Category Archives: Ramblings

Happy New Year 2016 or The Patient Patient

A very happy, healthy and creative new year to all of the few readers I probably have left on this blog. An update has been long overdue, but I’ve got a good reason why it’s taken me so long.

I’m sick and have been for quite some time. Already a year ago I felt very exhausted and unlike myself, but the doctors simply put it down to stress. Or hormones as with the migraines. I took a week off in February and flew to Lanzarote and hated every minute of it.  Very little energy, feeling kind of depressed, brain fog, regular migraines and a business (Sonic Bloom) to keep running on my own.

I’ve been struggling to finish my next album. I just couldn’t tell anymore what the first seven songs still needed to be done. I felt like in Groundhog Day for months. They might be finished apart from one of them where the mix is a mess. No idea what I’ve done there. Ironically, this song is called Live & Learn.

Then a Facebook friend of mine offered the flat in Mauritius, his wife and he live in, for a bargain for three months. Still thinking I just needed time off from the stress I jumped at the chance and moved to Mauritius in late August. With my mobile studio and the intent of finishing the remaining songs and my new live performance set. A week after my arrival, my health took a complete nose dive, and the doctors there weren’t any more helpful. Every joint in my body hurt like hell, I felt like I was 90, amongst other things. Yet, they sent me home with a clean bill of health, lots of painkillers as well as anti-inflammatory drugs that can give you stomach bleeds.

Since then, I’ve been on a journey researching what is wrong with me. In between, my boyfriend came and we actually had a nice 12 day holiday, so I got to see Mauritius before flying home. We spent my birthday at the beach. I’ve been back home in Berlin for a month now and it’s very hard to get appointments with doctors. I already made the first few from Mauritius, just to be told that things like drawing blood was only possible 6 weeks later. What an abysmal state the healthcare system is in now. Either you take matters into your own hands as well as pester doctors until you get some appointments and answers or you end up in hospital or even die, depending on the severity of your illness.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to  listen to my body, figuring out what I need. Researching for hours. What I know is that most likely I’d be diagnosed with some autoimmune disease and be told, that it’s chronic and here to stay. I won’t accept that and research shows that I don’t have to. I’m on a pretty strict diet, eating lots of raw veggies. No sugar, no dairy, no gluten. It helps, albeit slowly. Then again, after being on this diet for a few weeks I noticed that I’ve had a lot of the symptoms for a long time, but they crept in ever so slowly over the years. I noticed that because they slowly went away. So it’d be foolish to expect everything to be sorted within a few weeks or so. It’ll take time.

I’ve gotten big time into yoga again, doing it (almost) daily. And I’ve taken up jogging. I never liked it before, but this time I got myself some proper shoes and suddenly I love it. I used to have migraines every two weeks, so badly that I could only stay in bed for the next 24 hours or so. The last one I had was delayed, weak, I did yoga in the morning, stayed away from the computer screen and on my feet and it wasn’t bad at all. Everything has been getting better very slowly.

So please, bear with me, I will finish the next album and it’s gonna be totally worth it. I can promise as much. It’s gonna be quite the dark album though. I’ve been jokingly calling it my Homogenic, except it’s not about heartbreak, but a deteriorating world.

I will try to blog more often. Hopefully let you take part in the journey of finishing the last few songs and sharing some insights about the (almost) finished ones. But my health has to come first, so I won’t promise anything else.

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What To Do With All Those To Dos

I’ve been meaning to write an update for a long time, but I didn’t really know what to write. It would’ve gone something like this: still stuck in the songs, it seems I’ve lost all feeling for them.

Not that exciting, is it?

You may know that I started my own business Sonic Bloom and it was a lot of work. Quite a bit more than I expected, to be honest. It’s basically lots of small jobs rolled into one. Quite exhausting. Cloning might help.

Anyways, one thing that has really been doing my head in was the fact that I still had a to do list with items from over two years ago. And not the kind that you can just ignore and they will sort themselves out. They simply kept moving into the next month and then the next month. It made me feel like there was a huge mountain of work that was insurmountable and was never going to be finished, ever.

So I made the decision to pretty much postpone everything until I had gone through it all. I’ve been working on the first seven songs from time to time and if they’re not done now then what’s needed is only a few small tweaks. However, I’ve decided to finally buy some proper linear monitors within the next few days or so, I want to finalise the songs with them.

And now I’m finally getting to the point where I can see the end of the list. I’ll either finish this week or early next week. And I must say I’m feeling a lot lighter already. It’s incredible how something like this can become such a burden, such a chip on your shoulder.

Hopefully by that time I will also have the speakers so I can polish the first seven songs and finally tick them off the list. After that, I will write and produce a couple more songs to complete the album. Seeing that I have more time now at once it should go a lot faster as well.

I also promise to blog more often now that I’ve figured out that I can use dictation for it. Actually that’s what I’m currently doing from the comfort of my couch. It works quite well, but you have to speak slowly which is a bit weird. 😉

xx,
Mads

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A Little Update

Here’s a little update that’s been long overdue. Four songs for the new album are done now. For two more I still need to record and mix in some more vocals. It’s really just another day or two to finish them, but currently my live performance set takes precedence.

I’m very happy and extremely excited to say that I’ve been invited to the IndiEarth Xchange in Chennai, Madras to hold a workshop and perform live. I only got the first email about four weeks ago and I’m flying there already on Tuesday. Very unexpected and it will delay all my other plans, but who’s going to say no to such an opportunity? So I’ll be in India for a week, hopefully with some time to not only take in the Xchange, but also a glimpse of Madras. I’ve never been, but always wanted to go. So exciting!

Fingers crossed that I’ll have the live set ready and am well rehearsed till then. Panic started setting in a few days ago when it took me three hours to get the MIDI remote scripts working as expected. And that was one small part, not all the details. Charlie, my cat, helped me calm down with her purring. I can’t bring my array mbira, but will use Ableton Push to play and record. Quite a task, relearning all parts on the In key layout (from keyboard and array layouts).

Charlie's trying to help me or something
Charlie’s trying to help me or something

After I’m back, I’ll get right onto finishing Noise Machine and Tipping Point. One night, when I was supposed to work on something, I instead looked through all my little musical sketches and jammed along with the ones I still liked. I have at least four more ideas, vocal lines and lyrics. I only need to find enough time in a row to produce them. Not just a few hours here and there.

In case it looks like I never will (because there’s somehow always more work), I’ll postpone everything else. At some point the album simply needs to be my first priority. I feel like otherwise my head might just explode one day.

Anyway, I’ll be back with another blog post after my return. I’m sure there’ll be much to write about.

x,
Mads

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Slow Down Snail Style

So here I am months after I wanted to have the first six songs of the album finished and only two are done. The thing is, I’d often rather read, hang out or do some outdoors stuff than work on my songs. Because that’s exactly what it feels like at the moment. Work. And after working 70 hours a week or more for over a year to get Sonic Bloom off the ground, I felt exhausted. Still kinda do. After all, I’m only human, not a machine. And even a machine needs its batteries recharged. That’s where I’m at for now. In recharge mode.

Back to nature
Back to nature

I took three weeks off, but got the stomach flu on my first day off. Went down to Lake Constance for a week, but we weren’t so lucky with the weather. Went sailing once, swimming three times.

Then I tried working on music. More specifically on Noise Machine. Snail style. There’s a lot of sound design in there and wild panning. It’s great on headphones and also has a lot of pow. I was slow because I kept losing my concentration. Nonetheless, it’s nearly finished and I think it’s great. My boyfriend called it ‘very idiosyncratic’ and said he could find no references to any other artists. That’s a big compliment in my book.

I’ve now decided to finish off one more projects and some tasks for Sonic Bloom, which should take about a week. After that I’ll get three months mainly for music (there’s always some business stuff) and a week in the UK to visit friends and be away from my workplace (it’s hard to mentally get off work when you’ve got a home studio/office).

Here's the silver lining...
Here’s the silver lining…

I’m hoping to finish the whole album in those three months. If not, I won’t put myself under pressure. I could postpone the next projects for Sonic Bloom by another month or so.

I’ll also try not to keep silent for so long and keep you posted. I just need time to think, process and start catching up with other stuff and friends that were neglected all the while.

x,
Mads

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Where to Go from Here?

Last month I played an electronic live jam together with Donna Maya and Aschka. Three women, three laptops, two Ableton Pushs, one Akai APC40 and zero rehearsing. We’d never played together before or even seen each other’s gigs. We only had a quick Skype group call two nights before the gig to get an idea what each of use could prepare.

Donna Maya, Aschka & me having fun (from left to right)
Donna Maya, Aschka & me having fun (from left to right)

 

It was so refreshing and exciting. The total opposite of my usual concerts which require lots of preparation and rehearsing. Often they are only paid by what’s put into a hat. During the last five years or so, I could see how DJs started replacing live concerts while getting paid more in comparison to the hours of work that goes into it.

The live jam was not only tons of fun, our audience really loved it (including kudos from Robert Henke a.k.a. Monolake). I loved the moments of surprise when we built up something amazing soundwise, the freedom of just creating in the moment.

It made me wonder how I could combine it with my usual live set. A live remix of my songs intertwined with electronic live improvs? I’m not sure, yet, the ideas are brewing inside my head, but not quite ready to come out… One idea I recently had, was to do shorter live improv sets on my balcony or in the studio (depending on the weather) on a fairly regular basis and broadcast them via UStream. Basically, doing the trial and error live, figuring out what works well and what doesn’t and maybe get your input (if you’re so inclined). Starting first with pure jams, then slowly adding my songs after I’ve figured out a good way to include them.

What do you think?

x,
Mads

livejam2

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Where I’m At

It’s been ages since I’ve been blogging or vblogging regularly. Over the course of the last year and a half I’ve started my business Sonic Bloom through which I teach music production with Ableton Live and mix and master other people’s music. Most of the time I did 70+ hours of work per week to get it off the ground. So much to do. In the winter of 2012/13 every day felt like groundhog day. The most boring and tiring version of it.

Charlie making music
Charlie making music

Now I’m at a point at which I can slow down a little. I feel pretty exhausted and empty right now. Have felt that way for about two months, but it’s gettibg better. After all this madness and such a high output I need some time to breathe, reflect, absorb and sort my head. Hermit style, mostly.

My vocal booth is finally fixed again after it had been broken by Charlie when she was still a kitten.

Currently I’m in a pre-production phase with my music. I have at least 5 song ideas roughly sketched out. Some are missing lyrics which I find crucial for moving forward in the production and arrangement. And I have plenty of musical fragments that could eventually turn into songs.

One of the synths
One of the synths

Overall, the songs so far seem to emphasise beats and bass more, so the next album might turn out more electronic and danceable. I’ve been experimenting a lot with analogue synths and I really like using them for bass lines (my boyfriend has a solid collection). That said, I reckon the new ideas still sound like me. There’ll still be lots of my vocals, field recordings and a wide array of acoustic instruments involved.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back soon, quite possibly with some soundbites.

x,
Mads

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Good and bad news

Mastering tools

Recently I have become very absent minded and erratic. The reason for this is simple. Due to unforseen circumstances I’m running behind with the preparations for the release. So I get impatient because things don’t move forward fast enough. No matter what I do. In the end I start making mistakes and doubting my decisions. I already put working on new songs on a backburner, but there’s still not enough time. I can’t work all the time without making myself very unhappy and most likely even sick. Not good. Not good at all.

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Sparks of ideas and last call for Mingle

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.

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Midsummer in May

I’m sitting on my balcony after a truly brilliant day. After being stuck in the stuffy and hot office for two and a half days I felt really restless and needed to get out of the house. So I went for a cycling trip to two lakes in Berlin today. 20 km total. Woohoo! I even went for the first swim this year. Cold at first, but so refreshing.

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