One Last Time EP
Written by: Elise Solberg
Produced by: Elise Solberg and Hannah Kulis
Arranged by: Elise Solberg
Performed by: Elise Solberg (vocal & piano), Maddy Manassee (violin), Leonard Chong (violin), Celka Ojakangas (viola), and Sophie Mathieu (cello)
Recorded by: Joey Messina-Doerning and Jesse Munsat
Mixed by: Elise Solberg
“Just Pretty” was written two years ago, at a time when I felt most unworthy. Everywhere I turned, women were being objectified. It didn’t matter how old or what race, women were and still are objectified. I am no stranger to that feeling either. I wrote this song to empower myself and personally challenge societal ideals of a woman’s worth. Writing this song was my own process of overcoming the fact that my physical appearance does not define who I am.
Despite my emotional attachment to this song, I still contemplated whether or not I should release it. This was the second song I’ve ever written in my life and I’ve grown a lot as a songwriter since then. Although I do not consider myself a lead vocalist, I felt the need to sing it myself. For these reasons, I felt extremely vulnerable. What if people hate my voice? What if people think it’s a terrible song?
Amidst the feeling of doubt and self-consciousness, I eventually decided that the only important thing is how this song makes me feel. It still empowers me and makes me question the perception of female beauty in today’s world. With that in mind, I thought maybe someone else might feel the same while listening to it. If this song could be thought-provoking, even just to one girl, it is worth feeling vulnerable and exposed.
A special thanks to Michael Arrom.
It was a rainy day in sunny LA on January 8th, 2018. My birthday. It was the first day of the spring semester at USC, and I was drenched from head to toe. It was miserable. Later that day, I was practicing Chopin Sonata No. 3 in one of USC’s practice rooms. When I looked up from the piano, I saw my friend and talented pianist Paul Tipei waving outside my door. I invited him to come in. With his usual warm demeanor, he came in and wished me a happy birthday. I thanked him, chuckling under my breath that the weather could have been slightly better. He proclaimed, “What are you talking about? Rain is good! It’s nourishing and makes things grow.”
When I came home that night, I sat down and thought about the profundity about what he had said. Although things seemed miserable, was it truly? That’s when I realized the power of perception. I could see the rain as a bad omen for the semester. Or, I could see it as an opportunity for growth. On that day, I decided that the spring semester would be one of growth.
Six months later, on June 8th, 2018, I release my first EP, “One Last Time,” to reflect on my growth.
As my dear friend and pianist Paul Tipei said to me, rain is symbolic of growth. One can choose to perceive rainfall differently. I chose to see rain as a forthcoming of spring. I chose to work on the music that made me feel the most vulnerable, the most naked. The making of this EP was a process of growth. The inevitable fruition of spring.
This EP was a collaboration between some of my best friends and musicians. It would not have been possible without their talents, and I would like to thank them individually here for contributing their time and talents.
Below are the individual songs and their stories:
Written and produced by: Elise Solberg and Hannah Kulis
Performed by: Moira Mack (vocal) and Paul Cornish (piano)
Recorded and Mixed by: Joey Messina-Doerning
A special thanks to Patrice Rushen
"Home" is a song written with a dear friend of mine, Hannah Kulis. It is a song marked by hardship, inspired by the biblical stories of Moses and David. Their stories in particular interested us because we could imagine their hardship clearly in our heads. The hook “Oh Lord, help me, as I brave through this new storm/ Oh Lord, guide me, try to find my way back home,” came about in a time of intense struggle: personally and politically. Completely broken, it seemed as though the only thing I could do was to fall on my knees and pray. Writing this song was therapeutic, giving me hope that a power much larger than I will guide me through difficult times.
Hannah and I wanted to bring this song to life. We wanted to try a simple piano/vocal; we thought it would create space for the lyrics to really speak. Thus, we wanted two very talented musicians (Moira and Paul) to shape the music. Instead of the usual practice of overdubbing a vocal, Moira and Paul performed in the same room, recording at the same time. We felt that their emotional responses to the song would feed off each other. They did exactly that. I could not be more appreciative to the meaning they brought to this song.
Samantha Hardy Photography
With wonderful friend/co-writer/co-producer, Hannah Kulis
"One Last Time"
The lovely, talented Jessi Mason at NRG studios
Recording the string section at NRG studios
About to track the beautiful Yamaha C-7 at NRG studios
Written, produced and arranged by: Elise Solberg and Jessi Mason
Performed by: Jessi Mason (vocal), Elise Solberg (piano), Kelly Cruz (drums), Christine Meisenhelter (bass), Mallory Fleming-Hauser (guitar), Cooper Holzman (e. piano), Caroline Hisel (BGV), Hannah McCarthy (BGV), Leonard Chong (violin), Jaimee Chao (violin), Mica Nafshun-Bone (violin), Aida Marsali (violin), Barry Fowler (viola), Mark Rabinowitz (cello), Ethan Chilton (trumpet), Nathan Collins (sax), Adam Miller (trombone), Daniel Seaman (french horn), and Brian Jan (french horn)
Recorded at NRG Studios
Mixed by: Cyrus Elia
The timing of this song, also the EP title, could not have been more impeccable. Originally a class assignment, I was paired up with the incredibly talented singer/songwriter Jessi Mason to write a song. When we were writing this song, we started from a blank slate. We wrote what we felt, which was a wave of nostalgia. Just a couple months shy of graduating from USC, the concept of the lyric “one last time,” came about. Jessi started writing the beautiful imagery of the first verse. The music began to shape so organically, and within an hour, we were finished. Little did we know that this inspiring hour of writing would produce an invaluable opportunity.
About a month later, we were lucky enough to record this song at the famed NRG studios. I couldn’t believe it. Some of my most favorite musical acts recorded there. My first exposure to popular music was Linkin Park, and much of their work was recorded at NRG. I could feel the energy of the room. We were lucky to invite many of our talented friends (20+ musicians!) to record our song. It was one of the best days of my life: it was the day I decided that studio work felt like home. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my chapter at USC. For weeks to come, this song led me to face graduation with a sense of gratitude- for my time at USC, the friends, mentors, and peers I have connected with. It made me savor those late nights with friends, rehearsals and lessons “one last time”....
A special thank you to Rick Schmunk, Sean Holt, Patrice Rushen, and the USC Popular Music program for making this possible. I cannot thank you enough for this amazing learning opportunity.
Thank you for making it to the end of these liner notes!! More than anything, this EP was made for my family and friends. I wanted to show them what I was up to for months, and thank them for their never-ending support. Thank you to everyone who made this EP possible. I could not have done it without you. -Elise