Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, I’ll be playing an electronic live jam together with Donna Maya and Aschka. It all takes place at ://aboutblank in Berlin Friedrichshain as part of the Reflecting Perspectives Festival. Plenty of other great acts are gonna play as well: DJ Marcelle/Another Nice Mess, Kat Kat Tat, Lotic, Rona Geffen, Sick Girls, Stellar OM Source and Vinilette.
I hope you’ll come if you’re in Berlin. We’re on at 10 pm and I’m already really excited about it.
It’s been rather quiet on my side. Mainly because I hardly had time to make music apart from two collaborations, with Dustmotes and Subfilter. Both are still in progress.
I’m currently working on my project Sonic Bloom full time. For anyone interested in making music with Ableton Live, you should check it out. There’s daily posts with Live tutorials, freebies and music tech news like interesting Max for Live device, music apps and hardware. In English and German. In a while I’ll also be offering courses for Ableton Live.
Come March I’ll finally have time for music again and I’ll enliven the fortnightly YouTube videos with new vBlogs and more. Until then, here’s a video from Imogen Heap‘s talk about the Gloves I filmed at the CTM Hacklab in Berlin last week. She explains and shows how she performs ‘Me the Machine’ with them.
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.
The new year has begun and it’s the perfect time for hatching new plans and setting things in motion. It seems I can set myself one big goal to achieve for each year. 2008 was for making Minutia, 2009 for starting my label and getting the album released. Last year was all about getting a somewhat financial stability for me.
So what’s the plan for 2011, you might ask?
One thing I have not managed yet is touring. My publisher had the idea to send me on the road as a tour support. I was already getting really excited. But then he became unsure if I was ready for it. Yet, he has never seen me play live.
So… I’ve booked a wee Berlin tour for mid February with Vibeke Falden from Denmark. The idea behind this is to play four or five concerts in one week to get a routine and lose my stage fright.
Just because I can’t make it out into the world right now, doesn’t mean you can’t see me live these days. I’m also going to play a first internet streamed concert in mid February. If you live in Italy you might not have to wait much longer to see me in the flesh. My friend Nicoleugenia who I visited last December in Sicily is putting together a tour for me for March.
When I was there in December I was supposed to play gigs. I got a Bronchitis, had completely lost my voice and wanted to cancel. They really wanted me to play so I agreed to play a shorter instrumental set. The first gig at Lomax in Catania didn’t happen because there was no power. And that after I had been nervous all day long. For the second one in Caltagirone I was hardly nervous and the concert happened and went well. Admittedly it felt very strange to improvise and not sing at all. It made me get out of my comfort zone and I needed the experience. In Berlin the market for live music is totally oversaturated and it makes you feel unappreciated. Playing in Sicily is so different. They’ll tell you repeatedly how much they enjoyed your concert. They want me to come back to Catania and so I’ll return for a week of touring.
Depending on how all this pans out I might just continue doing little tours in different European countries. Possibly with a little help from you. I have some ideas, but I’ll get to that later. Enough rambling about ideas now. It’s time to start making them happen.
‘Live at the Watertower’ comprises audio and video recordings from my concert in an old water tower in Bernau, outside of Berlin, on May 27.
11 songs from the concert plus 3 bonus live tracks (Ivory Tower Sessions) with a beautiful booklet designed by Eduardo Fitch are available now on bandcamp. In addition 4 live videos from the concert are to be had. : In Unison, Zero Tolerance, The Tide and A Little.
I knew for a while there was the chance I might get to support Imogen Heap at her Berlin gig, but the date drew nearer and nearer and nothing happened. Then suddenly on Monday I got an email saying she’d love me to open for her – the next day. Just as I was giving up hope and thinking about getting a ticket. So last minute and so exciting!
When I turned up at the venue (Lido) the soundcheck had just started. I waved hello to Imogen and the others, they waved back. I was surprised how normal it all felt. It was calming to watch and listen even though time was ticking away. I had woken up with a migraine and thrown up first thing in the morning. The whole day I was so worried I might not be able to perform after all. Yet I thought, if Imogen had to get steroids to do her London gig then I could do it. No matter what. And if I keeled over on stage at least I’d have given it a shot. Luckily watching her, Ryan, Vince and Emma soundcheck blew away most of my headache. So I got changed into my stage outfit, sorted the merch and then was told to already set up my gear in front of the stage to speed things up. In the end I had about 10 minutes to set up with very little space to move around and 5 minutes for soundcheck while they held the doors. Madness!
Then as it was to time to hit the stage Immi kindly introduced me to the audience, explained how spontaneous and rushed everything was and beckoned them to come closer. People were still pouring in when I played. I started with ‘A Little’ and as I recorded my ‘fake beatboxing’ loop there was feedback from the mic. So I stopped and started over. Admittedly it made me nervous, but I got through the song without any more issues. Next up was ‘Zero Tolerance’ with drums played with wiimote and nunchuk. That went well and the audience seemed to really enjoy it (I sure did) . When I tried to record the wiimote drums for ‘The Tide’ next they were all over the place. It had worked perfectly at home. Whether it was shaky hands or too little distance to the computer (it works better when further away) I just couldn’t get the beats right. Time was running so I decided to move on to ‘In Unison’ and finished with ‘Breathing Underwater’ after asking the sound guy how much time I had left. Everyone wanted to hear another song except for one guy who shouted at me to stop. I asked who said that (he didn’t respond) and that I would come and find him afterwards. This seemed to rather amuse the rest of the crowd. A lot of people came to me afterwards to tell me they enjoyed my set including Tim Exile who came straight to the stage while me and the crew were frantically getting my stuff off stage. I had expected to get stage fright as I used to, but it’s so much nicer to have a bigger audience. A little more routine with all the multitasking and I’d feel right at home on stage. Ah, to go on tour… well, working on it.
Next up was Ryan a.k.a. BackTed’n’Ted who was great. I’m so looking forward to hearing his album which unfortunately was held up at customs. Then finally it was time for Immi. She started with ‘First Train Home’ as usual and had to start over as well, because one wine glass was awefully out of tune. Her whole set was as amazing as expected. Emma and Vince on violin and viola were a great addition. Imogen and the two string players also took turns drumming on the cocktail kit Immi had bought just before the tour started. You could see they weren’t quite as comfortable yet, but it all worked out just fine. I loved ‘Just for Now’ with the crowd singing the otherwise looped parts and very well at that. Don’t ask me for details or a complete set list as a lot of the evening is slightly blurry. I was still on an adrenaline high. I was outside in between and didn’t even feel the cold.
After the show I hung around, talked to anyone who wanted to, signed a couple of autographs (getting used to it by now, but I’m still finding it weird), Ryan even bought a copy of my album. Then I went backstage where there was tasty Indian curry, silly dancing, conversation and laughter. Everyone of them is so lovely. Immi, Ryan, Emma, Vince and the stage crew. They made me feel very comfortable and right at home. Imogen thanked me lots of times for playing at such short notice.When it was time for me to share a cab home with Tim we all hugged and said goodbye. While we loaded our gear into the boot of the car the others got ready to go on the long bus ride to Oslo. I so wanted to just hop on and go with them. Apparently the bus even has luxurious wood panelling and leather seats, but I totally forgot to have a gander.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten to include lots of details you might be interested in, but a remix plus vocals are waiting to be addressed and there’s never enough time for all the things I want to do.
I’ll be playing a gig tomorrow night at the Astrobar at Simon-Dach-Straße in Friedrichshain, Berlin. Show starts at 9 p.m. It’d be nice to see you there. I’ll even bring my array mbira and play you some tunes on it. So do come!
Sorry for not updating again. Been mostly busy rehearsing. I even found a cellist who’s gonna play with me tomorrow night (July 5). It’s gonna be a great show. The first time that I can play as long as I want so it’ll be definitely over an hour. Yay!
If you live in Berlin please come to my gig and have fun. It’s at Mastul in Wedding, Liebenwalder Str. 33. We’ll start the show at 10 pm sharp. Hopefully see you there!
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.
Been busy trying to rearrange some of my new songs so I can play them live. I wasn’t expecting it to take soooo long, but it does. Ran into some problems today when I realised that on my Macbook VST instruments don’t appear in the plug-ins folder in Ableton Live even though everything’s set up correctly. I wish I could just throw a fit, but that doesn’t help since I’m running out of time. Found a workaround for now which isn’t perfect. Who cares! For now. I’m getting a bit anxious that I might not be so well prepared after all. So much fine-tuning left and rehearsing all the little bits… gotta be done, so it will be done. I guess it’ll all gonna come together tomorrow.
The heat in Berlin is shocking. I don’t wanna moan. I like summer, especially when I actually have some time that I can spend outside. Preferably by a lake. For now I’m stuck inside my flat at close to 30 degrees Celsius. I’m so looking forward to Thursday. Finally going to a lake and spend an afternoon writing lyrics, swimming and having a picknick. That’s going to be my treat to myself. It’s always good to have something nice to look forward to when you’re slaving away while everyone else seems to be out and about having fun. Oh, and going to the Camille concert tomorrow.
Something great though also happened. My friend in San Diego contacted me to confirm he’s definitely coming in early August and he’s gonna bring my spanking new Array Mbira with him. Yay! Funny, I’d had just dreamt of playing one even though I never have. Gotta make up my mind soon how exactly I want it to be, because they’re custom-made and it takes about 4-6 weeks.
And now a little advertising: all who read this and live in Berlin, please come to the gig on Wednesday at Schokoladen. I’m gonna start playing no later than 10 pm so please come early.
Dinner now (I’m starving), then a huge pile of dishes and then back to rehearsing until my eyes fall shut.