Community / 11 June 2021

Brighter Sound: Meet, collaborate and create. In just 48 hours

BandLab 48 hour collaboration Brighter Sound workshop

You’ve got 48 hours to produce a track with a bunch of strangers you just met for the first time. Would you be up for it?

Manchester-based music charity Brighter Sound hosted a four-day event that aims to celebrate new music. We were delighted to host a one-off workshop for women and people from marginalised genders to come together, develop skills on BandLab and meet new collaborators. While not exactly speed dating for musicians, participants got to chat with like-minded artists and meet potential collaborators for future projects.

Six artists were paid for a flash commission – created on BandLab, and done in just 48 hours. We got two incredible songs in the process – “Twilight” and “A Good Day“.

We spoke to the musicians behind these two incredible musical creations, to find out more about their creative processes and their thoughts on the Brighter Sound and BandLab workshop.

Collaboration 1 – Twilight

Written, produced and performed by Avital Raz (Sheffield, UK), Ira Lobanok (Lviv, Ukraine), Laetitia Alexandros (Manchester, UK), Nyree Waters (Wales, United Kingdom), Roz Yuen (Berlin, Germany).

Tell us more about your track, Twilight!

The idea for the track came from our initial conversations, talking about our different time zones and locations. We happened to work together only in the evenings, and when looking for inspiration to write a track we naturally looked around us.

“Twilight” references that specific time between day and night, when light is fading and the human world is slowing down and making space for nature to come forward. We used field recordings from our various locations as the sun went down (birds chatting, the sea at sunset), and the lyrics and French spoken word elements echo those quiet, reflective thoughts and feelings this time of evening often evokes in us.

How was the experience collaborating with five different artists virtually? What was the music-making process like?

It was such a positive experience, made so much easier (and enjoyable!) by the fact the group was so enthusiastic, open-minded and willing to hold space for each others ideas. 

The virtual aspect of the collaboration was a challenge logistically, but once we knew our timezones and arranged our meetings, sharing our thoughts and ideas came naturally.

Each member of our group has a different skillset, and very early on we realised we could draw from each other’s strengths to build something together that allowed all of us to share something of ourselves. 

…we ARE worthy and capable of achieving gender balance within the music industry, because you realise there are SO many brilliant artists who are women or non-binary, and the talent really is out there, it’s just a case of joining up the dots.

What were the features on BandLab that you all found useful in creating this track?

Being able to import an audio file meant that the melody and lyrics, or field recordings taken on a phone could be dropped into BandLab and later built on and transformed by another person whenever they were free. The chat feature was useful for making notes on individual progress when we weren’t all working on it together at the same time.

We also could actually see the different collaborators working on the track in real-time, and each of us being able to interact with the track at the same time from different locations was the key feature we found helpful. Usually, with other programmes, it would be a case of one user sharing their screen and others having to communicate their ideas to that one person while they navigate the programme. 

A lovely thing Ira said about this: “I loved when it was the middle of the night before the release, but I could see four other markers (collaborators) moving on the BandLab Mix Editor, letting me know that I’m not alone here and other beautiful minds are busy working on the track – it kept me going.”

Tell us some of the biggest takeaways and lessons learned from the Brighter Sound x BandLab Workshop

One of the biggest things we’ve been able to take away from the Brighter Sound x BandLab workshop has been establishing connections with four other women in music, and potential future collaborations that may come from us keeping in touch.

We all felt the challenge had motivated us to make music beyond our own personal limitations or usual practice, to put ourselves out of our comfort zones and to push our creativity. 

One lesson we learned was that good things could come from entering into a collaboration with openness to share, a willingness to listen and without expectations. Being open to trusting the process proved really rewarding for us! 

How do you think music collaboration can further play a role in empowering artists who are women and from marginalized genders?

When you are a minority within a larger group or industry, you can draw such strength and encouragement from meeting and collaborating with other people like you, who are doing amazing things. Without collaboration or connection, it’s easy to feel isolated or discouraged by the lack of representation on festival line-ups, label rosters or in the workplace (studios, venues, labels etc.). 

Through collaboration, those who are marginalized can learn firsthand that we ARE worthy and capable of achieving gender balance within the music industry, because you realise there are SO many brilliant artists who are women or non-binary, and the talent really is out there, it’s just a case of joining up the dots. In working together, we’re lifting each other up, supporting each other and shining a light on other artists who are women or from marginalised gender. 

Collaboration 2 – A Good Day

Written, produced and performed by Niki Kand and Ira Lobanok.

Tell us more about your track, A Good Day.

We signed up for an online workshop and flash commission by Brighter Sound about BandLab. During the session, we met in a private Zoom room for a couple of minutes and exchanged links and emails. After the workshop, we had another video call and discussed some ideas for a challenge, which was about writing and producing a track from scratch in BandLab in 48 hours. We decided to write a song about the day and how positive it had been to learn something new and connect with other like-minded creatives from all around the world. That’s how “A Good Day” came about. The song talks about how we felt about the day.

I was amazed to see how productive we can be when participants are open-minded and flexible, and also that a time limit is sometimes so helpful to finish things up and be satisfied with the result even though it didn’t take you months to work on it.

48 hours is very little time to put together a full track! Where did you look for quick-fire inspiration?

I had a quick look at how BandLab worked and as I was trying out different sounds and samples I came up with a beat that was so close to what I was feeling at that moment. I then shared it with Ira and she liked it too so we decided to further develop the idea.

What was the process of creating “A Good Day”?

We had a call after the workshop and shared our favourite bands and what we are currently working on and we realised we both miss making positive music that would lift us up. So the next day Niki presented me with a nearly ready song that sounded amazing. I didn’t want to change a thing production-wise, the only thing I did was mixed it and added an additional verse, which just poured out of me so easily as I was greatly inspired by what Niki did.

What were the features on BandLab that you all found useful in creating this track?

I personally really enjoyed how user-friendly BandLab was. For our particular track, I think one of the best features was the built-in chat and the ability to work together live.

Tell us some of the biggest takeaways and lessons learned from the Brighter Sound x BandLab Workshop.

I was amazed to see how productive we can be when participants are open-minded and flexible, and also that a time limit is sometimes so helpful to finish things up and be satisfied with the result even though it didn’t take you months to work on it.

Music technology is opening up many more opportunities especially at a time when face to face collaboration isn’t always possible. Do you think this will change the way people make music in the future?

Music technology is a powerful tool that I’m sure will be used to a greater extent in the future. It wasn’t possible before to work on the same project for two and more people at the same time and now you can say: “Alright, you work on the verse while I’ll produce chorus and let’s exchange ideas in an hour” – and it’s so fun, it’s like a game, and we all need a bit of entertainment and synergy in these weird times.

Read more: Forking and collaboration on BandLab explained

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