Artist Dialogue: Lionheart

Conversation with artist Lionheart. After meeting several artists in Berlin I thought that it would be important to engage with diverse genres from the typical sound art and ambient works this blog generally covers. It has been extremely insightful getting to engage and learn from this passionate artist. Below you will find a dialogue that is both informal and insightful;sincere and vulnerable. I would like to thank Lionheart and express my gratitude for his cooperation in this new dialogue series. It has been an honor!

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Tell me about  your musical background

Alright, so, when I look at my musical background, I have music in
my blood my whole life only I haven't practiced it so much, the thing I remember is is two years of Solfege, Solfege is the classical music theory, which got me bored after a time, but if i look back and I could choose to shift things around  I would definitely continued, because i know now how useful it can be for my career as an artist.


Do Re Mi sorta stuff


Exactly. After two years I dropped the Do Re Mi stuff and for a long period of time I was in the consumption part of the music industry. I was loving Music. I mean I grew with Reggae mostly and then there was a point in my life where I went on a travel. A journey. I went away from my ordinary life. I bought a caravan. With this caravan I went together with a friend in the southern region of Europe. So traveling around France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco. And in that period I started to double up my skills on instruments. I started to play guitar. I started to play Jembee, didgeridoo and I tried things like the Moon Drum.
All the kind of instruments that were common use in the hippie communities.

Before this journey, when I was 18 years young, I started to go to rave parties and there
I incorporated the whole electronic scene into my being.


And specifically what genre? Was it just electronic in general, like dub house.
Was it just all of it?


In the beginning it was actually mostly drum and bass. Seen from an electronic point
of view, I grew up with drum and bass and then the evolution went into techno.

So now more techno?
But still more drum and bass. So techno was like I went to a couple parties but it
wasn't my main focus or my main pleasure. At that moment psychedelic trance wasn't in
my life at all. Like I knew it existested, but it came at a later point when I was traveling through Spain & Portugal.

Because there I went to several festivals. And there I met
this whole community and the lifestyle of these people and I fell in love with it cause, I mean, I
was dancing like crazy and it was really amazing.

And ya, so there I came into the
psychedelic scene and, for an in between story, when I was living in this hippie community it there was this continuous music flow.

Actually when we woke up people were already sitting around with the drum
and flute, playing together and jamming. It was the awakening of my musical skills.


Okay so, how did you end up at dbs or Berlin in general? Was there an attraction
to Berlin or to dbs? How did you get here from your travels from Luxembourg?

When I look from the perspective of our group and the whole creation of organizing
events, I was actually starting last january so in 2018 was the year I started to DJ.

Before I was into the management of events, organizing colourful events.

But then I was deciding I want to also start to have this career of an artist. To be an artist. At that point when I started to dj I quickly started evolving in my skills and everything. And at one point I was looking at other careers and people who are in this path like : Simex, Unlogix and Ace Ventura.

At that point I decided to go into production with the main goal of creating music which touches inner feelings and also especially with conscious content. I was always impressed from electronic music but I was thinking I would love to put more vocals inside.



Vocals are what the people can think about and grow from. So not only the bass which is very powerful but also the vocals can make you think about something and make you grow as an individual, that’s why i try to integrate them into my productions.



But to come back to the question, from that point I was searching for a production school. I went first to Amsterdam because it is really close to
Luxembourg.



I went there to check out SAE. I was impressed by the school and I also liked it.

But I was also thinking about Berlin, I was really impressed by the city.

There was a friend
who was talking to me about dBs because he had seen it on the internet.
Then I came to check it out and see some friends.

And Ya, I went through the building and was feeling a connection.


So you came here and tried it?
Exactly, I came here and had a tour. Then I went around Berlin. And both points were
good. I felt connected to the city and the school.


What is your musical process? Production style?
Not the easiest questions. I think for me its most of all based on collaborations. I
love to work with people together. Because I feel like having two brains and two
ideas and two energies can really create something beautiful. At the same time I don't limit myself that I wouldn't create something beautiful alone but i think it's the most exciting
part to work together collaborating.


Do you jam and grab recordings? Do you mix other samples? Are you sampled based?
Like, how do you get your sounds?

At this moment I am still trying to find this actually. I don't have a full workflow
plan, if I can formulate it like that, but what I do is I start with the basics.

Basic kick, bass and melody.
Sometimes, I try to sing something and then transform it into a melody in Ableton.



Do you Dj? Or do live performance?
Dj. I have my tracks and playlists that I make at home and then I go to Etikett
Radio or Events and then drop those beats.



Tell me about your EP
So basically the EP is the first EP I am releasing. The whole thing is done in the
genre of psychedelic trance.


And just so i understand, Trance in general. What is the difference between trance
and psy trance?

Well, actually it is the same thing. The name was developed that way. Some people
just say trance cause it puts you into a trance. Than there is Psy which is the abbreviation for psychedelic, together it’s : psychedelic Trance.


And what is another sub genre of trance?
There are a lot of sub genres. There is forest, there is Full-on. Forest is more the
sounds of the nature and more connected to nature. There is dark trance which is
more into the heavy bass and more in the "darkness".

And then there is Full-On which is like the morning vibe, so more uplifting.

Furthermore you have tribal, high-tec, progressive, hard, psy-dub, basically there are endless variety’s, but to keep a sight over all there are certain one’s which get categorised or labeled like the one i’ve mentioned.


Ya i have heard trance that is really inspiring and uplifting.
Ya exactly. That is one of the things I love to do, is put messages in the production. Like in "The Fountain of Creation" I put a sample of Rastafarian culture. Talking about the rastafari way of life and what it is about. I like to put samples inside the music.


And how do you find your samples?
I found this one on youtube. That is something I am not sure about…


You mean license wise?
Ya.


It depends
I think it is okay because it is an old recording but also I am not 100% sure, anyways i contacted the persons to ask for permission, and if they tell me no, i will take it out.



Then there is my second song. Its "The Lion Roar". It started by the idea of putting
a lion roar inside. So to put my artist voice inside of it. and It started in January. It was
produced over five months. Always taking stuff out and putting it back in. Trying to
get the master piece. I am pretty close now. There is some stuff that I need to do
but in this production I focus on tribal sounds. So it is about African bongos and
percussion in the background. The usually bass and kick of psy trance inside. and
then the progression of the kick.

I put some bird sounds and ambiences of the forest.


Do you have artwork?

I do yes, I was going around Berlin and there was this market with a guy who had pictures of eyes, I asked him what it’s all about and he told me that he can make a close-up from my eye, I was directly thinking about the EP and that’s how i got my artwork.



The first track I was trying to write down my own story but from the perspective of a cub. So like a lion. So I took this metaphor of this cub being me and talking about my story of how
I grew up in the world. And how I see the system. and what it is doing to our
people. Our brothers and sisters. and I also put the perspective of an alien inside.
So actually it is the future aliens who are talking about me and they are talking about the one who changed the course of humanity forever. Its kinda a narrative thing with fiction in side. And I have done it with a synthesizer. What
is it called? a vocoder. Its my voice and a bit darker and more like alien kinda. That is
actually the most exciting part of the EP  because the people can feel what I am
doing in the music. You can hear the why
in that track. I am talking about how the kids grow up in the system and how it
gives a lot of dark energy inside like a lot of people have depression, hate, and
dissatisfaction towards life you know
and there I am talking about myself because I was in that position too , not really
depressed but  dissatisfied with my life and then there was one day when I
went out of school and I was
feeling really this, ... the energy which lies in everyone of us. To believe in
something greater and something that can keep us on track and makes us stand up
everyday and not lie in bed you know.
And then I felt, well the track tells how I felt this energy running through my body
and rejuvenated my whole being and how I spoke up to the heaven and how I pronounced
Jah which is the God I believe in which is in everyone of us.



And which God is this?
The God of the Rastafarians, He is called Jah. But I am not strictly following the rastafari religion or anything its just that I look at the whole thing and take the parts that can actually benefit my life. I realized for myself that its very beneficial to believe in something and even the God essence that lies in everyone.

That is what I am describing in the first song.


You take spiritiual beliefs and share them with the Rastafaris?
Exactly. I take those beliefs,... those parts in that religion. I am actually building my own religion in the sense. I look at the different one and I see that there is something that they want to teach us. But a lot of times they teach us something that is not really right or puts us in a cage.


Make it makes sense in today's world. I think that a lot of religion. If we can make it make sense now then it would be more applicable. If we can figure out how to take the philosophy
of all religions and update it to make it more practical or something we experience
now. I super believe in what "they" are trying to say. So I can relate and
understand what you are saying, in terms of applying a spiritual context.
And how would you describe the audiences experience?

That is a very good question. Probably the introduction track will be played again
because it is not very easy to understand everything. Then later if they go on into the EP, I think audiences are going to feel what I am talking about in the first track because I try
to implement a lot of melodies which are kind of uplifting. And later on they will
go through a jungle, a lot of animal sounds and psychedelic sounds and sounds where they might ask "what is that?". In that sense audiences are going to rewind and listen again
because they think "what is that?"
"I wanna know what it is".


You play with the delicacy of the sounds?
Ya I try to implement that.


And "The Fountain of Creation" is which part of the experience?
It is the soul uprising. It is the first track where the beautiful melodies come in.


Do you have any plans for where it might be performed or released?
I am going to do it through our label. We have a label called "Omnivision". There are
three sub labels and I am in charge of one of them which is called "Omnivibes".
"Omnivibes" is there for psy trance and reggae and my EP will be released on this label. It will also be played at those parties because we will also be organizing parties and events. We
have our ecosystem built in the electronic music world.


In Berlin?
More in Luxembourg.  "Omnivision' started in Luxembourg and has grown and I
am trying to expand it to Berlin.


Leipzig has a huge Psy trance scene. Its still possible for groups to through squatting events there so you should try to reach out to them as well. It used to be possible in Berlin but nowadays that is happening more so in Leipzig. People just text each other
coordinates and then meet with huge speakers for these events.You should try
reaching out to that community.

Your gonna go there tomorrow?


Yup!
I will give you two cards then!


I will let some people know! It has been a pleasure discussing your artistry and your upcoming release! Audiences as well as myself are looking forward to your output and what the future holds for your Lionheart. It has been an honor.

Etikett Radio - "Frontier" Premiere

There has been electricity in the air at dBs Berlin these past months. Students and faculty, artists and producers, musicians and film directors have been putting their heads together to relaunch an inspiring organisation for music students and the surrounding artist community: Etikett Radio. Originally started five years ago, the student-run platform has continued to evolve its core values with new management members, bringing a unique style that allows for diversity and an openness to performers and radio hosts.

Potential audiences might be curious – what is Etikett Radio? In the below video interview with the school’s marketing lead, Christina Gaither, I explain how Etikett Radio is not only a platform for students to showcase their artistry, but a real-world, professional radio station. Spanning rock, techno, reggae, house, ambient, podcasts and more, there are more than 27 shows. They explore all sorts of media – such as voice acting, DJ sets, live electronic-acoustic sets, jams and even films – to convey a multitude of themes and creative ideas.


Christina pointed out that there was something special about the location of Etikett Radio. After doing some research, I learned that the Funkhaus was once a thriving broadcasting community that held the title of world’s largest radio station during the GDR era. Upon first glance, the Funkhaus building (‘funk’ meaning radio) reflects the raw history of growth and adversity that has given shape and soul to those that occupy its halls nowadays. Walking through the dBs campus, one can imagine the old times. Ice cream shops, markets, fully booked venues, and hundreds of workers created a world-class radio station, in a facility that still has a unique acoustic quality. Renowned artists use its delicately designed studios to this very day. By creating Etikett Radio, we are following in the large footsteps of our predecessors, inspired to carry forward a legacy of artistry.

Hosting a radio show is a unique process to each artist. As I discuss in the interview, my show has its own challenges and approach. To create a sonic landscape and ambient progressions that narrate geographical experiences, I perform a live set using acoustic, analog, and digital instrumentation. It is thrilling to perform live, as I have to delicately navigate through multiple loopers that I layer using six different instruments. Those include electric cello, Seaboard RISE, modular synthesizer, and synthesis tools such as sequencers and FM synthesis. In order to create a basis for my compositions, I use clips that generate a groove out of the most unlikely timbres and rhythms, evoking a contemplative space for listeners.

Tonight (Tuesday February 26th) at 20:30, I will host my show ‘Frontier,’ the first of Etikett Radio’s official launch line-up. Tune in via the Etikett Radio website. I am thrilled to bring a highly crafted live performance that will cater to orchestral listeners while also capturing interest from those in love with sound design and sonic art. The live-streamed sonic journey will be just the beginning of many wondrous events hosted by Etikett Radio.

On March 7th from 21:00, Etikett Radio will join forces with the collective Der Fliegende Teppich (The Flying Carpet) to host a special club event at the Fiese Remise. Etikett Radio hosts Nine Oxes, Selective Memory, WalaBoy, Durnan, Silvestre, Lotus Wash, Red Verse, and myself will perform. Endless thanks can be given to Etikett director Matt Migliazza for coordinating with the established collective to bring all of us together in one evening. The night is the perfect example of Etikett Radio’s core mission to create a community of diversity. A week later, on March 15th, is the big event: the official Etikett Radio Launch Party. Check out the Facebook event here for all the details.

This blog is one of several that will spotlight the hosts and behind-the-scenes occurrences. Stay tuned for interviews with the hosts to gain further insight into the world of Etikett Radio; a passionate and collaborative sonic space that envisions no borders, limits nor creative constraints.



Palpita

Walking through a large crowd of people,

            Feeling heavy,

                                            Gasping for breath,

                                                                                            Detached from space,

Breathe, step, walk, move…

Don’t cry… because it won’t stop…

Here it comes,

                            Slowly,

                                            Everything starts…

                                                                                            To fall apart…

 

Breathe.

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Stress is suffocating. The breaths we take keep ourselves calm amidst chaos, frustration, anxiety, and panic, not fighting or overcoming but rather resilience and passive survival.

Palpita fluctuates between anxiety and calmness that carries the listener through a sonic journey. It is representative of the struggle of maintaining one’s composure in a social environment while devastating emotions are attacking the mind; moments when we find ourselves struggling to not let a realization of conflict hamper our ability to be social or to carry out simple tasks. The title is derived from the word palpitation, the strong off-set beating of the heart due to physical or mental strain and common during panic attacks.

Though the track has a consistent tempo, there are often motifs or grooves sampled in a non-rhythmic pattern and looped or processed to give a minuscule moment of space away from the downbeat, an acoustic mallet-to-cello one shot. Even the lead melody during the climax of the work remains loose in quantization of time to create a separation between the discernible beat, all to create the most hallmark trait of ambient music: the distortion of time.

This opening is composed with audio created from a Volca FM Digital Synthesizer layered with audio recorded from my most recent trip to the immigration office in Germany, including a baby crying, chatter, and bits of a conversation I had with a good friend. Harmonies remain simple, minimal, alternating notes with consistent diatonic intervals. Soundscapes are blended using various Parametric Equalization to get rid of background noise and to bring out voice in variant positions in the stereo field. A recording of a small toy that says “Why hello, it’s me, Aurora” is used to transition and add character throughout the entire track. Percussion elements are recordings taken from an acoustic cello using mallets, finger tapping, and the bow to hit the cello.

One of the classes that I am currently taking is an Electronic Music Performance module which explores alternative methods to performing, focusing the use of a wide spectrum of electronics. I heard the sound of the Volca FM Synthesizer in my class the other week and instantly fell in love with the warm acoustic sound it had. At this same time I realized that I wanted to figure out how to get amazing wide stereo-field pads and ambient textures. I knew delay pedals could extend the duration of the sound while using a feedback knob to create a large reverb effect. So I combined that with flanger to add more possibility of manipulating frequency and compression to control the amount of stereo field and dynamic range. Once I had everything set up in a studio, I started improv until I created a sample pack of the bell melody in the beginning and various “Morse Code” samples. It was on accident that I made a glitch sound that reminded me of Morse Code. It gives me the imagery of a satellite which floats through the entire piece; towards the end I transpose this motif to match the harmonic rhythm of the bells.

For the Climax, I took a melody and made three copies. With Ableton’s random feature I resampled the audio of three melodies that I processed differently. That is how the melody sounds like it is changing, in a tempo that doesn’t synchronize with the track’s 76 BPM.

During the transition after the climax there are fluttering sounds and a high-pass drum groove that I used to create a sense of dull mundane time passing that can be related to the several hours of waiting in an immigration office or a disjuncture feeling of not knowing what to do next in high pressure situations.

This work is probably one of my fastest creations. It would be fantastic to hear feedback as I try to experiment with form and the development of structure.

I had no preconceived idea of what I was trying to accomplish as I produced this track but slowly through improv and experimentation I found myself developing this sonic experience that wasn’t fully known until completion.

Listen all the way to the end and enjoy.

Digital Sabbath

Long day biking across the city…, from Embassy appointments straight to class and then studio recording time… I decided to take my bike along a S-Bahn route to shorten the journey without a properly stamped card which ended up resulting in a ticket… It was stressful and learning my lesson with the strictness of Germany’s reputable system of ruthless unforgiving guidelines came quickly. Immediately following this situation I got off at the Hauptbahnhof and walked to a nearby park to work on some studies and gather myself. That’s when my ears were drawn to the sound of the environment which is the intro to this track, church bells going off simultaneously with the sound of a helicopter. Perfect sonic separation in timbre and frequency that neither seemed to detract or enhance either yet they co-existed giving hundreds of people the characteristics of sound in Berlin.

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The recording was taken from my Nexus phone that isn’t good nor terribly bad. Luckily software is a thing and using an EQ and Saturation Filter I was able to create a Ontological layer of sound that melded well with a simple arpeggiator, giving dynamics and movement with the use of Cut Off Frequency automation. The intro is delicately long with support from a bass sine wave that blends slowly with the sound of the helicopter. It was my intention to give the arpegiator characteristics of the bells to organically blend the soundscape recording into a tranquil cup of tea.

Right after a short entrance of a vocal VST there is a change of pace and character starting with sound loops and a kick. Using samples and clips I created in my Electronic Production course using Ableton’s amazing launch and groove tool, I created percussive sounds that drew upon classic 808 sounds and minimal FX usage. It is always too fun taking a wave file and stretching, cutting, pulling it apart in various ways until some sort of instinct recalls a specific yet general use of such sounds to apply to other works that fill my time. It wasn’t until a good friend mentioned to me not to be afraid of using a four-to-the-floor beat which gives the propulsive drive and groove needed to sustain the development of a stronger rhythmic section. My comfort-ability and understand of a rhythm section/ beats is quite far from harmony and tone color but I gave it a shot, putting in a strong kick followed with precise percussive samples that pull and push interchangeably with each other.

Initially there was no Filter Gate used on the organ sound that drives the harmony on the build towards the Wobble section. There was something that just didn’t feel correct with just a straight organ sound so after some inner debate and experimentation I added a Filter Gate that turned the Organ into small pulsing sound that increased in Swing percentage over the build-up phrase into the wobble section. It is subtle yet important on challenging the arrangement to pull the listener forward.

Using the wobble was difficult and it will never be clear if it was the correct one to be used however I stuck with what I had and used various samples of “pops” and timbre control to blend everything together. There is extensive depth in this section and it would be fantastic to have some critical analysis of what works and what doesn’t. Comments are appreciated. Here I let lose with audio effects like panning and distortion to give rise and falls to small motifs that decorate the aggressive wobble.

At last, the ending section is a long tail of recapitulation and re use of a sonic environmental samples. A week prior to the completion of this track I learned how to use microphones in a studio space so one night a friend and I gathered instruments to dabble around, getting ourselves familiar with such tools. After he left I remained in the studio slowly turning into a 3 year old… Playing nonsense and improvising on everything I can get my hands on. Eventually a solo guitar melodic line developed and randomly I added it to the track to see what would happen, there was no intention for the two to ever come together. It isn’t a perfect fit but it still provides an emotional burst of tension especially after blending the sound with electronic synthesizers. It builds slowly into a trance of Organ, Arpegiator (used in the beginning), and another audio sample of myself hitting a drum in a slow melancholic way giving way to a dream like state.

The Track name refers to a point of time that is designated specifically to the removal of digital devices to have a moment of deep though, self-reflection, or growth of relationships. It has a more sacred or ritualistic approach meaning it is more serious than taking a break from your phone and going to do something that helps one grow as a person. More information can be found on the School of Life website or on the video provided.

Volkü

“It went from sounding like I was traversing through a digital jungle, cutting down long strands of terabyte grass with a machete and trying not to get killed by firewall bugs to listening to what I can only describe as fine art in sound-wave form” – Autumn Bradford

Initially this started out as an electronic accompaniment to a cello solo that I performed in Leipzig with the rhythm developed by taking a loop of afro-maraca beats and then doing what I call audio wave surgery, …. slicing and dicing various small hand-held percussion instruments and fitting them to this beat. Finding the right bass and kick to use was difficult because I wanted the sound of a voice giving an “Om” like effect combined with strong accents on the down-beat of each measure. Listen for when the Sub-Bass is added, this moment gives momentum to the Andes Folk-like melody given to various panpipes and flute instruments. The original version didn’t have this melody but I am glad that I revisited this work later down the road. After lots of traveling and experiencing friendship during my first summer in Germany I was able to find a sense of how I wanted the form to be developed in this work. There are some moments in the first have that seem stagnate but this is intentional as the climax fully resolves this feeling of uncertainty.

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On a random late night walk home through Clara Park in Leipzig I encountered loud frogs filling the lakes and nearby grassland. I started recording the audio with my cell phone realizing how I wanted these frogs to ribbit themselves into the tribal percussion filled intro. The audio of animals were taken from various FX sites and each one representing a person in my life that, at the time, filled my with memories with friendship. Using the Tambourine to narrate the characters and phrases combined with a spring reverb slap-back effect to sound like the opening of air, gives each entrance surprise and fluidity.

The second half starts with the blending of audio I recorded of cows with bells in the Alp of Austria during a mountain summit. Slowly adding a filter gate that creates a delicate use of time and momentum to voice audio of a dear friend and I swimming at a lake on my 25th Birthday. It was random but meant so much to me, how do I incorporate completely different harmonies and time (Banjo and solo Voice) with what I am already working with? Somehow I managed to find the correct amount of pulsating fluttering with MIDI harp and guitar panning from left to right. The animals resurface while a choir is added giving an epic cinematic lift into music heaven and bliss.

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There is something to say about patience with compositions and space from your creative ideas that might change something from mediocre to something that is unique and full of holistic development. The environment, memories, surrounding friends and people really fill my life with abundant purpose and a track like this keeps me remembering what is important to me. Hope you all is enjoy.

– Samaquias Lorta

 
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