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.
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.
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.
I’m sitting on my couch, listening to the state of the songs I have so far. This is the second attempt at writing a catch up post, but the last was swallowed by WordPress for iOs. Again. Anyway…
As the year nears its end, I feel like it’s time to take stock, look and listen back of where I got this year. I didn’t quite get as far as I wanted, but I love the new songs. Moving into a new place has been part of that, but it’s taken up some time as well. Right now I have 8 songs in various stages: ‘Audacity’, ‘Live & Learn’, ‘Too Soon’, ‘In Time’ and ‘Patchwork’ more or less roughly mixed, ‘Together’ and ‘Afterglow’ as rough demos and last, but not least ‘Aurelia’ somewhere in between. So about halfway there. Not too shabby!
Compared to ‘Minutia’ there are more live instruments on the new songs that give it a sort of live feel. I got more instruments since finishing the last album and my boyfriend, whose studio is next to mine, has even more. Working in tech support at Ableton has me staring at Live without making music. This made me crave the tactile feel of tines, strings, keys and so on. As an act of deviance against all the MIDI, editing and goggling the screen, I guess.
In the last few days I’ve made a list of all the things that need to be done before a release besides the music. I had set a deadline for mid February ages ago, but it’s dawned on me that it has become pretty much impossible or I’d have to rush things too much. So I’ve decided to instead release an EP in mid May and the album in late August or so. This way the wait is not too long. Sound good?
If you want to have a listen to the progress on the songs of my sophomore album… I’m doing a fortnightly webcast and the previous videos are available to watch. Wanna hear the songs emerge? Or watch live from now on? The next one is on New Year’s Day at 9 pm CET, then Sunday every other week.
Took me a while to get going today. I felt like I was coming down with a cold, but no, it’s just my body thinking it’s being attacked by vicious tree pollen. So I’ve been coughing and wheezing. It’s no excuse though. I can’t just do nothing for weeks only because I drag myself around sneezing in the morning. I sure hope my voice gets used to it.
More work on ‘Webs’ today. I’ve sorted out the general arrangement. I had the feeling that something was off when I listened to it for the first time today. As it turns out it was pretty easy to solve. The bass line needed some adjustments and I’ve fiddled around with some effects for the rhodes. Together they already create a beat of some sorts now – sounds like a CD skipping. That’s what happens if you don’t cut a sound at zero. Usually this clicking sound is considered to be bad, but I like it.
My condensator mic got a bit tortured to get a sound for the bass drum. I tried to think of anything one does in the morning that provides a sound for that, but at least I prefer it rather relaxed just after getting up without any banging around. Hence the hitting the mic. Recorded the first attempts to the vocals to see if everything works the way I want it. Also recorded more little bits that will hopefully find their perfect place in time.
I need to find some clocks to record the ticking. I don’t have one that tick-tocks anymore. The grandfather clock at my parents’ would be perfect. Maybe next time I get there. I might ask around who’s got one or go to a shop…
This is the tiny snippet that inspired this song (sounds completely different already though):
So I began the new song called ‘Webs’ today. Like a breath of fresh air. Back in the flow of things. No sign of writer’s block. Ha!
The lyrics are taken from a short story written by my best friend that he probably doesn’t even remember writing. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind anyway. Just nicked some very poetic sounding phrases, translated them and reworked everything. It’s about the time when you wake up and are kind of still caught up in a dream, but have to get into the hustle and bustle of everyday life again. Funny, now I’ve got a morning song and a good night song (‘Scaredy Cat’s Lullaby’). I wonder if it’ll affect the naming of the whole album and the order of the songs… we’ll see.
Some Rhodes playing and recording today, nice and simple sine wave bass line. I also had fun recording lots of stuff one does in the morning just after getting up… yawning, brushing of teeth, getting dressed (zipper sounded best), sipping coffee and so on. For beats. And some basic beat programming. Me likey! Some ah and uh vocals to use as fills, too. It’s a good song to play around with loads of sounds and just enjoy the whole recording process again. Really looking forward to more of this tomorrow.
Good news… I cracked the new song yesterday. I’ve got a bass line for the verse running over a pretty rudimentary drum loop I’ve made. I guess this one calls for some real live drums. So I’m gonna ask a friend who’s a drummer and percussionist and not spend much time making beats. I’d rather the drummer has a choice over what he wants to play so it’s fun for him. Also I have a melody for the verses now. I’ve decided I’m gonna finish the lyrics while working on the song. I realised while singing the first verse – that one’s done – that the lyrics have to be tight and well fitting for this one. It’s fast and I have very little time in between to draw a breath. I still keep changing the lyrics for the refrain, but I might tackle that tomorrow.
Today is my day off. Nevertheless I went to this big music shop in Prenzlauer Berg to check out the audio/MIDI-interfaces they have because I still need one for live gigs. The guy there really seemed to know what he was talking about and he himself also works on a Macbook with OS X. Unfortunately he said that Leopard (mac operating system – they sure like their cats of prey) still causes a lot of crashes with all interfaces. Damn! I feared as much. So I’ll have to stick to Tiger a while longer. He recommended the Echo Audiofire 4. Since I don’t need it right away I’m gonna sleep on it and rethink how many Ins/Outs I need to make sure I definitely get what I need. Had a quick look around in the shop… not too long though I don’t want to get any ideas. I simply don’t have the money for all the great geeky gadgets at the moment. Afterwards I went for a nice long walk. I so needed to get out of the house again. I already started feeling like climbing up the walls. Much better now. Got some nice clothes at a big thriftstore, been looking for something to complete my outfit on stage for a while now.
Off to bed now so I’m fit and ready for the next few days of writing and recording.
That’s what today has been like and it’s also the song I’ve worked on. I said I would try a kind of R’n’B- or HipHop-style, but I can’t really say that it sounds like that now. I recorded a new bassline for the verse that I love. It’s a bit of a cross between the James-Bond-Theme and 70s disco. ‘Chaos & Order’, as it turns out, is trial and error big time. Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. So maybe it’s gonna end up a bit of a disco tune. We’ll see.
I started this song ages ago, in fact, so long ago, I’m not even sure when. Maybe two years ago… just guessing. Back in those days I used to work with Fruity Loops for the beats and otherwise Cubase. These days I much prefer Ableton Live and Pro Tools. Live is so much more intuitive, quick and easy to work with. So one day I rearranged the song in Live which was a serious pain in the arse, but I felt it had to be done. The funny thing is I’ll probably strip away almost everything, but the vocals and redo things. The beats sound really messed up to me now and too little dynamic. I’m gonna give them a shot tomorrow. And then more puzzle solving of what this song needs. Oh, well!