2021 RPM Challenge
The official art for Record Production Month 2021 by José González.

February is fast on the horizon, and with it the Record Production Month (RPM) Challenge is coming as well. The idea of the challenge is to produce any given number of songs (or even just a single) from start to finish within a month, to be shared internationally with a listening party shortly after the beginning of March. The challenge was created in 2006 in New Hampshire, and it is now organized by Unpossible NL in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since its inception, tens of thousands of records have been created and submitted from all around the world.  

There is no requirement for equipment or experience – encouraging artists to use whatever resources they have available and to create a unique space to produce their own original songs. You can use anything from a studio setup to an earbud microphone – if you can record sounds with it, you’re already a step ahead. Bearing in mind this is not a competition – the reward of this challenge is ultimately a sense of accomplishment for producing music in the shortest, darkest month of the year! Any genre, theme, or idea is welcome. Trent Radio is also inviting the Peterborough community to take part in the challenge, likewise, sharing original content submitted by March 1st. 2021 marks the fourth year the broadcasting facility has done so. 

This year, I am working in partnership with Trent Radio to promote the challenge throughout the month, as well as actively participating in the challenge myself to create a feature album of original songs. Revvin’ Up is a weekly series of shows that highlights my progress – a sort of artist diary if you will – along with some helpful tips on how to get started on the song writing, performing, and recording process."

I had the opportunity to reach out to a former Lady Eaton College residence friend, Victoria Stoddart, who wrote an original song for the challenge three years ago:

SPENCER: What can you tell us about what you wrote?

VICTORIA: Yeah, I wrote a song called Dead at 25. It was a bit of a sad song, but I thought it was good. It was a fun song

SPENCER: How did you come up with your creative process – how you broke it down throughout the month?

VICTORIA: When I was writing, I worked a lot on my lyricism, I found that coming up with little guitar pieces and chord progressions was pretty simple. But my lyricism was pretty weak. So working through that I drew a lot from what I was experiencing at the time. There’s a line in it that says “Advil will kill me at age 25” because I had a slew of infections that were awful. I was eating way too much Advil every single day so that was a really big driving inspiration for it. 

SPENCER: You were mentioning lyricism – I have to ask because I find that some people are responding to this challenge, myself included, as a route for self-discovery for song writing. Did you come into this challenge with prior experience, or was this something organic for you?

VICTORIA: So I had a little bit of experience with song writing; I’ve never really recorded anything, but I’ve been writing music since I was about 10. The first time I picked up a flute I started writing music. So that’s something that’s been really natural to me, but actually putting in the time and refining it was something new when I did the challenge. 

SPENCER: What resources did you have on hand when you did the challenge?

VICTORIA: I had a really beat-up acoustic guitar, and I had the drums from the L.E.C. music room that we “stole” during exams and brought them into my friends room. Yeah, we were not popular, but it was really fun. That and we used a mic, and one of my friends did the recording with me. 

SPENCER: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about signing up for the challenge?

VICTORIA: Really just believe that you can do it. I didn’t think that I could write lyrics, and I just grinded through it until I had lyrics that I was happy with. I’ve gained that skill and it's great. Just believe in yourself and do it.

Catch the new episodes of Revvin’ Up: The RPM Challenge every Friday at 6:30-7:00pm, only on 92.7 CFFF FM or by listening online.

Be sure to visit the official RPM Challenge website and Facebook page for more information on how to sign up, as well as the Trent Radio RPM Facebook page for more updates on episodes and content to be featured within the month.

Arthur News School of Fish
Arthur News School of Fish

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