Free Music Book For everyone (that wants one)

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Free Music Book

Musicians, and people in the Arts, tend to be big hearted souls.  We want to share these beautiful creations with as many people as possible.  We tend to want to help people in need.  Musicians and music educators want young people, and “old” people who never had the chance, to experience making music because we know the change it make in someone’s life.  We want to “save the music” and bring as many people as possible along for the ride.

I’ve been involved with playing music for… Wow… over 40 years, writing music for almost that long and teaching music for over 30 years.  So, I have a lot of first hand experience at the joy music can bring to the life of a wide range of people; from beginners to pros, from young to old.  I’m not going to spend time reviewing the studies on the impact music has on people.  Playing music has numerous positive benefits and it’s fun.  That’s enough for me to want more people to be musickers at all levels.

FreeMusicBook.com just started this year (full disclosure- was started by a company I’ve worked for many years) and is bringing together; music publishers, music supporters and people who want to learn music.  Anyone who wants a free music book can get one.  We are, currently, the only publisher offering a free book since this is just at the start.  But, we forsee many music publishers and music app developers joining us soon.  We’d love to give people a number of free music books and apps to get them started.

Please join FreeMusicBook.com as a; Publisher or Promoter. Or, just stop by to get your Free Music Book.  Please help, by spreading the word and join our initiative by signing our petition to get a free music book to everyone that wants/needs one.

Not necessarily a songwriting post, or interview, today.  But, the more people we have involved with music the more music supporters we create.

As always, thanks for spending some time here.

Our Scattered Words

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Kaela Sinclair Songwriting Interview

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Kaela Sinclair

Connections. Students pursuing MBAs often choose the school by which program will lead to the most connections for their future career.  Film students do the same with film schools.  The value of the contacts, most often, surpass the value of the education. (No offense meant, NYU/UT/USC). It’s the same in music.  Often, seemingly casual acquaintances can lead to career-changing moments later on.  So, it’s good to reach out and connect with musicians in and on the edge of your network.  It’s so much different, and maybe even easier now, from when I was growing up.  I went to see Marian McPartland play,when I was in High School in the 70s, and talked with her after the show.  I let her know I had done an arrangement of her song “Ambiance”.  She gave me her address and asked me to mail it to her.  This lead to a long-term friendship over several decades

About a month ago, I got a friend request from Kaela Sinclair.  I recognized her name.  Wasn’t sure exactly where from, but we knew a lot of the same people.  She thought we had met when she sent the request.  But we chatted and she seemed like a good person. Then I listened to her album and really liked it. I was thinking it would be fun to interview her on her writing and the album. It’s pretty different from other releases coming out in the area.  Suddenly, in the end of 2013 music reviews the local press was picking “Sun & Mirror” as one of the best releases in the area. Kaela is also friends with Jessie Frye, who I interviewed last August.  I’m glad to be able to share this interview and her songs with those of you who have not been fortunate enough to hear Kaela Sinclair yet.

Kaela Sinclair
Current City- Denton, TX
Most Recent Release- “Sun & Mirror” 11 song LP

BIO

I grew up in Sarasota, FL – a sunny, Gulf coast beach town. My parents settled down there when I was a few years old after traveling the country in the Air Force as linguists. They homeschooled me until 6th grade and instilled in me a deep appreciation for learning and creating. I was an avid reader, and loved to draw and paint. My mother says I was singing as soon as I could talk. I started piano lessons around the age of six, and never stopped playing. Songwriting was a natural progression from there.

By the time I finished middle school I was fully engrossed in music and had decided that I would be a professional musician. Luckily, there was a high school in Sarasota that had a pretty serious magnet arts program. There I discovered my passion for music theory and was exposed to jazz and classical music. This introduction to the intellectual, technical side of music was a catalyst for much deeper musical growth.

I moved to Denton, TX in 2008 as a freshman at the University of North Texas, where I majored in Jazz Voice performance, with a minor in Music Theory. It was an intense program which required hours of practice and study a day. Though I was studying jazz, my peers exposed me to other interesting sub-genres of music. I experimented in all of them – writing songs that ranged from fusion and funk, to neo-soul, to brazilian jazz, to avant-garde pop. By the time I graduated from UNT in 2012 I felt I had to make a decision regarding the direction of my musical career. In the end it was obvious that I should return to my most natural state of creativity and write alternative, indie pop music – but I’m still greatly influenced by the chords, rhythms, and melodies of jazz, soul, and classical music.

I released my debut album of original music, Sun & Mirror, in October of 2013, after almost two years of intense self-discovery. After years of listening to and learning how to play such a wide variety of genres it was a challenge being consistent in my writing style. I spent a lot of time listening to music and searching for new artists. I would listen to an artist and ask myself, “Do I want to sound like this in any way?”, and if the answer was “No,” I stopped listening. In that regard, listening to music became more of a desperate search for identity, and less of a means for pleasure and entertainment. It didn’t help that I was making a living playing Top 40 cover band gigs on the weekend and teaching Taylor Swift and One Direction songs to kids during the week.

Within the course of six months I had written about fifty new songs, but it wasn’t until August of 2012 that I finally began to find my sound. That’s when I wrote the first couple of songs from Sun & Mirror. “Without” and “Coral Castles” came first. I scrapped the dozens of songs I had written up to that point and began a more deliberate approach. Just a few weeks later I happened to meet McKenzie Smith – a remarkable drummer with impeccable taste and a great ear for production. He’s the drummer for the band Midlake and has worked with artists like Regina Spektor, St. Vincent, and Sarah Jaffe. I asked him to work with me on the album and he immediately said yes. I was floored by the passion he put into the project and felt he truly shared my vision for the album. I continued to write as we began recording at Redwood Studios in Denton, TX (owned and operated by McKenzie and Midlake guitarist, Joey McClellan) and found a great band.

The recording process was emotionally and financially strenuous, but one of the most rewarding experiences in my life up to this point. Sun & Mirror is the first successful realization of my artistic vision, but it’s still just the beginning. I have a lot more to say.

Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Kaela Sinclair: There isn’t one single way I write songs, but a typical approach starts at the piano. Most of the time I improvise until I find a chord progression or instrumental hook that I like. Once I’ve got a little bit of music I’ll start writing lyrics in tandem. Sometimes I write lyrics separately, but more often I write the chords, melody, and lyrics together and move section by section. The first verse and the chorus are the hardest part to write, but once those are finished the rest of the song is generally easy to write. Sometimes if I’m feeling stuck I’ll try writing on guitar. Two songs from the album were written on guitar – “Run” and “Better.”

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Kaela Sinclair: Honestly, my best songs come very quickly. In one or two sittings. I do a lot of small lyrical revisions, but I most often find that if they need heavy re-working they simply aren’t working. But I save most of my failed lyrics, and sometimes use old lyrics in new songs.

Our Scattered Words: Where do your stories come from for songs?  Are you influenced by books you read or movies?
Kaela Sinclair: Like many songwriters, I often draw from my own life experiences, relationships, and daily adventures. I have a passion for philosophy and have spent a lot of time exploring and developing my specific worldview, often with the aid of books written by great thinkers. Psychology and internal conflict play into my writing a lot. I write about the elusive qualities of happiness, and the dangers of introspection. I’ve alway been an eager consumer of adventure, fantasy, and sci-fi books, so from a young age I had a dramatic, sometimes dark sense of imagination. I think you can hear that in my music.

Our Scattered Words: You went through the Jazz program at North Texas which is intense.  But, it’s not really a true songwriting program like Berklee.  How have your music studies impact your writing?
Kaela Sinclair: It’s true, I never studied songwriting in college. I’m glad I didn’t. There is something about music school that can make musicians very formulaic. There are songwriting “formulas” that the hit songwriters use to make the songs that top the charts, but most of those songs are incredibly bland. They use the same chords, lyrics, production tricks, and lyrical hooks over and over and over again. It bores me to tears. That’s not what I’m interested in.

What music school did give me is technical abilities and musical comprehension – a skill set that is invaluable to my writing. Music theory and ear training skills, sight-reading abilities, and good vocal technique are the best things I got out my schooling.

Our Scattered Words: Your album “Sun and Mirror” is getting incredible attention and feedback. “one of the best albums to emerge from the DFW area thus far in 2013.” – DFW.com”  Has that surprised you?
Kaela SInclair: It’s been incredibly encouraging and validating. I knew when I released the album that there was no guarantee that it would get noticed, but I certainly hoped it would. It’s a huge personal accomplishment when someone says to me that they’ve had the album on repeat. I don’t need everyone to like it, but I want some people to love it.

Our Scattered Words: What will you do different or change on the next album?
Kaela SInclair: I’m already excited for the next album. I had to go through a lot of growing pains for my first album…it will be nice to start off with more self-assurance and a solid foundation to build upon. I’ve already written a couple of new songs and have started imagining the sounds I want to create. I have a lot of ideas that I want to experiment with. The next album will be even bigger, sonically.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Kaela Sinclair: Oh, I have so many! But the lyrics to “Marching Bands of Manhattan” by Death Cab for Cutie have stuck with me for a long time.

“If I could open my arms

And span the length of the isle of Manhattan,

I’d bring it to where you are

Making a lake of the East River and Hudson

If I could open my mouth

Wide enough for a marching band to march out

They would make your name sing

And bend through alleys and bounce off all the buildings.

I wish we could open our eyes

To see in all directions at the same time

Oh what a beautiful view

If you were never aware of what was around you

And it is true what you said

That I live like a hermit in my own head

But when the sun shines again

I’ll pull the curtains and blinds to let the light in.”

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Kaela Sinclair: Learn all that you can – be good at an instrument. Listen to good music and dissect it. When you hear a song that you love, figure out why you love it and incorporate it into your music in small ways. Be genuine and strive to make music that you would listen to.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Kaela Sinclair: I would have loved to be behind the scenes during the making of Kimbra’s album, Vows. She has extraordinary pop sensibilities, but she’s creative and eccentric. She also had a great team behind her. There’s a lot of fascinating production on that album and I would have loved to peek over the shoulders of her producers.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Kaela Sinclair: Three people come to mind. Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, and Sia. Jeff Buckley because his music was so original and wholehearted, and swept people off their feet with just one album. Thom Yorke because he is a genius and one of the most prolific indie rock musicians ever. Sia because she writes hit pop songs for people like Britney Spears but still manages to write unique, eccentric music. She seems to have found a way to balance conventional and unconventional.

Kaela Sinclair on the Web
Sun & Mirror is available for purchase on iTunes and Bandcamp. You can stream the whole thing Here
OFFICIAL SITE: www.kaelasinclair.com
LIKE: www.facebook.com/kaelasinclairmusic
FOLLOW: www.twitter.com/kaelasinclair
SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/1kx3FC2

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

Bonus materials for Kaela Sinclair include; 3 videos of Kaela and 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

Mark Geary Songwriting Interview

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Mark Geary (photo by Sioux Nesi)

Mark Geary is the type of person I hoped to interview when I started this blog.  Someone that several friends have referred me to listen to through the years, but I still don’t really know enough about.  A writer with great depth in his storylines and lyrics with a passionate delivery.  Someone that’s hung out with Jeff Buckley and Glen Hansard. A person that gives truthful and interesting answers to the questions.  Mark also answers almost how he write lyric phrases. It’s interesting and I like it. This was fun.  You’re gonna enjoy it.

Mark Geary
Hometown- Dublin, Ireland
Record Label- sonablast records
Most Recent Release- Songs Vienna

BIO
Mark Geary is a Dublin born musician who has split his time between Ireland and New York City over the last 20 years. He spent his early years performing in NYC at the famed Sin-e Café alongside other up and coming musicians, including friend Jeff Buckley, garnering respect and attention from both audiences and fellow artists. Of Mark’s time in New York, Time Out NY magazine said “His delicate songs about love and defiance…recall Richard Thompson and John Lennon….one of the East Village’s favorite adopted sons.”

Touring and performing live is Mark’s lifeblood. He has been featured on bills with musicians as diverse as Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Coldplay, The Frames and The Swell Season among others.

Since 2002, Mark has released 4 studio albums and 2 live recordings. His second album, the acclaimed Ghosts, was named 2005’s Album of the Year by the Irish VoiceBillboard Magazine said Ghosts “evokes Van Morrison, particularly his early-1970s era,” and called it “a collection of superb songs delivered with a quiet intensity that will endear itself to listeners.”

To capture Mark’s talents as a performer and storyteller, the 2009 live album Live, Love, Lost It NYC showcases some of his best songs performed in front of audiences at various venues around New York City. Mark’s second live recording, Songs: Vienna was just released in December 2013. It was recorded over one night at Casino Baumgarten in Vienna with Mark’s band Grainne Hunt and Mark Penny.

In addition to his own albums, Mark has composed the score to several films; 2005’s Loggerheads, 2006’s Steel City, and 2010’s Sons of Perdition, a Tribeca Film Festival favorite and one of the first documentaries featured in the Oprah Winfrey Network Documentary Club. His songs have also been featured on various television shows including One Tree Hill and Bones.

In 2013 Mark toured throughout Ireland, the UK, New York, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. In November of 2013, Mark collaborated with Glen Hansard on a new version of his song Christmas Biscuits as a charity single for St. Vincent DePaul of Ireland. The song hit the Top 40 and was made the song of the week on TodayFM Ireland’s largest commercial radio station.

In 2014 Mark will be touring in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic while also working on his 5th studio record.

Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Mark Geary: I guess it changes. From song to song . But generally . After a bucket of coffee I pick up my guitar . And play. Humming melodies or looking at bits of paper I’ve scribbled on .. And just kinda join the dots . Sometimes just for the joy of playing or singing to myself. When songs come they seem to come very quickly . Almost fully formed  like the 90% perspiration. 10% inspiration . Thing . You have to work on it.
File down the bits. They don’t quite work . Etc

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Mark Geary: They can be both really. There’s a feeling of toil . Sometimes and a feeling that . The hard songs . Are a channel to get the other song out .

Our Scattered Words: You’ve had a true career music.  If fact, you’ve been in music longer than some people I’ve interviewed have been alive.  What do you wish someone told you about the music business hen you were starting out?
Mark Geary: I guess I would be a little less hard on myself as opposed to seeing each show . Opportunity as something fearful.
To choose my battles better.
And to be a little more forgiving on where I was at the time .
Those years of playing the shittiest venues . To uninterested people . And wondering what it was that I was doing badly . Etc.
To give myself a bit of a break.

Our Scattered Words: What is the biggest change in your music career now from 20 years ago?
Mark Geary: The challenge is . To be heard . And noticed .
Over the shrill of constant bombarding of media . We are all shouted at . In a lot of ways . From the moment we get out of bed.
Facebook and Twitter . ” you have to see this video . You have to watch is . Listen to this ..”
When a lot of times . It’s a kitten sitting typing on a computer 🙂
So the challenge is . To believe in the beauty. do what it is you’re doing and trying to achieve .

Our Scattered Words: What was it like doing shows with Jeff Buckley following you and in the audience for your sets?
Mark Geary: He was a friend of mine . My brother had opened the Sin-e cafe . So it just happened a lot . That I was playing before him . In guess in a lot of ways . I was aware of the buzz around him, and justified of course . So when I played there was usually a crowd waiting for him to play . That’s a challenge in and of of itself. So I remember . Just trying to make an impact on a crowd that had no idea who I was .
It’s a great experience to try silence a room that . Honestly have no interest . Or thought of you .

Our Scattered Words: Where do your stories come from for songs?  Are you influenced by books you read or movies?
Mark Geary: Yes . A lot of songs would be autobiographical . Or an essence of me .
A little phrase that I say . Or have heard . Sometimes just a stand point . Or an aspiration

Our Scattered Words: You’ve done a few Film Scores which is a totally different world.  How is your writing process different on those scores?
Mark Geary: Well the difference is you’re serving the film you’re working on .
Watching a piece of film and trying to serve it in some subtle way. To capture the mood of what the director has in mind .
I really like doing them . As it’s not songs as such .
Just
Little pieces of music . Where you can really . Dig under the film. And create unsettling dark music.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Mark Geary: Mmmm. I have a song called the  ” volunteer ”

I’ve always loved how it happened and the song just flowed out . With these little stories in each verse . Also there’s a song on my recent record ” take me home “
” your a fire , sparks fly off your  bones… Take me home ..

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Mark Geary: Oh always to find your own voice. To capture the essence of e song . The little melody is far more effective than . Lots of complicated chords and tricks of singing .
Sing about what yu know . And sing things that yu believe are true .

Our Scattered Words:
If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Mark Geary:
Anything. That David Bowie and eno . Fripp. Might have done .
Heroes . Etc... The Berlin sessions

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Mark Geary:
Well Bob Dylan would be one .
I got a chance to talk to the edge about what he did . I found it truly a privilege .
So humble was he . And this constant seeker .

Mark Geary On The Web

Website
Facebook
Twitter and Twitter2
Youtube
Bandcamp
Imdb
All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Mark Geary, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.Bonus materials for Mark Geary include; 2 videos of him and 3 music videos of songs he’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. Let us know who you’d like to see interviewed.Thanks for spending some time here, sincerely.
Our Scattered Words

Mercy Bell Songwriting Interview

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Mercy Bell

Happy 2014!  Sorry I dropped off the map there for a bit. Work was really busy the last couple of months with a new exciting projects, lots of gigs, a music consulting project with Disney and just some needed family time.

There’s some great interviews coming up this year, that I’m excited to share with you.  Mercy Bell is a great one to start the year with.  My first introduction to Mercy was a Gummy Bear playing her, since she was sick, in a promo video for friends show at the Living Room about 3-4 years ago.  How many times have we all met someone in that same exact way?!

I found Mercy to be someone who loves music and songwriting.  She searches out people to talk about songwriting. She proudly shares her love of musicals.  She’s a kind and compassionate person who sincerely likes people and looks for the good in all people. We all need more Mercy Bells in our lives.

MERCY BELL
Current city- Nashville
Most Current Release- “All Good Cowboys” – too long ago, 2011

Brief introduction
Born in Boston, lived in San Francisco briefly as a kid, moved to San Diego and lived there for a decade, then moved to New Bedford, MA and lived there for 11 years until I moved to Brooklyn, NYC after college. Spent time in Arkansas, and now live in Nashville with my beautiful girlfriend. I’ve been singing in choirs, theater, or as a musician since I was 8 years old. I studied history at UMass Dartmouth. I’m part Filipino! I’ve had a lot of weird jobs to support my music career. Worked in corporate and non-profit offices, written textbooks, walked dogs, have been in a dunk tank, sold hot dogs, watched chickens, cleaned houses, fed cows, counted foot traffic, handed out snacks at concerts.

What is your songwriting/composing process?
Usually starts with either a hook or a sentence and then blossoms from there. It’s pretty organic.

What are you most proud of?
Probably my song “Black Dress”, it’s the most personal for sure.

You have a great love for musicals. Have you ever considered writing one?
Only every year since I was 8. The first song I ever wrote was for a Civil War musical when I was 10. I made my brother sing it. I also wrote a short film musical with my siblings and cousins one summer, it’s on YouTube somewhere. It was based on a found note on the ground that literally had the line “Armpits, stop the madness!”.

You spent time in several great musical cities (San Diego, Boston, New York and Nashville). How would you compare them as musical environments?
I can really only speak about New York and Nashville, as my time in San Diego and Boston I wasn’t focused on music yet. New York really taught me how to be an artist and how to hustle, you sing at dive bars with nobody there and you learn not to care, just sing anyway, learn how to do it for the love of it. In Nashville, in the indie/Americana scene at least, it’s easy to make a big splash fast. They’re so music hungry here and it’s easy to access the movers and shakers since the industry is here. You never know who will be in the audience. That was true in NYC to an extent, but Nashville is so much smaller.

Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Both! I usually have to play it out a few times. I can’t remember lyrics to save my life. I change them often because I forget them! If it sticks and flows, I use it.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Just off the top of my head

Patty Griffin’s “Top of the World”:

“But I’d pretend to be sleeping
When you’d come in in the morning
To whisper goodbye
Go work in the rain
I don’t know why”

Also Johnny Cash in Folsom Prison Blues,

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”

Pretty much anything Jenny Lewis or Sufjan Stevens writes (particularly “Casimir Pulaski Day”).

Music Reality shows have become very popular. maybe too popular. You’re a strong believer in musicians supporting each other rather than competing. Talk about your views on that.
I don’t see anything wrong with those shows. I know people who’ve gone on The Voice, AI, and America’s Got Talent, and they put everything they’ve got into it and deserve the exposure. I don’t do it because a) I don’t like signing contracts unless I really have to and b) I am not competitive. I’d be a really bad athlete. I can’t even sit through a board game without wanting to quit.

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Just do it. Show don’t tell.

If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Probably sing back up on one of Sufjan Steven’s albums. I’d say Patty Griffin but she doesn’t need any help.

If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Does Leonard Bernstein count?  I’d probably just want to hang out while he was writing West Side Story or On The Waterfront or Candide. I wouldn’t say a word, just watch. Can you imagine? Max Martin or Carole King. Those two can write pop hits and I love pop. I’d say Patty Griffin or Sufjan Stevens but I’d rather just sing karaoke with them and hear them talk about life.

Mercy Bell on the Web

Website
Twitter @mercybell
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All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Mercy Bell, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Bonus materials for Mercy Bell include; 2 videos of Mercy and 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

 

Denny Tedesco (“The Wrecking Crew”) Interview

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Denny Tedesco “The Wrecking Crew”

My musical career started as a studio musician/writer. It can be pretty interesting and exciting work.  Every day a completely different project; maybe a cartoon with Stravinsky influence, next day a Rap track, then a song for Lee Greenwood. You have to be open to all musical styles and very quickly find the truth for that song and project. Not too many musicians have done that better than “The Wrecking Crew”.  They were the musicians on ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Smile’, that also created Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” and albums by Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Captain and Tenille, The Monkees, The Archies etc.  Denny Tedesco’s father, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, was one of the primary members of “The Wrecking Crew”. Denny’s created an incredible film about those musicians and songs.  I was fortunate to see a screening a couple of years ago and hope you get to see it one of these days.

DENNY TEDESCO

Denny Tedesco grew up in Los Angeles and is an alumnus of Loyola Marymount University. He started his film career as a set decorator on feature films such as ‘Eating Raoul.’ He then traveled the world as a lighting technician and location producer for IMAX films. From the shark infested waters of Australia, to an exploding Volcano of Mt. Pinatubo (Philippines), and to the plains of Africa, he has filmed under the most challenging conditions.

Over the last 17 years, Denny directed/produced the Documentary called the “Wrecking Crew”.  It’s the story of the Los Angeles Studio Musicians that worked on almost all the hits that came out of LA in the mid 1960’s.  The film is playing around the world to sell out crowds and earning audience awards as well. “The Wrecking Crew”

The “Wrecking Crew” was his labor of love, but he has produced promos, videos and commercials for various companies and networks over the last 15 years.  Recently he has been directing Game Show Network Promos and producing commercials for the Time Life Musical collections as well as a project with “The Courtyard Hounds”, a new band with Dixie Chick sisters Emily and Martie. In the late 90s, he produced the Comedy Central Show called Pulp Comics. Most notably in 2000, he produced the Academy Awards ‘opening’ with Billy Crystal and also the award winning music video for Elton John’s song, ‘I Want Love,’ directed by artist Sam Taylor Wood and starring Robert Downey Jr.

Our Scattered Words:  Did you play instruments growing up?
Denny Tedesco: Yes but never practiced.  I could have been a one man band with everything I quit.  Piano, Guitar, Sax, Accordion.

Our Scattered Words:  How did you get started on “The Wrecking Crew” project?
Denny Tedesco: My father, Tommy Tedesco was a session guitarist and in 1996 he was diagnosed with cancer.  I didn’t want to have the biggest regret in my life of not recording his stories and history before he passed.  So I put together a  round table of players.  Drummer  Hal Blaine, Bassist Carol Kaye, and Saxophonist, Plas Johnson.

Dad passed in 97 but I continued to interview players and artists.  Cher, Brian Wilson, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Mickey Dolenz, Roger McGuinn, Jimmy Webb, Peter Tork, and so many others.

Our Scattered Words:  Who was “The Wrecking Crew” and how did the differ from “The Funk Brothers”?
Denny Tedesco: Its really a collection of players that were working in LA in the early 60s that were doing all the rock recordings because the older guys weren’t taking them or they didn’t want to do it.

There isn’t much difference in the Funk Brothers themselves.   All of these musicians are amazing.  But the business was different in Detroit vs LA.  LA had so many different types of music coming out in the 60s.  It was a factory town in another way.  The labels were pushing music out as fast as they could to see if they could grab onto something.

That was the hardest thing for me to tell the story.  You have to have the music to show the quantity that they did.  If you play Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Temptations, you know where its coming from.  Motown.  But if you have Sinatra, Beach Boys, 5th Dimension, Mamas and Papas, Byrds, and Chipmunks, what is the common thread there?  The musicians vs the sound. So I had to show quantity and not always quality sometimes.

Our Scattered Words:  How long did you think it would take to complete and release the film when you started?
Denny Tedesco: I thought I could do it pretty quickly.  We had a beginning, a middle and the end.  But no one ever came to the table to help so we kept going on our own.  Breaking the first rule of Hollywood. Don’t put your own money into your own project.  It’s a stupid rule and we kept breaking it.  I kiddingly say that the only ones that came to help were Visa, Wells Fargo, Master Charge and Country Wide.  Finally they stopped helping.

So, in 2006 we came to the conclusion we have to make this film on our own.  We hired an editor/producer and cut the film for the festivals in 2008.

But no one touched the film due to the high cost in licensing so I had to keep going and we have been taking donations over the last five years to pay off the labels and publishers.  They gave great deals but there was so much music.

So now we’ve paid off the labels and publishers and the last 250K goes to the Musicians Union so the musicians will be paid and the last few songs and stock footage that’s left.

Our Scattered Words:  How were “Standing In The Shadows of Motown” and “20 Feet From Stardom” able to get their films out so quickly?
Denny Tedesco: I think they both had Angels on board before the film was even shot.  I’ve had angels that have donated from $5.00 to $50,000 over the years.  It just takes more time that way. But I’m happy the way it’s going.  We’re just about to go for the last chunk of money through Crowd funding.

Our Scattered Words: What interview (or interviews) did you enjoy the most?
Denny Tedesco: Jimmy Webb was brilliant.  I always said that you could put his hour interview into an edit bay and just pick a number between 0-60 and it could go into the film.

There were other interviews that were awesome, like Snuff Garrett, Bill Medley, Jackie DeShannon and others that just couldn’t get it into the film.  So we have the out take reel.

Our Scattered Words: Which musicians/singers have been the most generous with their time/help on the project?
Denny Tedesco: Most have been very very generous of their time, but Herb Alpert and Nancy Sinatra of the artists have really helped giving me advise and pushing me forward.  They gave me their masters for free.

Hal Blaine and Don Randi have been unbelievable to me.  I feel my father never left with them around.

Our Scattered Words:  How many screenings have you done so far?
Denny Tedesco: Probably over 250 with festivals and  fundraising screenings around the country.

Our Scattered Words: You’re starting a Kickstarter in a couple of weeks.  What are the goals for that?
(NOTE: It’s now live, check it out and please pledge HERE )

Denny Tedesco: I need to go for 250K.  I can’t keep dragging this thing on by one song at a time. The musicians, the fans of the music, my friends and my family can’t keep going like this.  I can’t.  I have to just go for it.

I didn’t know how much we had to raise for the last bit until last June.  But the timing is good.  We built an audience close to 50K with Facebook Fan Page and our Website.

If it doesn’t work, I go back out and keep pounding.

Our Scattered Words:  What do you hope people take away from watching “The Wrecking Crew”?
Denny Tedesco: People have asked me, “Aren’t you tired of watching the film at all these screenings”.  I’m not watching the film anymore.  I’m watching the audience.  I love it.  I love seeing them laugh, smile, and even cry.  This music meant so much for so many people.  And every song means something different for every person watching the movie.

I’ve watched this film in Israel, Barcelona, and England.  This was America’s greatest export.  The world knows this music.

Our Scattered Words: What are you most proud of?
Denny Tedesco: I’m proud that I never gave up.  I’m proud when someone comes to me and says thank you for bringing back great memories of their youth or of their parents playing this music. I’m proud the musicians love the film and non-musicians love it just as much.  But I’m most proud of when someone tells me a story of how my father was kind to them in a studio, a music shop or in an airport.   That makes me the proudest.

I’m also proud of my two children, Isabella and Rafael are younger than the film but are still patient with Daddy’s work.  I’m proud that my wife Suzie never once said that we should ever stop pushing forward.  Also happy she never smothered me in my sleep.  She is a saint!

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Denny Tedesco: Call me crazy- but with the song, arrangement, and playing comes together, I love this song!

“Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Balloon…”

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Denny Tedesco: “Be my Baby”.   Those sessions seem to have lots of teasing and fun in between takes.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone that you have not, who would it be and why?
Denny Tedesco: I’m a filmmaker. So I could never really talk songwriting with Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Jackie DeShannon and the others.

I’m just blown away being around some of the greatest musicians and artists in the world my whole life and wondering what makes them tick.  Something inside them wants to share and feel they communicated their message or there art.  I think that’s what kept me going with this film.  We all want to be heard.

The Wrecking Crew on the web
Website
Kickstarter

There are no bonus features here this time.  If you want to see clips from the films and interviews please go to

http://wreckingcrew.tv/

Thanks for stopping by!

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Cary Brothers Songwriting Interview

Cary Brothers (photo by John Schweikert)

Cary Brothers (photo by John Schweikert)

CARY BROTHERS
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Record Label: Procrastination Music
Most recent release: ‘Let Me Be’ EP

Cary Brothers is just one guy..

first name.cary.  last name.brothers

I’ve known Cary for 7-8 years.  He’s helped me out on two pretty incredible acts of kindness that impacted all of us involved.  Grateful to have his help on those.  He graciously agreed to share some thoughts on music with us and very gracefully answered some difficult questions. No long story this time, just that Cary’s a good guy.

Cary Brothers is an indie rock singer-songwriter from Los Angeles best known for his song “Blue Eyes” from the Grammy-winning “Garden State” Soundtrack.  He has had over 60 songs featured in TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Bones,” and the recent hit teen film “Easy A” in addition to appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Late Late Show.” He is the co-creator of The Hotel Cafe Tour and has toured worldwide with artists such as Imogen Heap, Sara Bareilles, and The Fray. In the electronic dance music world, Brothers has found success collaborating with DJ Tiesto on a club remix of his song “Ride” as well as original material for Tiesto’s collection “Kaleidoscope.”

Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Cary Brothers: I’m usually a melody guy first.  Whether I’m in my car or around my apartment, something just pops into my head.  At this point in my writing career, I can usually tell if it’s worth a song if it’s still in my head hours later.  I’ll pick up a guitar or sit down at the piano and build the right chords around that melody and do a quickie recording, singing mumbly noises instead of lyrics.  Basically, I shape it so it sounds like a song you hear being played quietly through a neighbor’s window – defined structurally and melodically, but you can’t really tell what the lyrics are.  I have hundreds of such recordings.  Then I’ll listen over and over again.  If it brings out a story or connects to something in my life, it gets lyrics and becomes a real song.  Sometimes that last part takes a night, and sometimes it takes years.

Our Scattered Words: What are you most proud of?
Cary Brothers: I’m most proud of the fact that I’m still around and running the label myself.  When I got started, it was such a dream to be able to make a living playing music.  That dream became a reality, but I’ve seen it become a reality for so many people who squandered it or couldn’t take the heat when it gets tough.  Careers go up and down and up again, and I love that I’ve managed to ride the wave and not fall off.  Also, after all of the initial success I had around the release of “Blue Eyes” and the “Garden State” Soundtrack, I’m proud that many of my biggest fans/supporters today have never even heard that song.  It’s become about a body of work and not just one moment.

Our Scattered WordsLet’s talk MySpace. Back in maybe 2005-6, when I first got to know you there, you were doing what seemed to be a unique thing. On your page, you had a list of friends that you recommended everyone listen to. You did this with West Coast musicians and William Fitzsimmons did the same with musicians from the Northeast. It’s something that encouraged me to do the same. Supporting other musicians, especially your friends, is something I’ve seen as being a core part of your personality since then. Talk about that and why it’s important to you.
Cary Brothers: I got started because a fantastic musician named Gary Jules, riding high on the success his song “Mad World,” gave me a shot.  That brought me into the doors of the Hotel Cafe in LA, and I never left.  The support and kindness I felt as a rookie was unbelievable, and as soon as I had some weight, I wanted to give back to the new artists who were coming up behind me.  When I chose opening acts on my tour, it was always about quality and giving someone a shot.

Our Scattered Words: You’re one of the leaders of the Hotel Cafe Tour. How did that whole community come together and how important is it for singer/songwriters?
Cary Brothers: The Hotel Cafe Tour was an extension of the community vibe in The Hotel Cafe itself.  We would have these incredible nights of artists at the venue in LA, and one day we just decided to put one of those nights on a tour bus, book some shows, and figure it out as we went along.  Musicians with a big draw would headline and bring the audiences, and younger musicians would open and get their first ride on a tour bus and get some good advice/experience from those who had been road-dogging for a while.  I learned so much being surrounded by so many different personalities.  It was like traveling summer camp for singer/songwriters.

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Cary Brothers: Totally depends on my state of mind.  If I’m “in it” – in a highly emotional place due to something great or awful happening in my life – lyrics can fall out almost just as they are heard in the final song.  Sometimes, I have to drag words kicking and screaming out of my head with lots of editing right up until I’m in front of a microphone.   Neither process means a song is going to be better or worse.  I just say things as honestly as I can.  If enough people feel the same way, the song takes on a life of its own out in the world.  My job is just to write what I like, what I want to hear.  Though they may not pay the bills, I’m as happy with the songs I’ve never released as I am with ones that have sold some records for me.  I don’t generally pick favorites among the kids 🙂

Our Scattered Words: Joshua Radin sometimes talks on his shows about how songs outlive the relationships they’re about. Which then leads you to be kind of reliving that relationship for as long as you sing the song. You’ve written some beautiful songs about good times in relationships and your last EP was a very touching look at the end of a relationship. Is it hard for you to continue telling those stories through your songs?
Cary Brothers: The process of writing for me is the exorcism of whatever pain I felt.  I pour everything into that process to make the song as true as it can be, but once it’s out of me, it’s out of me.  If I’m playing shows a couple of months after feeling those things, then yes, I can find myself reliving sadness on stage to some degree.  After a while, like any pain in life, it fades away, and sometimes I will even forget what (or more importantly whom) the song was about in the first place.  For me, the song is the thing.  Although it can be emotionally affecting as an audience member to see someone who truly relives their darkest moments on stage every night and amplify the impact of the music, ultimately that can really mess you up as an artist and keep your personal life in disarray.  Finishing the song gives me peace, and I like to keep it that way.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Cary Brothers:
If you mean my stuff, I think something I’m proud of is the chorus of “Disappear” off the new EP:

“i got you for the night, ghost or not
but you disappear in the light
when your shadow’s caught
in the sunshine.”

Most of what I write is just storytelling.  I don’t get hung up on metaphors or abstracts.  I like just telling it how it is.  In this instance, the truth was more evocative than I expected it to be, and it can be interpreted in many ways – as a lover that won’t stay, fragility of relationships, as a memory of heartbreak, as the spirit of someone you lost.  It’s nice when people come up to me and have an interpretation of the song that wasn’t at all how it was intended.  I’m not precious about intention.

Our Scattered Words: You do a lot of cover songs, and do a great job of putting your own stamp on those. What draws you to that?
Cary Brothers: The reason I got into this was because I am a fan of music first and foremost.  Doing covers is just a fun way to say thanks to some of my heroes and maybe introduce younger fans to songs/bands that they’ve never heard.  Most of the time, I try to send the songs to the original artists, and my inner fanboy freaks out when I get a nice email from The Thompson Twins or the lead singer of Level 42.  Also, I don’t have to write any lyrics 🙂

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Cary Brothers: Don’t do it.  Put down your guitar and walk away and get a real job.  Write songs in your spare time after work or on the weekends as therapy. You’re probably not going to make any money, it will be full of heartbreak and disappointment, and if you succeed, it’s nearly impossible to have a stable personal life as a touring musician.  Now… if you just read that, and it pissed you off to no end because you HAVE to play music the same way humans have to drink water, because your soul will starve without creating songs, then maybe there’s hope.  In that case, you better write and play every single day until your fingers bleed and your head hurts with rhymes.  The people I know who succeed are those that train their musical minds like they’re going to compete in an Olympic event.

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Cary Brothers: Probably Peter Gabriel’s “So.” I know a bit about those sessions.  It would inspire me because of the sheer creativity and mind-bending musicianship on display off in some idyllic castle in the UK in the days when you could spend the better part of a year and tons of money on a record, but it would also make me feel better about procrastination because Daniel Lanois literally had to lock Peter Gabriel in a room to get him to finish lyrics.

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Cary Brothers: To be honest, I don’t need that.  A lot of my friends are pretty damn talented songwriters, and I rarely talk to them about music unless we’re in a studio.  Usually we’re doing everything but talking about music.  We talk about life and laugh and drink to get away from that last line that hasn’t been written or that guitar part that needs one more take until it’s perfect.  I’m at a point now where my writing process is such a part of me and so personal to me that I don’t really care how other people do it.  I will always pay attention and try new things, but that comes from listening to music, not talking about it.

Cary Brothers on the Web
Website
Facebook
Twitter

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

Bonus materials for Cary include; 2 videos of Cary and 3 music videos of songs he’s been enjoying lately.

 

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Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isaac Johnson Songwriting Interview

Isaac Johnson All The Things We Are

Isaac Johnson

ISAAC JOHNSON

I found an old photo from July 2007 when Isaac and “The Boys of Summer” tour came through Dallas.  I don’t remember if I helped booked that show or not.  But, I remember  it was a “low budget” tour.  4 songwriters traveling together.  A lot of stories they’ll remember. Both the good and bad times bond you when you’re traveling together.  But, a lot of musicians move to other professions after times like this. Jobs with more consistency and less excitement, less surprises and, in general, less fun.  That’s why I’m so happy to write about my old friend Isaac Johnson and his new album today. He stayed in the game.

Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Most Recent Release:  “All the Things We Are”

BIO
Isaac Johnson is a singer/songwriter/guitarist whose songs have been described as heartfelt, rhythmic, and lyrical with words that embrace the human condition. His music not only captivates the originality of musicianship but also explore the depths of the human soul. With a voice that’ll send chills running up your spine, Isaac draws from an eclectic group of influences including U2, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Isaac Johnson:   I feel like it’s always changing but for now it’s melody first, chords, then lyrics…and then 10 re-writes.

OSW: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Isaac Johnson: I usually use “dummy” lyrics until I’m happy with the melody, then I go back and figure what I need to say.

OSW: Your musical life started as a Jazz Guitarist, I believe.  Sometimes, Jazz musicians focus so much on complex musical ideas and improvisation that it can be a hard transition to telling a story through words.  How was that transition for you?
Isaac Johnson: I think calling myself a jazz guitarist would be a stretch. Those that do it have done it far better than I ever did. I did study jazz guitar in school however and it’s still something I’ve got a lot of love for. As far as any transition I’d say there wasn’t much of one. I grew up on a steady diet of songwriters over my life time. Those story tellers were always the kind of thing that turned me on musically. I’ve always enjoyed those kind of tunes that you feel like you’re in a car on a stretch of highway trying to find yourself.

OSW:  You’re also doing some acting.  Has reading through scripts or any part of that process impacted your songwriting?
Isaac Johnson: It has most definitely impacted the writing process. Mostly on the overall arch of any story I’m trying to tell. I’ve always had the story arch in mind but it’s been helpful to see how non-songwriters approach it. It’s also helped my focus on individual characters within the story. With a song of course you have less time to develop a character (unless you write a 90 minute tune) but it’s been helpful to see how a script writer will focus on something to make the character unique so I’ve tried to implement that into the music.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Isaac Johnson: It’s a sappy answer but my relationship with my wife. After getting married last year I’ve learned so much from loving her and allowing myself to accept her love. It can be hard work sometimes being married (which I’m sure most marriages are) but as it’s said anything worth having is worth fighting for and I’d fight to win her heart 1000 more times if I had to. Even if that fight is just getting over myself which is sometimes the case.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Isaac Johnson: Off the top of my head I’ve always liked “and I can’t be holdin on when all you got is hurt”. That U2 lyric has gotten me out of a few toxic relationships. Life is short and there’s no time to waste on people who don’t value you enough to give back something positive to the relationship. You’ve got to forgive them of course but they don’t need to be a part of your life.

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Isaac Johnson: Write, write, write and write some more. Be honest with yourself too about what you write. If you thing a song is garbage either decide to stick with it or know when it’s time to dump that sucker.

OSW: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Isaac Johnson: Either ‘Sgt Pepper’ or ‘Achtung Baby’. And since it seems like we have a time machine to do this I’d also go back and audition to play Ferris Bueller while I’m at it.

OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Isaac Johnson: Michael Jackson, I still can’t believe he’s gone. As for the why, who wouldn’t want to talk with Michael Jackson? He’s likely the greatest performer/entertainer of all time. He definitely is for me.

ISAAC JOHNSON ON THE WEB
Website
Twitter
Facebook
instagram : isaacjohnsonmusic

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Isaac Johnson, 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