- Timeline See what happened in January 2016
- Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK
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From paulmccartney.com, February 10th 2016:
Today, a collaboration has been announced between the world’s most celebrated living musician and its foremost video chat and online communication platform: Paul McCartney and Skype have partnered to launch a new range of animated love themed Mojis for Valentine’s Day featuring exclusive new McCartney music coupled with Skype’s animated designs. This new set contains ten specially created Mojis. […]
Mojis are short animated clips that you can use during Skype chats when words just aren’t enough. These Mojis will be completely unique to hundreds of millions of Skype users and feature sound as well as video, giving the users chat a whole new dimension. This collaboration will allow Skype users to use this medium to convey love through music in a new and original way. […]
Paul was set a brief by Skype to compose for specific emotions. More used to writing chart-topping songs around the three-minute mark than expressing an emotion musically in a number of seconds Paul embraced the task.
Talking about the experience Paul said:
“It turned out to be a great laugh at the same time as challenging because you suddenly realise you’ve got to compress a musical interpretation of an expression into less than five seconds. It was like doing a huge crossword puzzle and coming up with all these solutions. And at the same time it was musical so it was great practice for me in the studio.”
Paul recorded his compositions over a week at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex. Using a variety of instruments including guitars, keyboards, drums, xylophone and his voice. In order to give the whole set a signature sound Paul started the compositions on a Moog synthesizer, Paul explained:
“I wanted it to sound sort of electronic so I wanted the signature to sound electronic rather than acoustic guitar, for instance. So I got the overall signature on the Moog in order to give it a modern flavour.”
From paulmccartney.com, February 10th 2016:
What attracted you to the project?
My team is always on the look out for interesting ideas. They had been talking to Skype and suggested that I would write music for some new “Mojis” to be used around Valentine’s Day.
I was intrigued and thought it would be a bit of fun to see if I could do it! And it turned out to be a great laugh at the same time as challenging because you suddenly realise you’ve got to compress a musical interpretation of an emotion into less than five seconds. So with some of them, which were five and a half or six seconds, we had to work out a way to take the front off or just squeeze this or just take that bit out.
It was great! It was like doing a huge crossword puzzle and coming up with all these solutions. And at the same time it was musical so it was great practice for me in the studio.
As you were expressing universal emotions using music rather than language was composing for this project different from how you usually write, and did you learn anything from the process?
Yeah, that was the thing. The decision I had to make was if I was going to use my voice; which I thought might be a good thing because it then identifies it with me. But it would have to be without using words.
And you know, I’ve seen kids’ cartoons that use sounds rather than words, but you still kind of know what they’re saying! [Impersonates cartoon character.] So I thought I’ll do that and just use “Doo-Dee-Do-Deee” and kind of sing it so it’s me and my voice, but at the same time no words. So yes, that was a conscious decision.
What instruments did you use during the recording sessions?
I wanted to try and make the whole set have a signature sound, something that pulled it all together rather than just use a different instrument for every single sound so that it was like a portfolio of musical “Mojis”.
I decided to start roughing them all out with the Moog synthesizer. So I did a musical phrase on the Moog for each of the 20 emotions. Then I decided sometimes we don’t need a Moog, sometimes another instrument would be better.
The Moog was the first part and then I added my voice. Then I added xylophone to some of them, which is like a call sign. It’s kind of like an airport tannoy, but I wanted that. I wanted it to sound like something you might find on your computer. So it was, “Do-Do-Doo” [mimics airport call sign].
So that mix of the Moog and the xylophone is something you’ll hear, and then sometimes I added a guitar, voice, piano, harpsichord, and electric guitar. And then drums on the more sort of funky ones, like ‘I’m solo and loving it’. I thought, “OK! I’m gonna get a funky drum track on that!” So it was great fun! Really, I thought it might take a day – it took a week!
Was there any reason why you fleshed out the ideas on the Moog?
I wanted it to be modern. I wanted it to sound sort of electronic so I wanted the signature to be an electronic signature rather than acoustic guitar, for instance. So I got the whole overall signature on the Moog in order to give it a modern flavour.
Which was the easiest expression to compose for?
I must say I didn’t have too much trouble with many of them because it was instant. It was like, “I’m not going to spend a week composing this!” I’m just going to go [sings], “I love you, Do-Whee-Doo’. And then I gave another variation like, “Do-Whee-Oo-Oo”. So really it was like, “First thought, best thought”.
‘Lust’ [laughs], that was a good one to do. It’s a great exercise. How do you do that? It’s similar to composing a song; you’re trying to get an emotion like, “I love you,” or an “I miss you” emotion, or a “Don’t leave me” emotion.
‘Solo and loving it’ was the other one that was good fun to do. ‘Be My Valentine?’ was nice too, and I think those three I just mentioned have a little more instrumentation than some of the others. I kept some of them very spare, because they sounded like they worked – just like a call sign.
But it was really first thought, best thought. I thought, “I can’t deliberate over this – I’ve got to race them all out”. Then I thought, “Well, I’ll give a couple of alternatives,” which were mainly for me to choose from. But I ended up liking the alternatives so I thought, “I’ll let Skype choose”.
Which was the hardest expression to compose for?
There were a couple that were more challenging; ‘Flirting’ and ‘Blushing’. But I just kind of had a go at it and thought, “There you go!” And then if I didn’t think it was enough, I might just add another instrument to try and get the feeling.
Is it exciting to think that potentially millions of people around the world will be using your music to express their feelings?
Yes very, it really is! It’s already very exciting being a composer and a recording artist because you know in America, UK, Japan, Europe, etc. people are going to be listening to your records, to your music and that’s a very exciting thing. With modern technology now you get the idea that millions of people at one point could actually be ‘using’ your music.
I like that, it’s very exciting and it’s very human. It brings us all together. We all go, “I love you,” together. I’m interested to see how it goes. Anyone I tell about this I say, “If it comes off”, because I’m always terrified with these kinds of projects that you might spend a week doing it all, and then somebody goes, “No, we tried it on the bosses and they don’t like it!” If it comes off, I do love the idea of it – someone in America, signaling someone in Japan. It’s just great communication. It’s all about communication, baby! […]
From paulmccartney.com, December 2016:
The year started with Paul writing music for 10 new ‘Love Mojis’ for Skype
Paul: I thought that was great fun. There was the thought of, “Am I wasting my time? Shouldn’t I be doing some serious music here?” Because it took a bit of time. But, it was such fun that I just loved the challenge. And I liked how it worked out and people seemed to like them. I enjoyed showing them off to my friends too, “Ooh, look at this one!” I liked the a sexy one! [Sings the tune for the ‘Flirty’ moji]. That sort of funky one. I thought, that’s quite cool.
Normally I would think I’ve got to make a song around that, but because these were all like what, five seconds? That was the exercise. It was just: can I make something that means something that’s only five seconds long? It’s like the ultimate challenge. So I enjoyed that. And some of them were a little bit longer and we just shaved them down and brought them in inside the five seconds. It was a challenge. Me and Steve, the engineer at my studio, had a good week doing that and trying to get something that people could use.
Last updated on December 24, 2016