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How They Made It: serotinia

Noise music, pop culture, drums, soundscapes... and Arca?

By MalísimaPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
serotinia - Album Cover

Hi! My most recent release, "serotinia" came out this last month, on the 16th. It's one hour and a half divided into 28 tracks.

One of the ideas for the release came about when I was on a voice chat with a few of my friends and one of them drew me tarot cards and started asking what to do with my artistic direction. Long story short, we needed something new, a release that I hadn't ever made before. And the door that opened that path was serotinia.

The title itself, for starters, comes from the Spanish word for a type of seed that only germinates after a fire, and I wanted to explore this as a sort of "starting again after losing everything".

The actual first idea, however, I got on a Thursday night, at 3 AM, after waking up in a cold sweat, two days after a dysfunctional episode. For some reason, there was only one thing in my head: noise music. Arca, specifically.

So there I was, at unhealthy hours of the night, binge-listening to Arca's releases: Mutant, then @@@@@, Circumflex, the self-titled, her unreleased stuff... And as if it were the first time, they all started sticking to me.

I read on how the self-titled album came to be, and how Björk encouraged her to use her unedited voice on a release. Something in that raw, unfiltered spirit managed to bring me to tears. (Throwback to the time I put together the vocals from Saunter with "Hail Paemon" by Colin Stetson and managed to enter a breakdown episode on a Monday at 10 in the morning)

As a trans musician myself, I've never been particularly keen on using my voice in my songs. (And I'm like, shit at singing...)

Influence-wise, serotinia is a product of more sound design-centric releases I've been finding, such as Holly Herndon's discography, "im hole" by aya, and o-p-s/a.m.r by maxi road, arca's self-titled, and the general aesthetic of dariacore culture.

Software-wise, most of the sounds were made in VCV Rack, although the release as a whole "collages", for lack of a better word, through Audacity, FL Studio, VCV Rack, and Sonic Pi.

I also wanted to take a moment and discuss how I made drums and vocals for some tracks, highlighting "If Asier Thinks He's Having This As An Interlude Then He Can Certainly Make One Himself" and "Excuse Us, We Have a Question" as an example of each, respectively, and "Acting Like I've Never Told You" as a magnific result of both.

Drums-wise, the release doesn't feature beats, but instead uses them as texture, through randomizing the BPM and using delay which also shifts through time, completely erasing their utility as an instrument and turning them into a texture more in this already messy sound collage.

Now, in terms of vocals, this is the first release I have with vocals that aren't through already existing samples, but I still wanted to do something while still not having enough courage to record stuff myself, so I ended up training a vocal AI based on my own voice, and recorded parts of the process, from vocal hits and syllables, to full-blown sentences, while still remaining uncanny enough to not be able to replicate me, but still resonating on its own.

Some tracks, like the ones featured on the "Moisturise Me" mixtape before release, base themselves with sinewaves, artistic choices inspired by Caroline Polachek's Drawing the Target Around the Arrow album, or drones, like in TriStep's "NAWN CHALLENGE", as I wanted to have some tracks that worked as a palate cleanser of sorts ("Song About Micah"), and still have some that remained ambient but still left room for thought and psychological stimulation ("Majestuoso", "I've Never Been On The Radio").

The vocals in "Acting Like I've Never Told You" are almost directly influenced by Diva (which is also an incredibly cunty track, so that's a plus), and so are most, if not all, of the soundscapes, drones, and ambiances. "Song About Micah", for example, takes as a sonic starter (meaning the first idea I had, not a sample), the start of No Queda Nada, and the same goes for "Majestuoso" and Calor (and CEP's "Drawing The Target Around the Arrow") and "I've Never Been On The Radio" and Chiquitito.

Other tracks take philosophical, instead of sonic, influences from other Arca tracks. "untitled (la pena que das)" started as a sort of "cigarette mom" of Nonbinary, and the same goes for "Excuse Us, We Have A Question" and Sanctuary. (Something about Ryuichi Sakamoto whispering "Experimental Diva FM, you know?)

If you're still here, thank you so much! This whole promotion thing is difficult and confusing. Please check out the release if you happen to have the time: https://open.spotify.com/album/2wA8XBZdVDNv3agBlbskqS

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About the Creator

Malísima

Artist, experimental music producer, and painter.

Music journalist sometimes, poetry writer some other.

it/she/they

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