Artist TalkSongwriting

Artist Talk with Libertree

Every now and then you come across musicians that are true originals with a unique style and strong messages incorporated into their songs.

Libertree is one of those artistic souls. Based in Berlin this edgy recording artist & producer is just about to release her new album “CATCH YOU ON THE FLIP SIDE“  on August 20th 2021- a collection of 9 tracks, little masterpieces each by themselves – together building a context that will take you on a journey to the inside!

Libertree is reminiscing and celebrating „ the beauty of the album format” with this special compilation. Her music is a mix of soul-y vocals, electro and trip hop sounds with an urban twist to it – a blend of genres that makes these songs unique and distinctive.

We got to chat with Libertree about inspirations, songwriting, producing and so much more!

Libertree, you are a talented, and rather restrained artist with an incredible understanding of musical composition and production. Congrats on your Album Release! Tell us, when did you start writing music and has this always come easy to you?

Hey Katie, it feels really nice to be back with you – so thanks for having me again.

So your question was: when did I start writing songs? Well the first thing that comes to mind is that to me writing feels more like a tool and not so much like a distinct activity. I remember falling in love with books, music & art quite early. Growing up as an only child my imagination became a close friend and I always had my head in the clouds. I think I started putting into words how I thought I felt when I was about 13 or so.

I wasn’t very good though – at that time I was downloading beats illegally online. I cut and chopped the instrumentals with „Magix Music Maker“ and then combined them with weird poetry and some Lala melodies. I never shared any of  that stuff with anyone, but it was fun and that music felt like something that belonged to me alone.

Years later, when I was already studying music in Berlin, a producer tried to pitch some of those exact same beats to me that I had downloaded and experimented with years before.

I only started producing years later, but in hindsight that pitch was one key moment for me I think. I like honesty. Especially when it comes to art. And there have been times in my life where I felt like I could only trust myself with my music.

Your new album is called “CATCH YOU ON THE FLIP SIDE”, referencing the days of LPs/albums. Nowadays most artists release singles, what makes you celebrate the music album as an „artform” and why did you decide to go against  the grain?

Yes – the record is called „CYOTFS“. I liked how „the flip side“ can have more than one meaning. But the original term refers to the B-side of a record. CYOTFS is 25 minutes short, so it actually does fit on a 12“ 45RPM vinyl with two sides. I wrote it that way. It is a short album.

My last album ‚A Beautiful Insanity‘ was rather long and with this record I wanted to create something that is shorter, more like an EP but with the depth and the dynamic of an album. I always loved dynamics. It is one of my favorite things to sit down with my headphones and a glass of nice red wine and just listen to an album – without skipping.

To me the songs on CYOTFS belong together and are supposed to be listened to in a row. Releasing them as singles wouldn’t create the same vibe.

I think you could interpret this decision as a statement and call me an album artist. I don’t really care about hypes or trends. I want my music to sound and feel like a painting – with room to breathe and without answering to peer pressure or rules.

Love that! One of my favorite songs on this upcoming album is “Ghost Driver”. The lyrics reflect on false promises and over-saturated minds. Would you elaborate a bit on what the song is all about and what it means to you?

I wrote Ghost Driver in spring 2020. At that time the world was at the beginning of the pandemic and everything seemed unsure and new somehow. I was thinking a lot about society at that time and how chaotic and confused everything seemed.

I am a quite intense and empathic person, you know – so it can be rather hard for me to distance myself from the overall vibe and what I saw when writing this album was a society without a ground to place its feet on, a world without a vision. And now it’s becoming even worse – I mean people are going mad.

So yeah, Ghost Driver is probably a song about delusion but I feel like it’s also about responsibility, self-awareness and active decisions. I mean, we’ve all been born into this life – we didn’t choose – but the moment we claim responsibility, reality starts to shift and change.

But there is always more than one truth in my writing. Especially with songs like Ghost Driver. It’s such a personal question that this song is asking: who´s your Ghost Driver?!

I told you about mine in the song. Most of my songs are written to grow on you though, so my interpretation of the lyrics might change as I change.

Yes, change and transformation are so much a part of music and likewise music also helps us conserve certain parts of who we are. When starting a song, how do you usually go about it? Do you start from lyrical ideas or is it a certain beat or melody that sparks an idea?

To me creativity never feels organized or clear. Every song is new and unknown territory,
because every song is different.

But my main motivation when writing is probably that I want to understand my own perspective. When I write I am trying to freeze moments and thoughts. In practical that would mean that every composition starts with a feeling and then I pick my tools.

Sometimes I start with the beat which at that point is more of a vibe – an abstract feeling. You gotta hear it to know what it says, which is quite magical in and of itself. And sometimes I rather start with the words and add the musical color later. But the focus point is always how a song makes me feel and I’ve got to have a clear head to create it. That’s also why I love working on several songs at the same time. That way my writing can stay fluid and I don’t have to force anything.

What I’m trying to say is that in my reality, writing music is all about thinking clearly, being honest and staying curious. And then you get lucky or you don’t. A song has to find me just as much as I have to keep searching.

That sounds like an interesting process! One thing I particularly like about your music is the depth and density but also the space that is in the arrangements and mixes. I am very impressed with producers that create such multifaceted layers which ultimately pull you in. How did you learn to produce music and do you build the sound of a song as you go or do you have a “sound” idea in mind from the start?

I started producing mainly because I didn’t know anyone that produced the kind of beats that I was looking for. I’ve always been drawn to dark and bold music that is still hopeful and maybe even a bit magic. Music to loose yourself in. Maybe as an escape for reality which always left me feeling a little numb and confused.

I started out as a writer and singer and at that time most producers and also my tutors in university would try to push me towards a glittery sound. Probably because it fits my voice. My vocals tend to have something artificial. And I wouldn’t say that I don’t like that polished kind of music. It just didn’t feel complete and honest to me. So I started producing my own stuff and looking for my own sound.

When creating new music now I always think of my vocals as instruments and of the instruments as characters that sing with me. It’s all one melody. I really do like music production a lot. It’s like playing hide and seek with the song and then step by step you get to uncover it’s essence.

Your song “Wonderful Life” has some serious Tarantino vibes to it and I´m a sucker for that. Do movies ever inspire you to write? How was this song born. Tell us a bit about the backstory?

I like what Quentin Tarantino does. There is always art in his work. The choice of music is also piercing.

And yes of course art, design, movies and creativity in general is something that I find quite inspiring. It does happen that I pause a good movie or documentary or whatever I’m watching because there’s a vibe that I find irresistible. You need to catch the feeling while it’s fresh. It’s the same with articles and songwriting for me.

Wonderful Life though was born from a vibe of being stuck and feeling frustrated. Dealing with negative emotions is something that is not too easy and I think this song helped me to help myself, somehow. The same way that a good movie helps you to deal with negative emotions and replaces them I guess.

How beautiful! You are located in Berlin, a thriving place for creatives of all trades. The city displays many colors and a rich art scene. Does the city have an impact on your songwriting? Do times and places influence the way you create or reflect on your music?

Well of course. Everyone I’ve ever met, everything I’ve ever seen or experienced and every single memory have an influence on my art. Those things are my art. Not just Berlin of course but in this city you do get to see different layers and perspectives of society. You get to feel the Zeitgeist in action – all kinds of art, hedonism and freedom obviously. Sometimes to the point of overdose. It is easy to lose yourself here.

Berlin helped me to develop character as well as empathy I think. Not that I didn’t have that before – but in Berlin you’ve got to know what you stand for as a person- or you might drown.

Personally, what would you say is the hardest part when creating a song?

The hardest part for me is the release. I used to believe it’s because of insecurity, perfectionism or fear but I don’t think that is true. To me releasing feels like letting go a part of me and it costs me a lot of energy to push through. I always feel drained and a little bit lost no matter how I feel about the project itself. Released songs just feel different than unreleased songs. They become a version of you and at the same time you lose a part in them. It’s a weird feeling. And the process from A to B gets to me every single time.

I already know the cycle though. A month or so after the release my release will kick in. The batteries start to refill and I feel very relaxed, a little bit proud that I have finished another project and excited to create new music. Repeat mode on.

I can totally relate! It´s like your “song babies” are leaving you to go explore the world out there! Tell me, what comes most naturally to you in your artistry?

My imagination and my curiosity.

When writing, what is your primary motivator? Do you sit down and express what you feel, or do you write with a specific audience in mind?

Well to me the main motivation is to communicate and explore a thought or a certain attitude. I want people to feel something and invite their minds to wonder. I love lyrics that try to say as much as needed with as little words as possible – without being shallow or too one dimensional in meaning I guess. So yes of course I have the listener in mind when writing, and the way I want you or even myself to feel when listening.

But I wouldn’t say that I actively consider what „people“ or a specific audience might expect of me or would want me to write about. Music should not be too planned or rational. The best stuff unfolds in the unconscious and then I’m merely shaping & distilling it.

One thing I enjoy a lot when producing and writing is trying to preserve and freeze as much as possible from the original demo vibe. It is very easy to lose yourself in ideas of what you should sound like. It is also quite easy to kill a song by forcing it too much. So knowing where you come from with the feel is half the way for me. Everything for the vibe. Everything for the song.

That makes total sense! Not overdoing it! I guess once you start to construct too much, the vibe gets doomed. And yet, producing music can be an endless endeavor with endless possibilities – that´s for sure. How do you know when a song is “finished”?

Well, I don’t know – ever. But songs don’t get better with time. They just change. And you could
stay in the loop forever. Or you just let it be.

I feel like there’s a fine line between overproduced and underproduced though and I often only know years after the release if a song sounds the way I thought it sounded – with some distance, you know. But that’s okay. The magic lies in the moment. Always. And there is the actual option to create new versions of a song when you play it live for example or when releasing remixes.

Next to being an artist you also work as a mastering engineer. I take it that you listen to a lot of genres through your work. But I´m curious, who were some of your influences growing up?

Everything that’s good inspires me. It’s always been that way.

My mom has a great and quite diverse taste in music. She used to listen to a lot of smooth Jazz and Soul but also to „popular“ stuff. On weekends we put on classical music and Opera or Chanson. On Sundays she would wake me by playing the piano. Music was always a part of everything and I still enjoy her selection of songs today.

My dad is Caribbean – a Rastafarian and musician as well – he founded one of the first Reggae discos in Germany. That´s where my parents met. So there was also a lot of Roots Reggae in the air when I was small.

I had many different phases with music throughout my life though. I’m a curious person and to me certain styles of music are connected with different attitudes. There are many souls living in my chest and I do believe that if you want to understand something then you will have to dive in with your heart first.

So I had a Hip-hop phase, an RnB phase, a Soul phase, a Pop phase, a Classical phase, a Dark Wave phase, a Techno phase and so on and so on. I like all kinds of music. To me genre is just another label. If it’s good and honest with itself, then I’m going to listen.

And today? Any artists that currently inspire you?

Everything that’s good inspires me and I’m still discovering great artists, that are new to me, all the time. Again it’s all about the vibe and feel for me. I like music with a little depth to it, though. Songs with character.

At some point I started creating playlists with stuff that I like. Their curation is always quite diverse genre wise. The theme is Chill & Glitch. I´ll drop you a link below.

Yes, please do that! How important is being “original” to you? How did you find your unique style? Was this a struggle or were you always clear on what kind of music you wanted to make?

I certainly didn’t always know my style of music. I just always knew that I hadn’t found it yet. My music and I grow together I think. When I feel lost or curious or passionate or tripped out – whatever it is you can hear it in my music. It’s hard for me to hide those things. Most people do not notice subtleties in every day life but on record these emotions are not ignorable. Maybe that’s the whole point of it. Music is a very honest medium.

So I think that „being original“ is something that is being hyped a lot nowadays but for people that have difficulties fitting in „being original“ is just a nice term for „being weird“.

In the end everyone is original and nobody is – no matter what you do.

Interesting take on it! What is one songwriting advice you would like to pass on to our community?

Don’t take it too seriously. This is art and the process itself is the goal, always. So my advice is: never stop searching. Express yourself. Be creative. Break the rules and have some fun.

Last not least, where can people listen to your music and what would you want them to pay attention to while listening?

I will drop you my links below. Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you so much, Libertree and best of success to you! <3 

To follow Libertree on the net:

Website: http://www.libertreemusic.com

New Album Pre-Save Link (Release August 20th, 2021): https://ffm.to/cyotfs

Chill & Glitch / Playlist curated by Libertree: http://smarturl.it/ChillAndGlitch

More Music: http://smarturl.it/Libertree

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamlibertree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamlibertree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/libertreemusic

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/libertreemusic

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