“It Takes a Lot of Crying, Self-Reflection, and Self-Change”: Deconstructing “Goddess” with ThatBlessedGirl
In the brief period since she first started making beats, Saginaw, Michigan-based producer ThatBlessedGirl has churned out a steady stream of instrumental releases — dropping seven EPs and singles on Bandcamp she first began her production journey. Her frequent Instagram beat posts have also impressed many within the producer community, earning strong praise from veterans like Ski Beatz.
Despite her impressive body of work thus far, she remains humbled by the fact that there is still much of the production process for her to explore. “I’ve only been producing for two years,” she tells me. “I’ve been doing a great job so far, but I also know there is a lot more to learn.”
Part of learning process has been picking apart the intricacies of the Maschine MK2, a sampler that helped ThatBlessedGirl evolve her compositions and develop a richer sound. “I have to credit the Maschine for helping me get better at arranging and adding little intricate things to my music,” she says.
“With knowledge of self, you become more confident and comfortable with yourself for who you are. Nothing or no one can change that.”
After learning how to add subtle layers to her songs, ThatBlessedGirl decided to release Goddess in January of 2017 — her most ambitious project to date. The album is a form of musical catharsis that helped her work through an incredibly difficult and rewarding year marked by personal trials and tribulations.
Having battled depression during the making of Goddess, ThatBlessedGirl now wants to let other people suffering from depression know that they aren’t alone. “I dedicate this album to people dealing with mental illness,” she says of her latest release. “I just want to show people how the other side looks coming out of depression. If you look good enough, you can find the good in anything. Coming out of depression you gain strength, compassion, and it also teaches you how to cope better with life.”
Using instrumentals as a way to communicate this powerful message seemed like an obvious choice, as ThatBlessedGirl believes music can sometimes translate emotions to the listener that are difficult to articulate. “I believe music is the universal language,” she says. “It has really played a part in helping me cope better with my everyday life, by putting my thoughts and pain into the music.”
“They said something very hurtful, so I went and found a sample that matched my emotions. The sample has so much pain in it.”
While speaking to her own experiences with depression, ThatBlessedGirl points out that working through emotional and psychological distress isn’t easy. Despite the inherent difficulties and feelings of hopelessness that can come with being depressed, she believes it is important to keep trying to find constructive ways to deal with complicated emotions. “The story I’m trying to tell you is even through all the pain and darkness comes light,” she says. “It’s hard work and it takes a lot of crying, self-reflection, and self-change.”
Along with the serious subject matter addressed on Goddess, there are also bright and uplifting moments. On the EP’s second track “Joy”, ThatBlessedGirl makes excellent use of a beautiful vocal snippet and some heavy filters to express the joy that music brings to her life. “This is an ode to music period,” she says. “I have been through some trying times in my life and the one thing that consistently brings joy to my heart is my love for music.”
Vocal samples play an important role throughout Goddess, with female vocalists receiving extra attention. Using this particular sample source is both a reflection of ThatBlessedGirl’s influences and her state of mind while making her latest EP. “I absolutely adore En Vogue,” she says while speaking to one of her biggest inspirations. “On this project, the female vocalists just touched my soul more.”
“The story I’m trying to tell you is even through all the pain and darkness comes light. It’s hard work and it takes a lot of crying, self-reflection, and self-change.”
On “Let My Soul Speak” — which can only be accessed upon purchasing the entire album on Bandcamp — ThatBlessedGirl flips an incredible vocal sample that matched the emotional tenor she was feeling when she pieced the track together. “I remember I had just gotten into an argument with someone and they said something very hurtful, so I went and found a sample that matched my emotions,” she explains. “The sample has so much pain in it.”
Now that Goddess is finalized and out in the world, ThatBlessedGirl thinks the process of persevering during EP’s creation made her a better producer. Thanks to the experience, she believes she will be a stronger and more confident musician moving forward. “My self-growth played a major part in my growth as an artist,” she says. “With knowledge of self, you become more confident and comfortable with yourself for who you are. Nothing or no one can change that.”
Whether or not her next release is emotionally taxing as Goddess, 2018 looks to be the year that people will have to stop and take notice of ThatBlessedGirl.
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