Thank You and Goodnight

Hi, everyone. This has been a fun year interviewing some incredible people from all over the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing musicians do interviews for the blog and share their thoughts on Songwriting. I hope a lot of people will continue to stop by (as long as the URL is up which should be May 2015) and read these interviews. But, the whole thing has kind of ground to a halt this year. Lots of unanswered interviews still floating out there and I’ve been pulled other ways and have not followed up like I should. So, seems like it’s time to let this go. I’m grateful to everyone that has; read, shared, enjoyed this blog. It’s been an amazing time and I appreciate it.

Mike

Naomi Wachira Songwriting Interview

Image
(photo by Janell Kallander)

Naomi Wachira Songwriting Interview

Current City: Seattle, WA
Most recent release: Self Titled  ‘Naomi Wachira’ (released January 28, 2014)

About Naomi: Named Best Folk Singer by Seattle Weekly in 2013, Naomi became the toast of the town and struck a friendship with the much-loved indie songwriter Damien Jurado, who produced her debut album.  Influenced by two powerful, groundbreaking female songwriters: Miriam Makeba and Tracy Chapman,  she’s making music that is imbued with a sense of hope.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have a set songwriting/composing process?
Naomi Wachira: Whenever I think I’m ready to start writing, I’ll play around with my guitar, which sometimes it means playing a song I already know and then I’ll slowly start doing different things… rhythm or use different cords and once I think I have something, I’ll try and put words to it.  The only time this works really well is if I’ve already had some kind of inspiration about something I want to write about.  I’ve also learned that it’s never the same process, so I have to always remain open for how the song wants to come through.  I’ve always understood that this is a gift and as such it can come in any way it chooses, I just have to be open to whichever direction I’m led

Our Scattered Words: Some producers completely re-construct songs in their process, others gently nudge things along.  What was Damien Jurado’s role and approach on your album?
Naomi Wachira:  Damien was more like a gentle guide. When we first started talking about producing my album, he was very clear that he didn’t want to change me or make me sound more like him. He just wanted to concentrate on what people liked about my live performances, so we recorded all my vocals and guitar live, which were mostly 1 or 2 takes. Perhaps one of the most crucial statements he made in the begin was, “you cannot cut and paste soul” and that became the bed of our process. It wasn’t about a perfect album, but an album that perfectly communicated my story in a way that most people who’ve heard me live have become accustomed to.  It was by far the easiest recording session I’ve been to so far.

Our Scattered Words: What are some of the best venues, including house shows, you’ve played at?
Naomi Wachira: Some of my favorite are The Neptune in Seattle opening for Damien Jurado. My album release show at Columbia City Theater (where I actually recorded my album).  I always enjoy playing House shows  because they are so intimate and I get to just tell stories and share more of myself and make it more of a conversation than a performance.

Our Scattered Words: You grew up singing Gospel songs with your family.  How has that influenced your songwriting and performing now?
Naomi Wachira:  I think the biggest influence is learning to harmonize.  In church harmonies were such a big part of singing and I completely absorbed that and now it’s become second nature to me. I’d also like to think that it has influenced my optimism in life and always wanting to write music that offers hope.

Our Scattered Words: What is it about Seattle that made you choose that community as your home?
Naomi Wachira:  I actually moved to Seattle for Graduate school. I thought I’d stay for 3yrs and then move back to Chicago, but life had other plans. I attended one open mic in the summer of 2011 and that changed my course. I had found an avenue to tell my story, so I kept on telling it and people seemed to appreciate it, so I decided to stay and pursue music.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Naomi Wachira: Probably from “African Girl”… I am an African Girl/ I know where I’m coming from / I know who I want to be.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish you could do better?
Naomi Wachira:  I wish I could be a better guitar player or that I could instantly hear arrangements for the all the songs I write.

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters?
Naomi Wachira: Be true to yourself and your story. Take your time to develop who and what you want to be. Don’t ever let anyone tell what you need to be… you have to make that decision on your own.

Our Scattered Words: What changes do you see coming in the next 10 years for people who want to make a living in music?
Naomi Wachira:  I love the fact that people now can launch their careers without relying on record labels.  The thing I’d really hope for is for majority of musicians to actually make a good income from what they are doing. I hope that there’ll be more leverage for artists with online distributors of music.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Naomi Wachira: This is a tough one. I think I’d love to be in a Sister Rosetta Tharpe album session.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Naomi Wachira:  I’d love to sit down with Tracy Chapman and just understand what lies behind the songs she writes.

Naomi Wachira on the Web
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

All interviews, including Naomi Wachira, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Follow on Twitter: @OSWBlog

 

Therese Workman Songwriting Interview

Therese Workman Songwriting Interview

Therese Workman (photo by Shervin Lainez http://www.shervinfoto.com/ )

The world of music has changed. You have to find creative ways to market your band to keep fans interests. You have “stay small” and create a great live sound with as few people as possible. Multi-tasking is required both on and off stage.  It helps if a musician is likable and easily connects with people to retain fans, build a support team and get press coverage for your band. Just like any other small business owner, musicians need to build a network that will refer them to others.

2 1/2 months ago I had never heard of Therese and, unfortunately, never heard her band, Oh My Goodness.  A mutual friend connected us.  I immediately enjoyed that they let the song lead the style rather than try to fit all of their songs into one generic box.  I like they they’re finding creative ways to play their songs live with just two people (and doing a job of it). I also like that Therese is a good person and I’ve enjoyed our dialogue.  I hope you enjoy the interview and the musical world of Oh My Goodness.

Therese Workman (Oh My Goodness)
Current City: Brooklyn, NY  Hometown: Waterville, ME
Band Affiliation: Oh My Goodness
Most Recent Release: 
Oh My Goodness EP

Watch, then read on..

Brief Intro: Therese Workman is a Brooklyn-based musician, originally from Maine, born to Jamaican and English nurses. She studied visual art and education, getting her undergrad and grad degrees from Harvard before moving to NYC in 2003. Between 2009 and 2012, she returned to Maine and collaborated with artists across genres, including the soul-folk band Ramblin’ Red, hip hop producer Alias (of the Anticon Collective), and rapper Sontiago. She’s scored several short films, including Shirley Bruno’s “The Things I See,” which won Best Narrative Short award at the Toronto Film Festival’s Caribbean Tales showcase, and short educational films funded by the Ford Foundation. Her band, Oh My Goodness, began as her solo project — eventually joining with Tyler Wood, another fellow Maine native and college classmate, in 2010 to transform OMG into the duo it is today.

Oh My Goodness released their eponymous debut EP last spring to critical acclaim, leading to The Deli NYC Magazine Artist of the Month and Dispatch Magazine’s 2013 Album of the Year awards.

Our Scattered Words: How did you get started in music?
Therese Workman:  I grew up in a house with many different accents, so I feel like music has always been around me. After getting piano lessons for my 5th birthday, I became mindful of music as an active part of my life. In college, I was part of the student gospel choir, Kuumba, and accidentally became its drummer for a semester. After joining a jazz/hip hop band, I began to build more confidence in identifying as a musician. When I started studying animation, things really took a huge leap for me, because I learned about using a computer to record sound effects, voice overs, and music using a free version of ProTools. The computer became not only a way to record myself, it became another instrument. I started to understand how some of my music heroes made their sounds, and suddenly the universe expanded — just as new possibilities came into my reach.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have a set songwriting/composing process?  OR Do you and Tyler write together or bring in ideas and collaborate from there?
Therese Workman: It’s a combination of the two. For the most part, I write on my own, coming up with a concept and laying out the ideas using Garageband in my living room. I love synthesizers and making samples and playing whatever’s around.

Regarding my process — I really just follow instinct, and then organize later. For example, I might make some gibberish up while doing an impression of the sound of traffic. That gibberish might sound rhythmic to me, so I’ll record it and loop it, and then build some bass and percussion tracks on top of that, and figure out a melody. In that process, I try to recall how I was feeling at the time I was listening to the traffic, and that’s where the storyline might come from. Once I have a story, I figure out what types of words feel good to say or sing. I really just try to entertain myself. At the end of throwing all of that paint on the wall, I delete things that don’t belong in that new weird little world, and let it sit. Sometimes the initial spark might be a turn of phrase I overhear in line at the grocery store, in which case the story or words might come first, and then I act out the characters with instruments.

When I work with Tyler, we often take those songs or concepts into his studio space and Frankenstein them, which is also a form of writing.The song “Rogue” actually started from a track Tyler sent me — it was this rich track of Moog sounds that came with its own atmosphere/concept. I built on that with lyrics and synths, and we brought that new demo into our shop together.

I love brainstorming in isolation — I can be really uninhibited and move at my own speed; then I can share ideas to explore possibilities after that. But there is also something so exciting about trying to mind-meld with a collaborator in real-time — when it works, it’s a different kind of magic altogether.

 

Our Scattered Words: You have a pretty wide variety of sounds, from “Not Lying”  to “Everything All”, do you enjoy working with a combination of styles/sounds?
Therese Workman: Absolutely. I feel really fortunate to have been exposed to so many different styles of music from early on. I grew up in Maine as the daughter of Jamaican and English immigrants — with older siblings listening to Prince and Soull II Soul, hip hop and New Jack Swing, while the local radio was playing Bon Jovi and Poison. With the added combination of piano lessons and college radio, I was able to learn about Chopin and Talking Heads and Wendy Carlos. I’ve learned so much about sounds from Tyler, who has a knack for making live instruments sound digital, and digital sound live — and how adding effects to instruments is such a huge part of building a mood. So in songwriting, all of these aspects become ingredients to tell the story: How can I convey a quick scene shift or punchline without using words? Maybe a dry Casio tom fill can do it. 

Our Scattered Words: Do you perform live with just the 2 of you or do you add other musicians?
Therese Workman: Our current Oh My Goodness set up is just the two of us, which is a really fun challenge. At Tyler’s drumset, he’s replaced one of his toms with a synth, so he’s playing melodies and samples with his right hand while also drumming. It’s a sight to behold. In my station, I’ve got the Moog synth playing bass and my Casio keyboard. I also have a floor tom and play a foot tambourine, just to make it more dangerous. I love our arrangement, but we’re also looking at ways of adding other musicians to the live show, to make the experience even fuller.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Therese Workman: This question kept me up at night. I can’t pick THE favorite, so I’ll pick the one that always makes my eyes water. From Nina Simone’s “Don’t Smoke in bed:” Don’t look for me/I’ll get ahead/Remember darling/Don’t smoke in bed. I can’t think about it for too long. Every phrase in there is a bruise. Sort of sucks the air out of the room. I tend to be drawn to lyrics that aren’t trying to force any type of feeling, but that through setting a picture or scene, sometimes with simple or abstract words and phrases, I can draw my own conclusions.

Nina Simone “Don’t Smoke In Bed”

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish you could do better?
Therese Workman: Everything! But at the top of my list, I really wish that I could be better at some technical things (i.e., music software, tweaking keyboard dials) so that I don’t get bogged down by flipping switches and turning knobs when all I want is to get an idea down fast.

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters?
Therese Workman: Share, share, share, share your ideas. Even if they’re “uncool.” Especially if they’re uncool. And try to keep existing in that sweet spot where fun and difficult overlap.

Our Scattered Words: What changes do you see coming in the next 10 years for people who want to make a living in music?
Therese Workman: I tell you WHAT: I really wish I had a crystal ball, because we’re at a place in time where it feels like technological advances in sharing media are leaps, not just steps. Making actual money at music is going to take more and more innovation as “record deals” become legends we tell around the campfire. I think musicians are going to have to become extremely social-media savvy and embrace entrepreneurship. Where it used to be the case that publicity machines would typically come with a record deal, publicity is now on the shoulders of the unsigned musician. But this isn’t all a Chicken Little story – at the same time that there was dissolution of a lot of record labels came the new ability for musicians to bypass recording studios, by using free software on their laptops and social media to share it. And because you’re often your own publicist, you also get to be in charge of your “brand.” But really getting that signal boost from professional publicists still costs money.

I do like seeing how the megastars are being inventive in the music business, from Wu Tang’s release of a single album selling it for $4 million, to Beyonce releasing a brand new album and a bazillion music videos without a WHISPER of publicity. And before all that there was Radiohead releasing In Rainbows albums for free/pay-what-you-want. In the age of things going viral and so much music coming from everywhere at all times, it seems that musicians (including big stars) are having to find ways of building the mystique and intrigue into their business plans, because that’s how you can get paid. Well, that and possibly being chosen to SCORE HUNGER GAMES 4, HI CALL ME.

So this is a very long way of saying: I have no idea what will happen, but I do hope that it involves pay-per-view holographic living room performances where suddenly my favorite unsigned band appears to be playing on my coffee table.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Therese Workman: MJ’s Off the Wall. To me, that record had so many styles going on in every song, and the instrumentation was so fresh. To this day, every time I hear “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” I daydream about being in the percussion section in a studio with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, dancing around the strings and horns sections. By the way, I’m a proud lover of Pop, and think this album is an example of how something can be popular, accessible, fun, and mind-blowing.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Therese Workman:  I would love to sit and talk with Bjork because first of all, hello. She is someone who I think embodies that special brand of what sounds like unbridled expression — but whose production techniques are so cutting-edge and polished that the music is in full control. For me, production — choosing instruments and how they actually sound together — is such a huge part of songwriting. Some purists might disagree. But when you tell a ghost story, isn’t it just as important to open your eyes all wide and make your voice do that harsh whisper when the scariest part is coming?

Oh My Goodness on the web
Website
Facebook
Twitter

 

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Therese Workman, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future. Bonus materials for Therese include 3 music videos  she’s been enjoying lately.

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Beth Thornley Songwriting Interview

Beth Thornley Songwriting Interview

Beth Thornley (photo by Heidi Ross)

 

Beth Thornley

Music needs more Beth Thornleys.  Actually, I think all of us could use more people like Beth in our life.  There’s no other way to say it but, Beth Thornley is a good person, a kind person, a talented writer and singer. Beth is someone who’s always been positive and is always ready to help a friend or acquaintance.  She’s a compassionate friend.  Plus, she writes interesting and varied stories in her songs from the raucous Bari Sax at the start of “Wash U Clean” to Jon Brionish sound of “It Could Be” on her new album. Add to all of that her beautiful and memorable voice.  Beth is a pro who produces songs that connect with people.  It’s why she has a loyal fan base and has a long string of song placements.  Now, reading through this opening I have pretty much guaranteed that I will never be asked to write for Pitchfork and I’m OK with that. I’m great with that.  So, let me introduce you to Beth.

Current City – 
Los Angeles, CA
Most Recent Release – Septagon (2014)

BIO

Beth is a singer/songwriter originally from Birmingham, Alabama; now living in LA. She has three independently released albums — the 2003 self-titled debut, 2006’s My Glass Eye, 2010’s Wash U Clean, and now the latest EP, Septagon (April 2014). Her songs have been featured in the movies Magic Mike, Girl in Progress, AssBackwards, The Perfect Man, Between, and Play The Game, as well as the TV shows Friday Night Lights, Hung, Royal Pains, Vanderpump Rules, The Client List, Save Me, Ringer, Suburgatory, Jersey Shore, In Plain Sight, The Hills, Newport Harbor, Making the Band, Life, Jack and Bobby, Everwood, and Scrubs. In 2012 and 2013, Beth and the composer Rob Cairns (who has played guitar, bass, and drums on and supplied savvy production for all of her albums and three tracks on Septagon) co-wrote an original rock musical called Bad Apples, which earned the pair nominations for “Best Original Score” by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly, and L.A. Stage Alliance, winning awards from the latter two.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have a set songwriting/composing process?
Beth Thornley: I used to write first thing in the morning  and that worked for me for a long time.  But now, even though that’s still a goal, life isn’t as predictable so I find that I write when I can and that sometimes I write several days in a row for long days and then go several days (weeks even) without writing.  It bugged me until I let go of trying to control it and just accepted that life is always going to change.

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Beth Thornley: None of it comes quickly for me.  I am the tortoise, and never the hare, when it comes to writing music.

Our Scattered Words: The Hotel Café community of musicians that has developed over the past decade has been incredible.  How important has being part of that community been to you personally and musically?
Beth Thornley: I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the venue and the people I’ve met there. It grounded me and gave me a foundation and I feel like part of a group instead of out here alone. Songwriting is solitary so it’s nice to make solid connections and Hotel Café made that happen.

Our Scattered Words: Cats or Dogs?
Beth Thornley: I love them both but I haven’t been a dog owner as an adult (yet!).  I had dogs growing up, but as an adult I’ve only ever had cats.  Right now, I have 4 felines.    My oldest cat is Hudson, he’s 7.  Next is Wilma, who is almost 3.  And the kittens are Moe and Hazel who will be 1 in July.  Hazel is a tabby.  The other 3 are solid black.  They are all real sweet!

Our Scattered Words: You worked on your album with your husband Rob Cairns.  Recording an album can get tense at times, especially the artist/producer relationship.  How do you two work out the working together/living together issues?
Beth Thornley: It took us a while to find a comfortable way to work together. Every album got a little easier because we continued to try to understand each other. But we are actively looking for other places to record my songs so that when we have some free time, the question isn’t “which song should we work on?”, but instead is “what movie do you want to go see?”. We are still going to record songs together, but we hope to have other outlets as an option, too.

Our Scattered Words: You and Rob also  composed the songs for a play, ‘Bad Apples’ that received great reviews and won some awards.  How much fun was that process and how different was that from  “regular” songwriting?
Beth Thornley: It was a surprise at every turn since neither one of us had ever written musical.  The best part about it was that when one of us didn’t have an idea, the other one did.  We look back and feel like it was a true 50/50 effort.   It was also equally exciting and terrifying.  We’re really happy we took the plunge and did it.  The way that it was the most different from “regular” songwriting is that the closer we got to opening night, the faster we had to write.  I wrote faster for this show than I had ever written before for anything.  I guess I learned that I could write fast when I have to, but I still think my best work comes when I have time to think about it.  Also, before this musical came along, we had not done any co-writing together.  There are a few of my songs that Rob has co-writing credit on but it’s because the co-writing came from changing the song during the recording process.  Starting a song together from scratch was completely new for us.  And, a little awkward because we work completely differently.  But once we began to get into the rhythm of tossing the ball back and forth, we were ok.  We just had to (very quickly) find our way of doing it.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Beth Thornley: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but a lyric that I think about a lot is one that Corey Brannon wrote in a song called “Miss Ferguson”. The lyric is “The angle of her cheek is the math of persuasion.”. Whenever I get lazy about coming up with a solid lyric, I think about that line and how that’s the standard. I might not meet that standard, but I have to try. The song is excellent and well worth a moment to read the lyrics and listen to it as well as the entire album.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish you could do better?
Beth Thornley: Sing, play, write. You name it, I’d like to do it better.

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters?
Beth Thornley: Songwriting is hard work. The old saying is true “1% inspiration; 99% perspiration”.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Beth Thornley: Probably none; as crazy as that sounds. Studios tend to be stressful places for most people when recording. I’d rather be playing a live show with them. Playing is the most fun for me.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Beth Thornley: I like to talk to any songwriter about their process because I always learn something no matter who it is or how far along they are in the craft

Beth Thornley on the Web
Website
Facebook
Twitter

All interviews, including Beth Thornley, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Follow on Twitter: @OSWBlog

Interviews with Music Fans (Part 3 of 3)

3 Hour Tour Group - Interviews with Music Fans

Interviews with Music Fans (photo by Sereyna Avila)

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Music brings people together. The photo above is a group shot of musicians and music fans from The 3 Hour Tour.  I’ve interviewed, or will interview soon, many of the musicians above. We were all brought together by Erin who’s included in the interviews today. Music is a very personal and subjective topic to all of us.  It has a deep, powerful and individualized effect on us.  Yet, I believe, the best musical moments are shared musical experiences.  Magical performances that you share with friends or strangers (that may even become friends). I started this series because my experience and perception of musical performances is so different than someone who doesn’t play an instrument.  I, in most cases, know exactly what notes they’re playing, what the chords are and why those chose them, what the rhyme scheme is maybe even what lyric is probably coming up next, why the instruments vary what they play on each section….. maybe even what they could do to make it better.  I have to make myself pull out of and turn off that analytic side and just enjoy and experience the moment.  There’s magic that can happen on stages, in coffeehouses and even on Yachts and you don’t want to miss those moments.  Just last night I was playing with an incredible singer as a duo.  We’ve never played as a duo, never rehearsed and decided what songs to do right on stage.  But something happened and we just locked in together and went to the same places, made the same choices.  It was magical and having played gigs for almost 40 years I know that does not happen every night.  The small but engaged crowd knew and were silent for the set.  We heard from so many people afterwards that they knew something special had just happened.  We all need more magical times in our life and music is a pretty good place to find magic and share it with your friends.

These last 3 people are special to me.  2 of them are at almost every gig I play and sometimes even the rehearsals.  The third organized one of the most memorable music afternoons of my life.  Hope you enjoy this final, for now, episode.  Thanks for being part of this.

Erin (Nashville, TN)

Image

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Erin: I took piano lessons for a number of years, but can’t play much more than Mary Had A Little Lamb, Heart & Soul, When You Wish Upon A Star and Penquins at Play from my Primary lesson book.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Erin: Back in my mid-20’s (the wild days) I went to 2-3 shows a week.  I think I saw more than 200 performances in a single year at my pinnacle. These days, with life demands getting in the way and less energy in my 30’s I probably get out to 2-3 shows a month if I’m lucky.  Having just moved to Nashville I have a feeling that number is going to spike a bit more again this year!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Erin: It takes me back to places and times.  I can remember the day some songs were debuted on stage (i.e. were born).  I can remember where I was when I first heard them on the radio.  Sometimes the lyrics hit me in such powerful ways I just break down (especially worship music) and sometimes when a day is rough I just need to crank up a song with a good beat (preferably old school rap/hip hop) and listen on repeat til my stress goes away.  Music is a very emotional experience for me, and having the opportunity to me and be friends (albeit distant for many) with the people who write and sing them only add to the depth it can tie me to songs emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Erin: I rarely listen to instrumental music unless it’s something I’m playing in the background to help concentrate (i.e. classical).  I connect much more with music that has lyrics, and moreso lyrics that speak to me.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Erin: To some extent yes, a song can hit home just as much live as it does when I hear it in my car on the drive home, or when it comes up on my iPod or through Spotify as I’m getting ready in the morning.  However, the experience of live music always adds another dimension to music that can’t be captured in a recording.  The energy of the fans taking in the live music, seeing the performer deliver the song, watching the background music come to life through keys and strings and hits on drums all adds a much fuller sensory experience to listening to music.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Erin: Absolutely.  Each and every playlist I have takes me to one place or another.  My past, my present, this experience, that memory, those people, this roadtrip, that time in my life.  I even have songs that I imagine dancing to at my wedding (despite the fact that I haven’t even met my husband yet).  Music being able to bind itself to key moments in my life is one of my favorite attributes about it.  Putting the iPod on shuffle is like taking a walk down memory lane.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Erin: I don’t use the term “friends” as loosely as Facebook.  I tend to call them “musician friends” if they are artists that I like to support that I have come to know in going to their shows over the years who know me. If we don’t typically share meals together when we get together, chat on the phone or talk about subjects other than music – I don’t usually define them as a friend.  A handful have definitely become close personal friends, and I’m very blessed to have found them through music.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Erin: The best musicians know their fans, cater to their fans, appreciate their fans, and tailor their sets to what makes it the most enjoyable experience.  It really doesn’t matter if they forget lyrics, have a mishap on stage, it’s the realness and vulnerability they bring to their set that makes it fun to be a part of.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Erin: How great of a connection it can be between people, you and your emotions, experiences that will be the most memorable in your life and so much more.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Erin: It’s the cheapest therapy you can ever buy!

Cathy (Dallas, TX)

Interviews with music fans

Cathy

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Cathy: When I was about 6 years old, my mom was a big Broadway musical fan. Talent shows and music on the record player filled many days. Then came the Beatles, need I say more?

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Cathy: I tried the piano but just did not work..could play a bit by ear, but reading music and making my hands do what the sheet music said was just too frustrating. I resigned myself long ago to let others play the instruments the way they were intended..

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Cathy: I used to do at least 5 or 6 big concerts a year, along with some smaller local ones. The cost of those big shows, a desire to invest my hard-earned dollars where I think they can do the most good, and a desire to have a more personal experience, has me focusing my attention on local talent and smaller venues. I go to quite a few shows doing that!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Cathy:  Music speaks to my heart and soul. It revs me up and slows me down, it makes me cry and makes me laugh. It makes me think.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Cathy: Humm, yes I listen to instrumental music almost as much as a song with lyrics. The instrumentals fill your senses with the unspoken passions of the musician(s) and give the music a freedom that reaches beyond words. It amazes me the way some instruments, such as the guitar, sound as if they are speaking words to me, or burrowing the notes in my head and heart.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Cathy: Depends on my mood, and who I am watching. For the most part, live music is the most fulfilling because I can actually watch it being created, the improvisations, the attachment between the artists and audience. But I love rocking, dancing and singing in the living room too!

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Cathy: Sure, many. Most of the important moments somehow connect to a song, since music is so important in my life.  “All My Lovin’” by the Beatles takes me back to the real beginning, “So Low” by Linda Ronstadt still brings out the tears, and “Dancin’ in the Dark” by Springsteen, well, I will keep that to myself!

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Cathy: Yes, I feel a real connection to musicians/artists. Perhaps because I connect to music so strongly, not to mention musicians tend to be more expressive, creative and connected to what life is. I love to watch the creative process. Through these wonderful friendships, I feel the music on an even more personal level than I thought was possible.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Cathy: Play your music from that place way down deep in your soul – believe in yourself!

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Cathy: I wish more music fans would be appreciative of the time and energy it takes for an artist to create and perform. Music is a gift from, musicians are sharing a part, a moment of their life with us. While not all music appeals to everyone, music is hard work, it has meaning, and importance to the artist that created it.  Respect that if nothing else.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Cathy: Music is life.

Netty (Fort Worth, TX)

Interviews with Music Fans

Netty

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Netty: We did not have a tv in our home when I grew up.  We did however have a radio which was almost always turned on to jazz and classical music.  When I was about 5 I asked for my own radio and cassette recorder.  When I moved from The Netherlands to the US I had 2 suitcases with me.  One was filled with cassettes containing music, the other was filled with “stuff.”

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Netty: Music may give me energy, help me focus, allow me to easily connect to feelings of happiness.  As a child I always listened to music while doing homework.  It was almost always instrumental music, most of the time jazz, sometimes classical.  During difficult times, it helps take the edge off pain, both physically and emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Netty: Stronger actually. For me it is easier to experience instrumental music.

Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Netty:  Brass instruments; phrasing.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Netty: Live music is what I prefer.  Live music allows for a very different connection to the music, including a physical connection.  I find myself hearing the music differently and believe that’s impacted by the visual experience.  With live music you never know what to expect, especially in jazz.  There is a different level of excitement, in part because of others in the crowd.  There is nothing like being in a room of music lovers and great musicians.  The energy that is created can result is the most amazing musical moments that will last a life time.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Netty: Absolutely.  Some are connected to travel, while others are directly connected to people, or periods of sadness or joy.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Netty: Yes.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Netty: Possibly share more of what is happening on stage for them.  It’s not about whether your performance is technically perfect, it’s about how your interpretation and presentation of the music makes us feel.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Netty:  That listening at a live performance will enhance the experience for everybody 🙂

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Netty: As a “foreigner” I can attest that music is truly a universal language.  While two people speaking a different language may not be able to “connect” emotionally, music can change that in an instant.  For me personally music has helped me learn, heal, feel at home anywhere, and imagine the impossible.

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Thank for for supporting music, creating music, reading about music how ever it is that you’re involved! Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Now go out and listen to some live music with your friends.

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Interviews with Music Fans (part 2 of 3)

Amber

Interviews with Music Fans (this photo by Jessica Loucks)

I’m really overwhelmed by how many of you stopped by to read Part 1 of the interviews with music fans.  Thank you for stopping by and all of your favorable comments.  This week it’s part 2 of the 3 part series. In full disclosure, much of my SXSW was spent with 2 of the people interviewed this time. I have either attended shows with this group and/or had them come see me play.  I guess I just enjoy hanging out with good people!

AJ Lark (Austin, TX)
http://musicismyfirstlanguage.wordpress.com/

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
AJ Lark: I was born with music inside of me. Music was one of my parts — it was a force already within me when I arrived at the scene.” (Ray Charles) I may not create my own music, but that’s exactly how I feel about it. Music wasn’t a constant in my house growing up, but it was always accessible. My dad has a beautiful voice and some of my favorite childhood memories center around sitting at his feet while he played the guitar and sang; The Beach Boys will always make me think of my dad. He also led worship at church and I vividly remember the feeling of pride swelling in my chest when I listened to him sing, that’s my dad. My parents were divorced, so these were summertime memories — limited in quantity, which made them sacred. My dad also played the saxophone and the piano. He didn’t read music, either. He played by ear. His musical bad-assery left me in a constant state of awe. My mom’s taste was all over the place. She had this amazing collection of 45s and I used to go through them listening one at a time and making stacks of the ones I liked and the ones I didn’t like. My musical taste was always my own, though. I liked the Beatles at a very young age, when no one I knew listened to the Beatles. I liked 80’s new wave bands that didn’t get much radio play in the small Colorado town where I grew up. I had no use for the country music that ruled the airways. We weren’t allowed to watch much TV at home, so I’d sneak over to friends’ houses as often as I could to watch MTV. Then I’d beg my mom to take me to the library where I’d check out records and cassette tapes.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
AJ Lark: I took piano lessons for a short time when I was 11 or 12. It came naturally and I wish I had stuck with it, but it didn’t hold my interest. I wanted gymnastics. I wanted dance. I couldn’t be bothered with hours spent practicing piano. I do remember the only thing I loved playing and actually invested in getting good at was Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet (the Love Theme)’.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
AJ Lark: This varies. Not nearly as many as I’d like (complications of being a single parent). There was a time in my life when I saw a bare minimum of two shows a week and that’s how I would like it.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
AJ Lark: There is no high like a good live show. I feel fluttery heart palpitations and a rising sense of euphoria just thinking about it.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
AJ Lark: Definitely not.

Our Scattered Words: Why does it not?
Amber: While I thoroughly enjoy instrumental music, especially anything with strings, it’s the lyrics that I find seductive and magnetic. It’s rare that I truly connect with something that doesn’t have lyrics.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
AJ Lark: No. But both are necessary. One is food and the other is water, in a way. Recorded music is water. I need it, lots of it, to survive. Live music is more like a delicious meal. Still a requirement for life, but I can get by on less. Live music is such an “all in” experience for me. Heart, mind, body, soul – I’m in another place. Recorded music allows me to process on a more conscious level. I can dissect something and articulate why I do or don’t connect with it. I lose that rational capability with live music. I’m moved to tears or I’m not. I’m moved to dance, or I’m not. I’m stunned speechless by the beauty of it all, or I’m not.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
AJ Lark: It seems strange to say “no”, but somehow I can’t think of any! Del Amitri’s “Roll to Me” was playing on the radio when I cartwheeled my car down a mountainside when I was 16 years old. Does that count?!

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
AJ Lark: Yes, absolutely.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
AJ Lark: Interesting question. I don’t know. For me it’s always, “What could the fans do?” Or “What could the venues do?” I think more often than not the musicians do all the can. They bring it heart and soul, 24/7.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
AJ Lark: I wish they could understand that their incessant chatter during live shows causes me, and others like me, physical pain. Outside of that I don’t waste much breath trying to convert or convince people. You either get it, or you don’t.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
AJ Lark: To quote Hunter S. Thompson: “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” I think that about covers it.
(please check out AJ’s blog Music Is My First Language. one of my favorites)

Giselle

Interviews with Music Fans

Giselle (Vancouver)

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Giselle: can’t remember but i’ve always liked it – for as long as i can remember i’ve always been aware of any music that’s playing (even if it’s in the background)

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Giselle: no

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Giselle: i’d go to more if i could but, i’m probably averaging seeing 100 bands i like in a year

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Giselle: ‘i don’t listen to music based on my moods and i rarely pay attention to lyrics but listening to a song i like or discovering a new band always makes me feel a bit better about the world’

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Giselle: no
Our Scattered Words: Why does it not?
Giselle: not sure because i don’t really pay attention to the lyrics (i like music in languages i don’t speak)

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Giselle: it can but i usually use the recorded music to decide if i’ll see an artist live and if they’re good live, then i’ll listen to the recorded music more

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Giselle: yes (which is so great)

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Giselle: hard to say because i never really know why i like some performances and why i don’t like others

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Giselle: i don’t think i understand music but i do wish most people were more open to music discovery – there’s alot of amazing artists out there who don’t get the recognition because they don’t have the right record company or the right p.r or their song doesn’t get played in the right tv show or whatever …

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Giselle: i think the great thing about music is that it affects everyone differently – you and i may have completely different reasons for liking a song but we can share a connection because we both like it …

carla

Interviews with Music Fans

Carla (Carrollton)

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Carla: I grew up in the 50s – my parents were young and loved music. Neither were musicians, but we always had the radio or records going. Mom was a big Elvis fan, my dad liked Louis Armstrong – they both had country favorites and enjoyed the big band sound of their youth. I was exposed to a lot of tunes!

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Carla: No. I tinkered around for a while with a piano as a young adult but never learned to play with the exception of picking put a few notes (very slowly) from sheet music.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Carla: Hard to say. Most shows I attend are local artists. It would really vary depending upon what else was going on in my life but I will venture a guess at somewhere between 25 and 40. [OSW NOTE: Carla also does a lot to personally help support local musicians in many ways, including several of the artists I’ve interviewed]

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Carla: When I was in my 20’s and needed a good cry I would put on “Late For The Sky” by Jackson Browne. A sad song can make me sad. An inspiring song can make me cry. But mostly music brings me great joy. That feeling of transcending.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Carla: No
Our Scattered Words: Why does it not?
Carla: Where instrumental music can be very moving to me, particularly classical music where the instruments become like living voices, I am more drawn to songs with lyrics. Words are exciting – they paint a picture – a perfect rhyme will give me chills, a great metaphor is aweinspiring (and makes me so jealous because I can’t do it!). Instrumental music lacks that particular magic to me.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Carla: No. Live music is an entire experience – connection with the artist, energy from the audience, and live instruments always grab my attention more than those on recordings. There are certain notes and tones, particularly from a keyboard, that I can feel in my cells. Sometimes though, recordingscan get me pumped, all cranked up, and make me sing (not so well) and dance about the house.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Carla: Not really. Songs will invoke memories or feelings, particularly nostalgia. Sometimes songs remind me of a certain person. I’ve been around for a while, so there’s a lot of this going on!

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Carla: Yes. I’ve had musician friends all my adult life. A few have become close friends. Indie artists are accessible for the most part and are happy to meet their fans and many times that evolves into a friendship. The musicians I know and have known all just want people to listen, they notice those who do.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Carla: I think fans want great sound and a relatively clean and comfortable venue. Not sure how much control the artists have over that. I have a pet peeve about being intentionally misinformed about the time of the performance so as get people there on time. Those of us who are always on time have a bit of an issue then having to wait. However, none of the inconveniences matter once the music starts – at that point, the sound is important!

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Carla: My interest in that would mostly be to have more attendance at local shows. I want that for the artists and the future of local music.  Music itself can be a very personal thing. I believe we each get to decide what is “good” music and what is not. I would hope that music fans would slow down and let the music work its magic. Listen and experience the great joy that can come from allowing it to take over your senses. Then there is actually magic that happens between the audience and the performers that keeps people coming back.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Carla: Music is a gift from the Universe. It is truly a universal language crossing all borders and barriers. We can all participate.

jeffrey

Interviews with Music Fans

 

Jeffrey (DeSoto, TX)

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Jeffrey: Have no idea

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Jeffrey: Played a french horn in jr. high school but didn’t know what I was doing.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Jeffrey: Local – probably about 50 – National acts maybe 3 or 4.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Jeffrey: Sometimes music can really be uplifting. I used to listen to lyrics a lot more than I do now.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Jeffrey: Yes

Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Jeffrey: Tough question. It depends on the song. I really like music that’s layered where you have to listen several times to hear everything. I guess a good beat and bass line is what initially catches my attention as long as it’s not too repetitive.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Jeffrey: Yes, each has it’s own place

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Jeffrey: Most definitely, maybe more of a connection in periods of my life as opposed to important moments.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Jeffrey: No

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Jeffrey: Play more original music.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Jeffrey: I don’t really care about other music fans. You either have an appreciation for music or you don’t. I really don’t believe that it’s a choice. Just as musicians are bless with the talent of music some of us are also bless with an inherent appreciation of music.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Jeffrey: I think one of the most important things about music is that music can bring all types of racial, ethnic or whatever types of people together. It also provides and emotional escape from our everyday problems. Most of all when a song is good you feel it in your soul.

PART 1 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3

Thank for for supporting music, creating music, reading about music how ever it is that you’re involved! Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Come back for the final part of this series on Friday!

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Lauren Turk Songwriting Interview

Lauren Turk Songwriting Interview

Lauren Turk Songwriting

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” this is a quote often misattributed to Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein. Whatever the source, be it a scientist/philosopher or Narcotics Anonymous brochure,  it’s a trap that musicians often fall into. We often expect what worked 5, 10, 30 years ago to work today and that’s a bad idea.  Technology has changed people’s views on, and access to, the arts.  If you give a group of people the choice between free and legal access to a song/movie/book and paid access (even at a minimal cost) a majority of people will, not surprisingly, chose free access.  Digitizing creations has lessened the general populations perceptions about the value of songs and movie.  They enjoy having them, but there’s no tangible thing to hold so they perceive to be of less value than an LP or …..Laser Disc. [note to self; why does this opening read like a Masters Thesis?].  I don’t like that this perception exists regarding music, but we need let that new paradigm guide what we do.

Musicians need to find different ways to connect with people, new ways to distribute and share their creations.  That’s exactly what intrigued me about Lauren Turk.  I read through posts at Good.is a couple of times a week to find people and organizations pursuing similar goals that we can partner with. It’s become one of my best resources to find good contacts. [readers thoughts; “I thought this was a songwriting blog? Did I click the wrong link?] One day I found an article about Lauren at the Good site.  It caught my attention immediately because she found a new way to get her music out to people and, in doing so, it provided help to a great cause. I immediately contacted her to set up this interview.

Lauren Turk Songwriting INterview

Lauren Turk
Hometown- 
Chicagoland Current City- Los Angeles
Most Recent Release- “Forward” EP, July 2013 – Genre: Pop Electronica
Band Affiliation- The New History (my newest music project)

Brief Intro- 
Made in Chicago, living in Los Angeles.  I’m a singer-songwriter with a few degrees. Two bachelor’s — Business/French and Communications — and one masters in Political Science from the University of Illinois and Sciences-Po in Paris, France.

I learned piano and violin as a kid, and developed a proclivity for classical music. After an adolescence in musicals, competitive singing, choir and lots of national anthems, I put music aside for many years while studying other things… until one fine day in Paris…I fell hard for a former love…(music).

Before you could say “quarter-life-crisis” I was singing with jazz bands across Paris, and earned spots in both the Sciences-Po Orchestra & choir. The occasional escape to Berlin came to include rather profitable and oh-so enjoyable busking escapades in the cityscape. These years sparked a vibrant realization – my life could not be full without creating music.

Once finished with school in May 2012, I  shook off the cobwebs with concerts in Europe and the United States. Excitement ensued, and I packed my bags for Los Angeles to have a go at the music industry.

Today in the city of angels, I write and perform music on the regular, experimenting with styles, discovering my sound. My bottom line is simply a love for singing and performing.

A self-titled artivist, I care deeply about issues which mark our evermore interconnected societies; sustaining/protecting the environment, feeding/educating people, making our world one that is not violent and respects people equally. I try to embed these themes into my work and do my part, sometimes through the song itself, other times through other work, events and community initiatives.

My mission is to live a life of symbiosis –making a positive difference by combining the things I love to do.

Our Scattered Words: I stumbled on to your story via GOOD. In a very short time I’ve found it to be an incredible resource to find people and organizations that; want to help each other and want to champion positive actions happening in the world.  How did that connection come about and how has it impacted you?
Lauren Turk: GOOD was one of the first and best things I discovered when I moved to LA. It opened up my eyes to this city’s vibrant ecosystem of start-ups, young companies and cooperatives with their heads and hearts in the right place. It’s a big part of why I love being here

Furthermore, the first GOOD article I read helped shift my perspective on what success in the music industry means to me. I had (and still have) my goals set very high, but had always vowed that once I met “success” that I’d use the accompanying platform as an agent of change. I had a Gwen Stefani moment and realized “Whatchyou waiting for”? Making a difference starts the moment you decide to take action. The best we can do is use what we have, there’s no need to reach a certain “level” first.

Our Scattered Words: Do you think you’ll ever work renewable energy policies into a song idea?
Lauren Turk: Yes!! I think about it everyday (I also wrote a master’s thesis on this topic). There’s actually a song on my EP called “Generation” that’s about waking up and taking action to salvage our environment.

I plan to write more in the future in different genres. It’s a challenge to turn this topic into a song without being preachy or doomsday, and you could lose your audience…

Unfortunately, the impacts of climate change are so globally pervasive and large that taking responsibility on an individual level and accepting the sobering truth about what’s happening to our environment, food and water is so often shrugged off. A lot of people don’t want to hear it, think about it, or realize their direct impact. The plot thickens with companies and governments the all powerful M word ($$). My dream is to write something that is both digestible and compelling to people.

Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Lauren Turk: My method is sort of strange. I get inspiration at really inconvenient times! Invariably when I am moving from point A to B – biking, walking, driving, and especially when working out. Movement turns my creative brain on like no other. Typically words come first, and then I find a chord progression to match the mood of my thoughts, and last the melody. That’s when I’m songwriting alone. When I songwrite with others, I try to absorb their vibe and let something come out naturally, usually on the spot. I love doing it both ways.

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Lauren Turk: Sometimes (and almost exclusively for love songs), I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with lyrics at my fingertips in a sort of lucid dreaming state (my song “Impasse” happened like this).

For the most part, I write the songs pretty immediately and try not to sit on things longer than a month or so. I find I lose momentum and I might end up completely changing the mood of the song if I revisit it too long after. Maybe this makes my work less than it’s best sometimes…but I also think it makes for an honest portrayal of the inspirational place it originated from 🙂

If I feel blocked or uninspired, sometimes I have a look through my old songwriting journals, especially from my travels.

Our Scattered Words:  Artists are not always the strongest communicators off of the stage.  Has your degree in degree in Business and Communications helped you in developing your music career?
Lauren Turk: I definitely think so. These credentials allow me work on amazing projects part-time by day with people who value the different goals and aspirations I have. With a little time management, I get the best of both worlds. That said, the music industry is a totally different animal— the protocols, socializing, competition and hierarchies are unique to what you encounter in other sectors. I’ve been learning a lot. I’d say my background has helped me think strategically about the music industry instead of just creatively (music-making).  I also like to think I’m harder to trap in a contract than the next guy 😉

Our Scattered Words: What constitutes a good story for you?
Lauren Turk: Ideally a good story is relatable, comes from a unique angle, and is genuine. The moment I doubt whether a story is contrived or staged, I enjoy it less.  Metaphors are also powerful aspects of a good story.

Our Scattered Words: Were your parents involved in music at all? What do they think of music becoming your career path?
Lauren Turk: No, not really. They’ve always been supportive of my pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be. I’m very lucky for that. I think they thought I was crazy when I announced that after finishing my masters I was going to head to L.A. to have a go at the music industry. They were confused, but when they saw that this was coming from my heart, their confusion dissipated 🙂

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish you did better?
Lauren Turk: I wish I were stronger in music theory. It’s crazy, I studied piano, violin, and singing for so many years, but didn’t like music theory. I would skip over it, and I think it slipped under my teachers’ radar because I had a good ear and progressed quickly. Now, I have to make up for that. It’s such a pain! I’m a stickler for theory with the kids I teach (piano and violin) so that they don’t suffer the same fate, haha.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Lauren Turk: This is such an impossible question. A lot of my favorite lyrics are in French… but lately, the lyric that has been running around in my head is from First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou” “Now so much I know that things just don’t grow if you don’t bless them with your patience”. That resonates deeply with me.

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Lauren Turk: 

  1. Never give up!
  2. Only two opinions matter when it comes to critiquing and modifying your work. That of the non-musician (do they like it?) and that of the expert (what is missing, what doesn’t make sense?). The endless opinions in between can just distract you from the unique flavor you bring to the table (the producer of my EP “Forward”, Rudi Meibergen, said this to me)
  3. There’s an audience for everything…just do your own thing and have fun! The rest will fall into place.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Lauren Turk: Oh my…anything with Michael Jackson. He was brilliant – he would come in and sing all the harmonies and notes for each player on every instrument…it didn’t matter whether it was for guitar or a trumpet. He had it all in his head. I feel like it would be so overwhelmingly inspiring to witness something like that, and I would most likely cry from awesomeness overload.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Lauren Turk: Leonard Cohen. In my opinion, no one really lights a candle to his songwriting ability. His lyrics just get you, and you feel like you get them. They are profound but not overdone. He was a master of finding that balance.

Our Scattered Words: What are you up to now?
Lauren Turk: I’m going on tour in Europe from April 10-April 28th introducing my new music project called The New History. We’re playing in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, then we’ll head to Urbana-Champaign (where I went to school) to play at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and in the first annual Agora festival (which I’m co-organizing), which celebrates community and collaboration as paradigms for happy and successful living. Then, we’re headed to Chicago to play at the Tonic Room and go on Fearless Radio! All these details will be posted on our website, www.thenewhistory.com. There will be links on my website, www.laurenturkmusic.com, as well!

Lauren Turk on the Wb

www.laurenturkmusic.com

www.facebook.com/LaurenTurkMusic

Follow on Instagram: @LaurenTurkMusic

Follow on Twitter: @LTsings

The New History

www.thenewhistory.com

www.facebook.com/TheNewHist

Follow on Instagram: @TheNewHistory

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Lauren Turk, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Bonus materials for Lauren include 3 music videos of songs she’s been enjoying lately.

Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Follow on Twitter: @OSWBlog