We chatted to her about her recent song ‘Made of Light’ for the project, a collaboration with fellow PSP songwriter Maya McCourt.
1. Have you recorded any collaborations before?
Yes, I am fortunate to have been able to collaborate with many local and not so local musicians … but precisely this one with Maya is my ﬁrst distance collaboration.
Listen to Lizeth’s collaboration, Respiro by
I remember we were talking about that week’s playlist right at the end of PSP phase one. And we were sharing the mutual fascination for each other’s music and some experiences about recording and mixing, and I think it only popped up in the conversation like, ‘We should do a collaboration one day …’ Then the next phase came and as soon as I saw the collaboration station badge, I thought we could take the opportunity.
Yes, we talked about it a little but not structurally, I think we basically focused on how much
freedom each of us would have with our part, and we agreed total freedom and once we put the main ideas together go with the ﬂow of the song. At ﬁrst it was just like ‘I’ll send you some piano tracks, a basic structure, and if the lyrics or maybe a Solo part require changes, we can do it…’ and after I sent my idea to Maya she sent me back three Cello tracks, lyrics, melody and some backing vocals … almost immediately … wow! then I just added more backing vocals.
I think it was mostly through experimentation. I had a couple of chords in my head and once I started recording them and decided to keep it simple and repetitive the entire song came out and I liked the idea of giving space to what could be generated with vocals and cello or maybe some effects. Then I had a conversation with Maya just before uploading the song and she told me that she just had a vague idea for the melody and started singing and recording it, doing some improvisation on the lyrics as well. I was surprised because I had thought of doing something similar and did the same thing with the vocals at the end of the song, so, I think most takes on this one are ‘ﬁrst takes’.
I usually think ﬁrst about the song’s subject and try to imagine about what story I want to tell with my song, whether it’s instrumental or not; and I use that as my creative guide.
This time I didn’t think about it, I just recorded music without thinking about being in control of the end result. I have never done that for a recording. And the process and the result were beautiful!
Logic, Tascam US-144 interface, Akai MPK Mini Midi Controller, M-Audio Nova LDC Microphone.
Deﬁnitely more! Learning to collaborate musically with someone new is an invaluable experience.
Listen to and download ‘Made of Light’ by Lizeth Ruvalcaba and Maya McCourt on Bandcamp:
Interview with Maya McCourt coming soon
Why I Write Songs:
I write songs because I’m too cheap to go to therapy. Actually, that’s not true, and particularly because I currently am in therapy (affordable therapy is a thing, friends, apparently, and not just the kind you find in best mates, or the bottom of a bottle, or in the back of 90s magazines).
But to say I write songs as a kind of therapy is definitely true, and I’m sure it’s true of a lot of people who write songs. In my mind, it’s sort of what they’re there for. I think without problems to sort out I wouldn’t write songs, or at least the songs I currently write. I also write songs as passing the time on interminable night journeys home through London. I seriously don’t know what other people do on the night bus, apart from possibly wish they were dead. Happy people don’t catch the night bus because they’re at home in bed dreaming sweet dreams and not coming home pissed at 4 in the morning after saying they’d only stay ‘for one’. But I digress.
I often find by the time I come to the end of a song; I’ve discovered what I didn’t realise I want thinking all along. For me, songs are the truth I didn’t know I possessed, the careful unpicking of the tangle of thread that is my thoughts. Writing a song, you carefully tease out the tangle, arrive at the beginning that was there all along, and just invisible. Apart from that one song. That’s just about bees. Look, I just like bees. Not everything is a metaphor.
I also write songs to find beauty in sadness. Or to express the beauty in sadness, because I think without that sometimes the sadness would end me, honestly. Art is the expression of emotion. It is a vent, a way of making the cruelty of the world (on whatever level, the individual or the societal) sort of all worthwhile. Also sometimes to get people to sleep with you, which, let’s be fair, is a pretty important task.*
So, a mix between sweet distraction and beautiful acceptance. I get so lost in individual songs, that every song I write, I’m terrified it will be my last, but it never is, there’s always another one waiting around the corner, ready to be discovered, teased out of the tangle. And, y’know, it’s a pretty big tangle, so I reckon there’s probably a few more in there at least. Before I’m happy and my creativity dries up and I become one of those people slumbering peacefully while other people write songs on the night bus. But hey, I’ll be well rested.
*Write good enough songs and you can use them MORE THAN ONCE to sleep with DIFFERENT people. My songs are not this good, but I’ve heard it happens. Beans on Toast has an amusing story about someone pretending his song was theirs to this end, and a woman at one of his gigs being really surprised to find that this in fact was a song by Beans. Imagine writing a song SO GOOD that other people are using it to get people to sleep with them. That’s it, that’s my dream.
Check out Maya’s songs on bandcamp!
Photo by Nick Ed Harris