On May 8th, I released my second single of 2020, 2 AM Friends. It differs from my previous tracks with it’s upbeat production and lyrically it’s a bit bolder. One of the aspects I really enjoy about song-writing, is that as time goes by, you start to explore other facets of your life. Subjects that felt too taboo or off-limits, now don’t. Like the theme of 2 AM Friends: saying the party sucks, cursing and calling people out. It’s not a very rosy situation, but writing the song was certainly cathartic and, despite the somber message, very fun to write!
I’ve been to a lot of parties where in the end I sit on the sofa, feeling alien to the company around me, and wish I had just stayed home. Fuelled by the ritual of getting ready and looking your best, I go there with high hopes. As I swipe on the last coat of mascara, smack my lips together to feel the light gloss on them, and do a final check in the mirror, I’m dead set on a good night. I tell myself that tonight I’ll luck out in impressing my crush. But these high hopes are swiftly dashed by lousy company and realising your crush doesn’t like you back. I know, it feels very pre-pubescent writing that, but even as we get into our riper years, some things remain the same.
While the song focuses primarily on unlucky love, it’s also inspired by grand parties I’ve been to. They’re glamorous, but often they’re empty of engaging conversations. At these events it’s about walking the walk and talking the talk – scenarios that I feel immensely uncomfortable in. I love getting into my best outfit, doing my makeup and going to dinner parties and out for drinks; but if the company isn’t right, it’s just all in vain.
There’s also a comical element to the song. The 2 a.m. part is essentially poking fun at myself. If you know me, you know that my party trick is to go to bed. I rarely make it past midnight, so when I hear the cool kids talk about how the afterparty at the club really starts getting good at around 2 a.m., my 85-year-old soul slumps over an imaginary cane. Seeing me at a club is rare. I loved clubbing with my friends in my late teens, but as soon as I hit 18, I got over it. It’s a hobby from the past, and one that I don’t feel any particular joy towards anymore. Dinner and drinks with my friends and family are definitely my weekend kryptonite.
Like I Tried, I also stepped into the role of producer for this single. The song is produced with my lo
ng-time co-writer and boss-lady music coach, Mette Damm. I think I can safely say that we both had a blast producing this song. I wanted the production to be euphoric; like you’re standing on the dancefloor by yourself, singing your lungs out and not giving a hoot about what people think of you. I wanted the production to be bold, upbeat and gritty. The opening of the song is actually my voice that’s been sampled. I sang one tone, and we translated that onto the keyboard, creating a nice eerie sound effect.
The song is layered with lots of pads and beats. Seeing layers of sounds mesh together is a very fulfilling process. Beats that you thought would fit in well, sometimes don’t and in its place, you discover a completely different sound that you’d never have thought of adding, but it just makes sense.
Production was pretty straightforward. Over the course of 8 weeks Mette and I met once a week (as usual) and worked on the song. The single was originally set to release April 17th, but then we ran a little late with production, mix and mastering so I pushed it to April 24th. Then we hit corona virus lockdown and it didn’t feel right unleashing a super tongue-in-cheek song at that very moment. Hence, the release was pushed to May 8th. When songs wrap-up I just want to release them immediately, but unfortunately if you want a chance to be playlisted and get into press, you have to give at least a 4-week window for promoting the single…you can imagine how impatient I am by release day.
Creating the visual element for songs is one of my favourite parts of the process. For 2 AM Friends I teamed up with Anne Lysa again to shoot the cover photo. Anne Lysa also shot the visuals for I Tried. For this single, I wanted to have really vibrant photos, over the top makeup and dress. Deciding on the visual aspects isn’t hard; when I write songs, I’m pulling from an experience, so for
me it’s just about translating this situation or feeling into an artistic visual. Considering the theme of 2 AM Friends, it felt pretty obvious to mimic a party setting while rocking a moody expression. I ordered a super sparkly pink dress from ASOS, complimented it with pink makeup and spent an evening glitterizing empty beer cans and wine bottles (I am still finding glitter particles
in the apartment). It worked really well – if I do say so myself. The glitter bottles and Anne Lysa’s knack for lighting created the mood I was looking for.
Having material to tease is really important in the run-up to a release, especially for social media engagement. To help with more material, I got the gentleman who did the lyric video for I Tried, to do one for 2 AM Friends. He knocked it out the ballpark, and I’m really happy with the end result.
I love writing lyrics, I love singing, I love production, I love creating visual content. But if there’s one side of the music industry that really irks me, it’s when you have to push your single. 5 years into the game and I still can’t get Denmark’s Radio to take note. Then there’s getting into media – also pretty hard. I definitely feel that as time goes on, I get picked up a little more often. For example, I have been pitching my songs to the Danish blog, Bands of Tomorrow, since I started out. They finally featured me on their Spotify playlist for the first time with I Tried, and I’m so thankful that they are featuring 2 AM Friends as well.
This is a tough industry. It’s a very saturated market and cutting through the noise is exceptionally hard. I always wonder how many hits we’re never going to hear because the artist is unknown and the track doesn’t fall into the right hands. On Spotify, you get to pitch your upcoming release through the platform Spotify For Artists. With about 40’000 songs being released every day, you can imagine how menacing the competition is. 2 AM Friends, to my surprise, didn’t make it onto any official Spotify playlists. Without their backing, it gets really hard to get streams. You don’t crop up on people’s radars easily as an unknown. For all my previous releases I’ve primarily focused my efforts on getting radio play and press coverage. For 2 AM Friends I decided to ease up on pushing so hard to them as streaming is really where it’s at. Instead I’ve taken that energy and channelled it into other areas such as social media promotion.
This is the disheartening part of the music industry. You invest masses amount of time, money and energy in creating a track and promoting it; so when reception is lousy it pierces your heart. My ability to deal with this has gotten better over the years; you get used to rejection and I’m at a point in my career that the songs I put out, I stand behind 100%. I have not compromised my creativity or bent and broken my vision for someone else. What you hear, is what I want you to hear.
Social media is a huge help in promoting music. With promotions on Instagram, I’ve been able to boost streams and have managed to gain fans (Yes, legit fans. People I don’t know, who now message and send encouragement. It’s amazing!). I’ve received a lot of social media advice over the years and I feel I’ve hit my stride and am putting up relevant and consistent content. However, look at the amount of engagement and I’m still falling flat. It’s really annoying. Considering the amount of time I spend creating and posting engaging content, it feels a bit “meh”. When I post on Facebook and Instagram I definitely compare my engagement to other people. Where someone can put up a photo of themselves and surpass 100 likes without using fancy shmancy hashtags, I am scraping by. I found out very late that the newer Instagram algorithms punish you for using the same hashtags and flags you as spam – I haven’t quite gotten out of the trenches for that one…hopefully I can eventually climb back out.
When I doubt whether to post something, I usually just do it. I tell myself that as long as I feel the content is relevant, just post it and don’t care about how many people like it. That it’s not a reflection of my likability and that I’m a small fish in a big pond of algorithms.
It’s still early days for 2 AM Friends but I am confident that it’ll have a moment – I just need to keep pushing it. With lots more singles planned this year, I should hopefully be able to bait Denmark’s Radio at some point and make it into some of the bigger publications. I’m of course also really hoping for more official Spotify playlist placements as that is what I feel really helps me make strides in my career. Two more songs are already in production, so my plan is just to keep churning them out. Like all other songs, I’m really excited about these ones as well. One of them explores sex, a theme I’ve never written about before, and one is going to have a big EDM production– a genre I love and have always wanted to try out.
Last but not least, I hope to get out and play live shows. With COVID-19 causing concerts to be cancelled, I foresee a future where I’ll be far back in the line until it’s my turn to get up on stage.
When you’re an independent/DIY artist, progress can feel really slow. It’s like lying on the ground, chomping your teeth into the dirt and dragging yourself forward half a centimetre at a time. I don’t think many realize how many different roles you play when you’re an independent artist: creative director, marketer, head of finance, head of press and communications, social media engagement…you develop skills in many areas. It’s challenging balancing all these tasks, but at the end of the day it’s always worth it. I love writing songs, and I can’t imagine giving it up despite it being difficult getting heard. To me, it is one of the purest forms of happiness and mediums to express yourself creatively. With each release I get a little wiser. Each release is an opportunity to do better and get closer to the goal: living off of making music.
With that said, go stream the song now :-D
Or whatever digital platform you use!