A year ago, we published Ramen Music Issue #01 and began our experiment.
Our goal? To craft online music how we dream it to be. Submissions open to every musician. Paying artists fairly. Offering a beautiful and immersive package, not just mp3 files. Making discovery easy by delivering regular issues to our subscribers.
Have we been successful? Looking at the photos of everyone who helped make this last year happen, it's impossible for me to say we haven't. Looking at all of the passionate subscribers who have supported us so far, I’m convinced that we are on the right track.
Special thanks to Marlena Koppendorfer & Liliana Williams for their faith and support. Hugs to Aaron Konrad, #euteam, Matt Mower, alonetoners worldwide and ModernThings for kindling the fire.
To another year of Ramen Music, another year of running our experiment, another year of building our dream...
I am a composer living and working in San Francisco. Makeunder is a pet project of mine, an attempt to make wacky popular music.This track, “Radiate, Satellite” is the title track on his new EP, digitally released just last week on bandcamp.
The story recounts a conversation my grandfather had with my mother, the day before he died. Because of macular degeneration, he couldn’t see much, but if he stared up at the sky, he could catch a glimpse of satellites as they passed across the sun.This track (along with the rest of the EP) was recorded when Hamilton was away from his studio. What does this mean? Incredibly, it was recorded using only a laptop. A normal internal laptop microphone. No soundcard. No fancy mic. Not even an SM57. Just a laptop.
All I had at my disposal was my laptop, a small toy native american hand drum, and the violin and saxophone I inherited from my grandfather, played in his family band in his youth. The whole project was recorded in the span of 4 days, mostly between the hours of 12am-4am, with the exception of the 4th track, which I recorded the day before I left at 8am.
I have my own project studio I built in my room (I live in a warehouse, where things like this are possible). I move freely between Logic, Live, and Pro Tools, and my microphone brand of choice is Peluso. I work with professionals and non-professionals - really, having the right kind of fiery perspective is often more important than whether or not you went to music school.Be sure to catch Makeunder’s bonus track at the end of the issue.
This is a fantasy daydream song, plucked out of my weirdo imagination. When I wrote it, I wanted to play around with a reggae groove in a non-typical way, and wanted to really show off the sound of the Japanese Koto since this was written very soon after bringing the instrument into the band.
We recorded all of the instruments live off of the floor, at Canterbury Music Company in Toronto and overdubbed the vocals at Jigsaaw Studios, also in Toronto. Ba da bing, ba da boom. There was a really nice mic that I know nothing about but that made the koto sound even more like magic than ever.I absolutely love it when artists cook up wonderful images and film to accompany their music. The story behind her video blows me away.
Over 80 volunteer animators from age 7 to 70 pitched in their creativity to trace 2800 frames of film to create our first official music vid. It was ridiculously time consuming and equally AMAZING.The “making of” shows just how much love went into producing it.
The short answer is that my mom is an awesome musician who plays the koto (and more), and when my family lived in Japan for a year when I was a kid, I took lessons with my mother’s sensei.Regarding the changes in the music industry:
I feel like even in my lifetime that recording went from being a far away dream for the general public, to a reality in everyone’s living room.Her band plays out a lot. A lot a lot. They’ve been touring across Canada and have their sights set next on Europe and Japan.
I just had to write a list of every show we played in the last 2 or so years, and it was upwards of 200 shows, mostly outside of Toronto. wowie!Jessica’s outlook on live music describes exactly how I feel about going to see a show.
I LOVE live music and I don’t care how good someones chops are, what genre they’re playing, or how good looking they are, as long as they hurl their tunes out from the heart and it’s their own genuine musical voice, I wanna see/hear it.
Both of us experimented with playing in bands and recording, but none of it ever really worked out.
One day Grant was surfing the web. He stumbled across Chrissy’s lovely Youtube page which, at the time, was filled with Regina Spektor covers. Realizing Chrissy went to his high school, Grant sent a little facebook message to Chrissy. He was interested in writing music together. Nothing really went on for about a year, then it all started coming together.
We began sharing our song ideas, playing music together, and becoming great friends. But there was one problem: our styles were entirely different! The music we were writing didn’t feel cohesive. Time flew by, and we both shipped off to college. Now we spend much of our year in the great state of New York, Chrissy wandering the streets of Manhattan, Grant driving through the backwoods of upstate.
We finally united again in the summer of 2011. Coming home from college is always weird, so we decided we’d avoid the weirdness by finally recording an album. To our delight, the music we were writing finally had that cohesive feel we’d always wanted. After an entire summer spent writing and recording, we finally went outside.
We like to think of this song as a sort of contradictory celebration, especially during the outro with the combination of somewhat melancholy lyrics with upbeat music.
Our name Summer Underground comes from a line in one of Grant’s songs about how the New York Subway System is always hot as hell—it feels like it’s always “summer underground.”What they love most about music today:
We love that genres are really changing, or rather, that people are making music that incorporates elements of many different genres.
Stargazing For Icecream is a song about discovery and those moments when we stare in to space, daydreaming about other beings in other Universes coming and helping out the human race.Ash Bull, the singer, owns a music rehearsal and recording studio in Maidenhead, UK.
All the local musicians come to Denmark Studios to record their demos and rehearse for their live shows. I am currently writing an original album with an act called The Primary and also play a lot of local low key Gigs with my Piano and Voice. I love the thought of writing music that satisfies the soul before the pocket.
I use Logic to write and construct all my material, making sure the structures are right, then moving on to get a strong lyrical content and then constructing my sound palette.
All the ideas of how the song will be produced are nailed down before the final stage of using our in-house engineer to rerecord through a Sound craft desk using Neumann Microphones and finally mixing the record in NuendoAs for what is next:
I have ideas to bring in a 3 piece orchestra, backing vocalists, a small horn section and other on-stage performers which will obviously cost, but the money being saved on making the album could go towards making a truly spectacular live show.
Kimya is a longtime friend, she came to our town and played a lot and we gave her some CDs that she liked.
One day after a tour, just before leaving she said “let’s form a band and record”. We called ourselves Antsy Pants and recorded ten songs in 2 or 3 days. A couple of months later she called back and said can we use two Antsy Pants songs on this small indie film called Juno. We said yes of course and the rest is history!Moonchild was recorded in “Amazing vintage studio in the south of France called Vega Studio with the master Ceddy Gonod.” I spent a good 30 minutes browsing the studio’s website, it truly looks like an beautiful space to record and mix.
Herman Dune recorded there. It’s an open studio in the country. We recorded live in large rooms and felt like the Rolling Stones. Best time of our lives.As far as the origin of this song:
Moonchild was inspired by voodoo and black magic and more specifically by the films of Kenneth Anger. It’s also a love story that turned sour.About the video (bottom left):
We co-directed it with Fred Mortagne and Jeremiah. We are so happy with this. We shot it overnight in the deserted room of the rosicrucian order of Kidderminster. The egyptian paintings were there, the whole place was trembling with mystery.
We almost killed ourselves doing it because it was so hot and the make ups were dripping. Doing music videos is a lot of work and, again, it’s an homage to the films of Kenneth Anger.
Embarrassment aside. I wrote this song after having my heart a little bit broken over gmail chat. It struck me as crazy that today it’s gotten to a point where we don’t even find it necessary to say the most important things in person anymore.
With cell phones, email, skype, twitter, facebook and numerous other ways available to send a message we’ve got options… Why say things face to face and risk the chance of actually seeing how much our words can hurt another person?After we accepted Janelle’s song, we discovered that she is actually sisters with Gina Loes, the vocalist of the Ruffled Feathers (Issue #06).
The night I was writing this song, I had to go into my sisters room and ask her if it was ok to use the word cyberspace in a song. She said I could do whatever I wanted, but she thought it was a little strange. So I changed the bridge from “So how ‘bout we say it face to face, cause so much gets lost in cyberspace” to “So how ‘bout we say it face to face, cause so much gets lost within the space” Personally, I think the change was for the better :)Janelle records at home, though for this track (and the album it’s on), she worked in the home studio of a local recording engineer.
Many of the other performers sent in their parts from out of state, like the string arrangements and performances by Chris Carmichael. I was so incredibly lucky to be able to have the chance to work with so many talented musicians. It’s crazy hearing myself with full orchestration behind me when I’m so used to playing solo acoustic shows.Janelle sports the optimistic view for staying independent. As far as a record deal:
One would definitely be nice, but I think today there’s a whole lot more hope out there for independent musicians. Mostly, I just want to make the kind of music that I love. That’s what I think is important. Whatever else happens, happens.
My father was a mechanic, a tow-truck driver, and a Southern Baptist preacher. My mother played piano for church services. I listened to my brother’s rock ‘n’ roll and Dad’s bluegrass collection.
As a teenager, I got a cheap Stratocaster copy and started learning jazz in the high school band and rock ‘n’ roll at home. I barely graduated school and spent four years in the Navy, my guitar tied to the firemain behind my bunk.
When my enlistment was over, I played in metal bands until a groupie gave me a stolen acoustic guitar. I took it to fiddle festivals and wrote new songs that sounded old. I recorded my first album that way, with fiddles and banjos.It wasn’t until my 2nd or 3rd listen that I focused in on Byrd’s lyrics on Oak Tree. Once I did, I played the song three times in a row, enthralled by the intricate yet flowing storytelling.
“I Was An Oak Tree” follows the spirit of a tree across the ocean, narrated by the tree itself.
Human history is a shorthand of brief and violent events. As we wait impatiently for the next webpage to load, can we imagine the history of an oak tree? The World Wars must have rumbled by like a distant storm in the space of a morning.
I love to record live performances, with all the musicians together in the same room. Honestly, I don’t understand how to make records piece by piece, the way most modern recordings are made.
When everyone is live in the room, you can’t just replace a guitar part. You have to cut the entire band from one take to another. It’s often better to embrace the best track and live with its flaws.As far as the end musical product, Jonathan’s mantra is something I strongly agree with:
In the end, it simply has to make the listener feel something. No one can relate to perfection.
This track is the first in a cycle of 12 “Chacareras” (a very special rhythm from Argentina), which Piarango composed in 2010 and finally recorded in September 2011.
It is inspired by a chord sequence of Gaspar Sanz, a Spanish composer of the XVII century, who named it “Tarantella”, a popular dance in Italy and Spain at that time.
We developed this idea and composed a piece which attempts to show (symbolically, through an imaginative process) how the european music influenced the Argentine folklore at the time of its formation.Their outlook on the music world today:
We believe that today it is possible to be totally free in the music. One can be very old fashioned or very modern. All is permitted and there is an audience for everything.Piarango has been playing live since 2001, touring Europe and Japan heavily. They also have an upcoming tour in the US in Spring 2012. Their love for the stage is reflected by their primary dream.
Our dream is, that our music will be more recognized throughout the world, that we can play at large locations, for thousands of people…
There was a relationship once; the lengthy kind. During it’s course; I was guilty of despicable acts. No way around that really. Near its end; on the birthday of the relationship’s other participant, I sought to ease my shame by way of gifts.
A long walk. An unwrapping of a ukulele at it’s end. Something for the down strums. She liked music. But, of course, so do I.
And being the selfish sort, I commandeered the ukulele on the walk home. Started playing this song.
Once it was all over; the ukulele was off limits. So I reworked the song for the guitar and recorded it.
An attempt to re-establish some self worth.
As I stay up past the sunrise, the internet making me sad; a song makes me better.
A little place to complain, lament, exalt, exclaim.
I play live from time to time and am in the process of recording a demo of sorts. I dream of doing music all the time.
Unknown musician residing in Santa Fe, friend of Sudara. I submit to Ramen to be a part of something my friend created. I put music out because I can and I don’t want to lose that ability. I love days when I don’t have anything to do.
I like to compose in commission scenarios: wedding music, film scores, etc. This was a challenge to make a song in a short period of time that would please listeners familiar with my previous more obscure Ramen tracks. The act of writing this for immediate release to the Ramen audience definitely informed the creative direction of the song. I made this for myself first and foremost, but in a rare turn, also with the actual listeners in mind!He describes the moment where the song came together:
I sat down at the Wurlitzer and started playing that minor chord progression with the descending chromatic bass. When I came up with the melodic “hook” first introduced on the word “nothii-iii-iing” I knew I had a whole song awaiting unveiling. I’d been working on Country songs with my amigo, Freddy Parish, so I had a sensibility of keeping the chord changes and the structure simple.
This was supposed to be more crude than it ended up, but I got cutesy after I came up with that harmonized trumpet counter melody that leads into each chorus. Is the song over-produced? Too safe? To be honest, this was the only way I could imagine finishing it, given my resources. Now the instruments I recorded the parts with are long gone and I can deal with some people thinking I’m a Seventies Soft Rock relic.
If I come up with a musical idea that makes me shake my head and feel slightly embarrassed to be even considering using it, that’s when I know there’s something there. This song has a few of those things.
I’m ambivalent about a record deal. Make me an offer? I certainly don’t think that I need one to be successful. I only dream of doing something like what I’m doing now, following the muses without much pressure from the outside world.
I’m obviously a fan of instrumental music, and I try really hard to make my music interesting without the use of vocals.I asked about the name “Rokamas,” naively thinking it had something to do with Rock or was some spanish word or….
Rokamas is Samakor backwards, and even I don’t know what that means. Seriously.The structure and feel of this track hinted at a Jazz background to me, but turns out Sam is largely self-taught.
Never studied any kind of music. Dial Runner for me was basically an experiment to see if a hook that lasted like 16 bars could be catchy and repeatable. I think it is, somehow, and I love totally over the top synth solos, so I put one of those in the middle. But I probably spent the most time programming the bass guitar, which is awesome fun.His process:
I honestly just write the music I want in MIDI. Then if i decide I want a guitar doing that, I sit there and find the notes on the neck and learn it and then record it. If you asked me to play stuff I’ve recorded the day after I’d have to learn it again!
I don’t listen to a lot on the radio, but it seems to me to keep up with modern electronic music you need to be as much of an audio engineer as a songwriter (Dnb, dubstep etc). I’m not very good at that, or singing, so I try to make all my instruments go crazy.
I like it when artists go a little bit against the grain and just do what they enjoy; this always turns some people away, but someone will always like it for what it is.
We are actually a couple, and have been for the past four years (be still, my beating heart!). We were both pretty heavy into music-making before we met, so it only seemed natural to want to share that part of our lives with one another.
We are both multi-instrumentalists, which helps to give our songs a lush sound while still remaining somewhat “tiny” (we do record in a cramped bedroom, after all). We love vocal harmonies (grew up on Simon and Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac), so we try to work as many in there as feels comfortable. Maddy was in a Kodaly-based chorus from ages 2-18, which really influenced the way she approaches harmony and music as a whole.I didn’t explicitly ask, but luckily they did provide an explanation of their strange moniker:
When we reached Davis, we felt our identity needed a rejuvenation, so we renamed the project “Oh Foot” (a mild-mannered swear my great-grandmother was fond of using) and began writing songs together exclusively.A classics major at UC Davis, Zac explains the origin behind this tune:
The term “Selkie” refers to a mystical creature who can transform between seal and human form, often engaging in romantic flings with lucky fisherman while in the latter.
One common theme is that of a Selkie whose seal-skin has been hidden away by her human husband: Although she builds a pleasant life and family on land, she abandons it all upon finding her skin, unable to resist the call of her “first love,” the ocean. Interestingly, the myth of a “seal woman” can be found in virtually any culture with a coast line!Oh Foot records primarily in their “cozy little bedroom.”
It boggles my mind how many people are toiling away in garages and bedrooms making incredibly passionate, original music just for its own sake. We feel really privileged to have gotten to play with so many wonderful and creative people over the years.
Momentary Creatures is based on an epiphany I had while staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep. I was thinking about consciousness and how we are able to persist from one moment to the next as the same entity without noticeably changing. While I still don’t have an answer to that question, (maybe I should ask a neurobiologist!) the idea for this track sort of erupted from the observation.
My interest in music was initially sparked when I was about ten years old. My grandmother had been giving me piano lessons.Neil Jones captures the true DIY spirit, producing high quality recordings with little in the way of equipment.
All of my music is recorded in a carpet lined walk-in closet in my apartment. As for equipment, I use three cheap chinese manufactured microphones (a condenser, a ribbon, and a dynamic) plugged into a “tube” preamp (note: it’s basically a solid state preamp with a tube inline to dirty up the sound) that I wired myself which is run into my cheapo audio interface.Like many capable and talented DIY artists, he’s expresses more excitement to continue his existing journey than to land a record deal.
In the future I would like to be in a situation in which I have total creative control of my music from its conception to its unveiling. A future in which I can envelop myself in the musical world from building and selling guitars to recording myself and others is all I can hope for. That’s pure happiness.
If I said I was happy about the state of the music industry today I would be lying. It would seem that most of the things I hear on the radio are vapid and empty. On the other hand, never before has there been a time where you could write a song, record it in your closet and beam it to your best pal in Russia. So, I suppose it’s awesome in that regard.
This is the last song on my recent EP. It is meant to be playful and melodramatic, depicting the anxiety one might feel on their wedding night. The story itself came from my grandfather, who lost some teeth on his wedding night from an overloaded power generator in rural Saskatchewan.
He found he couldn’t play trumpet after that. He was an avid musician, so you can imagine how heartbroken he was. There are a number of visceral, nasal vocal passages in the second half of the song which reveal that raw feeling of loss.
This is one of the songs on the EP where we actually re-amped some the vocals through an old PA system during the mixing process. We tilted the PA into the strings of a piano to capture its resonance. My good friend and sound engineer, Justin Sachs, is an incredible wiz at these things, and I certainly will indulge any far-fetched idea, as long as it sounds good in the end. If you listen very closely, you can hear the piano strings sing in the distance.