Posted 3 years ago

No news in a while means….

…tons of news posted all at once!! The fact that it’s been quiet on the blog is just an illusion – it’s not quiet around here. Currently we’re listening to the mixes, making sure that every beat, every chord, every note and breath is in the right place. In July we went back to the studio to finish recording the vocals for the album - and this time we weren’t in a hurry but had several gloooorious days to make sure it all sounds just the way we want it to. It’s a good thing our voices were back 100% this time – it made all the difference. The perfectionist side of our personality got to emerge - strongly!

For the past month, our sound engineer has been steadily working with the mixing of the album. It’s fascinating to witness how the raw material from the studio turns into a beautiful, well balanced, true piece of music – it becomes an entity. Actually, it’s even more rewarding when you remember how the song came into being while crashing on a friend’s couch on a summer night and picking up the guitar in the dark of night. And now, hearing it like it is now… Wow. Hmmm. Next post will probably be about the evolution of a song!

Our dear friend Safa Hovinen is working on another entity - the graphics and lay-out. People are busy with figuring out printing options and internet sales and so on. Soon, all the pieces of this Refuge-puzzle will be put together and brought to you.

This project keeps on expanding, though. It’s almost like Refuge has been inspiring itself along the way to always become that one extra step (bigger and) better. Some of us started this project with the idea of recording a demo, some thought we’d just finish a few songs. Some thought we’d make a simple, acoustic album. Now it seems we have more people joining our wonderful, talented band of musicians with some interesting solo instruments and guess what! We’re not merely working on an album anymore. Just wait and see!

But sure, we’ve had some obstacles along the way, too. A studio with a hot and humid jungle climate and tricky conditions (you know, with the heat and all us monkeys around), the ‘Evil Flu’ creating some nasty and unwanted audible vibes and prolonging slightly the mixing of the album and bugging our sound engineer. Then we also met our dear friends Thunder and Lightning, who made sure we took goooooood long breaks in the middle of recording so as not to fry all the fancy equipment. Oh, and mosquitos and flies and all sortsa little flyin’ bugs. But all that is really essentially nothing. However, it does take time to conclude a project like this. Thanks for being so patient!

More news to come… soon!

Posted 3 years ago

In the studio - Part 2: A Vocalist’s Perspective

You know how weird it is when you hear a recording of your voice for the first time? Well, the effect is temporary - you get used to it and might even grow to like your “new” sound. We’ve gotten used to our singing voices a long time ago. But here’s a funny story: it doesn’t apply to our voices when we talk! Hearing that still creeps me out a bit, even though as a kid I used tape my own little radio shows on my dear cassette player. I wonder if those are still somewhere to be found..?

The second weekend we spent in the studio was mostly about solos, additional instruments and vocals. Due to a nasty flu factor we didn’t get all the vocals done as planned. But once we get our voices back in order, we’ll get back to finish recording. It was a very different kind of weekend - not only because instead of the summer heat we found ourselves longing for some woollen socks, but because everything seemed less hurried. It was pretty stressful for us singers to try and do our best despite the flu. So much needed to be done, but there’s only so much the voice can take! And if a voice is tired, you can hear it immediately, so breaks were in order. But after many tissues had been used, a lot of fluids had been consumed, some medication had been taken, we were able to avoid the nasal sound pretty well and hopefully it will all go undetected.

There’s a lot that needs to be take into account when singing. It’s not as easy as one might think. It’s not enough to be able to maintain the tune and pitch, to have a sense of rhythm, to have a nice voice and a range that suits you. Then there’s breathing, articulation, the whole deal of avoiding overused gimmicks, remaining focused while trying to keep it real and fresh. And that’s just to name a few. Simple things can become challenging. Like how to sing with your eyes closed and not hit the pop shield with your nose. That can be hard. Sometimes it all came very naturally. We had times when we got the vocals for a song on the very first take. Then there were times when I was stuck, singing ONE WORD for like 20-30 times.

We noticed that recording vocals is like the absolute best singing lessons one could ever take. It’s merciless, completely ruthless. There are no excuses you can make. What you hear is the reality. It’s a rather fast way to learn. So if you’re an aspiring singer or just want to coach your voice a bit further, here’s a tip: record and listen. Not in a studio of course, as that can be rather unfriendly towards your personal financing, but use your computer/mp3-player/that-cassette-player-from-the-good-ol’-days.

So… A lot has been achieved, but there’s still loads to be done! We’re almost done with the raw material, and now it’s time for production. Let’s go!

Posted 3 years ago

In the studio - Part 1

So far we’ve spent two intensive weekends recording in the studio.

The first weekend was dedicated for recording the band. It was +30C weather outside, but I can guarantee it was even hotter inside the studio! We’ve really had to sweat in order to deliver our art.. :) We had been recording all day in the heat when some people who work at the studio came to do some editing for a project of theirs. They were amazed how we’d been able to work in those conditions at all! But that’s the beauty of this project - the atmosphere in the studio was light, relaxed and joyous even if the heat and the amount of work was exhausting. There was laughter in the air, jokes were flying. There was great energy and flow, we got so much done. I had expected the frustration levels to rise at some point, but it never happened! Sure, everything takes longer than one would imagine, and yes there was a lot of waiting at times, but these things were to be expected. Plus it gives time for interesting conversations and stories in the middle. And it’s very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes, what happens in the background. There’s tremendous amount of work that goes to a project even of this scale. It’s truly a pleasure to have such grand people to work with!

While most of us had some time to rest and regain health during the following week (the vocalists managed to catch the flu somehow… worst timing ever, blah), our sound engineer/superman worked harrrrd all week, editing what we’d recorded so far. Bless him, he’s the one who has the toughest job and the longest hours! We’re constantly amazed by his level of motivation and dedication. Coolest dude ever. Thanks to him, we could plan what to do next and decide what needed to be re-recorded.

To see some photos and videos from our studio sessions, go visit our facebook- page! 

Posted 3 years ago

We’re ready to go!

So… this is it. Today has been the last day to rehearse before going to the studio. The era of demos is officially over, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll be holding the fruit of our endeavors in our hands very soon. It’s so exciting!! Can’t even imagine what that will be like! 

These songs have become so familiar to us that it’s kind of weird to think that this is not the case with the rest of y’all. You will be the ones to hear it fresh, you’ll get to hear them “for the first time”. Well.. all we can hope for is that we can offer you an enjoyable and uplifting experience!

So throughout this week we’ve just been practicing and making phone-calls back and forth about all the practical arrangements (how’s the studio, what’s the schedule, where we’ll be staying, how are we traveling..) Today we called our producer to ask what we should bring along with us. “Swimsuits and a towel!” was his answer! Not quite what I was expecting but then again… There is this ridiculous (and absolutely glorious though unusual) heatwave going across Funland as we speak, we’re on both sides of +30°C this whole week! Something tells me it’ll be reeeeally hot in the studio as well…! 

This weekend we’ll also get to see the first drafts of the cover art made by our dear talented friend Safa Hovinen (http://cargocollective.com/safa). We’re happy to have him working on this project too!

More posts to come, now we gotta go do some hard work! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Posted 3 years ago

Balancing the Different Elements

We got to listen some recordings made during our session with the band. And what a yummy treat it was! But listening to our sound so far also brought about some new questions for us as artists.

When it comes to writing music for Holy Writings, as a composer, I’ve realized it’s sometimes a challenge to remember what exactly you’re working with. It can be so easy to just let the music take you where it wants to go and to get caught up with the fun side of songwriting and jamming. Music… is a form of life, of love, a power in itself. Then again, the Holy Writings of world religions are a source of life and certainty for us as spiritual beings. They also speak of the greatest love story of all time - that between the Creator and creation.

O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

Bahá’u’lláh

So it becomes clear that we’re working with two very different kinds of forces. With this project, we’ve tried our best to keep in mind that Holy Writings (for us, at least) are not something to just play around with. They’ve been a source of inspiration for us and through our music we wish to emphasize and highlight their beauty and wisdom. When combining the soul-stirring power of both music and the Holy Writings, it’s crucial to try and find the right balance between the two forces. What SOUNDS great doesn’t necessarily make the combination right. But then again, something being hallow doesn’t mean it can’t be rhythmic, upbeat, joyous.

I think it all comes down to figuring out what is ‘uplifting’, and we’ve come to realize it can mean many things - and many styles. But figuring out the right recipe is indeed very challenging. With these thoughts in mind, it’s interesting to analyze the work we do. We can only hope that our judgement of what is uplifting and dignified and still a treat for the ear is somewhat correct. And if it’s not… Well, at least we truly tried!

Posted 3 years ago

So… We’re going to the studio in June. At the moment, we’re practicing for some live performances that will take place next weekend. Other than that we’re pretty much just impatiently waiting for June to come. To distract ourselves from all the waiting and get our creative juices flowing, we decided to do something else.. and this cover is definitely something else. It has nothing to do with Refuge per se, but we wanted to share it with y’all anyway. Why? Because we think it’s funny! 

As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve sort of grown to like that Bruno Mars song “Grenade”. As silly as the lyrics are, the song itself with it’s harmonies and all is pretty nice. So we twisted the words a little bit… You know, to give a woman’s perspective to it. 

I wonder what we’ll come up with next…! 

Posted 3 years ago

This is a try-out of making a music video! Elina went to Hungary to attend a friend’s wedding and during her trip she also got to work with Nadji Hedjazi, a fellow Bahá’í and an aspiring film-maker. This was a wonderful chance to try put music and video together. This was all done on a Sunday afternoon, in just a few hours. We’re already imagining what could be done with a couple of days… We’re really looking forward to working with Nadji in the future. We already have ideas as to what the real music video will be like. Please check out his other works as well, this guy has an amazing eye for capturing beauty in everything and in everyone. 

Posted 3 years ago

And the winner is…

We’ve finally found a title for our CD project, and in all it’s simplicity we really like it. 

It was right in front of our eyes all this time. And it is… *drum-roll*…

Refuge. 

Although our dear friend Safa suggested it to us, we had it in mind quite in the beginning. But no worries mate, you’re getting a free CD anyway for your tremendous contribution to the project. Looking forward to our studio sessions in June! :)  

Posted 3 years ago

Spiritual Spinach

Last weekend we had our first practice sessions with the whole band. It is such a pleasure to work with professionals and people who are doing this out of love! This record is going to be completely non-profit btw, and any profit we get, will either be donated to the funds or be saved for future projects (or both).

At the end of the day we were very pleased with how the arrangements for the songs turned out and excited to start recording them in the studio in June! Here’s a bit of an introduction of our crew

 

Elina – lead vocals, violin

Mea – piano, background vocals

Aram – drums and percussions

Nader – guitar (acoustic and electric)

Dile – bass

Joonatan – mixing and sound editing

 

Also we’ve been trying to figure out a name for our yet nameless project. We still haven’t found one, but have had a laugh at some funny suggestions or discoveries. ”Spiritual Spinach” inspired by the song ”Tender Herb” gave us a giggle (Elina is chopping spinach while I write this post btw). We also found humour in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, when He refers to people as ”O Moving Form of Dust!”. Neither one of these will end up on our CD, so we’re still open for new suggestions. Keep ’em coming! 

Posted 3 years ago

You guys.. Make sure you have good speakers or that you’re wearing your headphones… and click play to hear the snippet of our latest song!

The story behind it:

What an AMAZING, creative weekend we’ve had! We breathed a new life into a song which until now had sounded a bit too much like “Stairway to Heaven” (or so our producer said…) Changed one chord and voilá, problem solved! This is actually really good news, because this particular song is a favorite of Mea’s (the super-pianist-arranger-composer-musical-genius). It’s also a bit different from all the other songs we’ve been working on. It’s sort of more melancholic in character and the melody is almost hauntingly beautiful. The song tries to reflect and portrait the submissive nature of the prayer being sung. It’s heart-breakingly honest, which has brought me to tears a few times I’ve performed it.

We’ve also been on a bit of a schedule to make a few new songs before next week’s band rehearsals.. Luckily, we’ve had a few ideas that we’ve been bouncing around for the past few weeks. Luckily, because usually if one HAS to be creative, it just doesn’t happen. To make a good song, you can’t force it.

But even though we had this tiny tiny idea of a song, we never would’ve guessed where that idea would take us. Last night as we were recording a demo of it, we got so excited we could hardly sit still! We knew we were on to something - something good. That sort of excitement is hard to explain. You don’t get this feeling every time.

We think the song turned out great. In our experience, when you’re making a song and feel like you’re not in charge, like you’re just trying to keep up with what’s happening - that’s when amazing things happen. When the song is just kind of creating itself and you’re just there to witness it all unravel, you’re there as a tool for the inspiration… it’s magic!

AHHH. Can’t wait till you guys get to hear the full track too!