David Starr Insights

At my monthly meeting of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association) in Glasgow, with a group of like minded artists and songwriter,s we enjoyed an awesome wee intimate evening with American singer/songwriter David Starr.

David has a great voice and really good songs and played a few songs for us and then we had a lengthy discussion about all things music and songwriting .

We covered writing, co-writing, collaboration, vulnerability, practice, value, quality control, chord structures, bridges, rhymes and more as well as ‘what does it take to write songs become ‘good’ at it’

It was a really great chat and David humbly shared his stories, endeavours and insights about his journey including his work with John Oates of Hall and Oates.

It reminded me of a previous Songwriting workshop I attended whilst in Carlsbad, California in 2017 with John Vezner and Don Henry (the Don Juans) and Tom Baxter which was also excellent.

David he was very engaging, friendly, informative humble and real. Kudos and respect to him for taking the time to chat and share his stories and insights with us.

Beth Nielsen Chapman stories

I have recently been binging on podcasts about songwriting, music production and all things music. One notable episode popped up in the podcast ‘Songcraft’ who interview (famous) songwriters. They also recently interviewed Tony Banks (notably keyboard player and major songwriter in Genesis)

On this edition they interviewed Beth Nielsen Chapman who I met last year at the Chris Difford Songwriting Retreat. We had a good chat about getting songs placed with other artists and generally making connections in the industry and she shared a few real insights with me, which was cool.

I wasn’t really aware of her track record before we met but I sure am now. In this podcast the guys discuss a lot of the songs she has written for herself and other artists including Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Rait, Elton John and more. In the podcast Beth gave a very entertaining and informative chat about the ups and downs we experience as artists, songwriters and humans.

http://www.songcraftshow.com – Song Craft Show

http://www.bethnielsenchapman.com – Beth Nielsen Chapman

Callaghan Live at Oran Mor Glasgow 23 April 2018

It was great to see and catch up with Callaghan Live at Oran Mor, Glasgow.  I first met her at the Chris Difford Songwriting Retreat in June 2017 and kept asking to borrow her keyboard since I didn’t take any gear with me.

She is such a talent. She has a great voice, she plays piano, plays guitar, writes great songs, really engages with the audience with her charm and smile but most of all she has such an awesome delivery.

She doesn’t sound like Karen Carpenter (my favourite female voice of all time) but her voice has the silky purity of tone which reminds me of her.

With delicate and understated, but perfectly arranged keyboard backing from Dan Snyder, it was a very refreshing and modern and unique sound combined with very strong melodic songs and all delivered with such class, skill and musicality.

A truly excellent gig Callaghan should be playing in theatres or Arenas soon.
Listen to her music at https://callaghansongs.com/

DIY EU Conference Valencia 2018

I have just returned from the DIY Musician EU Conference in Valencia, Spain. It was a great weekend of learning, sharing and sessions by CD Baby and partners and a wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with musicians from all over the world who all share the one dream: to make a career in music.

I though I traveled far from Scotland but there were people attending from California, Argentina Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Italy and, even my first conference buddy, Max from the Faroe Islands!

It’s always very rewarding sharing experiences, insights, stories, knowledge and ambition with other people but none more so than when it comes to musicians. I think we musicians all see/hear the world in a certain way and share that our common passion to tell our stories through our music in whichever format, style or genre.

Great people, location conference, weather, venue and organisation,

Kudos to the team at CD Baby and the team at Berklee College of Music, Valencia
I’m already signed up to go to the August 2018 Conference in Nashville.

Writing with Kevin

I finally got back to working with Kevin this week and developing our co writing more music for our collaboration project. It’s a fascinating journey when there are no rules about what music we write.

Everything is up for grabs: form, rhythm, melody, harmony instrumentation, times, styles, moods…….hmm I’m curious myself to hear the outcome.

It’s very liberating knowing that we can attempt to create whatever style of music our souls produce. We’ll put up some audio so that everyone can follow the journey.

If I Could Walk on Water…

We had a great session recording the vocals for ‘If I Could Walk on Water’. Emily did a great job singing the vocals and all three of us worked in a truly collaborative way to further develop the song. We have big plans for it!

It’s very rewarding having such a close collaboration from three people with totally different backgrounds and who were strangers prior to meeting up at the Chris Difford Songwriting Retreat. Nice!

Sunny Surbiton

I’m continuing my travels next week with a visit to Surbiton in Surrey to attend a recording session with Matt and Emily.

The three of us co-wrote a song last year at the Chris Difford songwriting retreat which we all like and are very proud of. Its called If I Could Walk on Water

I put together a backing track and Matt has recorded a really neat piano track so we are getting together to record Emily’s vocals. She has such a great voice.

Writing.. and lefting

I am planning to continue with my co-writing with Kevin for our collaboration project. We wrote some stuff in late 2017 and we are pleased with the outcome so plan to do more soon.

It’s very open and experimental in nature with no real boundaries as to what we produce and how we produce it.

Not that it matters. We just wanna make music that is original, interesting, has substance and is entertaining. Its a recurring theme it seems.

You can see the concentration as we try to remember the weird open chord voicings for a song called Harlequin which we need to develop the idea some more.

Zdiar writing

I’m just back from Germany where me and Ralf had 4 solid days of writing for a new Zdiar album (Zdiar is our band/collaborative project)

It’s always interesting and exciting as the music we produce is fairly experimental and a combination of both of our styles/likes/preferences.

The final output is hard to define – just as we like it. We try to avoid regular forms or music, instrumentation and arrangements to try to be different and original but still be entertaining and have ‘singable’ catchy songs.

We got 4 new songs fairly well developed and we have some older material too. We have good laughs too – as per the photo.

We plan to get it released in 2018, that would be impressive given our historically low rate of output.
And yes our writing and recording is better than our photography.

It’s a Mirage …or not

I have never been a huge fan of sampling. I dunno why but I’ve just never felt comfortable with it from a playing and recording perspective. I remember initially being excited about it and splashing out around £1800 for the an Ensoniq Mirage Mk1.

I originally thought sampling offered a great answer to getting access to sounds from gear that I could never get my hands on.

And of course watching Peter Gabriel demonstrating how creative you could be using the Fairlight on his third album was really exciting.

However the Ensoniq Mirage sampler with a fiddly keypad, one slider, two digit display, 8 bit sounds and an operating system loading from a floppy disk was a very different proposition.

I remember playing a gig in a pub venue with a sound meter linked to the electrical supply so that if the band got too loud the power cut out. So waiting 3 minutes to reboot the Mirage from floppy disks between power cuts was painful.

I took my Mirage to Germany for some recording sessions in the late 90’s and forgot to bring it back so someone somewhere has an old 8 bit piece of sampling history/junk lying around.

They are welcome to it. I’ll stick to modelled instruments and the software samplers on my Mac.