Christine Hoberg


Christine Hoberg

Connections.  If you stopped by the Facebook page today, you saw my post on connecting.  Music is connections. Telling stories that connect emotionally with your listeners.  Finding band members that connect on a direction for the sound of the songs. Connecting as friends with other musicians and music supporters. If you connect with people that like you, then the music part of the equation becomes easy.  You’ll see this come up a lot here because I believe that connecting, in all forms, is more important than music.

I know Christine because of a series of connections that started in London and Brooklyn, but also leads through Michigan, Boston, Houston and Paris.  There’s too many wonderful things that have come of this series of connections to list, but I’m thrilled that it’s lead me to introducing you to Christine.

Christine Hoberg
Current City/Home Town- Brooklyn, NY via Superior, Wisconsin
Most recent release- ‘You Can’t See Me’, a collaboration by myself and a group from Milwaukee called Kiings
Band Affiliation- Flight Facilities (collaboration) and Kiings (collaboration)

What is your songwriting/composing process?
It’s varied. I think often times it comes from a small idea. I lay that down and then more pieces come afterwards. I like to layer and layer and mess with effects while I’m writing to get the whole mood and soundscape. And then, some warbled words I initially said, I listen to over and over again to kind of see what words they could be and if I like the way the sound of the warbling is I substitute a real word and re-listen to what I have at that point to find out what I’m subconsciously writing about. Sometimes, it’s about a very specific thing and comes from one definite thought and often times it’s improvising and letting myself just say things as they arise and then piecing it together like a collage.

What are you most proud of?
I think I’m really proud that a song I wrote, ‘Clair de Lune’ in collaboration with Flight Facilities, went Gold in Australia and has seemingly been so loved. The rewards from that song like being on Grey’s Anatomy and Alicia Keys tweeting about it are really special. But, I think, the main thing at the root of all is that it seems to have really connected with people. That is amazing. To connect with another human being and to communicate something very dear and honest to me and have another person feel that and perhaps be comforted or find happiness in that is the most important thing for me.

What are you working on right now?
I have a new album coming out this Fall.  I’m doing a Kickstarter to help raise funds to release it. (OSW NOTE- Christine had no idea when she sent this interview what would happen.  She reached her Kickstarter goal in 32 hours!! She has set a revised goal and added more rewards.  Check it out and help if you can at;

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Hmmm that’s so hard. I really love so many artists lyrics, Bjork, Tom Waits, too many good people to have a favorite!

If you could sit down and talk songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
I would say I’d love to talk to Danger Mouse, I think he’s an incredible producer, I continually admire his projects. I’d love to just listen to Philip Glass for hours. I’d also love to work with Jack White and Jon Brion.

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Believe in yourself. Have patience. Seek out and listen to critiques and dually take them all with a grain of salt. Realize that there is no limit to talent, so keep seeking to create better music, say more honest things, and try to continually improve the quality of everything you do. Try all kinds of genres and don’t pigeonhole yourself. Oh! And never let someone buy you out of your rights! Get a music law book and a lawyer!


Christine sent 2 great photos.  So as a starting bonus here’s the other picture


Bonus Materials
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Toy Soldiers


Ron Gallo (Toy Soldiers)

SXSW in Austin can be an incredible musical experience or it can be incredibly frustrating, depending how everything falls for you.  A friend had told me I needed to catch Toy Soldiers there.  I checked them out and really liked their sound, but it did not look like our schedules would align this time.  On Friday Night, I made one of the best choices I’ve ever made at a SXSW visit.  I went to the Communion Music showcase at St. David’s church. A guy I know started Communion Music.  I remember when it was primarily for he and his friends to do solo shows of their own material. St. David’s is a beautiful venue.  The crowd was silent the whole night and it was an incredible line-up; Lucius, The Staves, Lucy Rose, Leif Vollebekk, Joe Banfi and Half Moon Run.  I enjoyed being in one place all night with a silent crowd that I wanted to do the same thing the following day. Sofar Sounds puts on intimate house shows in cities all over the world. I’ve been wanting to attend one in Dallas but my schedule never worked out. I showed up for the show and Toy Soldiers were one of the groups playing.  They put on a great set.  Fun, Rocking, entertaining + they were from Philly, my old hometown. They are working on their next album, “The Maybe Boys”, and you can be part of their album. Now, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the frontman for Toy Soldiers, Ron Gallo.

Name: Ron Gallo
Home Town: Philadelphia, PA
Most recent release: “Tell the Teller” EP
Band Affiliation: Toy Soldiers

Philadelphia based human that fronts the Rock N’ Roll band Toy Soldiers. Also, relentless solo performer, show host, amateur basketball player posing as a professional musician, vehicular narcoleptic and chicken enthusiast.

What is your songwriting/composing process?

It’s a lot like blacking out and waking up the next morning with a bunch of various sweet treats in your arms. And some of those sweet treats are fresh and some are rotten. In the sense that I’ll sit down with some sort of instrument and then somehow a few minutes later i’ll have a song or two but not remember exactly how i got there. I have a very nonchalant approach to writing where it just kind of happens and I don’t try to write but I just make myself available for a song to happen.

Some songs come from singing something while riding a bike then taking out my iphone voice memo to remember it then rush home to work it out. Some songs come from playing some chords first and matching it with some gibberish I’ve written in a notebook. Some songs I’ll listen to someone else’s song and find some obscure way to rip them off so no one knows. Some songs just plain suck.

What are you most proud of?
Songs that I can still sing and mean it. The lighthearted ones with a good sense of humor as well as the pained ones that came directly from some sort of very real moment or heartbreak. They’re on opposite sides of the spectrum but I feel everything in between was afraid to commit one way or another.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?

Right now I think this is great: (Father John Misty “Funtimes in Babylon”)

I would like to abuse my lungs
Smoke everything inside with every girl I’ve ever loved
Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee-deep in mud
Look out Hollywood, here I come

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Don’t think to much, or at all. You can’t sit down with the intention of writing the greatest song in the world. Just write songs, lots of them, about nonsense if you have nothing else to say and eventually great things will start to happen. Keep it simple, no one cares about technical for the sake of being technical. Have fun, love it, live it, be honest, don’t force it and be your damn self.

Ron (Toy Soldiers) on the Web
Toy Soldiers
Ron Gallo
Toy Soldiers “The Maybe Boys” Kickstarter
Toy Soldiers Facebook
Twitter: @toysoldiersband @ronjgallo

Bonus Materials

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Kristin Center

Songwriting, Piano, Dallas, California, Santa Monica

Kristin Center

Prejudging someone is a huge mistake.  Yet we all do it now and then, even though we know it’s wrong.  My wife and I were at Opening Bell Coffee (which apparently is a recurring theme in my blog this week) listening to some music, as we frequently do.  A woman with blonde hair was in the back by herself and focused on the performer.  I, in passing, thought she must be the girlfriend of the singer on stage.  My wife went and got some Iced Tea from the back and said, “Do you know that girl in the back? She said she’s a musician and is new in town. I told her you would come back and talk to her” Now, I love that there are hobbyist musicians in the world.  I wish there were as many “weekend musicians” as there were “weekend golfers”. I think the world would be a better place if we had more people making and supporting music. But, I just don’t want to talk to ALL of them, especially when I’m out listening to music. So, based on faulty reasoning, I went back expecting a hobbyist and introduced myself.  You can tell instantly, by how someone talks about music and writing if they are serious about it. I knew instantly that Kristin was very serious about music and writing.  Just in a brief conversation I knew that this was a very intelligent person who was strongly passionate about the things she believes in.  I’m proud to introduce all of you to Kristin now.

Current City: Santa Monica, CA
Label: Independent
Recent release: Kickstarter project started May 30th (still funding!)

Kristin Center is an American concert pianist, contemporary art-song composer and singer-songwriter known for her unusual writing style that combines Latin funk and Impressionist Classical forms with a fierce lyrical message of open your mind.

I really like the theme for your Kickstarter and the idea of doing a video album, instead of a traditional CD.  How did that all come together?
The concept of fusing the music portion of the project with something completely separate that I’m passionate about really has been in fruition for years. This kickstarter project was the perfect time to join them.

Video really adds a whole other level of connection with a song. Also, I think part of working in any competitive field is understanding what is unique about you. Everyone does an album on kickstarter. Why would I want to be one of the masses.

What is your songwriting/composing process?
The process? If I have time, I write. There will never be a “writer’s block” for me. It’s a very logical process of

1) play Piano,
2) write something.

Now, it takes a lot of writing for me find something I like. I usually sleep on it, for months, and then come back and say, “Nah, I don’t like it anymore.” I probably use about 4% of my ideas. Even when those ideas morph into full songs, I sometimes let them go if they don’t feel right on stage.

How did a trained concert pianist become a songwriter?
I think it was actually the other way around! I was first a by-ear musician. When I started at the piano I started with sounds, not notes on a page. So I wrote a lot of music without ever writing it down. I still do.

My parents saw that out of all the art forms they introduced me to, I was mostly drawn to music. And out of all the instrument affairs I’ve had, I’ve always come home to the piano. I’m a pretty obsessive person, so early on when it came time to really “take on” the piano, for me there was no question but to learn the instrument to the best of my ability. Classical music gradually became a wonderful compositional influence as well as a technique training ground.

What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to be someone who believes in things. I’m proud that I always have something to say, and am never afraid to speak up. Above all, I’m thankfully proud that I’m able to speak everything that I believe competently through music.

What are your favorite songwriting lyrics?
By Others-

So out on the tide we go, knowing it will turn,
And all I really want to do, is find a way to go on through.”
Peter Gabriel/AfroCelt Sound System
Less is more in a lot of ways with lyrics (coming from someone who has to rap to get everything out occasionally!). I also never hear lyrics without music. Listen to the song when you read these!

I’ll let someone else choose that. A fan picked out, “my translucent beauty is forever in the shade.” I looked at it again and thought, “yeah, that’s pretty good.” 🙂

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?

Play your heart out, be as honest as possible, and remember to look at yourself from your audience’s perspective. Would you pay money for your show?

What have you found is the hardest thing when you commit to music as a career?

The hardest is the acceptance that now the actual music will most likely come second, music business will come first. Some people have definitely been dealt a lucky set of cards, but for those of us born completely out of the music loop (and out of the money loop!), you have to be able to pick up a lot of well-rounded skills, quickly. Oh, yeah, and you can never have a bad day in public.



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Salim Nourallah


I’m thrilled that the first interview came back so quickly.  Even happier that it’s from someone I’ve known for several years.  I expect the interviews to be a mix of long time friends and people I’ve never met before.  I’m excited about communicating with some new songwriters and discussing their process and passion for music. That’s the stuff that keeps all of us going.

I’ve known Salim Nourallah for several years here in Dallas.  Played gigs with him and seen him perform several times. He’s with Tapete Records out of Germany and his most recent release was “Hit Parade” (April 2012)

A Brief Introduction
Salim Nourallah is a North Texas music scene fixture. After gaining initial acclaim with the Denton-based Nourallah Brothers he has gone on to release several solo albums and produce an impressive list of many others (including the Old 97s, Rhett Miller, Deathray Davies & Smile Smile). His solo debut, Polaroid (2004), was met with reviews like this one: “discovering a singer-songwriter who can stop time is rare, but Salim Nourallah is such a find…” (Rolling Stone). Beautiful Noise followed in 2006 to more critical acclaim and he swept the Observer music awards with Best Album/Best Song and Best Producer. Salim has gone on to win 7 consecutive Observer Awards for Best Producer, toured Europe three times and had songs placed on HBO’s the Wire, ABC’s Smallville and the Academy Award winning movie the Wrestler. He recently launched a new project called The Disappearing Act with Dashboard Confessional guitarist, John Lefler, and his 5th solo CD, Hit Parade, was released in 2012 by the German indie label, Tapete Records.

What is your songwriting process?
I wait for inspiration to strike. Really, it’s as simple and complicated as that. I never write unless I’ve been struck by inspiration. Of course I never know when it’s going to happen. It’s happened while I’m driving, sleeping, running, waiting for late friends to arrive. Now it seems to happen in the cracks of my busy life.

What are you most proud of?
I’m especially proud of the body of work I’ve produced over the last 10 years. Not only the five full-length solo records under my own name but also all of the records for other artists that I’ve produced. Some of my favorites are;
Buttercup “Weather is Here”; Old 97s “Grand Theatre”; Sammy Strittmatter “Here But Gone”; I Love Math “Getting To The Point…”; Rhett Miller self-titled,  Rahim Quazi “Big Black Box”

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
I have so many it’s impossible to answer but one of my favorites is “Nothing’s gonna change my world” (Across the Universe)

What advice would you give to young songwriters?
Figure out what you want to say or what emotion you’d like to evoke before you start writing a song. That’s really important in my opinion. Also, figure out what makes songs with your favorite lyrics work and why. Then try and use elements they use in your own songs.
Thanks to Salim for being the first one in the door at our blog.  Please be a part of his next album on his Kickstarter Page. He is truly a talented guy and you’ll enjoy being part of the process.

Salim on the Web


Bonus Material

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See you back soon,


(Photo by Jonathan Holloway)