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)


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

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

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Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Follow on Twitter: @OSWBlog


Cary Brothers Songwriting Interview

Cary Brothers (photo by John Schweikert)

Cary Brothers (photo by John Schweikert)

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

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.


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












Peter Doran


Peter Doran

I didn’t know about Peter Doran until a friend from Germany, who’s a huge music supporter, named Dieter shared his contact info. It’s really a shame that I didn’t know about Peter sooner because he’s a talented singer and writer and I’ve really enjoyed his songs.  But this whole interaction got me thinking… There’s no music without people like Dieter sharing songs and new releases by artists he likes every day, pledging on fan funding drives, going to shows and buying music. So, once in a while I’m going to mix in some interviews with uber music supporters like Dieter and good “musician friendly” venue owners like Pascale from Opening Bell Coffee and Marko from Hotel Cafe. We can talk all we want about songwriting, but without support from people like this it’s all pointless. Sean Hannity’s not doing anything to help musicians. (there’s your current events reference). Oh and for tying things together, Peter “virtually” knows Salim Nourallah my first interview here. So, here’s Peter Doran….

Peter Doran
Home Town: Mullingar, Ireland
Most recent release: “Overhead The Stars”

Brief Intro/Bio:
Independent Irish Singer Songwriter with 3 albums released to date, and multiple tours of Ireland/Europe.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Peter Doran: The process can and will vary wildly from song to song. It will always start with a scrap of something. That something could be a melody, a chord progression, a lyric or an outline of a story… Sometimes you get lucky and it comes together very quickly. Other times it’s a longer drawn out of process of experiment and waiting. I have been trying more and more these days to put aside a block of time each day for creative work, as opposed to just waiting for inspiration to strike. Someone once said “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work” … I like that. Regardless of the process you have to put in the time.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Peter Doran: Probably the last record “Overhead the Stars”. As a project it was so much fun and extremely rewarding. I got to work with some amazing musicians in a wonderful studio, I think it’s a good bunch of songs too, so listening back I’m just proud we managed to pull it off.

OSW: You partially funded your last album by a fan-funding campaign. How do you feel about the fan-funding movement that has developed the past 5 years?
Peter Doran: It’s not something I’ve been following very closely to be honest. There are definitely a lot more people doing it now, it hasreally exploded in the last five years. It is an amazing platform to have, if you have the people to go along with you and make it work.

OSW: I’ve played on several albums without even meeting the person. We discuss the parts, they send a track and we file share parts until they have what they want. Now that you basically have access to any musician in the world, have you thought about having some virtual parts added to your album?
Peter Doran: I worked with an Online Session-Drummer based in Colorado for a few tracks on my “Sleepless Street” album. That was a fun experience and the guy did an amazing job. With technology now the world has opened up in amazing ways, but I still do prefer to record with guys in the same room. I love the good old-fashioned human interaction 🙂

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Peter Doran: Impossible to say, but there’s a good chance Bob Dylan wrote it…

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Peter Doran: Write as much as possible, keep going, document every scrap of an idea. Record it on your phone, write it on paper. Don’t be afraid to rewrite. Listen to many types of music.

OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Peter Doran: I think Leonard Cohen. It would just be amazing to spend an afternoon with the guy. He is an absolute grand-master of a songwriter and human being.

I’m convinced he makes good tea too.Peter Doran on the Web
TwitterBonus Materials

To view Peter Doran’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

All interviews and Bonus Materials 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.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Courtney Jones


Courtney Jones

I’m fairly certain that Courtney Jones was a teenager when I first met her many years ago. Now, she’s married, moved to Hawaii and has a baby. Courtney is also releasing her second  Peter Malick produced album.  She’s had several great TV and Film placements for her songs. It’s also wonderful to see the growth and development that has taken place with songwriting and in her voice.  She has a wonderful, rich sounding voice and I’m so happy to see everything she’s done so far and how she’s grown.

Courtney Jones
Current City/Home Town: currently living in Honolulu, but lived in Oregon most of my life
Record Label: Luxury Wafers
Most Recent Release: All the Things That Fall, released July 16, 2013!

Courtney Jones Bio
Music is a crazy business. The only reason it makes sense to do it at all is because it calls to you. Dreamers know what I mean. I took the plunge and left college seven years ago to do music full time and I’ve been here ever since, never regretting it for a moment. I’ve had my victories, especially lately, and I feel like we’re really headed for something amazing and more widely recognized. These are exciting times, and indeed, I’m very excited looking ahead.

So here we are ready to embark on the next part of our journey – the next album “All The Things That Fall”! was released on July 16, 2013.  We had a lot of material for this record. It’s my first co-write opportunity, and obviously I’m biased, but between you and me I think Peter and I have come up with some really, really good stuff). Along with co-writing and  accompanying me on the keyboard with his ridiculous guitar skills, Peter will once again be producing, as well as mixing, our songs. Butch Norton (all things percussion) and Jon Ossman (bass) joined us in the studio to provide an amazing foundation for the tracks. We’ll all hit the road as part of the Luxury Wafers Goes East (& West) Summer 2013 kicking off the tour in New Hampshire  on July 20th and returning home in  early August for shows at Letstat’s in San Diego and The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.

The music industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. I love that there really are no rules anymore.  The internet and social media sites like Facebook, twitter and blogs like yours have provided indie artists with limited resources (me) the power to bring music forward, back into the hands of real people, where it belongs. I’m truly thankful for all the support I’ve received over the years, and hope to be able to continue this musical journey I’m on, a journey that I share with anyone who has ever taken a moment or two, to listen.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Courtney Jones: For me it has always felt more like I’m discovering a song than writing it. If that makes any sense. It starts with a concept, one will just stick in my head and I’ll have a gut feeling that there’s a song there. I tend to write using metaphors, and really trying to visualize it is where the rest of the lyrics come from. I feel words and lines running through my head and then something will lock in, and that keeps happening until I get the whole song out.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Courtney Jones: I think I’m most proud of managing all the different components of my life right now, and grateful for all the help I have to do it. We just moved to Hawaii, my baby girl just turned one, and I’m getting ready to release my new album and tour the East and West coast to support it. It’s not always pretty and it’s never perfect, but I’m pretty proud of being able to keep pushing music forward (with tons of support from my cjm team!) and still focus a lot of energy on my family.

OSW: You’ve now worked on 2 albums with Peter Malick.  How big a part does he play in the songs?  Has he asked you to restructure lyrics or forms?
Courtney Jones:  I feel like Peter really speeds up my writing process. He also brings a lot of different ideas on how to get a song started, and then is a great sounding board throughout the process of putting all the pieces of a song together. He keeps me focused and we get a lot of real quality music written in a short amount of time together. I feel like he really lets me take the lead but does an amazing job of keeping ideas flowing.

OSW: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Courtney Jones: When I sit down to write a song it generally comes together by the time I stand up again. I’ll maybe have a bridge to write or minor adjustments to make the next day, but my process happens pretty quickly. There’s a lot of mystery about exactly how it works but that’s just how it works for me.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Courtney Jones: The one that comes to mind first is Pink Floyd, ‘Us and Them’: “With. Without. And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?” The whole song is brilliant. I also love the way John Mayer writes, his lyrical treatment is just beautiful.

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Courtney Jones: Oh gosh, I don’t think I’m in any position to be giving advice. I guess I would say that every word should have a purpose. Try to step back and make sure everything makes sense, flows well. And as always, the more you do it the better you’ll be!

OSW: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Courtney Jones: After much debate, I think I’m going to go with Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon”. I wonder what that room was like, not knowing how successful and defining that record would become. Also, I’d really like to know if that whole Wizard of Oz thing was on purpose or not. But seriously, watching that album come together would really be something special.

OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Courtney Jones: I’m sorry I keep saying the same names but I would love to talk songwriting with John Mayer. I love the way he writes. There’s something about his lyrics that are poetic but accessible, they sound so natural while being so original. I listen to his stuff and think “dang! I wish I’d written that!” I like lyrics that make you think, lyrics that paint a picture that you understand and feels familiar while being put in a way that you haven’t heard before. That’s my goal, and his music IS that.

Courtney Jones on the Web

Bonus Materials

To view Courtney Jones’ selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

All interviews and Bonus Materials 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.


Andrew Belle


Andrew Belle

It’s amazing to see musicians come together to support each other and create something. I’m so impressed with the people that developed and continued to support both The Hotel Cafe Tour and Ten Out Of Tenn.  They’ve both developed into recognizable brands that; bring people to shows, help to sell the artists music and merchandise, guarantee high quality and have inspired people to make films;

Map The Music
Any Day Now

My son and I saw Andrew Belle in the Fall of 2009 on one of his early shows with Ten Out Of Tenn. I know a lot of the musicians who were on the tour and we even hung out with KS Rhoads and Butterfly Boucher before the show. I knew Andrew was the new guy but had heard great things.  We were both blown away by Andrew’s voice and songs.  I’m thrilled to see the success he’s had since then and really look forward to his upcoming album. So, I’m happy to share this songwriting discussion with Andrew Belle.

Home Town/Current City: 
Chicago, IL/Nashville, TN
Record Label: 1L Music / Elm City Music
Recent Release: ‘Black Bear’ (August 20, 2013)

OSW; What is your songwriting/composing process?
Andrew Belle; My approach is a little different than most songwriters, I think. I don’t write very often. So far there have been 2-3 major seasons where I get really inspired, write 10-12 songs, and then exhaust myself so much in the process of making them meaningful and unique, that I don’t make another attempt for a year or two. It’s sort of sporadic and bizarre, so that’s typically why I am so bent on making the most of every syllable I write down. My process for this last record was: sit down at the keyboard, find some fun sounds on logic pro, play around until I have a cool chord progression, and then crank up the reverb on my mic and start mumbling crazy melodies until something sticks. I usually find my melodies in falsetto (because it’s easier for me to explore up there) and then I end up having to work them back down to my normal singing range. Although sometimes I leave them up there or find way to re-incorporate them in order to keep things interesting.

OSW; What are you most proud of?
Andrew Belle; I’m asked this now and again and I usually sit and try to think of all of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with over the past few years and really I’m just proud that I’m able to make music that I enjoy and support my family out of that. But even that I can’t take full credit for – any talent, opportunities, or even passion to create that I have, exists because God has allowed it to be set into motion.

OSW; Ten out of Tenn has developed into such a great musical movement. Such great musicians and the people I know personally are just wonderful. How did that develop and who started it?
Andrew Belle; TOT was started by Trent Dabbs and his wife Kristen some years back, as a way to showcase the young, up & coming talent that was being made in Nashville. I saw them on a whim in Chicago when they came through on their first big tour in 2008 and was totally blown away. I left the venue that night thinking that I would give anything to be a part of such a stellar lineup. The following year, I moved to Nashville to make my record ‘The Ladder’, and was soon after asked to be a part of a new TOT lineup that was being organized for a tour later that fall. We ended up doing two tours that year and a 3rd in 2011. It’s been such a privilege and an honor to be a part of such an accomplished and talented group of people.

OSW; What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Andrew Belle; I don’t know if I have a favorite – but this was one of the first lyrics that ever meant anything to me:

The smell of hospitals in winter

And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls

All at once you look across a crowded room

To see the way that light attaches to a girl

“A Long December” – Counting Crows

OSW; What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Andrew Belle; Find the first song that ever made you feel an emotion; the songs that led you to fall in love with music in the first place. Study it until you understand what it was that resonated with you; then chase that feeling in your own music, and don’t settle for anything less.

OSW; If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Andrew Belle; Jesse Lacey. His approach to lyrics and melodies were what drove me to songwriting for myself.

OSW; Do you have anything new releasing soon?
Andrew Belle; My new album, Black Bear, releases on August 20th, 2013.

Andrew Belle On The Web

Bonus Materials

To view Andrew Belle’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

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Come back on Wednesday for an interview with Peter Broderick and on Friday when we share the interview with Sharon Van Etten.  Thanks for reading to the end!! You rock.

Shane Alexander

Our Scattered Words Blog June 21, 2013

Shane Alexander

Shane Alexander is from Los Angeles, California. His most recent album “Ladera” was released by BuddhaLand Records (USA) and Suburban/Harlem Recordings (Benelux).  He has also performed with the group The Greater Good.

I’m an independent singer/songwriter/performer/producer with 5 full length solo records and an EP to date.  I have toured internationally since 2005, played many of the stages I’d always dreamed I would, and opened for many of my biggest influences.  I feel truly blessed to do what I love.

What is your songwriting process?
It varies, but I definitely put time in every day.  I generally play and sing at least 1-3 hours every morning and often just come up with ideas on the spot – recording them quickly in their roughest form onto my phone.  I do the same when I tour.  I find trains always get me into a poetic, lyrical mindset.  I take all my recorded fragments and listen to them while I’m at the gym or in the car, find the ones that have the most potential and work from there.  Sometimes the songs come out fully-formed in one sitting, which is always a gift, but more often they take some time.  I do a number of co-writes, and in a co-write setting, my lyrics come faster than I can write them and I almost always have a song completed within a few hours.

What are you most proud of?
My daughter would surely be my #1, but career wise, I suppose I’m most proud of having carved out a career and a growing international fanbase on my own terms.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Ever?  “Just what you want to be, you will be in the end” (written by Justin Hayward) from The Moody Blues’  “Nights in White Satin”, which is still one of my all-time favorite songs. I heard the song often as a child, and that lyric became sort of a mantra for me.  The production on that song is pure magic. There has never been a recording with more spook.

..of my own? That’s tough – first one to come to mind is from a tune called “Carrollton” on my last record – “the past is dressed in Sunday clothes, in picture frames, in dusty rows and put in rooms where no one goes to see them.”

What advice would you give to young songwriters?
Don’t suck and don’t quit! If being a songwriter is what you truly want to do, then do it.  Write honest music. Write constantly. You will NEVER have as much free time as you have in your teens and early 20’s, so don’t squander it.  Be prepared to hear the word NO a lot, but never accept it.  Be known for being badass, professional and likable.  Believe in your own abilities, because if you don’t, you will never convince anyone else to.  Work on your voice, your rhythm, your lyrics and your playing DAILY because it isn’t possible to be too good.  Seek out things that make you happy.

Shane on the Web
Facebook Page

If you’re anywhere near Ventura, California today (June 21, 2013) and you’d like to see Shane play live you’re in luck! Shane and John Elliott (who is also an incredible singer/songwriter that I hope to interview in the future) are playing at Zoey’s Cafe.  Please stop by and see them.

Bonus Materials

To view Shane’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

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

Thanks for stopping by.  It’s been an incredible week and I truly appreciate everyone that has stopped by, talked about this blog and/or shared with friends. Please continue to share this page and site with fellow music lovers.

See you back soon,