Interviews with Music Fans (Part 1 of 3)

Jenney and Johnny at Granada Theater (Dallas)

Interviews with Music Fans

Interviews with Music Fans

I don’t think any of us can imagine our life without music.  For most people it’s a constant part of the day.  Music helps pull us through hard times, makes us realize that other have been through the same things we have, brings back our happiest memories and shows us there is incredible beauty here on this world. You’re here because you either create or listen to music. Without music fans and supporters, none of this would be possible.  If no one went to the Beatles early shows they’d be shipbuilders and plant workers in Liverpool still.  Without true supporters attending shows, buying music, sharing music with their friends then we’d be living in a world with no music and no on wants that.

These are some the strongest music supporters I know from all over the world.  They have, collectively, stayed up to watch live streams of local music shows in Dallas that ended at Midnight while living in Germany (do the Math on that!), showed up at rehearsals, set up house shows and done PR for bands, given up their couches or extra bedrooms to traveling bands, traveled from Vancouver to Austin, TX annually to support musicians they like, ran the merchandise table at shows etc.  Without passionate people like  this, it would not be possible to make a living as an independent musician.  I have so many interviews that I’m breaking this into 2 parts 3 parts! (these are so great but just 3 make for a good post.  It will be nice to spread these out)

Lona (Dallas, TX)

Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Lona: I grew up north of Philadelphia and was exposed to many types of music.  The music I initially gravitated toward was Motown, R&B, and Jazz, and of course, Rock ‘n Roll. Most of my high school friends were primarily into Rock ‘n Roll, and my parents didn’t listen to much music in our home on a regular basis. Philly has always had many GREAT musicians and plenty of great places to go listen.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Lona: No, but when I was growing up, I always wanted to play the piano. I do own a Native American drum and some rattles, but only play them for ceremonial purposes.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Lona: Gosh, that is easier for me to think in weekly terms.  A slow week for me would be one, but it is usually more like 2-5 a week.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Lona: Live music doesn’t always give me the ‘hit’ I’m seeking, even if the performance is on the highest level, but when it does, for me it can be one of the highest forms of meditation.  It seems to ‘hit’ at that moment when everyone is riding the same wave of energy.  It can literally take me on a natural HIGH that is addicting.  Even if I don’t reach it, I always remember how it feels and continually seek it and want MORE.  Many things can get in the way of my not reaching the ultimate high.  It can be as easy as my inability to tune in and forget the day’s annoyances, or failing to remain in the moment.  It can be that the band members don’t quite reach that place of combined energy and aren’t in sync.  It can simply be the distractions from other people chattering in the room, or the imbalance of sound.  For me it is such an honor and a THRILL to witness the MAGIC that sometimes happens during live musical performances, that is even more special than recorded music because of the ENERGY WAVE that can happen.  Having said that, even when I’m unable to reach my musical “high” it usually makes me feel a lot better than when I walked in the room.  I also listen to recorded music all the time, as well, and cannot imagine my life without it.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Lona: YES, and sometimes even MORE SO.
Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Lona: I hear the individual instruments and even the silence between the notes.  Of all the instruments, my ear seems to be most drawn to and resonate most with the piano, but I hear them ALL and appreciate them ALL.  I also appreciate the difference one without the other can make.  Case in point, I was listening to these awesome players one evening.  Nothing seemed to be missing until the bass player showed up late and joined in.  WOW!  I didn’t realize it was even missing until he started playing.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Lona: Not the same, but still can be AMAZING and in my case, needed daily.  Depending on the recording, and listening environment, it can get close to the same as live.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Lona: Of course.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Lona: Yes, and it is always amazing to me just how appreciative and friendly most musicians truly are when all I do is show up to receive the magic of their gifts.  It supports a personal belief that I have that the biggest gift you can give someone is to focus on their highest gifts, for what we focus on expands.  It is amazing how much that helps raise people’s consciousness and costs nothing and takes very little effort.  One of the highest compliments I receive fairly often is, “We always seem to play better when you are in the room.”

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Lona: The same things I try to do … let the cares of the day go, get in the groove of the moment and do what they can to get in on the wave of their fellow musicians.  For them, it seems they need to trust in themselves and their learned abilities and trust and allow the magic to happen.  To take that one step further, if they can focus a little on how great the other players are, it lifts them up, as well.  The same thing holds true when they are thinking they suck, for they will often not disappoint.  People feel it whether words are spoken or not.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Lona: That they can learn to appreciate music they aren’t naturally drawn to, and that exposure is the key.  After enough exposure to all, they will realize which ones they are drawn to and resonate with.  People forget that music can literally transform one’s mood and it is GOOD FOR THEIR SOUL. It can be like a tuning fork for the entire body.  So it is essentially good for the mind, body and spirit.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Lona: To quote Wendell Sneed who would always conclude every weekly DMA “Jazz in the Atrium” performance with “We hope we have helped you find your groove, but If you haven’t … tough!”  LOL … So I say, FIND YOUR GROOVE and GROOVE OFTEN!

Dieter (Bremen, Germany)

Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Dieter: Music was always part of my life, when looking back on any periods or events of my history they are always connected to the music I was listening to at that time. After I retired seven years ago occupying with music became a passion, the matter of my day.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Dieter: I would love to do that and I tried it when I was younger but I don’t have the musical skills, even the mouth organ that was the gift of a friend refused to produce pleasant melodies.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Dieter: At least five or six nowadays, depending on the number of interesting artists playing in my city. In addition, I watch the live webcast from a venue in London, The Bedford, two or three times the week.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Dieter: A tough question, because music effects me in so many ways, at first it’s the background of everything I do, you won’t catch a moment without music in this house. There is a music genre for every kind of mood, jazz, folk, rock, pop, classic, whatever I feel, there is a rhythm for that emotion, to express or to overcome the feeling.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Dieter: It is mainly the instrumental music that affects me. Rhythm and melody catch my attention, thus, the instruments and as also a voice as an musical instrument influence me at first, the lyrics always come on second place when judging a song. Mostly, it’s a piano chord, a guitar riff, a sax solo or the beauty of a voice that makes me love a song.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Dieter: Listening to recorded music and experiencing a live gig are two very different things to me. The atmosphere of a concert, how the musicians connect to the audience are effecting me a lot. In general, I’m easier impressed by music played live, really live, not recorded live.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Dieter: Certainly, how can I forget singing “Smoke on the Water” on my 18th birthday! The songs of CCR are firmly connected to the hours after high school, Five Hand Reel’s live performance of “Wee Wee German Lairdie” with my time as a bartender, Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits” with my days in the Navy, Werner Lämmerhirt’s “Angie” with the one big love…

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Dieter: The musicians I support live far away from here, we are exchanging friendly words on Facebook but never became closer friends.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Dieter: Hehehe, at least know the name of the city you’re playing in! Well, I don’t know and just have some word for the audience: The key to experience a nice live gig is to pay attention, respect the artist and don’t talk during the performance.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Dieter: Music is a basis for connecting people, I learned to know much more interesting people through sharing musical interests than any other aspect of life… and that without having any musical skills myself.

I close with the words of my favorite author Nick Hornby: “And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do.”

Carolyn (Philadelphia, PA)
Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Carolyn: I think I’ve just grown up being exposed to different music.  I remember whenever I’d ride with my parents there was always different music in the car; Paul Simon, The Beatles, Jimmy Buffett…just many different genres.  If I stayed with my grandparents, I remember my grandma playing the piano or her organ everyday and singing.  Music has just always been around in some form.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Carolyn: Does the recorder count?  There are several phases I’ve gone through in life where I’ve wanted to learn an instrument, but have never been able to sit down and focus on learning it properly. I almost learned the flute, piano and guitar, but I only really ever learned to play the recorder in like 3rd grade because I had to.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Carolyn: Too many to count! I go to a minimum of 2 a month, so you can do the math!

Our Scattered Words: How does music affect you at an emotional level?
Carolyn: There are some albums that I have that can just be my soundtrack to whenever I’m feeling down.  Some lyrics that just hit you right where you didn’t see coming, stick with you and make you feel that someone else is feeling what you’re feeling and telling you it’s going to be ok.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Carolyn: For the most part, no.  Sometimes I do like to have a good Vivaldi session though.  I think for the most part I just like to hear the whole package.  I can appreciate instrumental music for what it’s worth, but I feel it doesn’t hold my attention as long as something with lyrics.  Lyrics give me something to follow, memorize and think about.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Carolyn: I think they both have their own appealing elements.  I always find it interesting to see how an artist is going to carry over a recorded version of a song into a live performance.  Sometime they decide to strip it down instead or change elements, so you there’s that sense of surprise in a live performance I think in comparison to recorded songs.  Someone can add as many effects and edits to a recorded version to make it stand out and play on repeat, but pulling something off live in an effective way I think is a huge part of a someone’s career to be memorable.  The way I see it..recorded music is what you can have in the presence, but seeing something live is what you’re really going to take with you.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Carolyn: Absolutely!  There are always those songs that seem to come on at the time you need them and that moment just sticks with you.   “Amazing Grace” is always one I associate with my grandfather’s funeral, so that one has a sad memory for me despite being an uplifting song.  “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day was the first song that came on the radio after my last day of summer camp when I was younger, after going to the same place since I was little it was a good way to cap things off and one of those moments I vividly remember.  There are also those songs from movies or TV that stand in your memory too.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Carolyn: After knowing a handful of them for a few years now it’s hard to not become friends.  You all can easily connect on a level because of working with music.  You build trust and friendships and can bounce ideas and advice off each other.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Carolyn: Interaction is key.  Obviously everyone is there to hear your music (unless they’re the rude people who are just there to talk) but there should be that level of “getting to know you” during the performance too.  Getting people involved and feeling like they’re let in on the show I think is something that helps to draw people in more.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Carolyn: I think the first thing that comes to mind is the level of respect at a show.  It takes a lot for someone to get up on a stage and pour their hearts out to a crowd of people.  It always baffles me when people pay to come into a show and then all they do is spend their time talking over the people around them having a conversation with people or texting on their phone while someone is performing.  Just think of how you would feel the other way around…

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Carolyn: It just is!  For some people like me, music is the only thing that gets me through the day.  It’s therapy, something that can get you through hard times, highlight good times, connect people, it’s something universal.

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

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words.

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Jordan Laz Songwriting Interview

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Jordan Laz (photo by Brian Hamm) at DFW Sofar Show http://www.flickr.com/photos/sofarsounds/8553856153/in/photostream/

SXSW (South By Southwest) is a month away. Like all music festivals it’s music overload.  Too many choices to see everyone. Running from one venue to the next.  Hoping, if you don’t have a wristband, that you make it through the line in time to see the act you wanted to see.  Sometimes even being surprised by who you get to hear while standing in line.  That’s how I heard The Zombies last year.  Standing in line at the Paste Showcase. I even have a friend that maps out a schedule in Excel with back-up options and the time needed to leave from one venue to reach the next.  Last year I took a different approach for most of my SXSW visit.  Friday Night I decided to spend the night at the Communion showcase at St. David’s Church.  It was a magical night of music.  Beautiful venue, quiet and appreciative crowd, incredible line-up (The Staves, Lucius, Lucy Rose, Half Moon Run, Joe Banfi and Leif Vollebekk). Saturday afternoon I was able to finally attend a Sofar house show. The schedule for Sofar shows in my home town never co-ordinated right with my work and gig schedule.  But, I was able to make this one.  Jordan Laz was one of the performers on this house show.  I knew Locksley but had not heard his solo songs.  He was energetic, engaging and involved the crowd in his songs.  So, I was thrilled when Jordan and his brother, Jesse, agreed to do interviews.

JORDAN LAZ

Current City- Brooklyn, NY
Most Recent Release-  Individually released ‘2013’ for online streaming
Band affiliation- Play bass and sing in Locksley, recently playing on my own as well.

Brief intro/Bio:  I’m twenty four years old, I was a child in Wisconsin, and currently living in Brooklyn, New York. I started writing music at age 16–pop songs. They were enough to get offered a role in the band Locksley, and began playing with the band at age 18. I’ve been in New York since.

Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Jordan Laz: I’ll start playing a progression, and start singing or shouting some form of a melody on top, over and over, until it sticks. That’s usually the chorus. Then I add the rest. Then I come up with words, something that sounds like the noises I was making when developing the melody, which tends to work really well. It’s always my subconscious trying to say something.

Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Jordan Laz: They come quickly for me, the best ones do. I try and limit myself when it comes to lyrics, less is more I think. If a song takes me more than day to complete I tend to lose interest and find that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Our Scattered Words: You joined Locksley, which your brother Jesse started, about 5 years after they started.  How did that come about?
Jordan Laz: I was still in high school at the time and had been writing songs and playing guitar for about a year. I also played drums as a kid and did some early recordings with Jesse, playing songs on demos of all the  fellas that Locksley would later record. The guys asked if I’d be interested in joining the band. I’d have to learn how to play bass, which I’d never done, but the songs were easy enough… Also I had to learn how to sing. Seven years later I think I’m finally an amateur.

Our Scattered Words: Is the whole group involved in co-writing the Locksley songs?
Jordan Laz: Not really. We all write songs on our own, and structure them individually. Then we’ll bring them to the band and really just play them over and over till they lock in. Everyone contributes ideas once we bring it to full band, for the arrangement. But the songs themselves are pretty well structured by the songwriter. More recently we’ve been writing them together, it usually begins with someone playing a groove, or singing a line, and we’ll jam on it for awhile until something starts to form. Often times however, once the “jam” takes a form, we all start thinking about it too much and some of that natural honesty is lost to the process. We’ve always dreamed of being in a set up where everything we played was recording all the time. The amount of magic that has been lost to circumstance is maddening. All our best songs and performances existed at one time in one room on one day, and then forgotten forever… Always be recording.

Jordan Laz at SXSW Sofar House show


Our Scattered Words: I really enjoyed your performance on a Sofar house show during SXSW last year.  You really involve and connect with the audience. Your solo songs are pretty different than the Locksley material.  Tell us about that.
Jordan Laz: Thanks very much, that was a real special experience for me. Locksley had come to a sort of halt at the end of 2011 for various reasons; and everyone became involved in different things in their creative, and personal lives. Over the course of my time in Locksley we had released two albums, Don’t Make Me Wait (which I wasn’t involved in at the outset) and Be In Love (which is the only album I recorded and contributed songs to). Over that time however, I had probably written nearly 100 songs. Not all of them were good, most of them on a look back are garbage, but by 2012 I was starting to understand myself as a songwriter better. As Locksley played less and less in 2012 I wasn’t focusing my songwriting efforts on music that I thought the band would play, as I had in the past. I had spent so much time listening to other things that were exciting and moving to me that at the time I was really connecting with, material that was far removed from the influences that had come to define the Locksley sound. A combination of listening to singer-songwriters like Bon Iver and Tallest Man on Earth, while also ingesting a lot of R&B and Hip Hop. It was all interesting to me, and it was beautiful. And it made me feel things I didn’t know I felt. It wasn’t a conscious adjustment, making music different from Locksley, making more introspective personal music happened naturally at the time, it allowed me to say things I wanted to say to the people in my life that I wasn’t able to say. I played a handful of those Sofar shows in Texas last spring. I left New York in December, and spent the rest of the month finishing a collection of music I had been working on all year that I put out right before I travelled and spent time other places exploring, writing, and performing. The time in Texas was especially satisfying because of those shows that I got to play. I’d never performed in any capacity that wasn’t the high energy experience Locksley provided–which I love doing, it’s still very much a part of me, but not all of me. Every Sofar show I was able to do something completely different, because I was doing it alone. Which was freeing, and also limiting. It’s much easier when you have a team. So I need both, I’ll keep recording and releasing and performing on my own. Meanwhile, I look forward to creating and performing with Locksley again, because when our team is playing its best, I think there’s no one better, humbly. 

Our Scattered Words: You have an “album” of songs called 2013 on your website that’s a tribute to last year.  How did this come about and do you think you’ll do a similar album this year?
Jordan Laz: I did that for the first time at the beginning of last year. On January 1st, 2013 I released “2012” which was a ‘tribute’ to the year before. At the end of 2012 I had this collection of songs, high quality demos really, that so perfectly summed up what that year meant to me. It was reflective of my own experiences, but felt very honest, and relatable.  Without even being conscious of it at the time I felt the songs I had written and recorded told a perfect story as you travelled back. At the end of 2013 I noticed the same thing. It was a very different story, but still interesting and accessible and I thought a progression from the music I had released before. It’s hard to say if i’ll continue to release music in that format, I suppose if it keeps happening this way I won’t have a choice.

Our Scattered Words: What are you most proud of?
Jordan Laz:  I’m proud of the development I’ve made as a songwriter and a performer since I first came out to New York to play in a band. I’ve always felt that I didn’t really pick music, it picked me in a way. I’m glad it did, I still have a lot of work to do, but it keeps getting better.

Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Jordan Laz: Of my Locksley material: “Why? Well, just because” of my own material I like, “When my time comes, sing me love songs.”

Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Jordan Laz: Be honest

Our Scattered Words: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Jordan Laz:  Beatles ‘White Album’. And ‘Stankonia’

Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Jordan Laz: Bob Dylan. I don’t know if he’d have the ability to be as insightful as I may want to him to be. But at least I’d be able to say that I sat down and talked about songwriting with Bob Dylan. 

Please stop by Jordan’s Website and stream his original songs
Plus, here’s one more live video of Jordan from a Sofar house show

I’m keeping Jordan’s Songwriting playlist here this time.  It’s all streamed tracks, no videos which is nice variety

1.One of my favorite songwriters/artists/thinkers is my oldest friend from Wisconsin. He goes the moniker Yip Dap Xi (pronounced chee), I’m afraid there are no videos of him playing but this is one of my favorite songs he ever wrote:

listen to the entire vast collection at yipdapxi.bandcamp.com

2. A different close friend’s band. I think Locksley fans will really like this, I think everyone should:

3. Another lo-fi recording of a great song by an old friend

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

I hope to see you at SXSW, please let me know if you’re attending

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