Artist Bio on Spotify

In addition to the “Artist’s pick” and photo upload, Spotify now allows artists to upload their bio onto the platform. Even small projects like Black Sea Storm can take control of their Spotify page. I think it’s a fantastic thing to allow artists to have such control over their identity on the platform.

On a purely technical level things don’t seem to be 100% ready yet. As a matter of fact, the formatting of text does not translate the same way across different UIs of Spotify. In addition to that, I personally was only able to upload one photo so far. I have no way of uploading a photo for the “about” section. Finally, the “Artist’s pick” browser based dynamic search box, does not display all existing playlists or artists. It used to work way better when everything could be done from the Spotify desktop app.

I think it’s just a matter of time until the uber-geek squad at Spotify fixes those little glitches, and do some further cross platform development. What surprises me, is that the “about” sections of some other artists are very well formatted, and seem to have access to way more features than I do with Black Sea Storm. It’s either there’s some sort of hierarchy between artists based on number of followers, or Spotify is taking a feed from somewhere else. A third possibility could be that I don’t know how to fully use the artist control panel yet.

Here’s my first attempt for an artist bio on Spotify:

Black Sea Storm has been my solo recording adventure since the year 2002. Being able record songs at the moment of writing them, has brought me tremendous amount of joy and pleasure since the very beginning. There’s always something special about the very first takes. This project is all about capturing parts on the spot, and eventually forgetting how to play them right afterwards. The Black Sea Storm project started in San Diego, California. In the early days, I was only producing multi-layered bass loops, using a Line 6 DL4 Delay Stompbox Modeling Pedal. As the sole recording tool, I had an all public Sony DVC video camera. Later on, I started to put together, home studio type of recording environments in band practice-rooms. My main instrument is the bass guitar. My real name is Ali Ozkan.

I’ve been active in rock bands as a bass player since the early 90s. I started playing rock as a teenager in Geneva Switzerland. My first serious band in this country was called Swoan. David Mamie, Alex Müller, and Bernard Widmer were the other band members. We were active as a band from 1994 to 1999. Aside from Swoan, I also had a solo project called Deniz’s Home while living in Switzerland, but I never released anything under that name.

In September 1999, after the split of my Swiss band, I decided to move to San Diego, California. In 2001, I joined an existing band called Bosom of the Urgent West, with the founding lineup including Brian Landis, Chris Conner, and Jeff Thomasson (also know as Quality Joe). After an unexpected disband of BOTUW, the drummer Chris Conner and I, met the guitar player Kenny Schulte, and started a three piece band called Channing Cope. We were active for about six years straight. Between the years 2002 to 2008, we were able to to release three albums, and do some touring all over the United States.

From 2010 to 2011, I had the opportunity to be a part of Kenseth Thibideau’s solo project as a bass player for live shows. This allowed me to play with amazing musicians such as Tim Soete (The Fu**ing Champs), John Baez (Rumah Sakit), Nathan Hubbard (Skeleton Key Orchestra, Rafter) Chris Fulford-Brown (Pinback), and of course Kenseth Thibideau (Tarentel, Sleeping People, Pinback, and more).

When I first started Black Sea Storm, the singing was in English. In 2010, I switched to writing lyrics in Turkish. The transition occurred on its own, in a very natural way. It wasn’t in my initial plans to sing in Turkish. The fact that it’s my native language, may have helped the language emerge in songs without me taking a conscious decision to use it. Since the first song written in Turkish, I have been only using this beautiful language for my lyrics.

At the moment I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m pursuing the Black Sea Storm project from here. I have no plans at the moment to sing in Spanish. I had this exceptional privilege to live in various cities around the world, on four different continents. If you want to know more about Black Sea Storm and my rock journey, please visit the website named after it + .com. On the Strory section of the website, you’ll find the entire history of the project. Over 10,000 words narrating, how it all started, and how things have evolved until today.

All the bands I have cited except for Bosom of the Urgent West are present on Spotify. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for streaming our music.

First Song – Made in Argentina

The past three weeks or so have been quite productive for Black Sea Storm. I was able to write the first Black Sea Storm song made in Argentina. Just finished laying down all the tracks today.
Until yesterday there was no vocals, because I did not have a microphone here in Buenos Aires. Yesterday I went to Oddity Music on Sarmiento, between Avenida Callao and Montevideo. I bought an audio-technica AT2050 condenser microphone. Between yesterday and today I laid down all the vocals, I even have all the lyrics ready. What I don’t have though, are monitors to mix. I’ve been doing everything with my beyerdynamic DT770 headphones so far, but for mixing I need speakers. If you’ve done some music recordings on your own, you probably know all the bad things that will happen to your mix, when you only mix with headphones.

I have to admit that buying music gear in Argentina has a heavy impact on my budget. Pretty much everything in terms of gear is way more expensive than in the United States. Since my gear purchases are made according to the progress of the first song, it makes me feel a bit better about the expenses. I’m trying to spend money on needs that are going to push the project forward, rather than nice to have wants. I purchased the microphone when it was time to lay down the vocals, and I’ll be getting the monitors when it will be time for mixing. When I think that two months ago I was still playing my electric bass acoustically, just so I could stay in shape. Now I have a complete song recorded with all instruments. I am so grateful for being able put together complete songs again. It’s been a long time since I had the logistics together, to produce music. It feels extremely good to be able to express myself through this beautiful medium again.

Here’s my “Lean” plan to put an album together: I am going to do a digital release of one single song. That way, I would of completed the whole song production process here in Argentina. I’ll most likely learn some new and valuable things along the way. If it works well for me, I’ll keep producing more. If things don’t sound good enough to my ears, I’ll keep writing songs, but maybe not releasing them until I have the proper setup.

I’ve also been working on the “Story” page of the website. I’m attempting put the Black Sea Storm story in writing. I have near five thousand words so far. Revisiting my memories through the history of Black Sea Storm has been a fun and at times a bit emotional experience for me. I realized how much friends, band-mates, bosses, and even acquaintances helped me along the journey, and made this project possible. I am extremely grateful that I’ve crossed paths with all them in life, and I will always be thankful for their support.

If you want to know more about the history of Black Sea Storm, you’ll find the writings on the “Story” page of this site. It’s not complete yet, but I’ve been not too lazy at adding new parts to the story on a regular basis lately.

Black Sea Storm, Buenos Aires

In a new country, being able to record again
I’ve been now living in Buenos Aires for the past six months. As far as music gear goes, I came here pretty much just with my bass guitar and bunch of cables. I’ve been playing my electric Fender Jazz Bass acoustically until I decided to purchase an audio interface. I got the Scarlett Solo by Focusrite. It was extremely refreshing to hear some amplified bass sound again. I messed around for several weeks with GarageBand. I suddenly realized that I could produce some Black Sea Storm songs without heavy gear. I decided to get a copy of Logic Pro X, and an electric guitar.

Ten days ago I was able to get a hold of a US made Fender Startocaster. Owning a US made Fender seem to be a big luxury here. Entering foreign goods to Argentina can be complicated, and music gear tend to be outrageously expensive. I’ve always tried to welcome and embrace limitations with Black Sea Storm. I see constrains as creativity boosters. With my Fender Jazz Bass, the Stratocaster, and my laptop, I should be able go back to production. I’ve already started recording ideas with Logic Pro X for the past 10 days. I’m amazed how good the virtual amps are sounding on there. I don’t have monitors yet, so I’m making this judgment only based on listening to the sound through my Beyerdynamics DT 770 headphones. Some of the amps with the initial presets sound so good, that I started questioning my abilities to set up real guitar amp properly. We’ll see if I’ll still be as excited as I am now when I start recording songs for real.

I am also highly impressed how easy it is to get started with Logic Pro X, in comparison to ProTools. Obviously Apple engineers have the talent to make things to be easy and accessible. In more advanced stages of the recording process, I might miss Pro Tools, but for now the honeymoon is still going on with Logic.
My favorite DAW to this day still remains the Sony Vegas. It was extremely easy to use. To me, it almost felt like recording with a tape recorder.

Enough of gear talk. I don’t think the main challenge to pursue the Black Sea Storm adventure here in Argentina is going be accessing gear. The main challenge is going to be to find moments of deep focus, and be able to record on a regular basis. I am really exited to be in Buenos Aires, and really exited to be able to make music again.