Tag Archives: song writing

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.


Here comes vBlog #4

Hello, I’m back after a relaxing holiday in Southern Germany with a new song idea. It has the working title ‘Cheer up’. After coming up with it only yesterday I already play and sing the first verse live for you. Also in there a preview of my first own font amongst other things.

Not so much rambling this time either. I dare say I’m starting to really get the hang of this video thing. I hope you enjoy it!

vBlog #2 is up

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.

vBlog #1

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!

Going visual

I’d promised in a previous blog post that I’d be adding a new video every two weeks. The first one, ‘Making of the Song: Afterglow’, is now up. I give insights into the creative process of recording ‘Afterglow’ including some tasty previews. The fortnightly videos will be a wild mix of making ofs, vblogs, live videos and more. The next one will be up on May 11.


Edit: Videos will go online every other Monday from now on. The latest is a cover of Thom Yorke’s ‘Cymbal Rush’.


Happy New Year to you! May 2012 turn out to be an amazing year all around! 🙂

New Year is the time where you look back at what you’ve achieved and when you make plans. I’ve been doing quite some thinking… about some of it now…

Today my boyfriend asked me why I do the making of the next album as a series of webcasts. I was completely stumped for an answer. I’ve been so caught up in doing it that way I didn’t think about it anymore. It was supposed to be quick and dirty. Just going online with only a little preparation. Yet the setup is not working for me. I can’t hear the music while it’s playing which makes the whole thing stiff and unspontaneous.

So why don’t I do it as youtube videos instead? I could do it whenever it suits me and have it online by Sunday at 9 pm just as the webcasts. As one take with a better setup where I can react to the music. And I could film myself in the recording process and add bits of it. I’m planning on making more videos anyway. Making it a habit to involve the camera would be a wise move, methinks.

So what do you think?

Closeup No. 1: In Time

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:

In Time

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)?


Writing frenzy

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):

Empty handed… almost

My computer was seriously throwing a fit today. What’s different? I’ve got no idea. Slowing and then freezing even though nothing I had opened needed too much CPU. And to top it all off the building site next door was as noisy as it hasn’t been for weeks if not months. So between all that I tried to start with a song fragment called ‘Endless’ which I might have messed up royally. Maybe it was only me becoming more and more annoyed. Started getting restless because I felt like I was going backwards rather than making any progress. Skipped through all the ideas I’d already jutted down. Nothing happened but me becoming more and more frustrated. So I decided to leave the house for a bit and calm down.

When I came back I started playing the piano and suddenly out of the blue I had a nice chord progression and vocals to go along with for both verse and refrain. I quickly set up everything and hit the record button. I’m so relieved that the piano playing recipe still works. It’s quite funny how you can try for hours to come up with something and then in the last 10 minutes when you’re so close to giving up finally something emerges. And even though the productive phase today was pretty short I’m happy with the result and feel like I’ve achieved something. The working title is ‘Hearts first’. More about that tomorrow.

Now I’m gonna go to a little party I’ve been invited to, have some fun and catch up with friends.