The summer of 2018 was a hot one here in Sweden. Probably one of the hottest ever, and definitely the hottest one I’ve ever experienced. I spent the four-week summer vacation in my parents’ house, which is located in my hometown Arvika.
The summer before I had brought my keyboard with me so I could record piano and other things for an album with Rimstad Rockerz. This year, however, I wanted to challenge myself a bit. About seven years ago I bought myself a Maschine from Native instruments. I have used it a lot since then when making dance songs or hiphop-beats, but I haven’t really used all of its potential. So before the summer I decided that I was only going to bring my laptop, my Maschine and a really tiny two octave keyboard.
The songs was written on the piano in my parents’ house, but was interlay recorded only using my Maschine and that tiny keyboard. The basement of the house was pretty much the only place where the temperature wasn’t unbearably hot, so I spent a lot of time there.
And this song was the first one that came out.
The picture on the cover was taken a couple of years ago. It’s the night view over my hometown taken from Viksholmen; which is a place where I always end up after a night out in Arvika. It has this amazing view over the entire city. The picture is actually upside down; so the sky on the picture is actually the reflections in the lake (if that’s not obvious?).
Back in Malmö after the vacation I decided to make a solo piano recording of the song as well, which is the second track on the single.
I hope you enjoy it! I surely loved making it; and now I know better how to use my Maschine!
If the playlist doesn’t work, you can use this link instead!
The last song I want to talk about from the latest EP is 0334.
I don’t have much to say, even though it’s my personal favorite from the EP.
I wrote it late one night, feeling a bit sentimental and very grateful for having the best kids in the world. 0334 stands for the time my first son was born. 7th of march 03:34.
A while ago I made a little video for the song. Nothing fancy, just me playing around with the time lapse function on my GoPro camera.
You can watch it here!
If you just want to listen to the song. Well, here it is!
So, here’s the next two songs from the latest EP.
These two songs were written I may when my band Rimstad Rockerz had an entire week with shows at Nydala theater in Malmö. Before every show we do there I usually have some of my piano music in the background before the show while people are taking their seats. When we did the same thing in February I played my song Years to come through the speakers, but you get pretty tired of hearing the same song over and over again for five days straight.
So, I decided to challenge myself (as I tend to do).
How about I write a new song every day, and play it in the backgrund the day after?
Sounds good right?
It was a pretty hectic week, so I only managed to write two new songs. Day one, and Day two. I repeated them for the next couple of days.
So, here they are!
There has been some confusion regarding my “artist name” recently, so here’s a small explanation.
On my latest two releases (at least on Spotify) both my artist name (Sleepy songs) and my real name (Johan Eckman) is written as “artist” on every song. NOT on the releases though, only the songs.
I asked Spotify about this, and their very simple reply was that because it’s release under the classical genre, both the performing artist and the composer is written as “artist”. Simple as that! Makes sense, at least if you think of classical music as in Mozart. His work is probably on Spotify but not with him as the performing artist 😀
Another really confusing thing is that I’m apparently not the only one in the world with the name Johan Eckman. There is another guy. I think he lives in America and makes dance music. Pretty far from the kind of music I make.
I have tried to make Spotify separate my releases from his which worked for my Piano pt6 EP. I have contacted them again regarding the latest releases, and hopefully they will be moved to the right profile on Spotify soon.
I hope this clarifies things.
I am sleepy songs.
So, my new EP is out now! I wanted to write a couple of words about the songs from the EP, starting with the oldest song.
Skärgården was originally written last summer and released on my EP v31. The previously released version has more instruments on it though (double bass and drums), and on this new version it’s only piano. I actually wanted to release the piano solo version of the song on the EP Piano pt.6, but that would have made it a full length record (which costs more to release than an EP, yeah, I am that cheap). On the new EP, Spring, I kind of had a spot open and the song actually fits better on this EP than my last one.
The song is inspired by a day trip I took together with my wife and my kids to an island called Styrsö right outside Gothenburg. It was one of the days when the weather was nice that week. Sun was up, we ate ice cream, swum in the ocean.
It’s also one of few Sleepy Songs I remember how to play! I usually work really hard with recording a song, and then forget how it was played when it’s finished… But this song I play every now and then!
I hope you enjoy it!
And if you’re curious how the songs sounds in a more ”jazzy” version, you can listen to it here:
So came the day that I had looked forward to for so long! The release of my single Spring is near!
I wanted to write a couple of words of the song. It might get a bit technical, so I hope thats ok.
The song was written the same way I usually write songs; I sit down by my Nord Electro 5D (only 61 keys) and play around for a bit. I always record my jam sessions in case I come up with something nice. Sometimes I just put everything in the trash and go on with my life. This time I found a theme I really liked!
I wrote it in February. The snow stayed for a really long time in Skåne this year, so the spring wasn’t really near when I created this song. But with the climate in Skåne it can be winter one week, followed by summer the very next, so I took no chances. I named the songs Spring is near.
For the recording of the songs I used a regular piano from Native Instruments. And below that piano I used the Plate Space Piano by Olafur Arnalds and Spitfire audio. While mixing I wanted some tension in the piano so I added my recently bought plugin from UAD the EP-34 Delay plugin which I automated the shit out of to create more of an effect rather than a delay. You can hear it quite clear in the end of the song where the delay loops so hard it almost distorts.
So. That was a couple of words.
Hope you enjoy the song!
Again, sorry for all the errors after the translation. I’m trying my best!
My last post of ”the history behind Sleepy Songs” ended with me getting tired of it, and soon becoming a father for the first time. After a few years of being a father (for both the first and second time) I ended up having summer vacation. And for some reason I had brought my keyboard with me…
During the summer of 2017 I brought my “mobile studio” with me for summer vacation with my family. The reason was that I was going to record backgrounds for Rimstad Rockerz’s album Tidens Led during the summer, and therefore I needed some studio equipment. The first two weeks of the four week long vacation were spent at my parents house in Arvika. The recording of Tidens Led went really well and were sounding pretty good after those weeks, so when we went our next destination (a little house at Näset just outside Gothenburg) the work with Tidens Led was already finished.
I decided to challenge myself. Perhaps it would be fun trying to do one Sleepy Song every day of that week? Good practice for me! Play a piano, compose effectively with a deadline and bring life into the old Sleepy Songs project that has been dead for about three years.
On the first day I started with my first song. And that song were, of course, named Ankomst (which means ”Arrival”l). And then it just went on. Six songs in eight days (well, I needed some time off as well).
The name v. 31 simply stands for Week 31 (v = vecka in Swedish which means week). And the week we spent at Näset was the 31st of that year. The picture on the cover is a picture I took one of those days when the weather was nice during the week. The song Skärgården is my favorite from the album. I first named it Styrsö which gives some indications of what we did that day. (Styrsö is a ”small” island just outside Gotherburg. Really beautiful! Visit!)
So. Sleepy Songs had been brought back from the dead. And I played the piano like never before!
When I came back from my vacation and went back to ordinary life again I continued to play a lot of piano. I also started experimenting with different softwares I bought over the years (especially different piano plug-ins and synthesizers). After a while I had a pile of new songs at hand, and I realized that I probably should make a release out of it. I picked out the four songs I liked the best (a piano solo, an orchestra composition and two ambient songs with synth pads and stuff). The EP kind of namned itself.
A month earlier my wife had painted a simple portrait of me, which I liked very much, and it became the cover of the EP.
Creativity just continued to flow and this resulted in my latest EP “Piano pt. 6 “. Thanks to a couple of playlists with piano music with many follower, a few of the songs is getting a lot of plays at the moment.
After a while, I took courage to me and asked my uncle if he had any drawings in stock, and Ireallt liked this portrait which became the cover of the EP.
Tomorrow, my new single is coming out. It’s gonna be great!
Hope you had a fun time reading this, and please take the time to listen to at least a few of the tracks!
This was originally posted on my private blog in Swedish. I tried to translate it, so hopefully you’ll understand most of it! There’s probably a couple of mistakes…
The songs can of course be found on all major streaming services, as well as on youtube.
Everything really started at work. I started my first job as a preschool teacher right after I graduated the university in 2011. I worked with two-year-olds, so all the children had nap time after lunch, and for nap time they needed relaxation music. Blå Stunder. Röda stunder. Gröna stunder. Svarta stunder. (You might not now what this is, but it’s like a crappy collection of crappy relaxation music on CDs released in Sweden.
Anyway, I thought to myself: ok, do it better yourself then! And so it began. I started composing on my piano on week nights for a few weeks, I did what was going to be the debut album ”Först ska vi äta, sen sova och sen kommer pappa” (First, we’ll eat, then we’ll take a nap and then Dad will come to pick you up). The phrase in the title also came from work. We had a child who was very anxious and quite sad most of the day. So that phrase was my way to comfort the child!
The first song I wrote for the album was ”Vi åker till Kina (We’re going to China)”, and I started working in that because my room mate at the time, Frank, wanted to hear “Something Chinese”. I’m not entirely sure that it sounds Chinese, but it still became the start of Sleepy Songs.
This is what the firs album sounds like!
Relatively shortly thereafter I worked as a producer for quite a few artists (Morgan Dryden, Theodor Elfving and Single Candle) and all of them printed CDs of the productions we made. I also wanted to do that! So I started working on the sequel to the debut album. This time I wanted to step away from the ”classical” setup I used on the first album (piano and strings) and instead wanted to explore the Rhodes piano together with a lot of drum beats. This was also the first time I used the human voice; when my friend Morgan read a short poem he wrote in Chinese for one of the songs.
After release number two (I called it Part 2) I wanted to do something different. Maybe not sleep-music in the same way as the previous two releases. So this is what I did: I made 10 songs (or rather backgrounds) and invited many of the people I produced during the years to write lyrics and sing them to my backgrounds. The goal was to bring in as many different languages as possible and the theme was, of course, sleep.
This is the languages represented: Swedish, English, Danish, Greenlandic, Icelandic, French, Chinese (Mandarin). All the featuring artist can be seen on each song.
Not only did my uncle draw the cover this time, he also sang on the song “Wake me up” (lyrics by Morgan Dryden). The reason the album got the name 48:50 is because it’s after 48 minutes and 50 second my uncle screams ”Wake me up” in the last song on the album.
For the second time, I printed the album on CDs and the cover is from my uncle’s book Måntornet (my kids favorite books btw).
One of the best streaming songs on Spotify from this album was the song When I Go to Sleep, featuring Jonathan Olofsson and Coster. Since that song apparently worked so well I wanted to make more just like it; rap mixed with funky vocals and chill backgrounds.
It became no less than two singles: one without them was with both artists and one only with Mathias Coster.
Cover by Uncle Per from the Book Måntornet (again).
Cover by Anton Jakobsson.
After the two singles I started to lose interest a little bit. It was still the first album that dominated Spotify streams and I was just about to become a father for the first time. So Sleepy Songs died. Or at least fell asleep for a while.
In the next part; I’ll tell you about the revival!