Uptempo Lofi Beats Music for energized flow, productivity and creative doings.
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Released on April 23, 2023. Written, composed and self-produced by Mark Koester Original Cover Design by Mark Koester Stellar Mammals Production 2023
- Venice Viking
- Spirit to a dream
- Starward Funk
- Forgotten Voyage
- Spaced Out
- Symbolic Wonderland
- The Maze
- Ice Beats
- Comes home again
- Desert Garden
- Cracked Egg
- Calling out
- Bubbles to the cloud
- Celebrate Twillight
If you are seeking distraction-free music for creative flow doings, these songs I made these songs for you.
This album is my act of self-creation. This is my second major release and includes 14 brand-new songs. The majority of the songs were written during my 30 days, 30 songs challenge](http://www.markwk.com/30-day-songwriting-challenge.html) in Decemeber 2022.
While my last album or EP release was ambient and downtempo and primarily aimed at being chill and relaxed, this album, by contrast, is much more upbeat, danceable and delivers higher energy flow.
Again this album was nearly entirely created on a simple Mac laptop computer using Ableton Live DAW and (mostly) stock audio effects. In terms of peripheral devices, I still got a lot of mileage out of my first MIDI keyboard, AKAI MPK mini. Additionally I used a cheap Casitone Midi keyboard/piano (more keys and octaves!) as well as Novation’s Launchpad Pro for arrangement and composing.
My early songwriting and composing was pretty all over the place. I landed on a heavy focus on exploring and playing with classic emulations of old school instruments from Arturia’s V Collection. I also emerged with several LoFi-style tracks, which eventually during production and album re-working become its dominant theme. I’m hopeful this album and its songs can provide energized, instrumental listens for my own and others’ creative doings.
In terms of sounds, I used a number of instrument VSTs and music production tools to create and scupt my soundscapes. Top of mind on this album were Arturia’s V Collection, which continues to be a wonderful places to explore classic sounds for a digital music producer. Again, I loved and leveraged Decent Sampler (for some piano and guitar sampled instruments), SpitFire Audio’s Labs (mainly for orchestral and string libraries), TAL-U-No-LX for Roland Juno synths sounds, and Valhalla’s SuperMassive for various reverb, feedback and delay effects. I used RC-20 Retro Color which is great plugin for adding warmth, some classic vinyl and tape effects and general LoFi-y goodness. I used AudioKit’s Synth One on iOS and recorded via AUM workflow to capture a few unique sounds. Bird sounds were recorded while on a recent trip in Guatamala.
The album title, “Symbolic Wonderlands,” is inspired by a philosophical belief in the expansiveness of human meaning, concepts and otherwise. Having lived much of my adulthood abroad and in and through several foreign languages, I’ve come to appreciate how language and symbols guide and constrain how we express and think. Language, music, stories and emotion provide a tapestry for wonder, which Aristotle viewed as the first steps towards philosophizing. I personally subscribe to a Nietzschean critique of universal truths, meaning, and reality. Such a rejection comes with the pangs and existential anguish of nihilism while also, if we embrace a form of Nietzsche’s response, our own form of self-meaning, self-creation and personal joys in acts of creativity.
Mental Blocks and My Album Writing and Production Process
The journey to completing and releasing this album took several turns. I’ll admit that there was a bit of a let down after finishing my first album. Like many goals that take a long time to pursue, there is an initial high with the final acheivement, followed afterwards by a lull of uncertainty and doubt. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would make more songs and, if so, of what kind?
There were several mental unlocks or unblockers that enabled me to get started, make progress and eventually work towards finishing. Fortunately, I was able to use my past goal pursuits and my on-going research on creativity, learning and the science of goals to again find meaning, purpose and a point to pursuing in my music making.
Here are some key principles and writings for fellow creative and music producers:
- From Zero to Album: My Personal Music Production Learning Journey - This post I recount how I learned music production and made my first album. Part way through this new album, writing this gave me a new perspective and positive, gratiful attitude to soldier on and finish. Read the post for more on my learning and creating journey.
- 30 Days, 30 Songs: Following some work and professional related challenges, I decided to embrace a no B.S., must make songs approach. Starting in December each day I would sit down and try and make a song. Using Arturia’s V Collection of emulation of various classic instruments as my starting point, I often just tried an instrument and played with assembling a working audio chain. This instrument creation and playing would lead to a riff, a melody, a something. This thread became the backbone of a demo song, often in less than an hour. Read the post for more details.
- Creative Organization: How I Used a Spreadsheet to Streamline My Creative Process, Finish Songs Efficiently and Release My Latest AlbumAlbum Production Spreadsheet - As I struggled to finish and organize, I decided to create a album production spreadsheet. The spreadshet and my productivity and organizational “hacks” enabled me to make tangible steps and finish with confident.
- Make Songs, Find Flow - my mantra.
Special thanks to…
- Raleigh Tomlinson whose ears were an early sounding board and who provided constant positive and encouraing support as I cobbled these songs and project together as well as for wonderful meals, coffee breaks, love, and canoe rides.
- Kjell Nelson for creative support and long bike rides pre- and post- music making.
- Jake Still provided early feedback and useful tips throughout.
- My brother Drew Koester listened to various early demos and the first mixed version of the final songs I released.
- Various friends, family, neighbors and collegues who smiled and cheered me on in their own ways as I was working on finishing this album.
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