Is it an Art?? Well, I think it is….I constantly have a new song on the go in some form, even if it’s only a scrap of paper with some lyrics scrawled on it. I’m constantly working on my best song ever too….always the latest song is going to be the best!! Why do we do it?? Who knows…cos it can be a tough process, and soul destroying, but also a great joy. Also, as writers we’re all different, and all compose in different ways-some start with a title, some with a melody or a hook, some will write the lyrics first, and others will write the tune first, and of course there’s no right way to do it- just what works for each individual.
So, I’ve just completed my new 13 track c.d. “Americanarama”. It’s a solo release, but actually it’s not really cos I’m fortunate enough to have the most talented bunch of friends who’ve all got involved in this project and made it into something special (we think!!)-so in that regard it’s anything but a solo release, it’s a collaborative effort and that goes for the writing and arranging also.
I am a Songwriter. That’s how I define myself. I can sing and I can play guitar and piano, and I’m a good backing musician for other artistes. But first and foremost I still class myself as a songwriter.
So, about the songwriting. I do generally write songs on my own because I’m very prolific and don’t waste time on a song if it becomes a struggle. I always try to think of an audience’s initial response to a song and “will they have fallen asleep before I get to the chorus!!”. Sometimes it’s a guitar phrase or an interesting harmony, or maybe a lyric or a hook that might grab their attention, but sometimes I have to play a new song to an audience, because something that works perfectly well at home doesn’t work for an audience and you can actually feel that drop in energy in the room. However once it’s identified, you can go back and change whatever didn’t work in your performance to make it more engaging- unless of course the whole song died on it’s arse!!
Also, I’m a great believer in strength in numbers regarding recording and gigging, and always try to have the best musicians possible around me. I can play perfectly well on my own, but trying to maintain an audience’s interest with just a voice and guitar for any more than 3 songs, and it’s tough. I’m very fortunate to have found a recording studio and an engineer/producer who knows exactly what I’m trying to do with my music and helps to make that happen. I also think it’s important to let the accompanying musicians and singers give their input to a songs' arrangement and growth, because quite often these ideas often end up a lot stronger than my original idea. I do understand for many writers that they want a recording to be how they envisage it but from my experience, a more collaborative approach works better.
I was lucky enough to have secured recording and publishing deals many years ago, before the industry changed and before technology advanced and in many ways it was easier to get those kind of deals where the record label paid for everything, because label staff where travelling the Country constantly on the look out for talent to sign and nurture-that’s sadly not really the case anymore unless you’re exceptionally lucky!!! However, because of advanced technology it’s also made it far more accessible for anyone to record and release their songs to the World-and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when there has been so much outstanding talent out there-it’s really cool. We played some gigs in Sweden this year, first time I’d ever been there, and the audiences were lovely and very attentive, but they also have so many exceptional young musicians. I had no idea!!!!
This is my first band "South Cheyenne" recording some demos in Liverpool that gave us our first major label deal with Probe Records in France....1969 ish I think......
So, for 2020 I’ve already started pushing my songs to other artistes both here and in the U.S. to record and/or collaborate with, as I spend all of my time doing my music so am constantly on the lookout for interesting avenues to explore, and if anyone reading this blog is currently recording or planning to do some recording and fancies the idea of a collaboration, please message me and let’s see what happens.
Why Do We Do It? (It’s so hard to get anywhere these days….)
I think it’s interesting sometimes to explore the reasons why we write songs and have a strong desire to play them to audiences-whether that is because we aspire to having success with our music or purely from a social side where we enjoy other musicians company or is it to do with ego!!! I’ve been doing this for so long that I can’t stop now….it’s just what I do to always have at least 1 song on the go, and I suppose in the first instance I’m really trying to please myself-to end up with a song that I like and am confident enough with it to play it in front of a crowd of strangers-but don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it lightly…I’ll have perhaps 6 or 7 new songs on the go but will probably only end up using 2 of them, and bin the rest-and who knows if I’m binning the right ones…Aaaaaggh…..
..... and here's a shot of Kelly Bayfield working on some brand new songs for her 1st ever SOLO album due next Summer. She's been such a massive help with my writing and recording over the years, and now she's doing her own!!!!!
Anyway, that’s what I think. It’s just one person’s opinion on the creative process of writing and recording-but I have to say that I love what I do….we’re so fortunate in this area (Suffolk/Norfolk/Essex) to have so many outstanding musicians and performers, and for me my music has taken me to places, and to have met people that I never otherwise would have done, and am still doing, and that in itself is really quite special. So there.
Lots o’ love and best wishes for the New Year. I think it’s gonna be a blast….. Kev x