Song Deconstructed: ‘Being’ by Johanna Amelie
The alt-pop Berliner reveals the inspiration, lyrics, music and recording of her brand new release – a song about boundaries
Berlin-based singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Johanna Amelie is preparing her new EP One Moon and pre-empted its release with the new track Being, which came out today. Drawing on a myriad of influences from folk, pop, indie and soul, and inspired by iconic women like Regina Spektor, Joni Mitchell and PJ Harvey, Johanna published her debut LP Cloud In A Room in 2014 and followed up with the acclaimed Distance in 2018.
Here, the Berliner reveals the ingredients and the method behind the making of Being: an uncomplicated song about boundaries, sovereignty and freedom…
My songs are inspired by the work of contemporary songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Regina Spektor or Sharon van Etten. I think these artists all are incredibly talented at painting beautiful melodies, telling innovative stories and their songs are full of surprises. I like unconventional song structures and song parts that get stuck in the head for a long time.
Being is a song about boundaries, sovereignty and freedom from external constraints. I wrote the lyrics alone in my room. It was a cold autumn night. When I finished the song, it was morning again. The song is a snapshot of a certain existential feeling. I was trying to describe the way I feel about being a human being in a complicated modern world. I wanted to write about something serious in a playful way.
I think the composition isn’t very complicated. The song has got only two parts and not many different chords. Still, it feels like a very hypnotic and in a way timeless tune to me. The chord changes are following the movement of the vocal melody. There’s one surprise little key change. The dynamic of the song arises mostly through the choir elements and the horn section, that’s entering in in the middle of the song with a certain urgency.
In The Studio
It took me quite some time to finish Being. I produced it with my friend, co-producer and engineer Mirna Stanic in Berlin. She supported me in finding the most interesting arrangement for the song and helped me producing it in a way so that I could bring all my ideas to life best. The first version of Being was a solo-keyboard-ballad. I then started working out lots of harmony vocals and we recorded a real piano in a beautiful studio. We had several versions of the song with drums but later went for a calmer version without any drums. I wanted the song to be soft and warm. One of the most fun parts was recording guitars and reversing the audio tracks. Recording vocals was amazing too since we recorded two of my favourite singers (Larissa Pesch and Alexia Peniguel) for the choir parts. Catharina Schorling played horn, trombone and trumpet. It was extremely inspiring to work with her since she is able to play all those different instruments effortlessly. Frida Johansson mastered the song in Gothenburg and I love her work.
This song means a lot to me. Very talented friends and colleagues of mine helped me bringing it to life. I’m glad I can finally share it with everyone today.
Johanna’s new four-track EP One Moon is out 25 October. Find out more at johannaamelie.com