Oropendola – Little Alien




Oropendola – Little Alien

“Little Alien” is not a holiday song but fits well with the season. Brooklyn-based musician Joana Schubert aka Oropendola conceived it as a lullaby and the quiet harpsichord line at the beginning indeed calms you down. But then, like the vivid images that cross one’s mind in a half-sleep state, more elements come in to form a rich and engaging soundscape. The production was not easy, as Joanna recalls.

“Little Alien is a welcome~to~this~realm lullaby-anthem for my now 1-year-old niece, Lucy. It started as a series of sporadic improvisations when she was still floating blissfully in the womb, and the threads all weaved together in one night (at my parents’ house on my childhood piano) after she was born. Months later, I recorded a live harpischord-vocal version at talented pal Landon Peer’s house in rural NJ, and added the rest of the arrangement in my Brooklyn bedroom. The mini “orchestra,” some recorded straight through Macbook speakers, is mostly keyboards (a Casio MT100 [which also provided the drum part, meticulously comped to match the rhythmically erratic nature of the original live take], Microkorg, and Korg SV1) as well as a few Logic sounds, harmonies recorded sans mic, and the great Aidan Cafferty on upright bass. Ryan Weiner mixed and mastered with beautiful nuance, and Katy Pinke created artwork that captures the essence of the song more deeply than words can.”


Artwork by Katy Pinke

All in all, the song is a celebration of early childhood. Joanna explains:

“The song is an imagining of little Lucy’s adventure from there to here, a celebration and wide-eyed witnessing of this new weird being. It is an ode to the mysticism, wisdom, and memory of past lives that I suspect are inherent in the baby soul (and then forgotten, little by little), and a plea for some of it to seep back into our fabric. I imagine otherworldly creatures, spirits, and our now-ancestors in raucous celebration with the living, all talking over one another, Lucy’s great-great-aunt Gert pinching her cheeks and saying, “you little mieskeit” (Yiddish, ironic slang for “ugly person” that often adoringly means the opposite), my grandmother Pearl squeezing her granddaughter – Lucy’s mama, my sister – tight, and all of us, past and present, clinking glasses, together, hopeful, here for now.”

Listen to “Little Alien,” our Song Pick of the Day, here:

(Photo: Landon Peer)

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