The music making process
By Sinisha Mladenovick
Surely, I can say my favorite part is being on stage, sharing the energy with my band and people around us, but on the other hand there's nothing better than the creative process of creating new music. If you ever wonder what it looks like when music is being created, I'm rather happy to share it with you.
Every time when it comes to making new songs, I just vanish into an another dimension of mine. Before the band jumps in, I have to make all crucial parts such as lead melodies, breaks, collides and of course - harmonies.
Our first album "Still Life" musically started, believe or not, from drums. I've programmed VST drums which inspired me to play bass-lines over them. I believe a good rhythm section is very important to make your track energized. That's what boosts your song's energy level from 1 to 10. Guitars, I sometimes use to color the song, or to make it even more bombastic, but I am not really good at creating powerful riffs, so that part is almost always improved upon by the guitarist.
Keyboards are the most important instrument for me, of course, so that's the main musical medium which, for me, communicates with people the most and pulls them into another world. Lyrics were always written before a single note was played, so as soon as I would get an idea what the album would bring to this world I would start with album name, track list and lyrics. For this album Milica's colleagues from Music Academy in Belgrade sung amazing backing vocals. It was an insane experience to watch a group of professionals singing in unison without missing a single note.
"The Second Sun" was composed pretty much the same way as "Still Life", but I had already had most of the ideas in my head. So with this one, I started with themes and harmonies. Soon after that, lead vocal lines were added. I was never as good at making backing vocals as Milica, who was making all the complex backing vocals on all our releases, so I believe the next album will be mostly based on good vocal lines with simple b-vox intervals. I am also awful singer, so Milica just convinced me to participate on all of the songs as backing vocal and she drained the life out me to sing all the crazy intervals she wrote. There was a lot of recording and editing my vocal parts; I can freely say - months of it. So yeah, I would like to concentrate more on my primal role on the next album - keyboards.
Vibes and atmosphere. That's what I always aim for when songs are 80% finished. I am a visual type, and I just can't settle down with my half-finished ideas, I always tend to express myself as much as possible. Even as a kid, I always had that synesthesia thing and every song I liked to listen had its own color or picture of time and space in my head. Often, I print some landscapes, eateries of abandoned places, space or even some movie scenes and put it in front of me so I start creating a song while I look at the picture and try to get a vibe from it through the music. Now, I can't wait to start working on new songs! This time, with my fellow bandmates more included from the get-go, because I am really motivated to work even more detailed and harder since I know I have extraordinary musicians behind my back.
A lot of metal colleagues told me I'm way too modern and different from the musical patterns we used to listen to, but I believe every decade, and every era carries its own sense of time which should never be ignored. I just can't create music that was played 20 years ago. We are living in completely insane times, and these times give me many different ways to express myself through music and have their own story to tell. I just want to say in the future "Wow, this was us in 2020's" and I really want to feel and remember myself who I was when I was 20 or 30 - doesn't matter.
In 2012 I've discovered a song structure which is named "Through-composed" form. I often speak about this since I figured out that a lot of people just aren't aware of this.
I've read some reviews about the "Second Sun" and many writers mentioned our song arrangements without knowing about "Through-composed" forms.
I truly believe that the classic AABA song structures which are verses and choruses are way too cliché and it was much more challenging for me to express myself in some other musical patterns, such as this one. It was a huge challenge for me since I was aware I could potentially make a metal song to last for ages in this form, and I realized what could be told through those arrangements, so I decided anyway to make most of the songs in through-composed structure. In music theory of musical form, through-composed music is relatively continuous, non-sectional, or non-repetitive music. A song is said to be through-composed if it has different music for each stanza of the lyrics. This is in contrast to strophic form, in which each stanza is set to the same music. The best example for this is our song from the second album - "Dead Landscapes". You can hear Verse I, Chorus I , Verse II, Chorus II but it's just very hard to define them since lyrics in both choruses are different, tonality is changed and drum beat is completely different.
I often like to use collides which are usually heard in electronic music such as techno. I always give my best to avoid these parts overwhelming the songs, so casual listeners can enjoy vocals or melodies layered over them, without the song structure coming off as pretentious. Basically - I hide it behind lead instruments or vocals.
If you are stuck in the creative process of making new songs, maybe you should give this one a try and use some of these tricks to express yourself in a way you've never done before.