Creative Artist Sarah Schonert on a fast-paced world that cries for attention

  This song is about our fast-paced, media-driven world where we are bombarded with cries for attention. I receive a lot of messages both public and private asking me to listen to a song, read a book, view art, or check out poetry of creators. I love creators! However our time is limited. The song essentially is asking why I should pay attention to a given request, be it an advert or personal message.

Jacqueline Jax logo photoInterview by Jacqueline Jax
host of A.V.A Live Radio
Person Interviewing: Sarah Schonert
 I am a singer and multi-instrumentalist based in Illinois. I write and perform with keyboards, loopers, pedals, and vintage gear, creating improvised pieces and composed original works. I call my style Eclectic-Electronic. I love releasing a mix of electronic instrumentals, vocals with a pop vibe, and wandering experimental pieces. I love vocoders and creating custom virtual instruments.
Song name: Astound Me
Music Genre:: Eclectic-Electronic
 This song is about our fast-paced, media-driven world where we are bombarded with cries for attention. I receive a lot of messages both public and private asking me to listen to a song, read a book, view art, or check out poetry of creators. I love creators! However our time is limited. The song essentially is asking why I should pay attention to a given request, be it an advert or personal message.
 Facebook and Twitter can certainly be a massive time sink. I think it’s still somewhat of a novelty that may peak and ebb as other new things begin to vie for our attention. Given the inability for many of us to engage on platforms like Facebook with our fans without paying for boosted posts, I see more of my musician friends going away from or taking a break from that particular platform. I do see a trend in easing away from posting every day or even every week. I know I’m easing off of it to a degree as well so I have more time to create.

When it comes to social media the first priority for me is to make sure my presences are all themed similarly, have similar descriptions, and prominently display my most recent finished project. I want there to be no question about who I am. Second priority is interacting with fans and friends. Third is sharing a bit about progress on a project or recent reviews.

 I think we need to break the current algorithms (that beg for gaming the system) and pay the content creators. FB seems to be taking some steps in that direction. Things we as creators can do are to see each other as a community rather than competition and make sure we practice what we preach (not steal images or post unlicensed covers).
Link to play:: Soundcloud playable link: https://soundcloud.com/sarah-schonert/astound-me-m

 

Influential musicians to me include: Imogen Heap: she is fearless in her approach
Andrew Bird: loopers! And gorgeous lyrical lines
Sufjan Stevens: interesting sounds but touches your heart

For my songwriting process I use keyboards, software, and vintage gear. My go-to is Piano for creation. Sometimes I write my notes on staff paper, other times I improvise with a chord structure in mind. It depends on the song. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work with a looper and keys. Vocoders are definitely a favorite of mine.

I live in Peoria (Midwest). I spend most of my time creating, whether at work or home. I’m a User Interface lead at work, working on graphical UI for displays. I’m an engineer by training but I slide well into creative spaces. At home I create music, paintings, drawings, and writings.

Winner of 2016 Women in Music Award for best album (“My Unwinding State.”)
This past month I have been working on new music and custom (hand painted CD sleeves) to marry my visual arts and music. I am also drafting video ideas with the same goal in mind.
I’ve just started in on the painted sleeves so as I work I will start video taping and posting some of this work. I’ve completed a couple so far. Each sleeve is painted by hand with whatever seems to be on my brain at the time but reflecting the colors and moods and style of my music.

 I’m very happy with the seahorse cover. I feel that the swirls reflect my looping technique while the layers and blended colors match my layering of synths. The bold metallic accents are the electronic arps and the lines coming down are my piano keys. The songs for my next EP have an ethereal but also adventurous feeling. There’s this idea of the unknown. Undersea scapes present a lovely backdrop for these songs.

 The painted covers are for a new project. While I released Penguin Party late last year, I still was working on plenty more music that really belongs in its own collection. Astound Me and the rest of Penguin Party were a lot of fun, but this new album will actually be slightly heavier and more thoughtful in subject. Hence the special, handcrafted covers. Each will be hand painted. The CDs will all be the same. They will be listed on Bandcamp likely in batches. A digital copy of the songs will be available.

Three things I have learned this past year:

1 . Drums (rhythm) are very important to a large portion of my listening audience. The feedback I’ve gotten on songs that don’t feature a strong rhythmic element indicate that several listeners perceive the music to be “slow” (despite the true bpm). If drums help people have direction as to speed and intent, then I wanted to find ways to use them more. When I add drums I also free myself to use my looper more efficiently. When I record a song, I either start with background (where I use a synth and looper over a drum track, manipulating the synths as I play them) or I start with Piano. Since I loop “on the fly” while I record, I get a more organic experience than if I added all of the stutters and manipulations in post. It also means that I practice a LOT with my looper. I then come back with other elements including my own custom virtual instruments. So the layers happen in layers.

 

2. Including my children in my music creation boosts my own creative output. I love to capture their voices (giggles, questions). For Penguin Party I recorded a hidden track with commentary from my younger boy. I also let them listen as I create. They hear a song evolve. They see my hard work. I feel like I’m educating them in the frustrations and joys of making something a creator can be proud of.
3 . I really want a DJ Controller! (Hercules Jogvision)  Inputs and outputs are important. It also seemed like it would be fairly easy to use. Since the most experience I have with anything close to this equipment is my looper (which has selectable effects and a wheel), I wanted something I felt I could ramp up with quickly but could continue to learn with. This year I will be creating a  music video! I’ll be combining my paintings, my vintage 70s clothes, and my music.