Today we’re going to shed some of the spotlight on a Soundfly Mentor who has helped musicians achieve their goals and reach new heights in both course mentorship and custom Headliners Club sessions alike. Introducing Sırma Munyar, New York-based singer, songwriter, producer, and topliner who has recorded with the likes of Akon, Illenium, and Keri Hilson and topped the charts in her native Turkey.
She studied Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music, where she learned to become a self-sufficient, multifaceted musician. She also studied production and mixing at London School of Sound, and has engineered at various studios. Sırma’s career accolades have been hard-won, so she understands firsthand just how much contemporary music makers need to always be prepared to seize any and every opportunity.
You can work with her in a handful of our online courses including Songwriting for Producers and Making Music in Logic Pro X, but Sırma can also help you achieve a custom project-based goal outside of a course as well. We asked her some questions so we could better introduce you to her working procedures and coaching methods. (To learn more about Soundfly mentorship, click here.)
Can you describe the music you make and how you make it?
I generally describe my music as “alternative electronic pop,” because I feel like it’s a broad enough category to leave me some room to experiment. I fear limitations more than anything else when it comes to making music, so I guess this is my attempt at managing expectations.
I started out writing songs by myself and then co-producing them with various producers I was keen on collaborating with. But while I was in production on my debut EP, To Love, I was met with a challenge that changed that process. I initially only wanted to write the songs and not be involved with the production at all, because I didn’t feel confident enough to even co-produce. But I realized the only way I could get the songs to sound the way I wanted them to was to take full control of the session (even if I’m collaborating).
Soon I went from “I can’t produce” to “I can’t not produce ever again.” My recent track, “Put Your Faith in Me,” was entirely self-produced and mixed and mastered by me as well. I work mainly in Logic Pro X.
“I love working with artists who are trying to carve out their own path — because I’ve been there, and I’m still going through it myself.”
What are the types of Headliners Club sessions that you feel most comfortable working on with students?
I love working with artists who are trying to carve out their own path — because I’ve been there, and I’m still going through it myself. When I work with a new artist who wants to write their own songs or produce their demos while contemplating their brand and image in the meantime, our sessions usually turn into what a true mentor-mentee relationship should be: overall guidance and consultation.
I especially prefer working with students who are songwriters that are new to production, or producers who are new to songwriting, because connecting the dots usually turns out to be a really rewarding experience for both sides.
Some students I work with come to me specifically to improve their vocal production skills, which is one of my specialties. And that’s always fun, because there’s so much room for creativity, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy in that field. No matter what, though, I never shy away from sharing my thoughts on the inner workings of the industry with my students. I think every musician has to be business savvy; it’s the only way to survive.
Who are you listening to right now?
ROSALÍA, Flume, AURORA — basically, artists who have managed to become somewhat mainstream while maintaining their artistic integrity and unique sound intrigue me.
What was your favorite ever concert experience and why?
Björk’s Biophilia residency in Manchester, England, in 2011. Björk was playing six nights in a row and I went the first night — so I was one of the first people to hear that album before it was even out! I knew I was going to be in London around that time and I decided to take the train to Manchester alone just to see that show. The show itself was incredible, but taking a trip to a strange city all by myself to see it had turned the entire thing into a spiritual experience. I was really tuned in.
Where do you go to find inspiration for your work?
Honestly, I go through phases. I went through a phase where I was writing lots of lyrics by the water. Now, for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to write lyrics that I love, so I keep producing tracks until I’m inspired to topline one of them. I take walks whenever I feel too overwhelmed.
I’d say solitude inspires me more than anything else. I don’t really need to hear something in my head to get to work. I think any time that I have to work on my music is precious, and if I get the chance to be alone in my studio to make it happen, that fact alone is usually enough to inspire me. I went through some day jobs I truly hated to get into that mindset, though.
“I just needed to sit down and make the music, and take action, instead of just talking about it and analyzing it over and over again.”
How do you balance work and creativity?
If work gets too busy, my music suffers, always. I haven’t been creating at the pace I would like to these days. It’s something that I actively try to get better at, and I don’t think that struggle will ever end. I think the key that I have discovered this past year is to allow myself to rest my mind in silence. I don’t meditate, but I do sometimes just sit or walk in silence, even if it’s for 15 minutes per day. It has a calming effect on me, which helps me feel less overwhelmed, therefore increasing my productivity.
Also, this might sound weird, but I sometimes clean my apartment to achieve a similar effect. If I have less clutter around me, my to-do list looks less daunting.
What was the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever received?
“You have to just do it.” – Fellow Soundfly Mentor Ian Barnett
I was struggling to figure out my overall sound while I was working on the To Love EP, and Ian was involved with the project as well, having co-produced the last track on it. I remember having several conversations with him about how the idea of producing my own music scared me, despite all my experience and knowledge in the field even at that time.
At Berklee, I learned how to do things in a certain methodical way, so I think that was one of the reasons why I was feeling a little timid. I knew the rules, I was familiar with the workflow in multiple DAWs, but I lacked the confidence to trust my instincts — and my ear, above all else. So, I dragged my feet for what felt like a very long time, until finally, Ian made me aware that it was not at all as complicated as I had made it out to be: I just needed to sit down and make the music, and take action, instead of just talking about it and analyzing it over and over again.
Whenever I catch myself overanalyzing, I just repeat to myself: “Do it. Do it.” to snap out of it. Unless you eventually turn your ideas into reality, all that planning and analyzing you do in your mind is a waste of time, nothing more.
Work with Sırma Munyar to achieve your next musical goal and complete your next project in a custom four-week Headliners Club session! Just fill out this form and mention her name, or check out some of our other Soundfly Mentors’ music below!