- Branded a whore
Playing With Fire from the album Thoughts Midsentence
I can feel my heart pounding in my chest and toes when I press the distribute button. The idea of this album has been baking in the oven longer than three elephant pregnancies (I just read that elephants' gestation periods are nearly two years!). Procrastinating, I have searched for all the reasons why I couldn‘t create this album. I think that the things we want the most are the hardest, and that’s why we shy away from actually doing them.
Table of Contents
Playing With Fire, is the first single from my upcoming album, Thoughts Midsentence. It is, in fact, the first time I sing on one of my own tracks. It’s also the first time my music can be called „a song“ rather than a „musical composition“. This is my scariest and most personal release thus far. So take a seat, lean back, and let me tell you this “horror story”.
Reasons why I couldn’t and wouldn’t write this album
First reason: recording my own voice. I hold a diploma in singing and have been performing live since I was 13 years old. But it is a completely different ball game to record your own voice than to perform live on stage.
When you’re singing life, everything is fleeting and fast–you don’t have time to think. You feed off the energy of collaborators and create a sonic experience that is totally temporal. As I was recording Playing With Fire in the studio, I had too much time to layer and listen and delete, delete, delete…until I finally decided to get a second producer.
CeaseTone was an essential addition to the project. He took away the power of decision-making and used the tracks I had already recorded. After sprinkling his mixing magic, the track finally began to sound like a song I could be proud of.
Trotting off to a new style of music
If recording my own voice was the hardest part of this process, following closely behind is branching out to a new style of music. I have found my place in the experimental composition genre but am now trotting off into new territory:avant-pop music. Searching for ways to make the sound my own without going too far into experimental land where I feel so at home. It’s a fine balancing act to make a sound that is both familiar and unique. I try to blend something new and innovative with something familiar–a kind of life raft for listeners treading unfamiliar waters.
The lyricist in a red velvet chair
Then we come to the third problem, a solid excuse for why I couldn‘t write this album. I didn‘t want to write my own lyrics. When I listen to music, I don‘t listen to the lyrics. Instead, I get stuck in some strange sound design details: a great bass line, or interesting polyrhythms. I can listen to the same song 1000 times without knowing what it is about. I would not necessarily even know what it is called.
Unfortunately, one of my best friends, Anna Marsíbil Clausen, is a great lyricist. I say unfortunately because when she heard me moan about how I couldn’t write lyrics she offered to do it herself. She took away the last solid excuse I had not to make my dream come true. Damnit!
She planted herself in one of the red velvet chairs in my studio and asked „What do you want to write about?“. One important thing to know is that Anna Marsý and I used to live together while we were both studying for our master’s degrees in the United States. he studied Journalism at Berkeley, and I studied music composition at Mills. Imagine a beautiful little pink house surrounded by astroturf and four female residents–that is where we lived and that is why it got its name: The Barbie House.
Anna Marsý’s detective journalism mind knows my thoughts better than I do myself. She knows me at my best and worst–both early mornings and way too late at night. And she knows we are great collaborators because this isn’t our first collaboration. In fact, at 19 we first worked together in our high school newspaper. This can never be mentioned too often, the fact that I was her first editor. I am proud to share her origin story because Anna Marsý is now a big journalism star in Iceland.
Before I tell you the meaning of the lyrics, I want to mention a Podcast we collaborated on. In fact, she produced the story and I wrote the music. It‘s called 60-seconds-remaining and features an interview with an inmate about the wait for death on California‘s Death Row.
Playing With Words
The first song I am releasing from the album is called Playing With Fire. It is only one of many lyrics that Anna Marsý shared with me. This track was born from a discussion about love songs, break-up songs, and how there are way too few songs about that middle stage where so many find themselves stuck. That moment before the break-up or that „if-y“ stage in dating when you know it won’t work but you don’t feel like tapping out just yet.
Anna Marsý plays with the meaning of words, like high, and counter-plays opposites like water and fire. The song has a specific meaning to me, but I won’t over explain so you can make your own interpretation.
Somehow the basement flooded
While we slept there last night
Stranded on moving box island
Not a life raft in sight
And though I’d never guessed it
I’m sure I saw you smile
as you sent out the signal
that we’d be there (for) a while
Little red flare
Taking us higher
Surrounded by water
playing with fire
You sang me songs of wonder
I caught you bread and wine
You accused my hips of lying
didn’t mind it at the time.
Cause every night you held me
As the rain kept pouring in
And even though you told me
we’d never meet again
I-still saw the signal floating
Brightly by your lips
Your hands on my lower back praying
we’d always be like this
Playing With Fire: In The Studio
I recorded Playing With Fire in my studio, Studio Bókó, in Reykjavík. First, I composed an electronic foundation and synths and then recorded two friends and frequent collaborators of mine playing acoustic instruments. I believe that good things happen to electronic music when you include acoustic instruments, some nonquantized, less computer pitch-perfect elements.
On the track, Þórdís Gerður Jónsdóttir plays cello and Kristófer Rodriguez Svönuson plays the drums. There are a lot of synthy percussive elements overtaking the cello, but you have to listen for the creepy cello line. It is present from the build-up to the song’s final chorus.
- Only Cello
Both my collaborators and my co-producer Ceasetone, have their own solo music project that I highly recommend. I have also chosen my favorite songs of theirs and added them to my playlist Icelandic Eclectic.
You Can't Copy The Queen
Just like Playing With Fire, many of the songs I am writing have a dark vibe to them. They feel like night songs. So originally, I planned to call the album Moments after midnight. But when I remembered Linkin Park’s Minutes to midnight, I got second thoughts and Taylor Swift slaughtered that idea with her most recent album release, Midnights. You can’t copy a queen.
That‘s Why I Named The Album Thoughts Midsentence
I often fall asleep while listening to a podcast. The sound of other people speaking helps me to tune out and turn off my brain. Have you ever experienced simultaneously thinking about many things at once, multiple thoughts that run in parallel? Sometimes there is so much pressure from different things in my mind that I am telling a story and then lose my own train of thought, having no memory of what I was speaking about.
This overflow of thoughts also describes my creative process, especially when it is a hard path like composing this album. As I work, I have 10.000 ideas flying around, constantly being interrupted by other thoughts. Then, finally, I capture one and mold it into a few minutes of a pop song.
Now, I am breaking all the rules with album releases. Not waiting until I have a full album but releasing the songs as they come, slowly forming a one-concept album called Thoughts Midsentence.
Support This Release
Did you know it takes over 25.000 streams to make 100$ on Spotify? If you feel like supporting this release, please head over to my music and art store and purchase the digital download – or just something else that you fancy.
Songwriter & Vocalist: Inki
Producers: Inki, CeaseTone, Eiki Sig
Cello: Þórdís Gerður Jónsdóttir
Drums: Kristófer Rodriguez Svönuson
Mixing: CeaseTone & Inki
Mastering: Calyx Mastering
Released in September 2022