• Signe

Self Portraits: A deeper look

I had the idea for Self Portraits almost two years ago after listening to Porter Robinson's album "Worlds". Although my sound is FAR from EDM, his concept for the album inspired me. Each song on "Worlds" is essentially a soundscape that belongs to a different piece of visual art displaying a fantasy world. Although I have never seen the actual artwork it is easy to picture what the place would look and feel like from Porter's songs.

I listened to this album when I was going through a rough time in my life. College is tough and transitioning from who I was in high school to who I was becoming left me feeling very alone a lot of the time. I went through a period of anxiety and depression that left me completely drained of creativity. I had no idea who I was and no idea what pieces I should pick up to put myself back together again.


I knew I needed to start writing again. Music had always been my way of sorting through my emotions. Songs allowed me to articulate complicated feelings and make sense of them in the process. The problem was depression. It made me run from my passions and compressed my emotions to a thin line of nothingness. When I did feel strongly about something it was through the anxiety that siphoned off my self confidence until I never started anything for fear I may fail. Typical anxious 20 year old stuff. You get the picture.


I started seeing a therapist and I learned how to grab onto the good feelings and hold them for as long as I could. And suddenly one day I was listening to Worlds and the idea for Self Portraits came bursting through the window. I grabbed my journal and began writing.


Concept Album 9/9/16

I have this idea for an album. I want it to be a concept album called “Self Portraits” I want each song to be about a character outside of me who represents/completes a part of who I am. This past year has been so tumultuous for me that I have felt like I have lost a sort of connection to a “Whole” in myself. I want to celebrate this scattering of self instead of fight it. I want to explore those pieces and expand on them and through this learn about them. I want to keep the drive and make this a personal project that I can see take off, maybe perform as my senior recital. I want to start fresh with new material and growth. Up until now I have unintentionally written all my songs about someone else, for someone else. And while writing about other people can be inspiring and can create good material, I want to celebrate myself. The parts I love and the parts I’m still learning to love and turn them into something beautiful. I want to draw inspiration for each character from artists and songs that bring out that character/feeling in me. I want to grow through writing this. Look at time signatures and keys, see how the sound backdrop of music supports the lyric describing the character. I want to be able to put this out into the world knowing that I like it and am confident about it but that other people may feel differently and that’s okay! I want to make time for myself to do this and be true to that part of me that wants space to write and create. Most importantly, I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t do this. I know I can. I want to. It will be hard. But Signe you know you have this in you. Now go do it!


After I wrote that journal entry I sat down and began the sketching of my first portrait and song, "Annie".

During a particularly anxious day I went to the lake front and finger painted this portrait. This became the original visual representation of Annie.

When I began to see my ideas take shape I felt that like Worlds, I wanted to have a visual element intertwined with the music. I wanted these characters to live and breathe. This is when I approached my friend Krem Zaroogian; an animator who I felt would be able to help my vision come to life.


Below: The stylistic evolution of Annie's character


Together over many Skype sessions, pintrest boards and test designs we developed the final version of what the visuals would look like. Three animation pieces to accompany the story of each of my final portraits; Annie, Carolina and Victoria.



Over the last two years this project has developed and changed. Ideas have been cut, songs have been thrown together last minute or labored over for months. It is far from perfect but it is complete. I have learned so much about myself through the process and I am so proud that I can look back on that journal entry and say "I did this".


Tomorrow is the day that I get to share this with the world. I could not be more excited.


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© 2017 by Signe Engstrand