Could you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
I write and perform on keys in our band Turn Back to Spring, an electronic pop act with Katie Tomczynska, based in london. I also write record and produce other artists, the biggest artist I have recorded is probably Ed Sheeran.
Despite trying my best to live healthy I got a Bronchitis last week and am still getting over the last bit of it. Let’s hope I’m done with being sick for this year and it’ll be uphill from now on. This means I haven’t quite managed to finish the mixes for the first 8 songs, yet. Also the next vBlog won’t be up tonight as promised, but only next Monday.
I had the idea last Christmas when I recorded the little message with the SoundCloud app. I love using field recordings, so I thought why not let others take part? SoundCloud makes it possible and very easy. Let me introduce you to…
For each song of the new album I will collect sound contributions from anyone who wants to join in. I like translating the lyrics into the music so I usually use sounds associated with the theme or the words of the song. So for each song I will ask for a specific sound or a sound to a motif. Who knows, maybe even a melody to create an internet choir?
You’ll need a free Soundcloud account and then you can record the sound with the Soundcloud app on iPhone, Android or from SoundCloud Desktop (Mac) and upload it to my Dropbox.
Task for Song #1: Patchwork
I will play a bit of the song live at tomorrow’s first livestream ‘Notes from the Ivory Tower’. For this song I would like you to record one word. I’m gonna give you a few lines of the lyrics to set the mood:
Your words all mangled and broken
You don’t really make sense
Stop motion sentences that hang in the air
Be creative, continue to story in your mind and think of one word that would fit the mood. Anything goes as long as it’s just one word. You can choose whatever language you want. I will take the sounds of those words and make the beats for ‘Patchwork’ out of them. I’ll be updating you in the upcoming livestreams.
Can’t wait to hear what you all come up with!
This blog entry is all about remixes.
Tomorrow (Friday, July 16) the remix contest for Zero Tolerance will commence. The stems and all the info can be found at FiXT Remix.
I will handpick the winners who will have their remixes released in the FiXT store on a (mini)album. There’s no other prize from FiXT Remix, but I’ll throw in a download of my live album ‘Live at the Watertower’ that will be released on September 3. You can find more info on it here.
The Minutia Remix Project has been pretty quiet lately. Things have taken longer again on my part so the deadline I’ve set for Mingle is void.
The new one is now: September 9… 8 more weeks from today!
I’m still awaiting some back. So if you’re one the people who wanted to do a remix could you please get in touch with me to let me know if you’re still gonna do it? Or if you’d like to give it try, but hadn’t chosen a song yet read the Mingle post and get in touch with me. The more the merrier. 🙂
I’m sitting here outside an old mansion outside of Berlin (actually right now I’m at the hospital cafeteria for the free wifi). It’s quiet but for the wind, birds, crickets and the occassional car sound from far away. It’s sunny/cloudy and windy. The perfect summer residence. I still can’t believe my luck. One day I’m melting in the heat in my flat unable to do any work because my brain hot way too slow, the next I’m in a stranger’s huge house at my free disposal. It’s got everything but hot water and who needs that in summer. Guess I’ll stay here for a week and except for the occassional city guest I’ll be on my own writing new songs. Got a mobile recording studio here with me (Hurray for technology!) and a video camera. I’m only here since last night and I’m already feeling inspired.
Finally there’s time for a day off and an update of all things bloomy.
As planned I recorded some mbira for ‘A Little’. I came up with some really nice melodies, but they made such a huge difference to the whole feel of the song that I ended up having to change the bass line and parts of the vocals. The end part has a new vocal melody and I sampled my voice and played it as chords in the choruses. Very happy with the song now.
I finished the rough mix for the remaining songs: ‘A Little’, ‘Breathing Underwater’, ‘Euphoria’, ‘Hearts First’ and ‘Unspoken’. After that I made rounds at friends’ who are either sound engineers or music producers and had a good listen to the album on proper studio monitors to figure out the weaknesses in the mix. Aaron, a friend of mine, also gave me a quick crash course on how to EQ my songs to make them sound professionally and well balanced. Luckily there’s not that much to do. Just some polishing!
Next up (musically speaking) was a remix of my friend Mr. Bobby Starrr’s house track ‘Loaded Up On Pluto’. My first remix ever, but it was surprisingly easy. You can listen to the longer version on his myspace page. It’s gonna come out on vinyl sometime early next year and he will do a remix of ‘A Little’ for me in return.
As you have probably already read, I took part in the Hobnox Evolution 2 competition. At the moment you can listen to 10 of my new songs in the rough mix there. In the last two weeks I made to no. 2. Close, but no cigar! But there’s still the jury picks so there’s still hope. Thanks to all of you who voted for me, by the way! Anyway, no matter if I make it into the finals or not, taking part has brought about new and exciting prospects. I was asked if I wanted to write a score for a short film, got tons of nice comments and got to know interesting people. It really shows I’m on the right track with my music. And maybe even best of all, I found musicians who will play on my album. Cello, violin and upright bass. Brilliant! I will record them in the next week or so.
Yesterday I played and recorded the grand piano in Kino Babylon, a movie theatre here in Berlin. A friend of mine organised it for me and Aaron did the microphoning and recording. He used 5 mics and it took two and a half hours to properly set up which left just an hour to record all the piano parts. Quite exhausting! Tomorrow I will mix the parts in. Really curious how it’ll sound in the end. I just hope the sound of the U-Bahn passing underneath the theatre won’t be a problem.
I might have found a booking agent. He’ll come to my next gig and check out what I do live. And last but not least, the planning of the booklet design and accompanying photo shoot is making progress, too. More on that soon (erm, really!)
As promised, here comes the sequel… So what else have I been up to lately…
Last Tuesday was the last hot day for a while and since I hadn’t had much time to enjoy the sun I’d decided to go to a lake to finish the lyrics for ‘The Tide’ there. Found a nice, secluded spot, went swimming – the water was still pretty cold, but lovely and refreshing – and then took out my notebook and pen. I got everything but the last verse. Not sure how to conclude the song, yet. I’ve got a couple of different scenarios and I guess I’m gonna leave that open until I’ve arranged the music. Very happy with what I’ve got so far.
After that I had another appointment with the music producer. I gave him the soul song I wrote for someone else in a rough outlined version so she can sing on top of it. He really liked it. Last time I’d been there he’d given me two songs that needed beats, but I disliked the songs so much that with each listening I felt more like getting sick. Sooo not my cup of tea. This time he’d considered my taste and given me a couple of songs that I really like and that inspired some ideas already during listening for the first time. Also I can try whatever I like. It seems to let me work to my strength means not to put me on a short leash. The music producer agreed that I do the radio edit for ‘Chaos & Order’. I understand that he wants to make the song interesting even to people who have the attention span of a mayfly. That’s fine, but I’d rather do it my way. There are supposed to be two songs on the compilation and I’m gonna write a new song specifically for it.
It’s funny how the music producer treats me now. In the beginning he found my music interesting, but he was slightly reserved. I reckon because he thought it too weird. He seems to play everyone’s music to all kinds of people to see how they react. Well, each time I go there I meet someone new. And the introduction goes like that most of the time: ‘Hi, I’m Madeleine.’ ‘Oh, hi. Love your music!’ This resulted in the music producer calling me his shooting star now, which seems a bit like piling it on too much. But it’s nice realising that you can do your own thing and people aren’t only interested in the same old, same old.
A couple of days ago I sat down and made a plan what’s left to do to finish the album. Time’s running out, it’s coming to a close that I can blissfully make music and nothing else. By the end of July I probably have to seriously start looking for a part time job. The good thing is it appears feasible that I’ll be finished with my 12 songs, preparing all songs for the stage and writing another one for the compilation till then. So the timing is right, but I’ll have to work quite a bit in these weeks. I tried to apply proper time management methods where you calculate how long you think things will take and then multiply that by two for unexpected and unknowable delays. Still I’d love to continue just making music, because the learning curve in the last couple of months has been so steep for me and there are so many more songs left in me. That’s why I only want a part time job. At least then I’ll have quite some time left each week for music. I might even have something already. The music producer asked me if I was interested in doing the event management for the huge gig at the end of the year. If the hourly rate is right, gladly. Well, we’ll see.
Thursday night I took my MD recorder and my new Sony stereo mic and went around Berlin recording all kinds of sounds for my song ‘Euphoria’. I’m really happy with the quality of the recordings I got. The next day I edited all of it and replaced the old sounds with the new ones. The basic rhythm is made of a woman walking in high heels and the clicking noise of a traffic light near where I live. The song starts with an S-Bahn arriving and the amazing thing is when I put the sound in I discovered that the rumbling on the tracks is completely in sync with the tempo of the song. In the refrain there’s gonna be more sounds of the S- and U-Bahn. I still have to refine the sound of the beats and put little details in.
On Saturday I packed up my Mac, my little keyboard and some clothes and went to visit family and friends in my hometown. The first few days I was busy catching up with all of them. I hadn’t seen most of them for months. Especially my brother including his little family. My nephew is very musical and we already played a bit together and we’ll continue this afternoon when he’s coming from kindergarten. It’s a lot of fun seeing him eyes aglow when he tried out playing a keyboard for the first time. And it’s great to get a change of scenery from time to time. I felt like a holiday, but I’ve got no time for it and neither the money – I’m buying the array mbira instead. I feel much more relaxed and ready to keep working and pulling all bits together to get the album finished.
One more thing… lately I’ve worked till early in the morning quite often and ended up being too tired to write the blog. So I thought I’d join twitter, because that way I can keep you posted about what I’m up to in no time. So if you want to know what I’m working on and there’s no update in this blog, you can check here.
Phew, what a writing marathon. Guess I’ve mentioned everything. And now back to rehearsing.
It’s already been a week again…
After I last wrote, Tuesday night, I couldn’t sleep. I was quite worried what the music producer had done to my song. So after a chat with my best friend that lasted till five in the morning I decided just to stay up. I played on my keyboard with headphones and had a lot of new ideas that I instantly recorded in Live. Around midday I had a little break and fell asleep on my armchair, went to bed and slept for four hours. When I woke up I got right back to playing and came up with an idea for a song. I don’t know if I’d mentioned that I was asked to write a soul song for someone else. I’d been listening to soul a lot to research chord structures etc. The following day I continued fleshing out the idea and it’s not bad at all. The music producer really liked it and will probably use it. He also played me what he’d done with ‘Chaos & Order’ which is basically just a radio edit. Not sure if I like it. It’s got a fad in. Yuck! I’m starting to think I’d rather write two new songs only for this compilation. That way I can see the whole thing as something like a collaboration. My friends to whom I talked to about it agree. They even said that no one would want their children messed up by someone else after bringing them up all on one’s own. Funny they used this allegory. Spot on, I guess!
On Thursday I also went for a long cycling trip through a nearby park and an adjoining forest, offroading and all. Very enjoyable! I’d completely forgotten how exhiliarating it can be. On the way back I paused by a lake and started assembling ideas for lyrics. Basically jutting down everything that came into my mind, without any particular order. That seems to work best for me these days. Make sense of them later after collecting thoughts.
While working on the soul song I already came up with a little bass line that I thought has loads of potential. I sorta forgot about it until I was about to turn off the computer and go to bed. So I opened up Ableton Live again an quickly recorded it and all of a sudden all the arrangement ideas came flooding out of me and I ended up staying up till five in the morning. It’s the song I’m working on at the moment. It’s called ‘The Tide’, at least for now and it’s pretty dramatic with pizzicato strings, harpsichord, big drum sounds and in waltz time. I only have the lyrics for the first verse and the refrain so far, but since the weather’s supposed to be very summerly in the next couple of days I’m gonna go to the park and finish them in the sun. Maybe even write some more. The metaphor for the chorus came to me in the shower. Being relaxed seems to be the way to go to get in the mode. The vocal lines are there. When I sent a rough sketch to my dad today via Skype he said it rocked. Ha!
I got my new phone yesterday. Installing the stuff onto the computer took a bit, it kept cutting out, but it works now so I can upload pictures from now on. One of the first ones I took (my orchid):
Haven’t really been away, but in the last week I had quite some creative ups and downs. Got stuck on ‘Euphoria’, then realised that the refrain was just not euphoric enough, but by then I was too close to the subject to see what might be right. Also I noticed when I went outside to record sounds of Berlin that either my microphone or the MD recorder is making loads of noise by itself. Quite a drawback, so no way I can make the beats I want for the song. Gotta check which one is being the noisy bugger! And then think of a solution. Preferably one without spending any money. And then after leaving the song alone for a bit get back to it afresh.
On Tuesday and yesterday I met up with the music producer I’d already mentioned. On Monday I recorded vocals for ‘Unspoken’ and ‘Webs’ so that he could get the whole picture. That and the mixing took the whole day and night. I ended up seeing the dawn and going to bed at half 7. I got a real rush throughout the next day with being so overtired and all that.The producer liked my songs and even asked me if I would like to write some songs for other people. I guess it’s a nice challenge since I’ve never tried that. Still I feel I should be cautious… He wants to try some stuff with three of my songs and I don’t want him to rewrite them and make them into something that could be neatly pigeonholed by a big record label, but that doesn’t feel like me anymore. I’m well aware that I’m very protective with my songs, but I’ve spent so much time and energy on them. I just don’t want anyone to mess with them…I guess I’ll have to wait and see what he’s planning to do with them!
Almost three months ago I started working on a song that was untitled back then and seriously doing my head in. It’s a pretty angry song and on Wednesday someone really pissed me off. On the way to my flat I thought that I should preserve the mood and have another go at this song. I cracked it! Finally! I figured out that the bass I had used was slightly out of tune, but since there was distortion on top of it I hadn’t noticed it earlier. So I just loaded up some piano sound and started playing my keyboard and within about five minutes I had the chord progression for the refrain, a vocal melody and lyrics to go with them. I quickly recorded everything and since then everything’s just falling into place. Needless to say that also cheered me up tremendously. The song’s called ‘Zero Tolerance’ now. I still have to write the lyrics for the third verse, but that should be a piece of cake after all the trouble I had with this stubborn song.
I’m just gonna write down the lyrics for the refrain so I don’t get the stupid idea and try to change them again:
zero tolerance from now on
gotta kill what’s killing me
zero tolerance from now on
no more putting up with
no more polite smiles
I then replaced the bass sound. Took me a while to create one that sounded just the way I envisioned it. I also changed the sounds for the beats. Mostly sounds of me hitting stuff. They’re pretty tribal and distorted sounding with a pinch of white noise thrown in. Working very well with the new bass. Had fun arranging some brass fills and fiddling with effects. ‘Zero Tolerance’ really screams for extreme FXing. This song might be something for the dance floor, very fast, driven. At least I have to dance around a lot when I hear it.
P.S.: Finally got a second hand bicycle. Got it on Ebay for just 20€. A red mountainbike. The girl I bought it off turned out to live near me. So if you happen to see a red flash rushing past… might be me 😉
Today has been an amazing day. Early on I had to run a few errands and it was such great weather outside. I all of a sudden felt really inspired. Saturday I was in such a strange mood. Everything seemed to go wrong. I got completely stuck with ‘Celeste’. It’s never a good thing too feel defeated creatively so I always make it a point to end the day with a good feeling. I trailed through my song ideas and kinda rediscovered ‘Endless’. Before I thought I had messed up the song, but I figured out pretty quickly what was wrong. And on Sunday and today I’ve been working on this song and trying to get my voice into shape again.
Today I finally sat down and finished the lyrics for it. It’s called ‘Euphoria’ now. The title came to me a couple of days ago when I walked through my quarter and saw the sign for a bar named ‘Euphoria’ and thought what a great title it would make. I already sorta had lyrics for the song formerly called ‘Endless’, but I wasn’t too happy with them overall. Now I am though. The rough idea for verse and refrain are all there, chords, vocals, bass, beats. The main sound is the glass harp. When cut up and made into a loop played as an instrument it makes a nice upbeat skeleton. The kalimba and the bass round the whole thing off. Sounds almost caribbean, especially the refrain. A very happy song (as could be expected from the title). Very fitting to the season.
Yesterday I got a call from a music producer that I met up with about three weeks ago. He’s trying to put together a project of promising Berlin-based musicians. If things go right there’s gonna be one or two compilation CDs and a huge event in autumn… and this might prove to be exactly what I still need. Loads of media coverage and therefore attention from hopefully the right people. When I was contacted I was at first pretty sceptical and didn’t expect much, but it does sound great. Anyway, let’s not get too far ahead. Next week I’m gonna go to his studio and play him my own favourite songs… I’ll keep you posted.
Off to bed now. So excited about continuing work on ‘Euphoria’.