Silly Boy Blue (Ana Benabdelkarim) is a French singer, songwriter, producer who took the inspiration for her name from one of Bowie's songs from when he was just starting out and not yet a legend. She recently released "Goodbye," a synthy slice of adventurous pop music that is infectious right from the get-go. We invited her to break down the process of its creation for the latest installment of our How It Was Made series.
Words and photos by Silly Boy Blue
Nord Electro 3 Sixty One
A friend of mine lent me this synth one day. That’s how I find the chords I want for a song, even though this instrument doesn’t end up on the final track. It has exactly what I want: lots of different sounds, from strings to Grand Piano. Many cool reverbs. But not too many things so I don’t lose myself trying to fully understand every detail of it. The day I got it, I didn’t sleep for like 3 days. I ended up buying this one from my friend.
The Ableton File
I’ve learned to use Ableton with an ex (and then I’ve made a thousand songs about him on this software). But when I start a song, I never know its name. So, before it was named « Goodbye », I guess it was called that way. I’m using some classic plug-ins, but I also have a great VST called Tal-uno-LX V2. Very useful when you live in a small apartment and you want to pretend you’ve got a Juno.
Where I write
I just need my laptop, my Akai APC Keys 25 - a quite simple controller - and my sound card FireFace UC. Of course, I wish I had more things to work with, but these are the perfect things to create songs. And if I had been waiting for more, I wouldn’t have an album ready to be released I guess.
Photo 4 - The wall of synths
This is where we’ve been working on the first version of Goodbye, at Studio Noir (Apollo Noir’s studio). He’s got a lot of synths, and the Juno 60 was used for the pad sounds in this track. The JP8 is the bass arpeggio. A great place to work, especially when you use the VST I use, and then you hear this sounds but for real.
Photo 5 / 5.2 (credit: Jeanne Lula Chauveau) - The studio
That’s a picture of my two producers, Sam Tiba and Apollo Noir. Right after the lockdown, we left Paris for a week to work on my first album. Sam comes from the electronic scene, he’s amazing with samples, weird sounds, and rhythms. Apollo Noir comes from the techno scene: he has a lot of synths and taught me how a Prophet or a Mellotron could change your life.
One of the main challenges for this song was to find a good mic for my voice because I’ve got a lot of medium frequencies. The Telefunken CU29 was perfect to get a worm yet clear sound, and actually, we ended up using it for the whole album. We added a preamp (Chandler TG) and a compressor (Grove Hill Liverpool).