Monday, April 10, 2006

Interview with Seka

Link (Seka's Official Website):

I've read that your father is a musician, did you make a conscious decision to go into music at some point in your life, or was it a natural progression? If you made a conscious decision, when and why?
I started out with choir- singing and violin lessons with nine years.
I performed a couple of times in school accompanied by my father at piano. I think he was more nervous than I was at those times. His best friend, the drummer of his old band (German Bonds)Piet Becker, was going to come and watch us once. We were playing classical music back then and my father had outbursts of cold sweat and heartracing before entering stage. I think it´s called stage-fright, hehe.
When I was in seventh grade I started out playing guitar. I quickly picked up the most common chords and learned how to switch fast, but I found it easier to come up with my own songs than to play covers and I really enjoyed to sing. On school breaks there was a crowd of people, usually playing songs while relaxing, that I joined. I still dont feel that I´m the best guitar player there is, but it´s nice to be able to play rhythm on some of the songs that I write.
What really made me hooked on music was, I suppose, the first time I performed alone with my guitar in school with one of my songs. It was a special occasion- It was the last day before summer vacation, before schools out ( I don´t know what its called in english) and every single pupil of our school attended. We had a lots of performances, amongst others- choir. I remember the front row was occupied with the Headmaster, the older (retired) Headmaster, and the big sponsor of our school, an old grey-haired woman. The Aula was quiet as a mouse and as soon as I was done people heaved and cheered. They were completely swept off their feet - and so was I. I don´t think I had ever felt that confident and full of worth-esteem before. My heart was racing. Afterwords when went into town, people that I did not know came up to me, telling me how great the performance was.
I continued to perform in different places, restaurants and schools, playing the guitar only, singing my tunes. And It sometimes happened that people approached me and asked me if I wasnt that girl that had performed at some place I´d been at before - sometimes even years afterwords! So having felt pretty insecure when I was growing up, I grew more confident with every gig I had and felt that I had a "call" in doing my own music.
With fifteen I remember I was so filled with music that I had a thrive to get it out and I remember that I was thinking how I wanted to invent "new" music that didnt exist. I think it meant to me that I wanted to come up with new sounds back then, already, but I hadnt gotten the tools to be able to compose like that yet.These days, with programming, I can do almost anything I like.

If you weren't a musician, what would have been your second choice as a career?
My mother was at first an athlete teacher and got tired of teaching so she studied and became a Medical Doctor instead. Before I decided to put my energy into music I had very good grades and my decision to become a musician wasnt exactly well- seen at my house. I suppose that my parents thought, or hoped, it would be a short fling- me and composing- and that I would tire of doing music. My father even told me at some point that "women had nothing to do in the Music Industry"! I think they were very worried that I would throw all my chances away to become well-educated and later on well-paid- And they were right! In fact I´ve thrown all my chances away to become a composing musician. If I wouldn´t be that, I´d be a cleaning- lady, which -in fact - is exactly what I do for living, to pay my bills...

Who would you say are your main musical influences?
I think that AC/DC was my biggest influence as a band, as long as the songwriter-duo Young/Scott were writing together. It would be big to meet Angus Young in person!
I also listened a lot to Beatles in the beginning. Lennon/McCartney was a faboulous songwriter-couple!
There are so many great artists to get influenced by..like Robert Johnson, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Ike and Tina Turner, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Aretha Franklin, Cheb Khaled, James Brown, EmmyLouHarris, Daniel Lanois, The Staple Singers, Johnny Winter, The Donovans, J. Hendrix, Billie Holiday. Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash...and a whole buch of great hardrock bands such as LedZeppelin, Pantera, Meshuggah , Sweet, Gary Glitter , a many more...and I like to listen to different kind of artists depending on which mood I´m in.

Music is a difficult industry to take part in. What would you say makes it worth all the effort? What would you say is the worst part about the music industry?
The worst part of the Industry must be the "B.S" that is circulating.
All the fairy tales of the "big bucks" that you could make but never do , unless you are one of the few big- selling artists promoted by big labels today. It´s such a gap between big artists like Shakira, and less promoted bands, like Phoenix for example, when it comes to income. Bands get scammed all the time with deals they don´t fully understand.
An illusion that is common, is the one that: behind "success-stories" lies no hard work. It is an illusion of "Glamour" - spending money by doing nothing to earn it - this really bothers me since so many people work hard to make it look easy and people think that you shouldnt get paid doing something that is "fun".The image of "getting famous over one-night " is not true. Some artists do believe that it should be easy-peasy all the time, so they do not prepare for the hard times and get really overwhelmed when they come. And hard times always come. You always have set-backs at some point.
There are people in the Industry making big bucks on scamming artists with fake promises and baloney deals because of these illusions and, to my opinion, an artist should never sign a contract without legal advice from a lawyer. The lawyer should be able to explain exactly what every post in the presented deal means and recognize what crucial things are missing in the presented contract. This To get you a deal that you hope for and not get surprised later on.
Some people dont know what kind of contracts they have signed. They think they are going to make money if their music sells well. Then they get really surprised when they notice that that is not the fact even though their records are selling quite a lot. In a deal you make with a label/publisher it is possible to negotiate away all chances to earn whatsoever on the music you make/you´ve made. And that´s a shame on all the work and time you´ve spent to make a good product!
What makes all this hard work worth its effort? A tricky question. Some people have skills, technical skills. Some have social skills or economic skills. And some people have artistic skills. Unfortunately you cant choose what skills you´d like to have. A potion of economic skills with artistic ones would be excellent to have!
What made me to continue is the passion for music and the drive together with creativity, a desire to invent something new- musically. That together with a pinch of stubbornness has driven me to continue my work. But I also would love, some day, to get paid for the work I´m doing!

Please describe your experiences with "Just Like Dad", and what you have learned from these experiences.
Playing in bands is an energydraining work if you don´t have a bunch of dedicated people sharing the same goals, wanting to create, and that have the same desire to pull the music the same direction. I figured quickly that, to not get disappointed when playing in a band I had to have some clue of how far the other band members would like to take the band. With "Just Like Dad" we had a very fortunate composition of people with similar goals. We could quickly write a set of 12-13 songs, rehearse them and get out live after 2 months. Another fortunate thing was that we had different roles regarding- who did what. One member was writing lyrics in swedish, calling newspapers and booking gigs, another member was fronting the band, composing songs of all the lyrics, and the third member was creating the covers of the recordings and creating posters for promotion.
I think I had the easiest job - I was just writing the music and fronting the band.
To get a band work well together is a hard work for almost no pay off what so ever ,as long as it´s not on proffessional level. We had something going on, the interest was up and people wanted us to perform a lot. We had papers writing about us until one of our members wanted to go to France and study arts. We didnt recover as a band from that setback, but I´ve learned a lot about how to run a band at least. :))
I have played in a couple of band constellations since then, but I never had the same experience of being a part of a group that is so focused on the same goals musically, like we were, again. These days I`d rather have a complete band working for me, playing my music the way I like it, leaving all the work to me to do all the booking, interviewing and co-ordinating- that is calling everybody together, paying them off, telling them when and where to rehearse/gig, deciding which songs to record and make sure all practical details are getting taken care of, when it comes to pressing the cd. It´s a lot more work to it but it´s better than just waiting for things to happen when you´re waiting for somebody else to act.

What are your current projects?
Right now I´m going through an education in north Sweden called "Songwriters Academy". I have one year left and during my last year I was planning on releasing a rock´n´roll record with a backing band I´ve been working with. We´re releasing my own material and probably it´s gonna be an album with 6-8 songs. Before that I am doing a practice on a swedish publishing company called "Misty Music". I have been cowriting a bit this fall and spring and hopefully we´ll get some songs pitched on other artists...we´ll see.

In your opinion, what is the most vital component in a musical composition?
I think that would be the urge to express something, an opinion or an emotion. This can be expressed through both lyrics and music but of course if you have political messages it would be easier to express them through the lyrics. If you´re talking about a "single" or a "hit song" there are many components that should be put together to make the song complete.

Do you feel that electronic instruments can be just as effective as acoustic ones in allowing the musician to emote and interpret a certain composition? Does this depend on the composition, or can electronic instruments be encorporated into any?
In my opinion, all music that exists is an expression of creativity and emotions inhabited by humans. It doesn´t depend on the instruments, whether they are acoustic or electronic, but on the human that uses them and how he/she uses them. With digital and electronic instruments you get a more static impression and that together with acoustic instruments, such as guitars and vocals, will get you a special sort of "swing", vibe, or whatever....I like it.

What effect does the similarities between the areas of math and music have on the effect of electronic music?
....You tell me? It´s impossible for me to tell.
[hahaha, I'll post a small essay later during the summer, I guess... if I want to get rid of the few readers I have *wink*]

What are your opinions of computer generated composition? Is it possible for an algorithm to be derived to compose a piece of music?
I think you could call almost anything music by now, as long as it´s a series of sounds put together. But I´m not sure that I would feel approached, emotionally, by a piece of music, composed by math calcutations. I´m more into communicating between humans through music, but I haven´t heard such compositons so I will have to have my reservations and have my say once I´ve heard it.

What composition are you most proud of, and why? What areas are you working to improve upon?
I´d say that the ones` that I have composed from start until the end, where I have done everything: lyrics, chords, music, melodies, producing and mixing myself and where I still feel I didn´t lose anything of what I tried to express....Those are the compositions I´m most proud of. One example of such is; "Hard Coming Down", "I can´t move", and "Push Pull" - where I did not do the beats and some few synths(Jonathan Holmes did), but most of the synths and sounds were mine , plus that I built the lyrics and sounds and actually managed to mix and produce it myself to a pretty innteresting song, just the way I had wanted it when once getting the beat from Holmes. I´m always working on to improve my mixing and producing skills, because I still have a very long way to go until I have become satisfyingly good at it. I still have problems with frequences, when mixing -not knowing what frequences to cut to get a good sound on everything. I´m learning a lot when working together with Dan Johansson, the mixer/producer of our rock´n´roll project. He´s really good at it.

If you had unlimited funds, and could be located anywhere in the world, what would be your ideal studio set up, and where would it be located?
The dream scenario would be to have a mobile, portable studio, a laptop perhaps with an external sound card, like a Motu Traveler or something comparative in quality. It would be great to be able to move between different cities, different contries to be able to cowrite/co-work with various people. If I had to choose one place only I´d propably choose to be where I have the most contacts and friends. Most of my friends are into music anyway so that`s probably where I´d settle. Unlimited funds would give me an oppurtunity to move and work with other people as well, which would be great and perhaps improve my quality a bit. Monitors are important when you mix so it´s hard to be mobile... perhaps a set of light monitors, Genelec1029, or a pair of straight-sounding, non-flattering earplugs? I don´t know any good brands, but....if there were!
My biggest problem is to get the time to spend on creating music just because of the fact that I have to work to pay my bills. I had one year off when I had to clean only just to pay bills. Now that I study I have the time again to compose and produce.

I've read that you use Logic, why did you choose this program over ProTools or similar software?
I chose Logic based on the simple fact that it was the first program I learned to record in. I am pretty sure that if I had started out in CubaseSX or ProTools I had probably continued working in those programs. ProTools seems by the way to be a great program to work in!

Please plug any sponsors, favorite bands, projects, or albums for sale here:
I would like to promote a Swedish band called JackBrothers. They are playing Jazz and according to what I know today, they have split up. But, I guess and hope for them to join up again and each one of the members are true and genuine musicians and jazz lovers. You should check out their album "Coltrane King" on their website:
Please go and visit my website as well! There you have free downloads of my music.
Check "HardComing Down" out if you´re into experimental. There are songs I´ve made in some other kind of genres as well, like Singer/Songwriter- style and pop-music.
In time I am going to want to put up music for sale on my website as well, but for now you have to settle with free music.


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