Good signs!

Yesterday at sunset time we drove over the hills to find a quite place for a full listening of next album.view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

Not only were we blessed by the wonderful sunset light when we got there, but also we saw the biggest Eagle we’ve ever seen! It spanned its huge open wings above the rock we had parked next too for a long moment. A majestic moment that we only can interpret as a good sign! Don’t search for the eagle on the pictures, we just enjoyed the moment!

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing good signs

And the music? Well, still some sound fine tuning and a bit of work too in reorganising instruments on one particular track – but we feel we’re on the right direction. 

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

view over nea peramos - astrakan project album final mixing

 

§ Simone

What else do you need to release your next album?

… You need Gesso!!! Or at least, I need gesso!

What? Gesso is a primer used to coat canvasses or paper before painting, especially loved and treasured by artists that love multiple layers and materials as well as heavy textures. Well… like me! I love gesso. And I still don’t know how I run out of my precious primer, (well, no, not completely, I still have some black gesso ;) ) , and not only I run out of gesso, but also I haven’t found so far any art-shop in my area in Greece (around Kavala, if you happened to be reading and know one, please! Don’t let me down, leave me a comment!).

Not only did I run out of gesso, but I’m painting for next album cover (ho, here comes the album!), so, what can I do?
DIY homemade gesso primer

So what else than go back to the old Do It Yourself method. Yes. Again. I found an easy recipe here. Basically baby powder+white glue+water. I chose to add some very white paint. I’ll wait until tomorrow to allow it to settle.

I sometimes wonder if I haven’t been cursed for really needing again and again to find last minutes creative solutions. Do I really wish things would be different? Noooooo ! ;)

§ Simone

Buy Astrakan Project debut album

 

How to chose the right track order for your album?

Although we could have been tempted by this method :

… we went back to the one we used for our first album instead !

The way we organised tracks is something we pay a lot of attention to, we discuss it, we write it down, imagine it… And so far we are happy with what we came up with.

I‘m not pretending there was no other possibility, but in our minds, it all comes down to perception. A song will be heard and felt in a different way if it comes as the opening of the album, or after another track, and it also depends on which track.

We like to think about an album as a travel to our world. In the opening, what we want to do is to welcome the listener, almost take him by the hand. Then the journey can begin! We like to imagine and believe that an album can also be heard as a whole piece, not only track by track, but that when you listen to it, the story you hear is different.

You may now be wondering, how will next travel be? Maybe darker than the first one, maybe more powerful, but still as joyful as we are!

§ Simone

 

Your album isn’t ready yet + mind-mapping for self-produced album

I know that people don’t have any bad intention behind the question, and we musicians love to get questions about “how things are going”. Or at least, the intellectual side of me knows it.

I know sometimes people are just super exited to hear it. But how can you explain that there is no way it could be done quicker ? That going to the studio is just such a tiny wee(1)  little part of all what we do?

Who said again that a picture worth thousand word? ;)

your album is not ready yet

Your album is not ready yet? [click for HR image - it's really large!]

Scary, hey ?

Although largely exhausted, I couldn’t sleep last night – maybe because we recorded until late one more ghosty gwerz that kept on haunting me (this one is about Yugoslavian wars, and is really painful to work on).

I suspected also that as the deadline is approaching (we’ll be leaving for next UK tour by the end of September), I’m probably also getting nervous about all that needs to be done. It’s not our first self-produced album for sure. But a few things add a bit of spice to the all adventure…

  • Music and technique-wise, our level of expectations has considerably raised. Mixing and blending the sounds together is part of our music, and thus takes much more time than for an acoustic project for instance.
  • Learning from previous launching campaigns, we want to get the best out of our release and try to plan ahead for a decent release impact – in a way, when we were younger, there were so many aspects we didn’t suspect that we were pretty relax about!
  • Instead of manufacturing 500 of pieces each time (and then eventually re-manufacture afterwards), we decided to invest on 1000 in one go, to save money, but then, we have to plan for when and WHERE we can get it delivered… and stored!
  • Since our activity is increasing (more touring, more sales, other projects), we have to switch to a decent legal status… and I wonder if this isn’t the most epic part of this particular release?
  • It’s the second album with Astrakan Project. I’ll write back about it, but well. It’s kind of an extra little source of pressure.

It kind of relieved me to get this end-less to-do-list organised in a visual way, kind of mind-mapping out things so that I don’t forget anything. And well, although it might look scary at first, it really helped me to see that a lot as been done, and also now, I know which part I was not paying enough attention too. The legal status part of course!

Back to work – our album isn’t released yet!

§ Simone

(1) wee=little if you haven’t spend some time in Scotland. And if you understood it, I want to play there! I want to go back to Scotland, if you have any place to suggest for next October, you’ll make my day!

Passing along our Music passion to next generation!

While reviewing some pictures we have on our hard-drive to see if we could use some of them for next album booklet (What? There will be a booklet? Hum…. ), I just got a hand back on a couple of pictures taken last month in Portugal, during a little “atelier” we had been invited to lead for young children.

Those experiences are always very rewarding, children generally don’t have expectations other than having fun. But when it comes to traditional music, it has a very special taste. Traditional musics are people’s music, often unwritten, sometimes with little access to main media such as tv or national radios, they only exist because they are passed along from generation to generation.

In Brittany, children will generally participate to fest-noz (breton ballroom), try to dance, maybe stay for a while at the front row with their little elbows against the stage… although in most of cases just run around and have fun. One thing is for sure, the music they will have heard for years will be their music, it will resonate as being part of who they are forever. Not because it’s a fashion or because it supposed to be “good” music. No. Just because it’s what they have experienced.

§ Simone

PS : if you watch carefully the pictures, you might even guess which one is our little son!

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Some work in progress art work for next album

Last Astrakan Project album (2012) was the first album ever I used my art work for. With the exception of Yann’s portrait, I did not specifically create the paintings for the album, but once they were finished (they were created between March and June 2012 whilst the album was to be released in September), there was absolutely no doubt in our minds they belonged to the album.

For our upcoming album, I had no idea so far. Absolutely zero! I even hadn’t been drawing much lately because I kind of wanted to get first an idea of what to paint… for the album!

Ha ha ha! Inspiration just doesn’t seem to work for me that way! Last week-end I started to doodle inspired by Shamanistic Sami drums from northern Scandinavia, like this one:

sami shaman drum blue

Prob. 17-18th C. Norwegian Sami People Drum. During rituals a ring was moved around on the drum membrane. Predictions and conclusions were made based on rune itself and the path that the ring took in selecting it.

I loved the very stylish way animals and people get depicted, but above all the way they depict a world, they tell a story that you can follow. And I kind of got inspired… So inspired that

While composing music we often get into the same inspiration process, if we try to pull it too hard, nothing really happens, when we let go off the pressure about “this needs to be done”, then only ideas start to flow.

Truth is, most brilliant ideas aren’t really ours…

…best ideas come to us – if we allow them to.

Back to painting!

§ Simone

Why recording musicians need healthy food!

End of August is approaching, and so is our deadline! In a couple of weeks now, the master of our album will be on its way to the factory, and by then, we still have some work to do. Every recording we make tends to rise up our level of expectations, which tends also to take… more time!

So while spending a lot of time in the darkness of the studio, sited in front of the computer, trying out new sound combinations or just creating the artwork, we also try to find a balance, to keep everyday life joyful. Part of that are lunch breaks. Yes. Just simple lunch breaks.

healthy food in the music studio diy musician

 

While it is tempting to drop down lunch breaks under the belief that “any minute counts” and has to be used… well… in the studio, being productive, that is, only dedicated to music, and become a “cold-slice-of-pizza-in-front-of-the-computer” aficionado, we really feel this can be energy draining. Even depressing!

Not only do our body and brains need simple and healthy refreshing stuff to recover from all their creative activity, it is also nice to get back to “normal life”, to disconnect from the studio and come back later with fresher ears and minds… well just a break!

Recording in Greece definitely makes it easy for us, far beyond all our expectation, a simple Greek salad is cheap, refreshing, no cooking (=time saving), not too much dish-washing involved… THE perfect ideal meal so far while recording! healthy food in the music studio2 diy musician

 

Enjoy your day, have a break!

§ Simone