New song: “How to live”

It has been almost two years since I last posted a full original song on YouTube. While that is kind of sad, it has been an odd time with many changes in my life. Hopefully I will now find the time and interest to concentrate on my music again.

I am really excited about “How to live”. Most of the song came together quite quickly but it took a long time to get it done. I started with a simple riff and built upon that. Before finalizing it, I asked my friend Helene Urva to add her vocals. I am very happy with how it ended up sounding. Hope you will enjoy it too.

The song is also available on soundcloud and bandcamp.

Mastering Spotify

Although playlists are undoubtedly a very large part of listening to music today, I’m not a big fan of them. The idea of a bunch of songs arranged together by some specific genre or emotion makes sense but I tend to prefer listening to full albums. Very rarely do I want to listen to just one specific song from an artists.

Playlists are of course useful but every time I have started to make playlists in Spotify they turn out horrid. Sometimes my playlists only have a few songs in them as I forget to add new ones. Then there are some with a bunch of seemingly random songs and a few albums in there for good measure. Plus they are not built up in a way that makes sense – there is no logical transition from one song to the next. There is no thought put into which song should follow the other.

Discover Weekly in Spotify

The problem has started to annoy me more over the past few months. The Discover Weekly function is the crown jewel of Spotify and I have found more and more new music that I like using it. I also listen to the new releases every week just to see if there’s anything I find interesting.

The question then comes up, how do I remember these new finds. Again, I am more interested in the full albums than just the songs. Ideally I would like to have separate lists for albums that I can categorize by genre. It would be a grid of albums much like the new releases section that I could sort by name, date added etc. I actually sent Spotify this as a request but I am not holding my breath that they’ll actually add this any time soon.

A twitter conversation with Spotify
While waiting, I came up with a system that I hope will work for me. The idea is that I have separate album and song playlists in addition to a few temporary playlists. The song ones are standard – just lists of songs for Christmas or that I played at our wedding etc. The temporary ones are for songs that I find on Discover Weekly or elsewhere. Once a week or so, I will go over the temporary lists and see if I just like the song or the whole album. If I just like the song it will go into a random favorites list. If the album is good, I will add it to one of my album lists. This way I start each week with a clean temporary list to hold new music.

I categorize the album lists somewhat by genre or feeling. The important thing is that it makes sense to me. While the albums don’t show up in a nice grid, the list kind of works and at least allows me to find an album that interested me a few weeks ago quite quickly.

My profile on Spotify showing my playlists

All the album playlists I make will be public on my profile so if anyone is interested in my favorites in any given genre, you can follow them. Hopefully Spotify will make the dream of album playlists a reality but until then, I hope this method will help me listen to more varied and interesting new music. Too often I feel like listening to music for a few hours and don’t know what to put on…

Ziggy Wild 01.09.15 (Part I)

I went to the first of September ceremony in Tallinn University today. This was in part because my wife started her master’s degree program there and in part because Ziggy Wild was playing. University of Tartu had the ceremony in a church with a choir this year and Tallinn get’s Ziggy Wild in front of a spacey looking building. I love choir music but come on Tartu, step up your game!

I’d never seen Ziggy Wild live. I had however seen their performances on YouTube and was quite sure they wouldn’t disappoint. Of course they didn’t and the show was great! They looked very cool on stage  in front of the Nova building in Tallinn University (already a cool looking building) and performed very well. They are one of those rare bands where everything just fits and the end result is awesome. My hat goes off to the sound guys as well. The whole thing sounded perfect!

I had two cameras with me. My trusty Sony NEX 5N with a manual focus Pentax 100 mm f2.8 lens and my Olympus OM1 film camera with a Zuiko 50 mm f1.8 lens. In an ideal situation I would have loved to have an autofocus lens as many of the shots I took were out of focus. The band moves around a lot so getting sharp images was a struggle. I also didn’t want to go too close to the stage as there was a camera set up on rails filming the whole thing. I did however manage to get a few quite nice shots.

I have rarely taken photos of a band playing live and in the few instances it has happened before, I have had more access to the stage. This time I just went to enjoy the show and took my cameras with me because I could use the practice. I’m happy that I got at least a handful of decent images and a bit more experience.  I will try to photograph more live performances as time goes on. The part II of this post will come in a few weeks after I have developed the film.

My Mind

I’m a little behind with recording new Reason tutorials. I made one a few days ago but eventually scrapped it, as it turned out to be a bit boring. Back to the drawing board, I suppose. I have, however, been busy working on a new song and this one is a bit different.

It all started some time ago when I got a bit obsessed with a new hip-hop record from Estonian artists Genka and Paul Oja, While listening to the record, I was google’ing around and found a video of Genka talking about hip-hop culture in general.  The rabbit hole got deeper when I noticed the name Aesop Rock on one of his slides. “The rapper with the most complex, abstract and verbose lyrics, eh?” I thought… “Well, let’s just have a listen…” It turns out, his records are amazing. I got hooked and even ordered “Labor days” on vinyl – my first and hopefully not last hip-hop vinyl.

Now, this is not the first time I have been excited about rap music. I used to listen to a lot of Eminem as a teenager and I’ve always loved the Beastie Boys.  And while I didn’t like Genka’s records all that much before, Chalice (also a hip-hop artist) has been one of my favorite Estonian artists from his second album. These obsessions have however, never lead to much creative work – I have never made a hip-hop track myself. This time, it was different though and after finding a background I had recorded a while ago, I figured it was perfect for some rapping and I should give it a shot. The first 10 takes were horrible but in the end I was quite happy with the song. Give a listen yourself:

I owe a great thanks to Helene Urva, who wrote and recorded the vocal parts heard in the background. I want to also thank my friend Nima, who got me the amazing Setar (the instrument I play in this song) from Iran. 

If you want to download the track or you really hate the video, head over to Soundcloud or Bandcamp for an audio only version.

Dust of this Planet

Good news, everyone! I have completed a new song and gotten the video up on youtube. The song was actually completed some time ago, and was available on soundcloud and bandcamp but now you can also enjoy it on youtube. I also remastered it in between so it sounds better than before! It is inspired by a book by Eugene Thacker called “In the Dust of this Planet”. I happened to come across it while listening to radiolab – an awesome podcast you too should be listening to! It is not directly related to the main part of the book but I loved many of the ideas presented there, so I wrote the song.

I hope that I will be able to post much more music, tutorials etc in the near future. The last year has been crazy as I have been very busy with my PhD and an educational project in Estonia. The good news is that the hard work is finally giving results. I have published my first scientific paper, with more to follow (hopefully soon), I will defend my Licentiate degree in April (which is a Swedish thing but you can think about it as a step in PhD) and the Estonian project is almost done. So I plan on writing and recording more music 🙂