The basic facts
(as described by composer/producer Lauri Movall)
Sheobi is first and foremost about music (available on another page). It’s sort of a musical continuum and the name references to an artist, a music project, a brand or a musical style, depending on how you look at it. The origins date all the way back to the early 90’s (or even in the 80’s), but in a sense you can also say that it was essentially reborn in late 2017. So far it’s all been a one-man effort, but that might also change if the right people found each other.
Making music has been very important to me since a long time ago, not the least as a means to process my own emotions. While it was difficult to even talk about making any music before, I’ve learned a lot since then. For a long, long time, the results were basically not available anywhere else than maybe on my own, very “old-school” website that was pretty much disconnected from everything else on the net (even if there were no access restrictions as such – anyone could in principle have discovered it). But things have changed now.
It was actually only very recently, in late 2017, that I discovered some wonderful new artists and their music, which in turn led me to get familiar with different online services as well. My own life situation was such that these things really “hit” me back then, had sort of an amplified effect on many things at once. This revived the entire Sheobi project and started a renaissance of sorts, which meant both making a lot of new music and distributing it online to make it available to other people. Overall I somehow realized that there must actually be an audience for the music I’ve been making – and that these people would likely never find it without my help. And I started learning more about things like promotion and marketing.
So far I’ve not really made any money with my music, despite the fact that it’s been distributed in so many different channels for almost a year now (in late 2018). Instead I’ve had to pay to make it available online and to help people find it there. So if you like what you hear, I hope you could even consider purchasing some. That would be greatly appreciated! And even just listening and sharing what you like yourself would make me happy. Your actions really do count here.
Feel free to browse the site, listen to the music and to check and follow Sheobi on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Deezer or elsewhere, depending on your preferences. My contact information is also available on the “Contact” page. Don’t hesitate to contact me, also if you are interested in co-operation (or using the Sheobi music in your own productions in a way or another).
– Lauri Movall (Sheobi)
P.S. The music itself is supposed to be the main thing here, instead of this “wall of text”. So, maybe stop reading here, open the Music page and try some of the tracks instead (if you haven’t already)? The following sections here are concentrating on my own history with music and on how the Sheobi music has been created.
The name Sheobi
In case you’re wondering what Sheobi means, I must admit that it’s mostly just a name that somehow sounded “right” and appeared to suit my music and myself as a composer in the 1990’s. I basically just constructed a short enough name by combining the “she-” with the “-obi”, where the former sounded “soft” and “spiritual” enough to feel right, and the latter being an ending that was not too common to let the name sound original and not be mixed up with other artist names as easily.
Of course there’s Obi-Wan Kenobi (from Star Wars) that I did know about, but even that didn’t discourage me from making my decision. I did have a few other options in mind, like “Oasis”, but luckily I didn’t choose that name…
Sheobi doesn’t necessarily refer to myself as much as the music itself, and it could probably be extended to cover a group of people if so desired. Mostly it’s kind of my word for a “virtual artist” whose work just happens to be created only by me so far. That said, if you happen to know of a meaning for the word in some language, I’d naturally be interested to hear about it!
Quite recently I’ve found that there seem to be people who are called Sheobi (mostly female, and there seem to be people called just Sheob as well, without the “i”). And I really hope no-one gets offended or anything like that because of my choice of artist name. I chose the name already in the time “before the Internet” (well, in the mid-90’s), and I really didn’t know that there were people called Sheobi somewhere in the world. The name has just slowly grown to become sort of an integral part of my musical identity that it would be difficult to replace it with something else.
And well, even I have a hard time pronouncing the name, as I’ve not been using it a lot myself other than in written form… But originally it was meant to be pronounced in an “English” way (“Shee-*oh-bee”), like if it was a word in the English language. This might naturally change if I encountered a meaning for the word in another language that sounds “correct”…
The history of Sheobi
198x-1992 (Music, audio equipment and instruments)
I’ve pretty much been interested in music and sound engineering for as long as I can remember. I was encouraged to sing and play as a kid, especially by my wonderful and creative “second mum” at day care, and it might have had a very significant effect on that I also started making music myself. On the other hand, I’ve always been sort of a DIY person with a certain internal urge to also build and create such things that I’m interested in, that I like, or that am intrigued by: be it languages, maps, stories, art, 3D models, PC computers or programs. That has been an important way of learning more about the world around me, and music was no exception. I wanted to try different things in practice to realize my own visions and ideas.
In addition to playing music or singing, I was also very interested in the sounds produced by radio receivers (for instance), used quite a lot of time recording different things and experimenting with cassette and tape players, and I was fascinated by song lyrics as well. The types of music I heard the most as a kid have probably been pop music from the 60’s and 70’s, children’s music, and certain kinds of synthesizer music, which of course had its effect on what I started making myself.
I started playing the piano during some of my early school years. First we had a Yamaha PortaSound keyboard (most likely the PS-25) at home, and later borrowed a real upright piano which had probably already seen its better days. I took piano lessons for many years and studied some music theory at a local music school, but left it when I entered high school (because I wanted to concentrate on the other studies). In the end I didn’t actually pass the 3rd (and final) level of the basic exams. After stopping taking piano lessons, I haven’t played very much piano at all, and I didn’t even have a physical “piano style” keyboard for many years. Unfortunately I can’t really play any of the “proper” piano pieces anymore, and don’t seem to have much motivation to try and learn them again either.
At home, I heard a lot of music from the 60’s and 70’s period, and at day care I actually was exposed to some of Ed Starink’s synthesizer covers without knowing anything about the man himself (not even that he existed in the first place). Later on I purchased a couple of his original albums on C-cassette, even then unaware of the artist other than by his name written on the sleeves (the name did intrigue me, but I had basically no means to get more information). Even there the artist was partly referred to as “Andromeda Project”. But especially one of these albums, called “Inner Spirits”, became one of my all-time favourites in any genre. Too bad that I’ve not been able to find it available anywhere in digital format. It seems to not have been re-released at all after the 90’s.
In the early years I also watched the Silk Road documentary series with a soundtrack created by Kitaro, a japanese musician. Hearing this synthesizer-heavy, atmospheric and melodic soundtrack (that you could probably also call spiritual) was a transforming event for me, and probably one of the main triggers for that I actually started making synthesizer music myself.
After (and during) the days of piano playing, my extensive experience with computers put me on quite a different musical path – trackers. I tried tracker software (which is a special form of sequencer software) in the early 1990’s, and used a few different trackers. When we got our first computer in the late 1980’s, it was not nearly powerful enough to do proper sound processing, but the second one (a 80486-based machine) was, so even with just the PC “beeper” (without an actual sound card) it was possible to use a tracker application. My application of choice back then was Modedit. Our first sound card was a Gravis Ultrasound, which was really well suited for using more advanced tracker software like Scream Tracker 3 and Impulse Tracker 2.
In the years between 1993 and 1998, making music was very important for me, and I used it as a means to process various teenage thoughts and emotions. The results of those countless and intensive music-making sessions were later compiled into three long albums called “Slumberland“, “Mirages” and “Vermillion Blue“, and into additional compilations of older material called “The Planets” and “Another Heart“.
I guess it was probably somewhere in 1995 that the name Sheobi came into the picture, a more specific “Sheobi style” formed, and also much of the music I had composed earlier “fell into the Sheobi category”. And in the late 1990’s I introduced myself to many of my current favourite artists like Mike Oldfield and Suzanne Vega, which were to affect my music too in their own ways.
1999-2005 (Cubasis LE, Buzz Modular Synth)
In 1998 I pretty much stopped making music for a while (partly because of other significant changes in my life, but also because of an accident caused by a careless blunder when I was upgrading my computer equipment that basically destroyed my latest work and simultaneously my inspiration), but in the beginning of the new millennium I found a piece of software called Buzz Modular Synth, which was a pioneer in virtual synthesizers and plugin/host type sequencing (you can create your own plugins, called machines). Back then it was a well-needed breath of fresh air for my own music-making aspirations.
Buzz unfortunately got kind of discontinued already in 2001, though (later I’ve found the development having been started again in 2008, but after that I haven’t really followed the situation). I think it has mostly been used for a bit different kind of music than what I do, but the basic UI and idea of the application just suited me so well that I used it for a long time.
I also did briefly possess a MIDI keyboard and experimented with a pretty limited edition of a Cubasis sequencer (LE) during this time, but that did not really result in so much actual new music (maybe more in some kind of ideas, and a few melodies to be properly realized later on). On the hardware-side I did move from Gravis UltraSound cards to a Terratec EWS64XL for a while and liked it a lot, but later on switched to another kind of setup again, with another GUS card together with Creative’s newer Sound Blaster equipment (Sound Blaster Live etc.).
The first “batches” of music I created using Buzz (containing “Rainbow Soul” and “Sonar Shadows“, for instance, both of which are available on the albums page) felt somewhat different from the older pieces and made me choose a different pseudonym (XP-1), but later (when I got more familiar with the software), a few somewhat different pieces like “Summer’s End” formed, which indeed did feel like “Sheobi music” again.
2006-2008 (Reaktor and VST)
In 2006 I realized that I needed a change, and that I wanted to take making music more seriously from the tools point of view. This lead to actually purchasing the license for a piece of software called Reaktor, which is kind of a complete sound studio of its own, but practically requires to be used either via some (MIDI) controllers, or as a plugin in a host application, to really be of real use for music production. It’s available for both Windows and Mac OS X, and it enables you to flexibly create very different virtual Instruments and effects, plus also share them with other people using the software. I chose to purchase a Reaktor license because I’ve always been quite much a DIY (Do It Yourself) type of person, and it promised to let you create almost any kind of virtual instrument or effect yourself. That was a really intriguing concept for an application. I also wanted to buy as little software and hardware as possible, so buying one piece of SW that can be used in very different and creative ways sounded like the best idea, as somewhere Reaktor was advertised as “possibly the only instrument you’ll ever need”.
No matter how amazing Reaktor is, it can take a huge amount of time to accomplish what you want when designing your instruments yourself, and I realized that I needed to buy additional software after all, while I still had “do as much as you can with as little as you can” as the basic principle. As I wanted to have every instrument as virtual as possible, and wanted vocals too (I’d never used them that much in my music before). As I couldn’t really sing that well myself either, I chose to buy a vocal synthesizer plugin. To add the familiar piano sounds to my music, and because I didn’t like the big sampled pianos most virtual piano software was based on (and the restrictions caused by sampling in general), I bought the license for a completely modelled virtual piano, called Pianoteq, and finally (because it seemed such a hopeless idea trying to physically model acoustic drums) also a drum sampler called Battery (unfortunately with a very large sample library I generally wanted to avoid). Then I decided that I didn’t want to buy any more music software licenses, but instead try to utilize the tools I already had as effectively as possible.
In this period, I compiled the preliminary “album” called “Summer’s End“, which consisted of a couple of older Buzz-based tracks together with newer ones where the use of Reaktor and synthesized vocals played a very significant role.
2008-2009 (Software development)
After using Reaktor with Buzz for some time, I realized that while I still liked Buzz a lot, it was starting to show signs of aging. The original strengths were still there, but as I was already mainly using Reaktor for my instrument(s) then, I yearned for something that would integrate more tightly with it and allow for utilizing the power of modern PCs more effectively, while at the same time retaining some of the important aspects of Buzz.
As I didn’t find a better solution, and as I also saw it as a very interesting challenge, I finally decided to create my own sequencing application. That resulted in building Whisper Virtual Studio, a “proprietary” non-commercial sequencer written pretty much from scratch specifically to control VST instruments and effects in a fairly tracker-like (but still more flexible) way. After some time of adjusting the application (which is admittedly pretty different from what most people use for making music), I went to working on it alone as a sequencing tool (and therefore basically stopped using samples directly in my music – as Whisper does not support the use of samples by itself at all!).
What I still had to buy after that was a proper keyboard MIDI controller (to be able to actually play something again as well). It took a long time for me to purchase that, though, as I couldn’t find a proper place for it at first, nor find a model that would be suitably versatile and not too large either, etc. But having back the ability to “play in” music (Whisper actually makes it very convenient for me as a former tracker user to start combining piano-playing experience with tracker-type sequencing) has brought some very new kind of life (and more natural dynamics) into the music, and I’m happy I took the decision after all.
2010-2011 (On Wings of Whisper)
A few years later, when Whisper was starting to be mature enough for more serious work, the decision to finally add support for tracker module import and try to do remakes of some of my older music (from the 1990’s) led me to purchasing yet some more software, as I needed quite many instruments to match or improve on the sounds of the original tracker modules. That lead to the purchase of two instrument collections: the Arturia V Collection (analogue synthesizers) and AAS Modeling Collection (physically modeled instruments). Not only were these instruments necessary for the remakes, though, but they also provided a new source of inspiration that I had been lacking, bringing back older musical memories as well and encouraging to experiment again in new ways.
Starting from my first complete track created using Whisper (called “A Moment of Peace“) in 2010, I’ve been making all my new music exclusively using Whisper Virtual Studio.
It had been mostly quiet on the music-making front after 2011 for me, in a large part due to different personal reasons and life changes. But at the same time I did hope I could find more time, inspiration and energy for music-making and sound engineering again. I wanted music-making to be more like a natural part of my “everyday life”, but I didn’t try to force it. Making my own music just went more into the background during this period.
There were a few active periods in 2011, 2012 and 2014, but otherwise it was mostly quiet on the music front, especially in 2013 (other than that I did get to listen to music and to learn about many new artists (even really big names like Tangerine Dream) whose music I had previously not really heard that much at all.
I started improving my (and my music’s) online presence again in 2015 by creating a Twitter profile for Sheobimusic, for instance. What comes to music making itself, I had some brief more intensive periods in late 2015, in May-June 2016 and in early 2017. But only in October 2017 I started yet again doing more music-related things and trying to figure out what to do next with my music.
In the October-November 2017 timeframe I started listening more to music in general, created a Bandcamp page and new music, and even started using Facebook (setting up a page for Sheobi there as well). This marked the start of a renaissance period of sorts from the Sheobi perspective, and part of the inspiration came from discovering other artists (great ones actually) who had found new ways to look for the correct audience they’d never found before.
In the beginning of December, 2017, I also decided to start releasing my music in various online music stores and streaming services to make it more readily available for the general public. So this is both a time of reaching out to the world with the music and developing it further, possibly in new and uncharted directions.
In December 2018 I could finally release a full length album consisting of tracks created during the year. So “Project 7e2” was born, encompassing most of the work I had done between January and December.
And the journey will continue…
You can easily call all my music electronic music, as it’s basically all created using electronic means. But it’s not my intention to create electronic music as such (the tools I am working with just happen to be electronic, and I like the sound of many electronic instruments, synthesizers + effects). I would certainly be happy if I could (also with these electronic tools) create music that can stand on its own simply as music like any other.
I tend to keep my music fairly simple, and mostly seem to create quite slow-paced, melodic, melancholic and “dreamy” music, but there are also some expectations to that pattern (and I’m hoping for some more variety in the future). But in general, it all often tends to gravitate towards a certain minimalism, up to the point that in some cases, the results could fit into the “minimal synth” genre, or maybe actually “post-minimal”. On the other hand, some people have called my music “classic electronic music” as it reminded them more of such earlier pioneers of the genre as Jean Michel Jarre or Vangelis than later developments. Myself I like to call it “alternative electronic” to emphasize the fact that much of the contemporary electronic music often tends to be quite different from the music that I make.
I like eclectic approaches to music-making (by which I mean approaches that don’t really try to follow specific styles/genres, but just strive for good music in general, using whatever methods, instruments and tools that seem fit for the purpose). Most often I’m essentially following such principles myself when making music: I seldom specifically try to follow a certain style or musical genre, and even less try to recreate any other music “as such”, but let the music that starts from whatever origins and inspiration “organically grow” into whichever form feels right at the time. I often give a lot of room for “creative accidents”, meaning that if something goes “wrong” but still sounds good or intriguing enough, I’ll probably make it a part of the new plan, and build forward from there.
I guess my own music is generally quite minimalistic and rough from a production perspective, and I often also want to keep it that way. At some point, a track feels “done” even if it’s clearly not perfect or perhaps even “complete”, and after that changing it seems mostly to make it worse instead of better. Some of that might come from lack of time, equipment or skills to do the finishing work (especially the mixing and percussion work), and in some cases I would be happy if someone liked the track and could finish it in a way that does the piece justice. But more often this minimalistic and “raw” quality is intentional, and perhaps the most important reason for this is actually that I value the “directness” in music that is not too polished. Working too long on a single piece easily makes you lose some of the inspiration and produces a boring result, and I don’t want to over-produce my music or compress all life out of it, for instance.
What comes to the methods and tools I use specifically, the fact that I have mostly been “writing” (programming) my music instead of playing it “live” using physical keyboards etc. or actually singing of course has an effect on how the results sound like. It’s not usually as natural to add expression and change note timings, dynamics etc. afterwards to programmed material than it is to to the similar thing to the music while you play/sing it. Another thing that is partly caused by how tracker-type software works is that I often reuse the exact same sequences (patterns) many times, which does add to repetition. I don’t think repetition, lack of dynamics, etc. necessarily are bad things as such (they can also be intentional), but sometimes I’d like to produce music that sounds more “lively” and not as “programmed”. Maybe this will improve over time.
As I finally bought another MIDI keyboard myself, I’m also trying to break free of some of the programming-induced effects on my music, and to produce something where I can more freely express the ideas both by programming and playing – combining the two pretty different parts of my musical background to create something new. On the other hand, really taking advantage of this possibility might still require more changes to Whisper as well…
More about musical taste and influences
Of course everything I’ve ever heard must also have influenced my own music in some way, and if you were to search for influences by listing such bands, artists and composers I’ve been listening to, you would get quite a long list of pretty different names. Maybe you could say that I can like almost any kind of music, as long as it is good. Classical music, pop, rock, jazz, blues, country, metal, folk music, rap, hip hop, soul, rnb, dance music, techno, etc., they all can be good or bad, and it’s probably more about originality, passion, and the qualities of the melodies, rhythms, lyrics, vocals, performances and production that affect my choices than the styles or musical genres themselves.
I often especially like independent and original artists who also create their material themselves or interpret the material in their own personal way, but I can very well listen to more commercially produced music too, if it happens to be done well enough (and thus is “sellable” to me) 🙂 And what comes to creating music by mixing together material from various other sources, that’s ok to me as well, as long as the result is something new and can “stand on its own feet”.
And well, cover music can even be nice when you do the covers exactly like the originals – especially if you’re performing them live, and the original performers are not available…
When I was younger, I quite often heard certain popular songs from the 60’s and 70’s, and I still often especially like (good) music from that era. Melodies are important to me, and the pop music of that time did introduce a lot of fine melodies. Another very important influence must be synthesizer music in general, and probably especially the works of Ed Starink and Kitaro. Demoscene music (which in turn has its own influences from many places) is also something that must have influenced me quite a lot during the 90’s, like music from some computer games of that time. And some of the computer game music of the later years must have an effect as well, even though I haven’t been playing so many games for a long time (the few ones I have played can of course have even more influence because of being just a few).
Some of my favourite artists/bands/composers from any category or period (a significant part of which I’ve first really discovered only after 2013) have been Ed Starink, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Maurice Ravel, Suzanne Vega, Kitaro, Kate Bush, Antonín Dvorák, The Bee Gees, Jean Michel Jarre, Antonio Vivaldi, Pekka Pohjola, Manic Street Preachers, Jean Sibelius, Steve Earle, Tangerine Dream, The Who, Enya, Richard Georg Strauss, Mike Oldfield, Isao Tomita, Johnny Cash, Suede, ABBA, Alan Parsons Project, Johann Sebastian Bach, Garbage, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Frequency Drift, The Beatles, Johann Strauss I & II, The Clash, Fatboy Slim, Procol Harum, The Prodigy, King Crimson, Jan Hammer Group, R.E.M., Pekka Pohjola, The Mamas & The Papas, Aphex Twin, Queen, The Hollies, Snarky Puppy, Edvard Grieg, Hector, The Moody Blues, Vangelis, The Shadows, Hector, Scorpions, Depeche Mode, Pelle Miljoona, George Harrison, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Adult Cinema, Silver Torches, Kebu, Noah Gundersen and 22-Pistepirkko. But of course there are many others as well, and I’m still looking for more…
Equipment used (latest updated in 2018)
A desktop PC based on a Ryzen 1700 CPU with 8 cores and 16 simultaneous threads to accommodate a good enough amount of simultaneous instruments and effects.
A minimal external audio interface (basically just a DAC box for headphones).
One pair of open (Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro) and another pair of closed studio headphones (a trusty old pair of 600 ohm Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pros from the turn of the millennium – still with its old and flattened headband at the moment).
A simple microphone for possible voice control (not really so much for recording, as Whisper does not even support samples as such by itself).
No speakers (for the actual composing or mixing work). A pair of very small (entry-level) active Genelec 6010A speakers for later checks and trials, and for listening to music in the living room.
M-Audio’s keyboard-formed semi-weighted MIDI controller with 49 keys (without audio functionality).
Whisper Virtual Studio (usually the latest available version, sometimes even running in debug mode)
Sonarworks Reference 4 Headphone (for calibrating the frequency response of the headphones used)
Native Instruments Reaktor 5, Battery 3 and Replika
Modartt Pianoteq virtual pianos
Some Arturia virtual synthesizers and instruments
Some modeled virtual instruments from Applied Acoustic Systems (AAS)
PowerFX Sweet Ann and Vocaloid Cyber Songman virtual vocalists (based on Vocaloid2 and Vocaloid4 technology, respectively)
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite (modeled effects – pretty much abandoned after moving to 64-bit software)
UVI Workstation (for using samples and incorporating parts created using other tools into Whisper)
Audacity (for combining old tracker music with Whisper-produced parts, etc.)
Occasional Roland Cloud subscription (mostly for certain more specific sounds)
From 2010 onwards, Whisper Virtual Studio has basically been the only sequencing application I’ve used, and I’m developing it further in my own pace. In the 2000’s, Buzz Virtual Synth was the main application, and for creating the older 1990’s tracker modules, a Intel 80486-based PC (later an AMD AM486-based one) and certain tracker applications (namely Modedit, Scream Tracker 3 and Impulse Tracker 2) were used. In 1999, I briefly tried using Cubase LE for music making as well (with very limited results).
For rendering the original tracker versions into wave format, the players I’ve used have been Cubic Player (in the 1990’s), and OpenMPT (in the 2010’s).
For certain tracks, I’ve also used Audacity to combine audio from different sources.
Note that if you have the matching software tools and sound/instrument libraries installed on compatible hardware, you can request a copy of any of the pieces in Whisper, Impulse Tracker or Scream Tracker module format, to even further work on that piece directly if you like, creating your own different version, improving the original, or just using bits and pieces of it (like the instrument/effects canvas) for creating your own music etc. See the Contact page for more info. I might or might not be willing to let you have that particular material or give you a permission to use it in a certain way, but you can always ask!
The somewhat guitar-resembling instrument that can be heard on some of the tracks (especially on “A Different State of Mind”, “Eye of the Storm” and “Human Error”) is a Reaktor-based creation of my own, called “Lassie”. It’s basically a physically modeled 6-string guitar with some quirks. A good example of what you can do with Reaktor, but also an example of that creating your own Instruments can really take some time and effort…
Since December 2017, selected tracks have started appearing in multiple online music stores and streaming services around the world.
If you would like to listen to a specific track using your favourite online service and can’t find it there, please contact me (contact information is available on the “Contact” page)!
Sheobi in different online services: