Irma Seleman graduated from Berklee on May 2014. Irma transferred to Berklee from the International College of Music in Malaysia, a member of the Berklee International Network. While at Berklee she majored in Contemporary Writing and Production as well as Performance. You can find her performing all over Boston and New York.
I thought I had seen a lot, learned so much, and met so many people from every part of the world when I came to Boston and Berklee, but I was wrong. These thoughts changed after I was offered an opportunity by Berklee to go to Finland and Russia for a Festival called Close Encounters Festival. The Pop & Jazz Konservatorio organized the festival and it took place in different venues in Helsinki and St. Petersburg, Russia.
We were scheduled to perform all 5 nights of the festival, we would also participate in a “3 days Songwriting Workshop” which took place before the festival started. I was told that I could only bring two other people on the trip with me, so I brought an acoustic band featuring Arthur Kam on percussions and Wonjun Jung on the acoustic Guitars. Kevin Johnson from the office of Diversity and Inclusion joined us as well and it was such a blessing to have him on the trip.
The performances were incredibly great and I’m so blessed with the support that we received. But the one thing that really gave me another whole set of different experiences was the songwriting workshop.
I’m a singer and a songwriter and I’ve done a little bit of collaboration with other songwriter but I do it more through an online community where we write on our own and exchange ideas. This workshop was the first time I collaborated with other musicians while songwriting. There were 5 other bands from across Europe such as Estonia, Latvia, Russia, France and a couple of students from the conservatory itself. We were randomly paired with each other and were given 4 hours to come out with a rough idea for a song. All of the bands were separated and I was paired with a keyboardist from the band from France and his name was Stephane Escoms.
I was very lucky to be paired with Stephane, we found out that we have almost the same music interest and we clicked right away. He was playing a chord progression and I started humming a melody. We started working on the melody for the chorus section and I threw in lyrics little by little. He brought along his sequencer and sequenced the full rhythm sections and a little bit of synth. I finally finished the melody and lyrics for the whole song including the breakdown part where we decided to have a rap section. I’m not a rapper but I did a rap section and we finished the entire song in less than 4 hours!
I was impressed with the work we did, knowing myself I know I can be a little stubborn as a songwriter but it all worked out well and I had a great time. We ended the first day by performing each other’s songs. There are so many talented songwriters out there and I felt inspired that we had to pair up with another group to write a whole new song on the next day. It was a lot for three days but it was all worth it. Not to mention that my song and Stephane’s was selected to be performed at the final closing show of the festival.
The trip was an eye opener for me in learning different cultures, music and meeting different people from all over the world. I believe that music does bring people together no matter what language we speak or what color we portray. I would love to visit again some day soon!