Ela Orleans at EMS, Stockholm – Days 5, 6, 7 and 8

Stockholm 9AM

I finally settled in Stockholm. The weather is milder than I thought it would be, there has been no rain, and the light is so strong, my sunglasses don’t seem to make much of a difference when I walk from Slussen tube station along the river to Elektronmusikstudion. It gets dark very early here, around four o’clock. I have been missing sun sets however, as I have been locked in the studio with no windows every single day from 10 am to 8 pm. Voluntarily, of course. The lack of sleep and tiredness is slowly creeping in and there is no other way but taking a day off. That will happen soon. My walks from and back home provide a lot of fresh air which helps after whole day spent in high tech box.

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Before I arrived to Stockholm, I received an invitation from VEMS to present my work during its monthly meeting. VEMS (Active at EMS) – is a group of EMS members, who meet in the beginning of each month. Although talking about my music makes me a little bit nervous, I set up my computer in the conference room while local composers were gathering. I talked a little bit about my background and experience with music and presented a few of my past musical pieces and movie clips. I spoke briefly about each project and described the commission I am currently working on – the soundtrack for Maja Borg’s new movie – MAN. I was a little bit concerned about the silence and lack of any kind of reaction between each little part of my talk, but I was relieved to finally hear hand claps shortly after I said the final “and that would be it”. The presentation turned into Q & A’s and informal conversation accompanied by wine and cake. It was great to meet other composers, exchange contacts and learn about their practice. It was refreshing to hear some questions I have been asking myself for a while. Example: “which direction I am finding myself gravitate towards most these days?” In other words: “where am I going?”

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Certainly after a few days at EMS, I feel like I need to learn a lot more now and that recording at home, however dedicated and focused can not compare to work on the state of the art equipment. Going back to my home recording potentially means switching from silverware to plastic forks. I am a little worried and I am also excited to make changes and improve my practice. I am certainly learning different recording techniques and even using ProTools, the program which I dislike quite passionately (I am learning I am not alone), gives me more chances to explore the way of editing, using plug ins, cataloging my work and in general being disciplined with time, which flies ridiculously fast. I want to produce quality work and not only hear, but also KNOW what I am doing. Working on soundtrack so far gives me the best chances to explore my potential but also meet my limitations. Every day, after lunch break, I am spending a little bit of time in the library upstairs, which has quite small but hard to swallow useful collection of books on sound, composition and computer music. There is an ample amount of CD’s by pioneers of electronic music from Xankis to Pauline Oliveros, to Daphne Oram. I found a few books I am definitely going to buy and study; one in particular – “Computer Music – Synthesis, Composition and Performance” by Charles Dodge and Thomas A. Jerse looks like the essential reading.

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The coffee pot is brewing 24 h/day and EMS is creating a conducive atmosphere for work. I am not sure what exactly I am looking but what I have been finding so far went beyond my expectations. Exploring possibilities, gathering sound clips and even getting frustrated with too many things to learn so fast, make me confident that this residency is a mile stone in my development as a recording artist.

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It’s time to leave Studio 4, known as a “Buchla room” for a bit and move to Studio 3 equipped in 11 HDX and 2 channel Ino Audio sound system, mainly used in Sweden. Very precise and providing clear quadraphonic experience, the room is a perfect transition to the next level of my education at EMS. Time to listen and edit all I did so far – hours of noise, grooves and tunes – rather slow process with little fun. I am also going to catch up with friends and finally go out.