Fellowship term: May – October 2020
I describe my music as contemporary RNB with elements of Trip-Hop as well as Dream Pop. I’ve been singing since I was a teenager and have recently begun to dabble with the piano, but generally I create all my music using Ableton.
On Beginning the Fellowship
This month’s vibe was pretty hectic. However, over the course of the month it’s really started to come together. A big confidence boost was setting up the studio from getting furniture in, cables tagged and tested, organising lighting to create the vibe of a creative space and getting instruments set up for a live studio rehearsal space. Also getting a workstation makes it all feel like a major level up from making music out of my bedroom and learning how to best use the space to its max potential.
I’ve also had my friends come in whom I collaborate with and this has been the most fun part, their input being really helpful to slowly transforming the space. It’s all very exciting and I’m feeling ready to create and have fun and try new things in my creative practice; like becoming comfortable and confident working with others present as opposed to alone.
Generations Studio. Photos courtesy of Tanaya.
Working with Astral People
In May I had my first meeting with Vic and Tom from Astral People, this session was an introduction on to the business side of the music industry and the functions of marketing in its various forms. There was a focus on process, gaining an insight into Astral People’s ways of working and what steps a label and touring-management company goes through in terms of managing artists and bringing international artists on tour. We also brainstormed through some of my demos and bounced ideas on how to evolve them. I received an outside perspective on my music and possible genres it could fit, or niches it could occupy.
In June we focused on live shows. Tom and Vic answered my questions about how artists manage and prepare for the changing acoustics of rooms in live settings, especially the often drastic change from soundcheck to the real show when there are just so many more bodies filling the room and absorbing the sound – making it less full and reverberated. Tom and Vic also encouraged me to start creating mood boards and thinking of the live show as a holistic experience; the visual to be matching the sound and the importance of being aligned with all band members to bring forward a cohesive presentation of your music.
Recording work in progress. Photos courtesy of Tanaya.
In July I made my second essential purchase that I felt would enhance workflow and allow me to delve further into music production. Given my setup so far along the journey of my musical practice has been on my laptop, upgrading to a higher end model was exciting and has created better workflow from the abundance of space.
I’ve also been learning music theory and focusing on production in my creative practice. I had some writing sessions with my friend Nico, we also focused on structuring a song and we have been broadening our horizons with vocal production – singing, recording and mixing; doing some groundwork staying up to date with new plugins and ways to ornament and render the voice. Overall I feel I am taking steps in the right direction to find my sound and further develop my craft. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have a space to work out of, which my friends and I have slowly but surely been transforming.
After a busy month and lots of studio time, I needed to get out to nature for some inspiration.
Photos courtesy of Tanaya.
This month I’ve focused on selecting a few songs and working towards finishing them to completion. Working with Astral People, I selected a few of my demos and we planned for a session to sit in with a mixing engineer to see the process a song goes through after being sent off, and ways of improving workflow and process.
It was an interesting experience to rerecord vocals for a demo that I had made a while ago. I found it challenging to remember where you were and how you were feeling at that time and convey it in the present again. It showed me how complex the human voice is, all the different tones and registers that you have, and as a singer how you have to learn to tap into these modes at your will – even though the original demo may have been a very easy, natural and organic process.
This month I returned to demos that I started in previous months, deciding which were worth finishing and getting to work on them. I also delved into a more traditional electronic music sound for fun and experimental purposes. I felt like it helped me break out the box when it came to lyrics and even tempos.
In September’s meeting with Astral People we discussed budgets of an album or mixtape, just so I could get an idea of what costs are involved in a 10 track release from mixing and mastering to creative direction for album artwork, promotional photos and videos. Vic and Tom shared the experience of some of their artists journey with song-writing, and how early collaborations and writing sessions with other artists can help you in the long run to build confidence to be able to write more songs.
Photo courtesy of Tanaya
This month I’ve been honing in on singing in a higher register, different to where I’ve been singing in my practice. It’s been so fun and extremely fulfilling to discover all the amazing sounds there are to be made. I’ve been using my voice strongly as an instrument and learning how to use it in more and more melodic ways to lead the instruments accompanying rather than the other way. Feeling super positive and grateful for this whole experience but sad about everything coming to a close soon. My October meeting with Astral People went well and had me feeling so content! I brought them a demo I had just finished and we discussed genre bending and how to go about changes in style. Vic, Tom and I set up a collaborative playlist to help expand my knowledge on new and current dance/techno as it is a scene I’ve been interested to delve more into especially growing up with strong musical roots and passions for it. We are going back and forth with some new mood boards to fit the new song and take the next steps to releasing music.
We also had the opportunity to borrow some instruments from the Powerhouse collection which was a great experience. Was so good to be able to physically touch and use the instruments after seeing them in storage during the collection tour earlier this year. We borrowed a beautiful old Stratocaster that was previously played by The Atlantics and also had the opportunity to play an acoustic Maton guitar. Big thanks to curator Damian for making this possible.
Photo courtesy of Tanaya
Wrapping up the Fellowship
From the time I started my Fellowship to now I have gained much more clarity with my creative practice and discovered what works for me. A big one was learning how to push through barriers after getting halfway and then hitting a wall with ideas. Letting go of perfectionism has been really beneficial as it usually has been a precursor to procrastination. Seeing that just trying something can give you much more than contemplating and considering how to proceed – and if it doesn’t work it won’t ruin it all and it’s easy to circle back with a little patience. Also making music with others has helped me grow more in a short time because you are sharing and combining your strengths, getting out of the echo chamber and it’s also really fun.
The best things about my 6 month fellowship were; having a space (in a museum!) that was available at all times outside of home which was dedicated solely to my creative practice and getting work done. Receiving mentorship and guidance from Astral People has been so great in getting me out of my comfort zone and establishing consistency when others are there to encourage, support and hold you accountable to seeing your ideas through. The grant has also been a real blessing in helping me set up a home studio, and invest in studio sessions to facilitate new collaborations with artists I’ve been introduced to through this experience.
Photos courtesy of Tanaya