The making of a Tic Tic song

On sunday the 23th of August I wake up to a video in my newsfeed of syrian refugees being shot at with teargas at the macedonian border. Children are crying, and the images show total despair.

Meanwhile, in Norway, there is an ongoing election-campaign. Our Minister of finance, Siv Jensen, is urging our country´s municipalities (kommuner) not to house more refugees.

The norwegian parliamentary have just agreed upon taking in 8000 more refugees from Syria over a time span of three years. A ridicolously small number, but Jensen´s party, Fremskrittspartiet, opposes even this.

The lyrics
This makes me angry and sad. I write down the lyrics before I forget this feeling of powerlessness and sadness:

They should know better,
but previous wars have made them hard.

We should know better,
but 50 years of wealth make us afraid.

They will ruin everything we have made,
fear and hate are our names.

I send the lyrics to Kai who is in Oslo for the weekend. I suggest that our next song will be an angry song about the refugee crisis. As it happens, he has brought the Octatrack with him. On the train back to Kristiansand, he starts making some of the drum-patterns.

Playing the Octatrack on the train
Playing the Octatrack on the train.

The next evening we decide the tempo (130 bpm) and that this will be a heavy song. I start making the dark bass and the rythmic synth (“the helicopter”) on my Electribe, while Kai experiment on the Pittsburgh modular.

We work on the sounds separately and only listen in to check if we are on the same track.

The evolution
We now have the skeleton for the song and try out things together. From now on the song goes through an evolution. Sounds and ideas that just do not fit, is discarded.

I am particularly fond of the sound of a baby crying, that I made on the Electribe and want to overuse it, luckily Kai holds me back.

Some of his drums do not sound good together with the rest, so they have to go.

We make the melody and record the vocals the next day, using a Voice Live Touch. We put the vocal tracks on the Octatrack and can’t wait for the sunday to come when we have time to record it.

The recording
Now we have all the bits and pieces we need to play around with, and jam the song into place. I love this creative process when the song makes it’s first appearance.

When we have decided the structure and which sounds to use where, we rehearse a couple of times. Talking and playing through the song, part by part. We plug in the iPad and press record in Cubasis.

We record on separate tracks (electribe, vocals, octatrack, pgh modular). This time we only do minor adjustments, turning the volume of the Pittsburgh Modular down a bit.

Kai masters the song on the iPad, while I make the cover picture. Half an hour later we upload the track to Soundcloud.

Step away from the computer
Digital musicmaking and Soundcloud make it possible to create music anywhere and distribute it right afterwards. We make our music on tabletops and hardware synths and have a lot more fun than spending a lot of time finetuning on a desktop computer.

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