After a delay of a week because I needed to recover from a Bronchitis, the next vBlog is finally up. Hear some of the now finished ‘Together’, ‘Aurelia’ and ‘Patchwork’ and see me play metallophone, vibraphone and the minimoog that was used for the bass line in Nena’s ’99 Red Balloons’ amongst other things. Enjoy! Comments of any sort are of course welcome again.
The first vBlog is up. Hurray! The first of a long series. I’m already halfway into the next EP and album, but you can watch some of my previous work in progress in webcasts as well.
In this first vBlog I’m playing you bits of my new songs Live & Learn, Audacity and Together. There’s crazy kazoo, trumpet, array mbira, a strange whirly and of course vocals. I hope you enjoy it!
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.
There are always people asking what sound is what somewhere in my songs. So how about a little making of blog post for each new song here? For now written, maybe later as little video blogs. Enough, let’s dive right in:
I don’t think I have to say anything about the subject matter. We’ve all been there and even though I don’t spell it out in the lyrics I think it’s quite obvious.
The piano part of In Time has been around for quite some time. Whenever I have time for it I just sit down and play and when something nice emerges I quickly record the idea (yes, I have quite lot of those sketches and hopefully some of them will turn into fully fleshed out songs in the (near) future). I also already had a vocal melody (they usually come all by themselves), but if I don’t have matching lyrics songs tend to be tough to work out. It’s synergetic thing for me.
The dark – or as a friend called them – psycho sounds at the beginning and end (in between as well) and the cello-like bits are me playing my Epiphone Les Paul (electric guitar) with a violin bow, partly pitched down an octave (don’t have a bass which would have been better). All the small ‘electronic’ sounds are actually made from array mbira or piano. Then of course there’s the mbira. I didn’t use it much on Minutia, because by the time I had the money together and got it, most songs were already more or less finished. You can expect quite a lot more mbira on the next EP or album from me though. I just adore this instrument. The darker sounding beats are made by stomping on my wooden floorboards. The ones that sound like brushes are eggbeaters on a canvas bag filled with paper strips, very closely micced.
So apart from the piano (I don’t own one yet) everything on In Time is made with real instruments or field recordings. I’m planning to re-record the piano parts once I have enough new songs with piano passages and found a good one to record them on. An idea I’m having for the next release is using no MIDI instruments on it as the real thing always sounds warmer. If a song asks for a full orchestra though I won’t be able to make that happen. We’ll see.
I don’t know when I’ll have the next release finished. If I do it the usual way – release it as one body of work – I seriously doubt it will come out this year. A possibility I’m toying with is to do a subsciption-based release. Different packages starting from 10€. Subscribers would get a new song each month. Even then I’d have to have a few finished before the whole thing could start as it takes me about 2 weeks from start to finish for a song and there’s always so much else to do as it’s just me. What do you think (comments here are welcome as are tweets or emails)?
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!)
Okay then… I guess I’m just gonna pretend I’ve been doing this blogging all along. I will throw in bits of flashback info of what I’ve already recorded and so on when it seems appropriate. Otherwise I’d be sitting here till morning and my typing skills are already in pieces.
In the last couple of days I’ve been working on this song called ‘Unspoken’ which is sort of this epic fairytale where the heroine tries to save the world from silence, because all these important things are left, er, unspoken until the world becomes mute. So she’s the only one attempting to rescue sound.
I’ve been bickering with this song for ages. It’s been a real stubborn one. I finally came up with the musical sketch last April. It turned out quite different from what I imagined, but it’s the way it seemingly wants to be.
It started out with this sound of glass harmonica I recorded a while ago that is used for the main chords and this bouncing bassline. Most of the sounds you can hear in my songs I’ve recorded myself. And all of the sounds for the beats. For this one I used for example the creaking of my office chair and other noises that seem a bit scary. Today and on friday I’ve been working on the refinement and tweaking of the beats. They’re somehow tribal-style now… I really love them. My favourite part right now is the last verse (I’ll put up an intrumental bit of it tomorrow). ‘Unspoken’ builds up just like a story climaxes which means quite some heavy editing since every verse and chorus needs to be different from the others. In the last couple of days I also wrote and arranged parts for a string quartet for this song that nicely add to the mood of the theme.
I’ve decided to give ‘Unspoken’ a break now. I like to let my songs sit for a while and then come back to them to listen with fresh ears. After a while I always kind of become deaf and can’t say if any changes help the song or just make it worse.
Tonight I’ve listened to another song again called ‘Paperheart’, enhanced the overall sound somewhat and made a rough mix. The vocals are still missing, but I’ll do them sometime later (then I can also talk more about this song). At the moment I’m just itching to finally make sense of ‘Chaos and Order’ (demo version on myspace). A friend suggested that it sounds R’n’B- or HipHop-style which gave me the idea to actually really try this stylistic approach. We’ll see.
Enough written, I’m absolutely knackered. Gotta go to bed now so I’m fit tomorrow.