Collaboration is a core aspect of producing and sharing creativity with another like-minded individual can lead to some unexpected and powerful results. The walls of Liveschool have seen some incredible producers work together to create smash records and this time it’s no different. Alumni SelfDivision has joined forces with Royalston – a gun producer, trainer, and our in-house mixdown wizard, for their brooding song ‘Memory,’ including a music video directed and shot by current student Alex Armour.
We caught up with SelfDivision to chat about how this song went down, the meaning behind “Memory“ and her tips for collaboration across different genres.
Tell us about the journey of ‘Memory’!
Last year, I dedicated a week to songwriting in a peaceful and inspiring space. Using techniques from a book by Julia Cameron, I was able to write a song each day, and “Memory” was the final piece. I quickly crafted the chords, lyrics, and melody on the piano and then moved to Ableton. The initial version came together effortlessly. Dylan (Royalston) loved it and offered to collaborate. After some adjustments, combining the spaciousness of his first version with the energy of the second, the song transformed dramatically.
What was your response to Royalston’s first versions?
When I received the first version, I was blown away. Hearing the song professionally mixed, with Dylan’s drums and bass, took it to a whole new level. I take time to adjust to new versions before giving feedback and try not to compare them too much – putting trust in the producer’s direction. I shared my ideas with trusted colleagues for feedback before finalising my thoughts, but it’s crucial to avoid getting overwhelmed by multiple opinions, and to let the song unfold organically!
How do you approach collaborating with other artists on a track?
I’ve had two very effortless and fun collaborations recently for “Memory“- with Royalston on the track and Alex Armour (currently studying at Liveschool) for the video clip. Communication was exceptional with both these guys, which made the experience seamless. Below are some approaches I’ve learnt over the years when collaborating with others:
- When agreeing to a collaboration, if it’s not an enthusiastic yes, it’s a no. If I’m not excited at the beginning, how am I going to feel when the inevitable challenges arise. I also only want to work with people who are equally excited about the track.
- Differences are good, and are kind of the point of collaborating. I like to make space for the other person to express themselves as much as I have. If I don’t like something they’ve done, I’m respectful about how I address it and get curious as to why they made that decision, as there’s a probably a very good reason for it.
- Communication on expectations is important at the beginning before the work begins- vision, references, timeline, payment/splits, who is responsible for what, etc.
- Each collaboration is unique – I try not to make any assumptions about the process or person, and instead ask questions and express my needs.
- I’m respectful of that person’s time and energy and mindful of what I bring to the collaboration space.
- I’m as flexible as possible, but not to the point of becoming resentful. Again, good communication is everything. People aren’t mind readers.
What has been the steps on your musical path to get to this point and what is next?
I’ve had a diverse musical background, starting with classical vocal training, and exploring various genres throughout my education. Liveschool’s Production course helped me delve deeper into electronic music. Over the past 18 years, I’ve been refining my craft and exploring my creative identity.
In early 2022, I left my career to focus on music and embarked on a personal creative recovery journey. I released my debut single “Memory” recently, with my second single “Polarity” coming in July and my debut EP in October, all in collaboration with Royalston (so watch out for these!)
What does SelfDivision represent?
SelfDivision represents the different parts of me that emerge in my music and life. It’s about embracing the familiar and mysterious, the exaggerated and subtle aspects of my being. Music gives a voice to these fragments and captures something elusive. As the song unfolds, it becomes a reflection of both myself and something greater. I hope listeners can see themselves in my music too.
What difficulties have you faced as an emerging artist and how have you overcome them?
One of the challenges is having high expectations for myself and feeling the gap between where I am and where I want to be. To overcome this, I balance having a vision with being present, enjoying each step and celebrating small wins.
Asking for and receiving help has also been challenging, but I’ve realised the importance of collaboration and open communication. I got some great advice recently- that when someone is offering to help, by saying yes, you are allowing them to give back, which is rewarding for them. They’ve also had someone help them along the way and can now pass on their knowledge. Learning to trust the process and not trying to control everything has been key.
Life has constantly pushed me back towards music, even when I’ve tried to shut it down. So yeah, I’ve given in now and just accepted this is what I need to be doing. Life seems to get a lot better with music in it, and not so great when it’s not.
What inspires and sets SelfDivision apart in the electronic alternative realm?
I don’t categorise my music strictly as electronic alternative. Genre labels can be subjective, but my music has been described as electronica, downtempo, triphop, and dubstep, with influences from artists like Radiohead, Portishead, Massive Attack, Bjork, Nick Cave, FKA Twigs, James Blake, PJ Harvey, and Moderat.
People tell me my music sounds different, that it’s unique. I think if you’re being true to yourself, there’s always an element of being unique because it’s authentic. The same way we all look different, but are essentially all the same. That’s why I don’t understand plastic surgery- why would you want to get rid of your essential essence, which is your true beauty, to look the same as everyone else?
“Memory” music video – directed by Alex Armour
Check out what our other Alumni are up to here!