3 Degree Students on the Creative Process Behind Their Latest EP

They say the album is dead. In a world of short attention spans and Spotify, the days of lyric-printed CD booklets and listening from first to last track are as long gone as that time you actually listened to Nickelback – well, unless you’re a musical purist, that is. Without the confines of a physical format, music distribution is free to take any form – from the playlist to the mixtape to the few-track EP.

EPs are where it’s at, in fact. Not only is the EP more flexible, affordable and potentially more profitable than the album, but it delivers just the right sound bite of an artist’s concept to cut through the streaming noise and keep listeners coming back.

But don’t think a shorter tracklist equals less creativity. Having recently released captivating EPs in the hip hop, pop and ambient genres, dBs Berlin bachelor degree students Jökull Logi Arnarsson, Sofie Søe and Pablo Diserens are testament to just how exciting this medium can be. We caught up with the up-and-comers to go deeper into their inspiring creative process.

 

Jökull Logi

In Wedding

Creative Music Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student

 

3 Degree Students on the Creative Process Behind Their Latest EP | dBs Berlin
Artwork by Sóley Úlfarsdóttir

I recorded it with Icelandic jazz saxophone player Sölvi Kolbeinsson in the Funkhaus studios in two or three takes, with him freestyling over my instrumental.”

What were the inspirations behind the EP?

I was and still am (despite us not being very active right now) in the band LESULA along with my friend Daði Freyr, who suddenly became super popular in Iceland following his entry into the Icelandic Eurovision pre-contest. When I saw him working on his thing and making music production his full-time job, I was inspired to do more of it too. In the Working to a Brief module at dBs Berlin, I chose the career path to become a hip hop producer.

Tell us about your creative journey.

In January, I had a craving for having some nice, smooth vocals over one beat of mine and decided to contact Matty Wood$, who I had been listening to for a while, through SoundCloud. He wanted to use a couple of my (unreleased) beats, so later on, when I was working on my EP, I asked him to do a short feature on my track ‘Kush No. 5,’ and he killed it for me. The first track I released was a single, ‘Satoru Nakata,’ named after a character in Murakami’s book Kafka on the Shore. It was actually the working name of the Ableton project and I just never changed it. After these two tracks, I wrote ‘Oldsmobile’ and ‘(Good God).’ Those came from slightly different influences as I was listening to more underground and dirty hip hop like DJ Akoza.

 

‘On Conversations’ was the last track I wrote for the EP. I recorded it with Icelandic jazz saxophone player Sölvi Kolbeinsson in the Funkhaus studios in two or three takes, with him freestyling over my instrumental. Then I edited it all together. It’s less hip hop and more jazz then the other tracks on the album. The bass is sometimes a bit off in that track but I kind of like it that way. The track, as a whole, is a bit more alive and open with these tiny faults.

Which is your favourite track and why?

Sölvi also played the sax on ‘Oldsmobile’ which is probably my favourite track from the EP along with ‘Kush No. 5.’ I don’t think this kind of music is very popular so I’m really happy about the reactions I’ve gotten. I’m super happy about Sóley Úlfarsdóttir’s artwork for the album cover too.

How has your dBs Berlin study helped you in the creative process?

It was great to use the Funkhaus studios and get feedback from my classmates.

Follow Jökull Logi on Bandcamp, Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Sofie Søe, a.k.a. ALOO

FØR

Creative Music Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student

 

3 Degree Students on the Creative Process Behind Their Latest EP | dBs Berlin

“Writing the EP has been part of the healing process. For the most part, the tracks have been written within my body while I sleep, attached to a dream.”

What were the inspirations behind the EP?

The EP was written during the past four years. There has been so much I needed to process from the past 15 years that it took a while for me to actually put sound/words on it. Also I had a 10-year writing block before starting it. The EP is the first of a trilogy, and it’s called FØR (BEFORE in English) because it reflects my past rather than where I am now. Finishing it has freed up a mental and creative space to write about my present situation, which I’m currently doing. These tracks will come out on my next EP in 2019 called NU (NOW).

FØR revolves around heavy encounters with different influential partners and the need to escape and develop in Berlin. It is a dreamy EP – at times dark, at times really excited and curious. Musically, it’s some kind of a mash up of jazz, dreampop, psyrock, world, synthpop and EDM.

 

Tell us about your creative journey.

Writing the EP has been part of the healing process. For the most part, the tracks have been written within my body while I sleep, attached to a dream. After seeing a healer in 2014, my dreams became much more vivid and real. I think it is a way for my body to deal with my subconscious while sleeping, and that I’m better connected to some feelings in the dream phase. Often those feelings are accompanied by a ‘soundtrack,’ like in a movie, with a big, cinematic sound. When I wake up, I record it exactly as I heard it in my head.

With ‘Sail,’ which was the first track I wrote in a studio and not from a dream, I had to take a different approach on recording the vocals. I sung whatever came out, to create a melody line for the track. I had just settled in Berlin, and when I listened back to the initial recording, I realised what was on my mind regarding the move. I decided to keep the vocal take as it was and just add backing vocals, preserving the raw mood.

Which is your favourite track and why?

I feel like a mother having to favour one of her babies! I don’t have a favourite.

Follow ALOO on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook, Instagram and her website.

 

Pablo Diserens, a.k.a. Ōtone

Polaris

Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student

 

3 Degree Students on the Creative Process Behind Their Latest EP | dBs Berlin
Polaris limited edition tape and printed artwork by PRoche

I was so happy. I could finally dive into my very own ice field. I was alone in the frozen winds. When I looked around, I didn’t see anything; only a cold white surface that spread in every direction.”

What were the inspirations behind the EP?

I’ve always been fascinated by the various sonic interpretations of the polar regions and the cold from artists like Thomas Köner, Sleep Research Facility, Periskop and Biosphere. They all develop their own collection of howling winds and underwater currents. Sometimes, it’s almost like if you could hear an iceberg melting and falling apart, alone in the middle of the Arctic Circle.

Tell us about your creative journey.

I wanted to share my own audible exploration of the polar regions. I kind of did all those tracks without really realising what I was doing – a sort of unconscious process, I presume. It’s only later that I understood that they were connected and that they were “painting” one landscape. The first three pieces of the EP were made with recordings taken from my own field recordings archive and a very subtle use of synthesizers. The last track is actually a recording of a live performance I did with a drummer. As someone who likes to develop ideas and thoughts, what came as a surprise with Polaris, was the realisation that there was an entire project unfolding before me without having any conceptualisation process beforehand. In a way, it gave me a feeling of freedom and simplicity that I really appreciated, and I think that this can be felt in the EP.

 

Which is your favourite track and why?

It’s really hard to choose…sometimes it’s ‘Wegener’s Tomb,’ sometimes it’s ‘The Dance of a Dying Landscape.’ Let’s take the first one. I still recall my excitement as I was creating the track. After hours of recording various objects and in various environments, everything came together. I was so happy. I could finally dive into my very own ice field. I was alone in the frozen winds. When I looked around, I didn’t see anything; only a cold white surface that spread in every direction. It was a fantastic and terrifying feeling.

Later, when I had to name the track, I remembered the story of Alfred Wegener and the stunning picture of his grave. He was a German polar researcher who died and was buried in the middle of Greenland’s ice fields in 1930. I felt that my piece was a sort of journey to his tomb.

 

3 Degree Students on the Creative Process Behind Their Latest EP | dBs Berlin
Propeller sleds and expedition members at the grave of Alfred Wegener

How has your dBs Berlin study helped you in the creative process?

My studies at dBs Berlin have been very helpful towards the completion of this project, as each track was made within the dBs Berlin studios environment and with the help of its gear. But also, ‘Wegener’s Tomb’ and ‘The Dance of a Dying Landscape’ are both pieces conceived in response to in-class assignments. Most of the techniques used in the creative process of Polaris were learnt at dBs Berlin.

You’ve also got your own label. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I founded the independent record label YGAM in 2015. It is a space for sound experimentation and exploration, which develops and supports a plurality of projects in the field of electronic and electroacoustic music. I first created this label as a platform for my friends’ music and my own, and it is still its main purpose today. It then extended to other practices, such as visual art with PRoche‘s beautiful ink works.

I like to think of YGAM as a space where I invite various artists to explore a subject within a time frame. I’m a bit tired of all these labels that stay in one genre, and at the moment YGAM is going through a noise music period. But – and it might be confusing for some – the label will probably never get stuck in one style. However, a certain aesthetic is progressively taking form and that’s what is the most exciting for me.

Follow Ōtone on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook and Instagram and read about his favourite field recording spots here.

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