Author: Neala Spear

I decided to make an ongoing playlist of my synth studies – I’ll add a new song whenever I finish one.

Synthwave Studies

I’ve been playing around a lot with songwriting and recording lately. Most of what’s come out has been very early 2000s – think grunge, hard rock, and a little delve into pop RnB. It’s not amazing music, but it is a lot of fun to put together!

Most of the music I’ve been listening to in the past six months has been synthwave. This is a completely new genre to explore, and it’s pretty fascinating. It’s a very electronic sound, based on the sounds used in 80s music production, and it’s meant to evoke that “futuristic” image of dark cityscapes and neon signs.

I’ve been using GarageBand and my laptop keyboard to write the music, which is a bit of a frustrating experience. I’ve bought a MIDI keyboard and when it arrives, I’ll move on to Reason 10. Reason will give me an insane amount of options to find the exact sounds I want, and not just for synthwave sounds. Very exciting. It does also mean a lot of learning about what everything is, and how to better produce and mix music. All good.

There are specific things I want to study – breaking down the synthwave songs I listen to by “instrument” and listening for trends, typical sounds, how they’re used and what makes them fit into the song. I’m also very tempted to try and recreate my favourite synthwave songs.

Here’s one of the tracks that came out of my writing/recording session last night. My aim was to make a song that sounds like it would fit into the genre. I’m not 100% convinced right now, but it’s okay.



Another book…

It’s been a while, and I had a desire to make another book, so I did. This took  me an afternoon, plus drying time. Not too bad!

I wanted a larger notebook which I could use as a bullet journal – more of the decorative scrapbook kind. I’ve been using my previous notebook in that way, and there were a few things I’d learned from regular use:

  1. Gluing in nice paper, using washi tape, sticking in things like tickets, all made the book fatter and it no longer sits closed.
  2. I worried a lot about the endpaper only covering the inner cover. It looks ugly, but it doesn’t really affect the book’s structure that much.
  3. Art paper is wasted on notebook pages, unless it’s specifically going to be used for art.
  4. It’s a bit small.
  5. I also wanted a bit more of a squarish shape.

I addressed all of these points with my new book. Take a look!

A new book!

I haven’t bound a book in quite a while, but for some reason today seemed like a good day to change that!

I wanted a B5 size notebook – I quite like the size and shape. I have also been looking at bullet journals… While I think a lot more more effort than they’re worth (isn’t organising supposed to be efficient?), they are also very pretty and I want one.

This is a day project, which is a good challenge because bookbinding usually takes me about a week.

On to the photos!

Best to start with the cover, as it involves a lot of glue drying time. I cut the card slightly larger than B5, and cut the bookcloth with space for a spine. This time I decided not to reinforce the spine and just see how it goes. After gluing, I piled on magazines and a ream of paper to prevent the card from warping.

The pages are always the most fiddly part. First the measuring and trimming down the to the right size, then dividing into signatures. After that, folding them. A bone folder helps immensely with this – you get a nice crisp crease. After the folding, it’s punching the holes with an awl, and then stitching. I ended up using bookbinding thread for this project. It’s much more reliable than embroidery thread, and since this book will have a spine, the thread will mainly be hidden anyway.

Putting it together takes a few goes too.  This time I used a few strips of fabric glued to the spine of the signatures to attach the inner to the cover. You don’t want to directly attach the signatures to the spine of the cover. You want to have a little bit of flexibility in the book. The last part is gluing the endpapers on, which hides the fabric and probably adds a bit of strength. I actually didn’t have enough nice paper for the endpaper, so I just made it half size to cover the inner cover.

This book turned out surprisingly well! It still needs to finish drying, but it’s pretty much done now!

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