Helsinki-based band feelswithcaps puts the incoming wave of winter depression on hold – a six song lasting dance of pure electro pop. But along with sophisticated synth-sounds come vocals full of Nordic melancholy and: feels. Feels of longing, love, loneliness. A full diary on a record.
We talked to leadsinger Sofi about deserted islands, the best positions to listen to music & how Absence sums up all the stories of her twenties.
You have been playing together since 2013 with great support from the music landscape in Finland, first live performances in the UK and recognition by i-D Magazine and London’s Soho Radio. Could you introduce yourself for everybody who hasn’t heard from you so far?
Sofi: We are feelswithcaps, a Finnish indie pop band, consisting of me, singer and songwriter Sofi Meronen, keyboardist Mikael Myrskog and drummer and producer Aleksi Kinnunen.
Aleksi: I think feelswithcaps is a band where the different strengths of each member are strongly represented – Sofi’s pop-songwriter-background, Mikael’s jazz skills combined with a passion of synthesizers, and my experience on house/techno music.
The first part of your debut album Absence is being released today. What makes this album so special for you?
Aleksi: We wanted to create a clearer sound for this album, and wanted the music to be a bit more dance-y, because it felt natural. There is a lot of space for instruments as well because Mikael’s synth hooks are an essential part of our sound. The album has a certain kind of dark, northern melancholy to it but is still hopeful and something you can dance to. A night drive that takes you to an intimate club in a small town, lit with neon lights.
Mikael: We all like: sweeps and explosions when entering the chorus, ace grooves that make you want to dance, hypnoticism, synth tricks, new and interesting ideas and details, without forgetting the song’s architecture and a traditional combination of good melody, chords and structure.’
Sofi: I think lyric-wise this album is kind of like all my diaries throughout my twenties put into one album. It’s about all the biggest feelings I’ve been through. I hope, when people hear the songs, they find something they can relate to and maybe find some comfort in these songs.
What would you say is Absence the ultimate soundtrack for?
Sofi: As Aleksi said, a night drive would be pretty spot on. As a teenager, I always used to buy CD’s and when I’d listen to one for the first time, I’d put it on in my room and lay down on the floor with my eyes closed, in x-position. I would recommend doing that. Or maybe go for a walk in the evening through your favorite spots.
While your overall sound is very uplifting and optimistic, your lyrics balance this out with a gloomy sentiment just as you were bringing together the good and the bad, the hope and the doubts of any situation. Feeling lonely or missing something are prominent themes like in Drains or Powder. Does loneliness scare you?
Sofi: Yes, loneliness and longing are something I’ve struggled with during the past few years. But I wouldn’t say that loneliness scares me. I’m hopeful about the future and I feel like I’ve always known, no matter what pain I’m going through and how strong it is, I will get through it with time.
How do you feel less alone then?
Sofi: I’m very lucky to have some very close, honest, loyal, fun, big-hearted best friends in my life. That makes everything lighter and better. So I would say the loneliness and longing I’ve felt have mostly been in romantic relationships, but there are other relationships in my life that are solid amazing.
Actually, last time my heart broke, I went to a desert island for a week. At first, when I got there, I felt like ”holy shit maybe I’ll lose my mind here alone with all this pain”. But it ended up being the most healthy thing ever and I definitely want to do that again.
When listening through your album, you can’t miss that every song tells a very personal experience. Which song on this album was the most healing to write?
Sofi: I think Coexist has a very kind, warm message. As I said before, I might have realized later that I was kind of writing it for myself as well. I think it’s a comforting song, and I hope our listeners will hear that, too. When you feel like you are in a dark place, know that I’m here, waiting for you when you make it out.
Would you say music can cure lovesickness?
Sofi: Ah, I think many of us have had purifying experiences with music. One I can instantly think of is when I went to see Robyn at Alley Palley, London, and she sang Dancing On My Own. At one stop they stopped playing while everyone in the audience kept singing for a long time. Robyn seemed genuinely taken. I realised that it’s such a universal feeling – love pain. I had tears running down my face. That moment definitely healed a piece of my heart!
What’s the first memory with music that you can think of?
Sofi: I remember hearing ‘Porilaisten Marssi’ (a Finnish march) on TV and going to the piano and finding the melody on the keys.
And the most memorable Music Moment – which song always hits you, reminds you of something particular and brings back the same feelings?
Sofi: At the moment it’s SOHN’s The Wheel. I have attached some strong melancholic feelings to that song. It’s such an amazing song but I was listening to it a lot while falling for this guy and things were difficult. I also remember the cold weather when I hear this song. It’s like winter – both outside and in my heart. We were actually just driving back from a video shoot the other weekend, and my friend Sara had a playlist going in the car. This song came on and it hit me hard and I instantly shouted from the back seat: ”can we not listen to this song please”. I hope I can clear my bad feelings some time soon!
You’ve lived in London for a year before returning to your home base Helsinki. Where’s your favorite spot to listen to music?
Sofi: Well, in London I have to listen to music every time I go in the tube because otherwise the noise kills me! I don’t know how people put up with it. When I go for a run, it’s nice to listen to a good playlist or a new album.
In Helsinki I love running by the sea at Kaivopuisto.
Or when I’m at home and feeling energetic and excited, something to boost me.
Or when I have friends over and we’ll listen to something chill.
Or when I’m completely in pieces howling on the floor and need something to help me (this hasn’t happened in a while though, thank lord) …
Who in the band is the one who always comes around with new music discoveries and what’s the latest find?
Sofi: I think we all post stuff on our WhatsApp group every now and then. Sometimes when we have sessions we might listen to some stuff we have found. Let me see what’s the latest thing one of us has posted! * Okay it was me, I’d posted a track called thor by push baby. Very fresh! No one commented though…
Now that Absence is out, what’s yet to come?
Sofi: Ah, we’re already working on new tunes. I have an idea how the vibe might change, I even have a title idea for our next one. But I’m not gonna tell you yet! The plan is to create one album a year, so watch out x
We’ve been in contact with Tim from the music blog Pickymagazine for quite some time now after meeting each other in our digital bubbles. Tim likes Groovecat and we like Tim’s music blog, easy as that. So it happened that we finally met in August, when Tim, actually based in Hannover, visited us in our Berlin office.
The result is what we think is a really nice interview, in which you can find out some background information about our history, who our Groovecat influencers and what our next steps are. You can read the full interview here. Oh yes, it’s in German. But you can do that! Otherwise, just write to us.
In that sense, stay foolish, stay picky.
P.S. Every month, Tim releases a monthly playlist via his Spotify account. Dig in his August tunes below.
CYANITE: Making emotions within songs visible with artificial intelligence
The award-winning team from German music-startup Groovecat releases the first freely accessible application that visualizes the emotional profile of songs based on artificial intelligence. This allows actors in the music and creative industries to examine the individual character of musical pieces with objective data and better estimate their emotional effect. The special features of CYANITE include the globally unique data set from the Groovecat app and the algorithm on which the analysis is based. Music research projects with CYANITE are free of charge in the basic version. The mid-term goal of the 8-member team is to use artificial intelligence to provide music recommendations that adapt individually to the activity and mood of music listeners.
Mannheim, 2nd July 2019 – Looking for emotional music to accompany visual content has become an increasingly frequent task for executives in the music and creative industries. The decision for the right song is often not easy. With CYANITE, the startup Groovecat has succeeded in creating an intuitive tool for actors in film, advertising or games that supports them with the latest technology in making music decisions. The tool, which is available as an online solution at www.cyanite.ai, identifies the underlying emotions of a song and visualizes them in a way that is easy to understand. This provides music and creative companies with objective planning support when choosing the right music for the desired emotion.
Moreover, CYANITE supports music labels and publishers in the systematic and objective categorization of their constantly growing music catalogues. For this purpose, CYANITE has developed a method with which vast music libraries can be indexed on the basis of artificial intelligence within a fraction of the time needed today. In the basic version, this feature is free of charge.
The technology on which CYANITE is based derives emotional parameters precisely to the second from each music audio file and illustrates how emotions within a song develop dynamically and relate to each other. The underlying music algorithm is based on the world’s first holistic data set of music, situation, and emotion. This comes from the Music Moments app Groovecat and is therefore based on growing and authentic user data from real situations and not, as usual, from the laboratory.
This summer, the startup Groovecat will release another app for end-users which is based on the CYANITE technology. In this app, users will receive a suitable, situational music suggestion for their videos and photos. For this situational music analysis, the startup works together with the TU Berlin.
“Right from the start, the interaction of music, situation, and emotion has been at the forefront of all our developments. We want to make the understanding and the emotional and situational musical experience palpable. With our first product, the app Groovecat, we have given users the opportunity to capture and share emotional Music Moments. With CYANITE we now go further and offer the music and advertising industry the possibility to find the objectively fitting music to their desired emotional goal. In the long run, we want to provide the perfect music recommendation for every situation – both for consumers and for the industry,” says Markus Schwarzer, CEO of CYANITE & Groovecat.
“We are proud to have found a way to deliver detailed insights to customers without having to share individual user data. We have always been very open with Groovecat users that we use Groovecat data to improve their music experience and can continue to make the app available free of charge through the B2B approach,” adds Jakob Höflich, co-founder of the company.
To try out CYANITE, everyone can create a free account here: https://product-1.cyanite.ai/login
Groovecat is a mobile app that lets you capture and share Music Moments. Music Moments are emotional, unique and transient moments in which music and situation fit together perfectly. Groovecat is aimed above all at millenials where music streaming, smartphones and social media have established themselves as a part of everyday use. In addition, artists can prepare their own multimedia content and monetize their music directly: each view also counts as a stream on Spotify and Co. Groovecat is available for free download in the App Store.
About the team of Groovecat and CYANITE
The founding team compiled of Markus Schwarzer, Jakob Höflich and Joshua Weikert met in 2014 in the master course Music & Creative Industries at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg. After founding Groovecat together, the team has received numerous awards, including the „Kultur- und Kreativpiloten“ and the Cyber One Award, and has emerged as the winner from the Music WorX Accelerator in Hamburg.
The company with its current two main products “CYANITE” (for corporate customers) and “Groovecat” (for end consumers) operates from its Mannheim and Berlin offices and was included in Business Punk’s Watchlist 2019 at the beginning of the year. In addition to the founders, the team consists of a data scientist from the renowned Audio Communication Chair of the TU Berlin, two software and mobile developers, and a two-member marketing and design team. In addition, the company works closely with the Chair of Information Systems at the University of Mannheim. The project is financed by the Beteiligungsfonds Wirtschaftsförderung Mannheim GmbH and the Business Angels Dr. Andrea Kranzer (German Business Angel of the Year 2019) and Oliver Lesche.
Press and picture material can be found under this link.
Head Office Mannheim
Badenweiler Straße 4
Axel Springer Mediahouse GmbH
c/o The Venue Berlin
City life can be busy, loud and make us feel a little restless. So we organized an e-piano, headphones, a chair and sat down pianist and composer Michael Nickel, who allows his listeners to dream for a while. Would you give yourself 5 minutes and join him?
Most of us tend to be a little hesitant towards strange encounters outside of our comfort zone. So we were more than excited that so many people in the streets of Prenzlauer Berg explored the unknown and sat down for a Music Moment.
There’s this indescribable feeling putting on these headphones and a talented musician starts playing the first few keys, just for you. The city and the troubles of the day are finally muted for a while and you have a few moments just filled with music. Honest conversations and heartfelt hugs at the end of those mini sessions spoke for itself: music can make a huge difference and connects. Needless to say this calls for a second edition.
This musical pause for breath was the icing on the cake of a week-long MICHAEL NICKEL x GROOVECAT cooperation. In 10 beautiful Music Moments on Groovecat, Michael shared how he views the world around him along his own songs and what other artists spark his work as a musician. As a pretty side effect, Micha’s compositions found their way into 10 user playlists.
Our new creative powerhouse aka graphic designer with an amazing Far Eastern style came on board today. Her mission: upgrading our visual appearance above Tamagotchi level. Hailing from Hangzhou (杭州) over Fachhochschule Potsdam straight into the hearts of the Groovecat team. #spotlanding
In case there’s some time left after all these peachy keen design ideas: we finally casted enough characters for a Kelly Family cover band or FRIENDS Spin-Off: G.R.O.O.V.E.C.A.T.S. Bookings and script ideas always welcome.
We’re off practicing piggybacks & stacking formation for future team pics.
Music listening is an integral and oftentimes purposeful activity in our daily lives. We listen to particular tracks in order to change our current emotional state or in order to maintain it. How we react to a particular song not only depends on the musical attributes of that song but on various situational and personal factors.
by Sami Behbehani, 15. March 2019
Possibilities for musical self-regulation are limitless in today’s modern society. Technical advancements such as smartphones, high-quality earphones, and music streaming have enabled listeners to access massive song-libraries from anywhere, at any time.
Consequently, individuals can immediately react to new circumstances by adapting their listening strategy accordingly.
However, the process of self-regulation through music is highly subjective and dependent on various factors.
Perceiving an emotion doesn’t mean that you feel it the same as other people.
A song is a construct, whose single elements merge and ultimately communicate a particular feeling or atmosphere. Most likely, a listener will perceive this feeling accurately. Yet, the
“Whether a certain song evokes an emotion or not depends firstly on the listener’s musical preference, secondly the previous listening experience and thirdly, empathy with the recording artist” – Sami Behbehani
As in movies, a certain degree of identification with the protagonist is preconditioned for the story to touch the audience. In a musical context, empathy is the precondition for a song’s story to strike interest and cause emotional contagion. Studies have shown that with an increasing degree of empathy towards a song/artist, a higher correspondence between perceived and felt emotion during music listening can be experienced.
Your listening environment influence your music selection more than personal attributes
Some recent scientific studies have shown situational circumstances to have a stronger influence on the process of music selection than
In our daily lives, we experience various situations that affect us in different ways and to which we react accordingly. While some of these situations occur spontaneously, others allow us to plug in our earphones or switch on our speakers. For instance: On our way to work we might get bored and hence need something to lift us up; while getting ready in the morning we might want to start the day off on a positive or energetic note; when we socialize with others we like to create a comforting atmosphere; and in order to prepare for a stressful situation we want to reach a higher state of excitement, in order to handle the situation better.
“Sad music can mirror the listener’s feelings and therefore help to process experienced sadness, ultimately resulting in uplift.”
Common strategies of emotional regulation
- Aesthetic enjoyment
Studies have shown that personal well-being is a key motive for music listening. When listening to preferred songs it makes the listener draw enjoyment from the overall listening experience. Liked music was shown to trigger the release of neurological messengers such as dopamine and serotonin,
- Sustaining cheerfulness
Further in line with the principle of emotional regulation is a deliberate choice of songs that communicate emotions parallel with those felt by the listener. Persons experiencing cheerfulness tend to listen to happy music more frequently because they like to maintain the emotional state they are in. This is a common strategy in situations where social interaction between persons is desirable, as at parties or relaxed evenings with friends.
- Emotional Self-therapy
Another strategy that directly influences a music listener’s emotional state is utilized when experiencing negative emotion. Sad music, for instance, is highly popular amongst listeners of different genres on the one hand; and on the other hand, it can exert a strong effect on the listener. As compared to happy music which rather maintains or enforces an existing emotional state, sad or depressing songs are more commonly used for musical self-therapy. If previously mentioned mechanisms such as empathy with the song/artist, preference for the style etc. are given, sad music can mirror the listener’s feelings and therefore help to process experienced sadness, ultimately resulting in uplift.
Aggressive music is a special case in itself because it can be positively stimulating on the one hand yet also expresses a negative emotional connotation on the other hand. Listening to aggressive music while experiencing feelings of aggression can have a
Implications for the future
It can be suggested that any form of maintaining or improving one’s emotional state through music falls under the category of musical-self therapy.
There is however no auditive all-around solution for daily needs since individuals vary in their personal attributes and situations exert different effects on different people. Since music recommendation algorithms rarely or not at all focus on mentioned aspects, it is unlikely for them to serve as an adequate daily regulation-tool for listeners.
Research is still at a point where new discoveries can potentially shake up the field and though there are several studies with valid findings, most likely no study will ever be able to include all parameters that fully explain human music listening behavior.
From the consumer’s perspective, the last few years of technological development have facilitated a free and goal-driven use of music. This positive development could continue in the future with tech-companies and start-ups working on new ways for music to fulfill the listeners’ potential needs.
After already having been announced title holder as one of 32 “Kultur- & Kreativpiloten” last November, the whole Groovecat team and all the other amazing projects came together at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy to celebrate the creative industry – “the icing on the cake of the market economy”, as minister Peter Altmaier puts it.
Within the Start-Up Night der Kreativen and the motto #bessermachen it was all about people who show initiative by asking: “what can be done better?” – and we’re more than honored to be part of this year’s selection.
Before and after the official award ceremony full of great
It’s been such an eventful day that it’s hard to pick some highlights. So here’s just a fine selection, the crème de la crème:
- Minister Peter Altmaier visiting our stand and having a chat with Joshua, Jakob, and Markus. We’ve tried to find out his most memorable Music Moments but couldn’t get it out of him. Must have been a real guilty pleasure, we don’t have a better explanation 😉
- Pitching the Groovecat vision in a former ballroom in front of all the guests – and young Angela Merkel and 2Pac majorly impressed watching from the ceiling.
- Coming together as (almost) the whole Groovecat team and celebrate as we usually work from our two bases Mannheim & Berlin. We were spreading the love and raiding the buffet altogether, real #teamspirit.
- Sharing the space with so many other inspiring projects like
mimycri, Weserholz or Companion2Go that filled the room with a sense of ingenuity, will-power, confidence, and creativity.
Thanks to minister Peter Altmaier, Kultur- & Kreativpiloten and
We all know them: those songs that take great movie scenes to another level. They can give you goosebumps – or sometimes even a deeper meaning to what is happening on screen. Before you’ll be busy exploring this years cinematographic highlights, glitter and glamour at the Berlinale, we serve you our Groovecat selection of the 5 most perfectly composed Music Moments in films.
Most of the times, the first 5 seconds into those songs are enough to make Leonardo Di Caprio „king of the world“ again or remind us that „nobody puts Baby in a corner“ (Dirty Dancing, for all of those of you who live in denial that they’ve seen it). But there’s more to soundtracks than the very iconic musical scenes that everybody knows. The right employment of music in films will shape and elevate the scene to something that will etch itself into your brain or maybe even essential to make you understand the bottom line of the story line.
We’ve asked around the Groovecat team to find out what their most meaningful, touching Music Moments in movies were. Just like our very own Music Moments in real life, they’ve ended up being very personal, none looking like the other. So for the next time you don’t know what to watch and your Netflix watch list isn’t really helpful either (so pretty much every. damn. single. time), try one of the films below and see what the movie soundtrack means to you:
**SPOILER ALERT, as some of these videos show final scenes**
#1 Solaris (1972): J.S. Bach – Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christu
This sci-fi film by Andrei Tarkovsky is less an exploration of space than of love and a human’s place in life. Psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) is ordered to investigate the mysterious happenings on a space station circling the distant planet Solaris. Here’s why it left a big impression on Roman:
„The slowness and static imagery lasting over minutes are so very poignant in its own and eerie way. In this build-up, the organ choral “Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ“ by J.S. Bach unprecedentedly carries the purity and melancholy of the final scene in Solaris. 3 minutes of valerian.“
#2 Absolute Giganten (1999): Sophia – Crescendo
Absolute Giganten is a beautifully plain hommage to friendship. It portrays imposingly well how everything in life underlies constant change – and how you shouldn’t take anything for granted, not even the greatest friendships. Because despite many similarities, in the end life is shaped through everyone’s individual decisions. (Sorry English-speakers, but Jakob’s pick is a German gem from his home town Hamburg.)
„For me, this will always be one of the greatest movies of all times. The way „Reprise“ from Sophia is employed in the final scene, carrying the whole film’s theme of transience in life, moves me. Both in this movie and with music in general, I like it most when melancholia and affirmation of life go hand in hand.“
#3 Matrix (1999): Rage Against The Machine – Wake Up
Matrix – the inventor of the bullet-time-effect. Although this was 20 years ago (feeling old yet?), it seems to be written exclusively for us today being characterized by big data, control, and artificial intelligence. With its intriguingly philosophical depths, this classic about a hacker finding out his true reality is well-deserved one of the most influential movies of our times. No surprising choice by our techie Josh:
“Neo finally realizes how he can manipulate the infinite complexity of the matrix, he’s the free radical in the supposedly closed system of machines. He addresses them: ‘(…) I’m going to show the people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world, without you, a world without rules and controls, without border and boundaries. A world where everything is possible.’
Mic drop! Rage Against The Machine! In your Face! Where’s Part 2 ??!!”
#4 Collateral (2004): Audioslave – Shadow on the Sun
„This Music Moment comes as a brief respite in a otherwise pretty tense and hectic movie that goes bam bam bam“, as Markus puts it.
Cab driver Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) is taken hostage by one of his passengers and has to take the contract killer Vincent (Tom Cruise) on a killing spree around L.A. Shadow on the Sun comes on right after Vince reminds stuck-up-in-life Max that „life’s short, one day it’s gone“. A wild coyote crossing the streets in the concrete jungle and seems out of its place, not in its natural habitat. The cuts are getting longer, it’s time to think, maybe it’s even a turning point in the character’s life to stop dreaming and start living.
#5 Her (2013): The Piano Song
The relationship between recently divorced Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and the voice of operating system OS1, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), is beautifully crafted, simple, poignant and more relevant than ever. Samantha wrote a song for Theodore: „I was thinking, we don’t really have any photographs of us. And I thought this song could be like a photo that captures us in this moment in our life together.“ Here’s why Carina loves this scene:
„I love movies that develop slowly and make me think even days after watching it. In ‘Her’, the feeling of isolation and identity loss are so ingeniously packaged in the story line and soundtrack. Even though this piano piece sounds very light and vivid, like a picture of a happy couple, it still carries some melancholy – maybe because unlike a picture of a happy couple, this song doesn’t look back on any shared memories but is something made up, something not real? The two melodies could also stand for how different the two partners are, or how serious they take the relationship.”
Although we rarely say ‚no’ to a movie binge-watch and to discovering even more beautiful Music Moments, we’re pretty glad that there’s a real life offside the screen with all its ups and downs and surprises it has to offer. Music Moments included – however, not thoroughly planned by movie directors, screenplay writers and music supervisors but orchestrated just by the music on your headphones and your life itself. Even though chances are pretty slim that you’ll ever fly off to space to discover what your conception about love is (not meaning to stop you from dreaming though!), you more likely have your own soundtrack to people, places and phases in life that are really precious to you. And that’s basically, the main idea behind Groovecat – to give you a way to capture these meaningful moments and to be more aware of them. Maybe in the future, you’ll pay closer attention to the music you are listening to, the feelings it emphasizes and the memories you make to it – and that the most beautiful movie in the world is your own life.
We’ll leave it with this quote by Floyd (‘Absolute Giganten’):
„You know what I think sometimes? There should always be music. With everything you do. And if it really sucks, then at least the music is still there. And at the place where it’s most beautiful, the record would have to jump and you only hear this one moment.“
We did it again – we’ve extended our team. As wide-ranged as the Späti of your dreams, Jacob has a wide-spread skill set from UX/UI & Graphic Design, Marketing and Photography. So from day one on, he’ll support us to design the newest exciting, fun and useful app features for you Groovecat users. He already bought himself into our hearts by bringing sweet delights from his home Israel which comes in handy considering our daily sugar cravings. Keep checking the Groovecat app to see what he’s working on 🙂
We’re excited to have such an amazing addition to our team.
Business Punk writes about how to found a business away from the mainstream and introduces four of this year’s Kultur- und Kreativpiloten we can count ourselves among. A really well written, fast to read and funny feature
It was in November that we first got to know all 32 Kultur- und Kreativpiloten and spent three days together at Hotel Müggelsee. After that, we returned to our daily business inspired to the core. Among all the great projects we were so inspired by Companion2Go. The two guys show how they can turn a problem of their own into a clever business model, which brings benefits for all involved and brings people together at the same time. Everything else here in the article.
Greetings from the cats