Pastelgrrl beats

Welcome to the first installment of my blog about beginning to produce beats. I began the process of learning to make beats in January this year. A couple of months along - I have had both "I am so bad at this" and "I'm actually making progress" moments. Learning any new skill is always a mixture of frustration and small breakthroughs. It's important to realise that it will all take time but also to put time into learning and practising on a regular basis. I find working on beatmaking for even an hour or so a few evenings a week to be really helpful. 

You Tube is a great teacher if you are not doing formal training - which I am not. I like Collective Intelligence's You Tube channel. They post a lot of really useful videos which show you how to make beats in different styles like dupstep and trap which I started with. 

I finished my first beat which actually sounds okay this weekend! It's a hip hop style beat with sounds from akicanon's drumkit and cymatics. I used midi to make my drumbeat but I am planning on creating a drumbeat using audio too as it seems like an interesting alternative technique.

This beat has no mixing or effects though - so it's really a baby beginner's beat but it's a start.  

Ableton isn't the easiest DAW to learn in that there are both session and arrangement views but it's all becoming a bit clearer as I go on and does have these different ways of working in it! I do have a Novation launchpad too but I'm not seeing a great use for it so far. I also have a Roland sampler which I never figured out how to use properly. At least working within Ableton itself is working for me now. More later!


My Musical Experiments

As I have alluded to before - over the Summer break I began teaching myself how to use Ableton in earnest. I have definitely made the most progress I have made to date. I spent a lot of time working through a number of You Tube tutorials. I made a dubstep beat and a trap beat. They may both be generic sounding learning exercises - but they taught me a little bit about beat construction. I think the beats I will produce myself will be looser and weirder! I think a lot of that will come from my lack of technical skills and my interests. My musical history was listening to a lot of experimental music. Then I returned more to pop and hip hop and other genres. Garage rock and folk and new wave and post punk have always been there. These days it’s a mixture of everything but a lot of hip hop and pop and d.i.y punk, lo fi and soul.

In terms of song lyrics - I have written song lyrics since I was a teenager but in a more formal setting - I wrote a bunch of different song lyrics for one of the creative writing papers I did at Uni last year. Again - the structures were a bit rigid and learning exercises in a way as we had to write a ballad, a blues and then two free songs. The best one was actually the ballad - it’s a pop song inspired by Marina and the Diamonds’ Teen Idle called That Girl. I wrote it prior to Yung Baby Tate’s That Girl!

I’m not the greatest singer around and I’m not so interested in being a pop singer/songwriter. Perhaps I could be a folk one but my inclination has tended towards something more electronic or else d.i.y punk rock based. Cyberfairytales is one of several names I have thought of for my musical project over the years. I have the hook of a song called Sugar Rush which was always going to be the first Cyberfairytales song and it was like hyper electro pop vibes in my head. Over the summer I worked on a reworked version of that hook and then also a new song called Modern Art which is perhaps more of a rap song. Maybe I could get into spoken word a la Kate Tempest. I really like the almost spoken word vibe on the B.E.D album which came out last year too. I’m not sure if I’ll be purely electronic as I do play the guitar as well. I am very influenced by the likes of Skinny Girl Diet and Delilah Holliday’s solo stuff. I’d perhaps like to collaborate with someone musically but there’s a lot of fun to be had doing my own thing in the meantime.

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New Kitty

Kitty has just released the first song and video from her upcoming second full length album Rose Gold which is due out in March! Kitty is a long time favourite artist of mine. Her music has meant a lot to me over the years and it has been great watching her go from strength to strength artistically and interviewing her and Sam as The Pom Poms last year. I am so so ready and excited for the album and I love this song and video.


There Are No Bees are now a duo and have released a brand new single called Melo. I thought their first ep was great and enjoyed interviewing them at the time. This song is even better! It has a dance orientated beat and the lyrics go harder and faster - the two members really show they are excellent rappers here. They serve up their menace with a pretty touch, I think. As the lyrics say, the ep was just the entre and their upcoming album is definitely something to get excited about!



I loved this song when it came out and I have just been reading about Meltycanon who produced this track and also Hands, Sephiroth and a number of other Father tracks. I feel bad that I didn’t pay so much attention to who produced the song at the time! I’m definitely focusing a lot on production and what I like right now and Meltycanon’s production sounds like a dream to me as I mentioned in my post about Sephiroth.


Happy new year! One of my favourite albums of last year which is defintely starting off my 2019 on a great musical note too is Father’s Awful Swim. I love the song Sephiroth! It’s produced by the extremely talented Meltycanon. I have started making beats in Ableton myself. This is a very recent development for me but it’s really fun so far. Basically if I could make a beat as cool as the one this song has … I would be very happy! I’m not a hip hop artist per se but I think the great thing about Awful Records is that they are just innovative full stop. Genre doesn’t matter so much. So yes, I am inspired.

Shakespeare for Sociopaths by Kristin Garth: The Playlist

AQ: As promised, here is another special playlist from Kristin Garth - this one is for her upcoming solo chapbook Shakespeare for Sociopaths! I’m really excited to read it next year - especially getting a preview in the form of all the sonnet titles and the songs Kristin has chosen to match each sonnet! Thanks again for another wonderful playlist, Kristin! It has been great having you and your music choices on Pastel Zine’s blog.


KG: Shakespeare for Sociopaths is a chapbook of poetry, all Shakespearean sonnets on villainous characters from true crime, my mind, the news, people who’ve abused, maybe even a muse or two.   I’ve always felt that a sonnet to me represented a cage of form where I could release dark, animalistic thoughts and be safe in its confines.   The poetry cages in this book hold a wide array of villains – murderers, emotional vampires, pedophiles, the Slenderman, bullies, ruthless lawyers, misogynists, Mad Hatters and many more.   As sonnet comes from the Italian “sonneto” which means “little song,”I thought to honor the sonnets in my book, I would make a playlist assigning each sonnet an actual song.  So peruse my table of contents and listen to its soundtrack:    

Ophelia Interrupted                                      Shakespeare by Fink

Stockholm                                                      SOS by Portishead

When You Are Drowning  In A Car              Riverside by Agnes Obel

Canadian Psycho                                           Psycho Killer Talking Heads

The Mouth                                                      Mouth by Bush

Expensive Leotards                                       Home by Phillip Phillips

The Advocate                                                 Blood in the Water from Legally Blonde the Musical

Slender Secrets                                              Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol

Lafave                                                             Tear Away by Drowning Pool

Pudding Man                                                  Til It Happens  by Lady Gaga

Butter                                                             Creep by Vega Choir

Girl With A Pen                                              Just A Girl by No Doubt

Perverted Philanthropy                                You’re So Vain Marilyn Manson

Uniforms                                                        Cheerleader by St. Vincent

Topless Wuthering Heights                          Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush

The Sexual Hypocrite Has No Clothes         Human Nature by Madonna

Dora                                                                Luka by Suzanne Vega

Betazoid                                                         Oh No  by Andrew Bird

The Hunter                                                     Heart Shaped Box  by Nirvana

 Sepulcher                                                       Lust for Life Lana Del Rey with the The


 If the Star Fits                                                Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay

Little Legs                                                      Daughters by John Mayer

Stepford Whore                                             Doll Parts by Courtney Love

Southern Gothic Ghosts                                Tomorrow, Wendy by Concrete Blonde

Pine                                The Pine Float by Angelo Badalamenti FWWM soundtrack

Murderess                       Girls Just Want To Have Fun        Greg Laswell

Christian  of Troy                                         Cosmopolitans (tri-factor remix)

by Erin McKeowan

Insanitea White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane

Senator                                                           Happy Birthday Mr. President

by Marilyn Monroe

 Parchment Doll                                              Paper Doll by John Mayer

The Lady Who Loved Lightning                   Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police

Water Demon                                                Down By The Water by PJ Harvey

Chrysanthemum                                            Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson

Succubus                                                        Cannibal by Kesha

Peepholes                                                       Audrey’s Dance Angelo Badalamenti

Twin Peaks soundtrack

Poppet                                                            Dragula by Rob Zombie

Asylum                                                           Where is My Mind?  By Maxence Cyrin


A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony Playlist

AQ: I have been keen to feature guest playlists on Pastel Zine’s blog for awhile now - so when I put out a callout for contributions, I was very excited when one of my favourite poets, friends and editor to be Kristin Garth responded! She is providing Pastel Zine’s blog with two great playlists inspired by her upcoming books. The first is a playlist for her collaborative poetry project A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony. Her collaborators Justin Karcher and Tianna Hansen collaborated on this playlist especially for Pastel Zine too - so it’s very exciting to be able to share it. Thank you, all! I’m excited to host you and your playlist and I can’t wait to read your book. I have been loving the poems I have read online! You can read some of them here.

KG: I showed this sonnet to my friend Justin Karcher and he commented on the cool male character inside of it, The Wizard.  I’d done collaborations before but as a poet never with characters, and I thought it would be so fun to explore the dollhouse world of my dreams with collaborators.  After Justin, Tianna Hansen signed on to play the character of the frenemy who came to be known as The Firebird.  Just as in my dream, I became The Doll.   The three of us have such a magical collaboration, and we were so thrilled to expand that to collaborating on a soundtrack for our dreamy poetic opera.  Listen to these songs and prepare yourself to enter my dreams with friends June 2019 brought to you by Rhythm & Bones Press.  This playlist was compiled by The Doll (Kristin Garth), The Wizard (Justin Karcher) and The Firebird (Tianna Hansen).

Dancing on My Own – Robyn

 Behind The Wheel – Maxence Cyrin

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths

Ceremony – New Order

Father Figure – Tori Amos               

Winter – Vivaldi

Firebird – Galantis

The Phoenix – Fall Out Boy

Paralyzer – Finger Eleven

I Put A spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

The Recluse – Cursive

Tiny Dancer – Florence + The Machine

The Mending of the Gown – Sunset Rubdown

 Burn the Witch – Radiohead

 Monster – Lady Gaga

 Save Me – Aimee Mann

 The Kill (Bury Me) – Thirty Seconds to Mars

 Shrinking Universe - Muse

 Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil

 Dark on Fire – Turin Brakes

 Superstition – Stevie Wonder

 Once Upon A Dream – Lana Del Rey

 My Dark Side – Kelly Clarkson

 Lullaby – Shawn Mullins

 Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo

 L’Oiseau de Feu XII, final hymn – Stravinsky

 A Room of Her Own – Black Swan

 Asia – Salem

 Firestarter – The Prodigy

More 2018 favourites

I already did a favourite albums of 2018 post but there have been a few more amazing ones since I wrote that post so here’s an update of some late entries into my favourite selection and I few I perhaps have just listened to more now - a bit later in the year.

Rosalia - El Mal Querer

MO - Finding Neverland

Tommy Genesis - Tommy Genesis

Father - Awful Swim

Hinds - I Don’t Run

Bhad Bhabie - 15

Dolores Haze - Play hard fuck hard love hard

Dream Wife - Dream Wife

Vince Staples - FM!

Brockhampton - Iridescence

Tommy Genesis

Tommy Genesis first caught my attention in 2015 when she released her first mixtape World Vision on Awful Records. Now she has just released her first album proper and it’s definitely my favourite rap album of the year so far. The new album features Charli XCX and Empress Of but is mainly Tommy and her unique vision. She has described how the new album explores both pop and hip hop and it is very forward thinking in the way it sounds. The first half is very sexy and hard hitting in its beats and Tommy’s raps. The second half is more free flowing, dreamy and playful. Tommy’s first mixtape may have introduced us to her fetish rap and that vibe is still present on the new album but it’s an album of many parts. I can’t wait to see what Tommy does next.