Moving halfway around the world to make music

Six years ago, on this day in April, we arrived in the United States with some suitcases, and with traveler checks to pay for our temporary apartment. As I wrote in the first two parts of my “Sad California” playlist (here and here), it’s always a bittersweet experience to relocate to another part of the world, leaving family and friends, but it also gave me a new freedom. Being a freelancer again, I could finally focus on my music, develop my skills, and start to build a local network in the entertainment industry. And as I usually think more in musical terms, and rather remember what music was playing at what time in my life, here are my personal musical highlights from these past six years – the very personal part of the soundtrack of my life, it seems:

In six years, a lot can happen, and although my music always was more on the emotive side, making music for TV and film was still a long way away back then. We didn’t know it yet in 2012, but the move to California was the right decision in that respect. But first there were some no:carrier songs to finsh: Already recorded in Germany before our move, they had to be mixed and released. That took a while. My workflow wasn’t as quick as it is now (and of course there was this whole new world of the Bay Area to explore…) 😉

But in 2013 the first singles “Last Scene” and “The Nine Days’ Queen” were released. Finally something new after 2011’s “Between the Chairs”:

For me these new songs were a field to experiment more, and incorporate other styles and elements into no:carrier’s Darkwave/Electropop sound. “Last Scene” is (rather cheaply) built on one single bass riff (I always wanted to try that), layering different instruments (especially the not-very-electro brass section 😉 ) and elements. And yes, building a song on one single riff was really inspired by “Hit The Road Jack”, thanks for asking 🙂

“The Nine Days’ Queen” was another of these experiments: Mixing synths with medieval instruments. Not that this was something new – there were many great bands doing that before us (just think of Deine Lakaien), but for us it was a bit of a new direction:

Then came the album “Wisdom & Failure”, a little West Coast tour, with Cynthia coming over from Germany for the gigs – our first live appearances ever… and we even played at the legendary Viper Room in Los Angeles. Back than I had no idea that I would move there (Los Angeles, not the Viper Room) only a few years later. The EP from that evening at the Viper Room can be downloaded from Bandcamp for free:

From there on, no:carrier became a bigger thing than just two people. It evolved into an open project with me being the main songwriter and producer, working with different singers. My friend Kalib once said that it has become something like Alan Parsons Project. That would make me a kind of Alan Parsons *blush* 😉

Also in 2014 was the music for the Top Ten iPad/iPhone game “Alien Tribe 2” – an awesome and quite addictive space exploration/strategy game. One of the first bigger uses of a little choir I still use every now and then:

The first venture with no:carrier and different singers was the 2015 EP “Ghosts Of The West Coast” – four cover versions, four vocalists. The lead single was Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer” – a song that to me is more melancholy than most people think it is. So I tried to capture that melancholy in our version:

And apart from the band I stumbled more into what I always wanted to do: Writing music for film and TV. First came a mysterious, creepy short movie about a serial killer in Vienna – perfect material for me 🙂 “20 Matches” ran in over 20 film festivals, got several awards, and I even was nominated for “Best Score” at the HorrorHaus Film Festival in Hollywood. Seems like a good start into that world… (you can now watch the movie on Vimeo).

Then came more instrumental music inspired by the legend of the Crystal Skulls (the Dark Ambient album “The 13 Crystal Skulls”), the no:carrier album “Broken Rainbow” (released a week after the 2016 US election, and aptly sub-titled “Ballads For An Apocalyptic World”), and more forays into electronic instrumental music, paying homage to some of my musical influences like Jean-Michel Jarre (on the album “Signals From…”):

I still like to produce dark, sometimes unexpected cover versions, and “Bad Moon Rising” and “Lovesong” usually never fail to surprise people when they hear them first 🙂

So we’re back in 2018 now.

It’s been an interesting, sometimes challenging, never boring six years in California. This year already saw the release of more instrumental music, this time a tribute to some more of my musical heroes: Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze – both founding fathers of the Berlin School style of electronic instrumental music. The album “Starshot” therefor is a release very close to my heart (of course they all are 😉 ):

And back in the no:carrier camp I’ve teamed up with the awesome singer Scilla Hess to write some Trip Hop tracks, inspired by Portishead which we both love. This new EP “Chasing Tears” just came out a few weeks ago.

And meanwhile I’ve been writing the music for another very cool movie project that might be turned into a TV series, and already has a novel and a graphic novel in the works: “Cat Dexx: Inkosi” is about a female soldier hunting poachers and trophy hunters in Africa. An honor to work on such a project, and another cool challenge: Using African instruments and mixing them with some electronic sounds and an orchestra. Stay tuned for that one 🙂

Author: Chris Wirsig

Chris Wirsig enjoyed classical training on piano and saxophone, studied audio engineering at Munich’s SAE Technology College and has more than 15 years experience in music production. He has been writing songs since 1991 and contributed music for computer demos and commercial games throughout the 1990s. Apart from other music projects he started the acclaimed Electro Noire band no:carrier in 1995 and the Electronica/Chill-Out project Virtual Conformity in 2001. He worked as an editor for the musician’s magazine KEYS and founded the first German fair-trade record label, NovaTune. His latest works include music and sound fx for the acclaimed Top Ten iPad game “Alien Tribe 2”, the short mystery movie "20 Matches", the critically acclaimed no:carrier album “Wisdom & Failure”, and their EP of cover versions, "Ghosts Of The West Coast".

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