Kara Square is the founder of Thinkroot Records and a singer/songwriter specialising in ukulele slinging. She attended the Recording Workshop School of Audio and Music Production in 2004 to learn the art of recording engineering and since then has released five full albums and been remixed over 850 times on ccMixter. Kara is constantly releasing new music for Thinkroot Records music catalog and actively creates custom music for clients.
Kara uses the Tune Bud music library platform to promote and license her music, so we caught up with her to find out about her current projects and inspirations.
Hey Kara, great to catch up with you and thanks for chatting with us. So how did you get into composing and at what point did you realise that’s what you wanted to be?
Hi Hannah, it’s my pleasure. Well, I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. I started with piano for a few years when I was in elementary school. In middle school, I took up the trombone. And in high school, I got my first guitar, had three lessons, and started writing songs. Attending the Recording Workshop first exposed me to composing for visuals and inspired me to expand my song writing beyond folk music. This gradually progressed into composing custom music for film and games.
Who inspires you, do you have any favourite scores?
I’m more inspired by musicians and bands than composers of scores. The album that inspired me to become a songwriter is Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue.’ Lately, I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from My Brightest Diamond, Beirut, Fever Ray, Lana Del Rey, Tycho, Emancipator, and Bonobo.
Give us a little more insight into how you compose – do you have any methods, equipment or how do you find fresh ideas?
I typically lay down some disposable beats at whatever bpm feels right. Then I use a midi keyboard or ukulele to develop the melody. From there, I’ll add a bass line and different instruments with counter and supportive melodies. After I have a good outline of the song, I’ll go back and figure out the drums.
If it’s a song with vocals, I usually compose it with ukulele chords. When I record, I start with some temporary beats to establish the tempo, then add ukulele, and finally vocals. After that, I develop the song with supportive instruments.
For custom compositions, I start by studying any visuals and direction I’m given for the project. I think of composing as creating and capturing the intended vibe and emotion, so I make notes about possible instruments, sounds, tempos, and genres that might work. I’ll list the feelings I want to portray. I use a midi keyboard for most songs. If I’m composing an acoustic piece, the ukulele is my go-to instrument. I’ll often record guitar, harmonica, xylophone, banjulele, tambourine, and shakers. I try to bring live instruments into mixes to keep the sound rootsy. It’s also fun to take these acoustic sounds and warp them with effects for electronic songs.
I enjoy learning new instruments and I think that keeps me constantly full of fresh ideas.
If you weren’t a composer, what would your dream occupation be?
I’ve always dreamt of being a musician. However, I keep working on music for games and this has made me rather interested in learning how to code games. I don’t know if I’ll pursue this, but I find coding fascinating.
You have your own composer music library with Tune Bud, how do you use this to market your music? Do you use any other sources to support this?
Thinkroot Records’ Tune Bud music library helps me show clients what my team of musicians can do, which secures custom music gigs. It functions as a portfolio as much as it does a place to sell music. Our team is comprised of top-notch international musicians and producers with who specialize in a wide spectrum of genres. I use links to our Tune Bud site (http://license.thinkrootrecords.com/) on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to share our latest songs.
What’s your biggest achievement in music?
The body of work I’ve created over the years is probably my biggest achievement. I’ve released five albums, written hundreds of songs, and have been remixed over 850 times on ccMixter.org. I was featured in a track by Murat Ses called “Endless Dance” that won Akademia and Global Music Awards for Best Dance/Electronica Song in 2015 and charted in Billboard Magazine in 2016.
You collaborate with other composers often, what do you like about collabs?
I feel like collabs bring out the best in the artists involved. We all have specific strengths and it’s awesome to know that I have composer friends who I can count on to help take a piece of music to the next level.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I suppose it depends on the piece of music. I write a lot of feel-good ukulele instrumentals that work well for advertisements, videos, and games, but I also write plenty of sad, unsettling, and dramatic songs.
Is there anything you dislike about being a composer?
It can sometimes be difficult to translate a client’s descriptions into music when composing custom pieces. But I don’t dislike it… it’s a just a challenge. And really, when it’s difficult at the beginning, the final approval of the piece becomes even more rewarding.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
I’m going to continue adding Thinkroot Records’ music catalog to our Tune Bud site. I’d like to try some advertising campaigns to promote it.
I’ll continue composing custom and ready to license music. I’m currently collaborating with TheDICE on music for game called Salad Hunt. Thinkroot Records also has a new partnership with a game called LoveBeat that features songs from many of our artists.
I’ve got an EP of ukuambient music in the works. Ukuambient is a ukulele focused genre subset of psychedelic ambient music that I’m developing.
I’ll keep collaborating with and supporting my dear musician friends on Thinkroot Records, including: Piero Peluche, electricpaul, Peter Fancher, Moira Waugh, Siobhan Dakay, Jack Burgess, TheDICE, Mark Bass, and Nabucco Dinosaur.
And I’ll continue my work as an Admin on ccMixter.org, a global community that creates open-source music.Visit Kara’s Library
We loved catching up with Kara and can’t wait to see what fresh new ideas she brings to the table over the next 12 months. Thanks Kara!
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