Interviews with Music Fans (part 2 of 3)

Amber

Interviews with Music Fans (this photo by Jessica Loucks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giselle

Interviews with Music Fans

Giselle (Vancouver)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

carla

Interviews with Music Fans

Carla (Carrollton)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jeffrey

Interviews with Music Fans

 

Jeffrey (DeSoto, TX)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

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Courtney Jones Video Premiere & SXSW

 

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SXSW week is here.  Personally, my favorite festival.  I’ll head down on Friday, after catching Toby Goodshank open for Macauley Culkin’s new Velvet Underground cover band “Pizza Underground” that changes all of the lyrics to be about Pizza… here on Wednesday night.

But first…
I’m honored that Courtney Jones asked me to premiere her new video, “City Lights”. Many of you have already viewed it at Our Scattered Dreams.  It’s too large a file for this WordPress site, but please stop by and view it.

I started this blog less than a year ago and have interviewed so many great musicians, and hope to share many more interviews with you.  If you’re attending SXSW please check out these musicians that have been interviewed here.

Andrew Belle
Jessie Frye
Golden Youth
Kaela Sinclair
Small Houses
Torres

Also watch for upcoming interviews with other SXSW performers like; Elizabeth and the Catapult, Holly Conlan and The 1975.

Circa Zero “Levitation” (Lyric Video)

The Police were my favorite group in college, even though my brain was planted solidly in the Jazz world. Rob Giles has been a friend for many years. He’s a great guy and incredibly talented. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s worked on and produced. I’m looking forward to hearing Circa Zero live at SXSW.  This may be my favorite song I’ve heard from Circa Zero’s upcoming album ‘Circus Hero’

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

 

Kendra Morris Interview Part II

Kendra Morris Interview

Kendra Morris Interview

Kendra Morris Interview, Part 2

If you have not read it yet, please start with Part 1 of the interview with Kendra Morris

OSW: Both of your parents were musicians, so you had music around all of the time.  Your first recording goes way back doesn’t it?
Kendra Morris: Oh yeah.  Both my parents are musicians.  I remember, as a kid, my idea of fun always involved music.  Whether I had a fake band, or whether my friend, Jacqueline and I  would always think of these groups, and we would perform for each other out in my front yard and  put on shows.  With the recording, I wasn’t interested in having a lot of friends and being part of the Girl Scouts or anything like that.  I was always interested in creating things and making things. I remember getting a karaoke machine for Christmas.  I think I used it for karaoke maybe once.  I got the whole box of cassette tapes, and instead, I would take blank tapes, and I would just sing on them.  I’d take it into my closet and I would make songs. I started realizing that I could bounce my vocals and make all these other vocal parts.  I would sit in my closet and make songs with backup harmonies, and that is how I started learning.  Little did I know at 8 or 9 years old, that what I was doing was something that people in big studios in New York City were doing. That was how I just started hearing melodies.  My mom sings, and we would just always have harmonizing contests with each other.  We’d sit in the car and try to harmonize to everything.  I’ve saved everything from over the years; all my recordings.  I’ve tried everything.  I’ve been in all kinds of bands.  When I think back, I have been journaling since I was about 12 years old also, and I have just piles of journals from over the years, and music was always just, asides from teenage girl drama, the focus.  I’ve always been involved with making music somehow.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Kendra Morris: I guess what I’m most proud of is that I’ve kept going,  I went to a performing arts high school, and everybody started out with the same dream.  Everybody was like, “I want to be on Broadway,” or “I want to be a singer,” but as you get older, what you want changes.  Some people are like, “Actually, I want to start a family,” or “I don’t think maybe acting is what I’m cut out for, but I think I’m better for this,” and that’s fine.  Everybody has their own paths, and everybody gets to where they’re going. But, singing has been what I’ve always wanted as far back as I can remember, since I was performing for stuffed animals.  I think what I’m really proud of is that over all these years, I have stuck with it.  It feels good to stick with something.  There have been setbacks, and some days are better than others, but to create and to make music that is what makes me the happiest.  When I’m making something…. when I’m making something out of nothing.  Just to have kept going and now it has been 10 years, and I’m still at it. It’s also nice that now starting to see the fruits of hard labor.  I’m definitely one of those advocates of “The world is your oyster. If you want something bad enough, if you really want something, you can do anything.”  That’s how the Eiffel Tower was built.  That’s how the pyramids were built.  When you think of this whole planet, everything on it, is because of someone’s crazy idea and making it happen.  I’ve been just really excited seeing things come together.  I’ve had my days where I am kind of bummed out; I can be hard on myself, but then it’s kind of taking a step back from the big picture and saying, “I’m putting myself out there, and people are responding to it”, and it’s affecting other people day to day.”  That is the beauty of music.

OSW: It really is. The thing that I don’t think any of of us realize going in is how much time the non-musical stuff ends up taking so you can make music.
Kendra Morris: Oh yes.  Lately, I’ve been just crazy busy.  My days will fill up so fast, not just with the creative side of things.  I sell a lot my posters on my website, and I print those then go to the post office, or there are days I spend hours just answering emails.  There is so much that goes into it, especially when you’re doing everything on your own.  There are the Lady Gaga’s of the world.  She has huge teams of people working for her.  She is still doing tons of work.  But at the level she is at, she has to have teams of people, as well.  There are a lot of artists who don’t have teams of people, but you have to keep the ball rolling.  It doesn’t matter the amount of people who hear your music.  For me, every single person is just as important.  If one person sends me an email, I have to find time to write them back.  They’re the ones that keep me in music. I think it is so important to be in touch with your fan base.  It’s a nonstop thing.

OSW: How did the tour with Dennis Coffey come about?
Kendra Morris: That was so cool.  Randomly, the guy who was managing Dennis had heard of me.  He’s an avid Wax Poetics magazine reader and just had heard of me through them.  He’d seen me in some ads and went and looked up some of my stuff.  When I first signed with them, they put on a 45 of me; Syl Johnson was on one side; I was on the other. He called Wax Poetics and said “We’re doing this showcase at South By Southwest and Dennis needs a singer on some of these songs. I joined Dennis Coffey on stage for that, and it went over really well.  Then he asked, “We’re doing a tour over the summer in the Midwest “ I said Yes! Are you crazy?! Absolutely, I want to do this!”

OSW: Do any books or movies influence your writing?
Kendra Morris: A lot of both.  I watch a lot of movies.  My nighttime is my down time where I try to give myself time to do something like that, and I read a lot.  I get so many influences from between what I’m reading, what I’m collecting.  I collect oddity-sort of things; taxidermy.  I flea market a lot.  That is pretty much my weekend therapy.  I’ll get up early, go to a flea market in NY and just walk around.  Sometimes I’ll buy stuff; sometimes I won’t.  I love looking at these old things that somebody else used to love.  Sometimes, I’ll look through all the old family photos, sometimes, it’s just the design of a piece of furniture. I get really inspired by the past.  All the stuff on the cover of “Banshee” is stuff from my apartment, and we just took it.

Kendra Morris Banshee

OSW: The same things go in the collages you make?
Kendra Morris: With the collages I do, I collect old nature books, old encyclopedias and old magazines.  My whole book shelves are full of these books.  There is a guy on my street who sells all sorts of weird stuff…… sometimes it’s junk; sometimes it’s treasure, but I check it every day.  He’ll put things aside for me that he knows I’ll like.  I am really influenced by art.  I do these collages, and I feel like those influence my writing, too. Making a collage, you’re creating this world out of something else.  In the same way, you’re doing that with a song sometimes, too.  You’re taking all these pieces of instruments to create a song or whatever is influencing your lyrics, just all your day to day influences.  Sometimes, when I do a collage, I can go back and I can write better.  The cool thing about creating something is always trying to be outside of the box, finding a different way to do something.  There are a million-and-one ways to look at one thing; it’s all perspective.  My best friend and I, our summer project, we did a Stop Motion video to an unreleased song of mine (“Winding) that I had always wanted to release.  I said, “Let’s do something,” so we decided to do Stop Motion with collages.  All summer, that’s what we worked on, a Stop Motion music video.  We actually just finished it last week, but it took us about 70-something hours to do.  It is so much; writing a song; it is completely different, but so much alike.  You’re trying to find things that fit the pieces together.

OSW: You’re trying to find a different way to tell that story
Kendra Morris: Yeah. Doing Stop Motion, we did not storyboard it.  We did it one scene at a time.  Every day we worked on a different scene, and we did a lot of stream of consciousness.  The key to it… we felt like we were MacGyver, because we’d start the day out, and you have to find a way to go from one scene into the next scene.  With Stop Motion, it has to be constant moving.  Something always has to be going.  So each day it was figuring out how to go from the scene from the day before into the new scene. Then when you finish up, leave it in place so the next time you work, you can go from there.  We would give ourselves challenges.  We couldn’t ever do the same transition twice, and we couldn’t  do the same thing for the second time the chorus goes around.  We didn’t let ourselves use double footage.  I think with Art, whether it’s making music or making a painting, it’s all kind of coming from the same place.

OSW: If you could go back and be part of any session what would it be?
Kendra Morris: Oooh, there’s so many. I would sit in on ‘ Pet Sounds’
OSW: yeah that one comes up a lot.
Kendra Morris: I started reading a book about the making of Pet Sounds, and it was pretty crazy.  Hearing how he was working alongside Phil Spector or in the same studio. I’m also curious about the Wall of Sound andwould love to sit in on some Phil Spector sessions as well.  I’d love to sit in on Jimi Hendrix, ‘Electric Ladyland’  It was so good. … or an R Kelly Session,  or Les Baxter when he did ‘The Dunwich Horror soundtrack’.

OSW: What is your favorite lyric?
Kendra Morris:
Wanda Jackson  ‘Whirlpool’. Great lyrics throughout the entire song!!!!!!

“You got me falling down and down. You got me me spinning round and round. Loving good and loving true.. In a whirlpool. The waters deep and dark around as I go falling down and down. I reach out and what i touch. Your lovin’ hands I need so much. Whirl, whirl pool. Crazy, crazy over you. In a whirlpool I’m loving you.”

When people ask me what sort of music is influencing me, it changes.  I’ve been buying a lot of records lately, and I’ll listen to a record to death.  I finally got a record player, and there are a couple really good record stores by my apartment.  I’ll take a break from working on stuff, and I’ll walk to the record store and pick out something that sticks out to me. Then I’ll listen to that record over and over and over again.  Lately, I got Temptations, ‘Psychedelic Shack’.  That album is so good, and Dennis Coffey is all over it.  You hear it all over.  It’s kind of trippy, because that record is so good, and I think, “Man I got to sing with that guy.”  It’s a cool feeling.

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Kendra Morris: To keep going if you really want it.  You’ll never know what could have happened if you quit, so keep at it.Also to accept your setbacks as your building muscle.  You need those….. whether you want to call them failures or setbacks.  I call them little tests.  You have to have those.  I talked with a friend the other night.  She’s going through a rough time with her music.  She is so crazy talented.  Her music is amazing and she’s just going through an itch right now, and I said, “Just keep going.  You are building your story right now, and in 50 years this will be a blip.  You’ll be glad that you had these things, and you can’t just stop at the blip.”

OSW:  If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Kendra Morris: I wouldn’t mind picking Leonard Cohen’s brain a little bit.  I love his songs.  His lyrics are so great.  They’re like poetry.  I just saw him at Radio City back in March.  I didn’t become a really big fan of his until probably then.
OSW: Yeah, he was one that  I didn’t get for a while.  But when I did he became one of my favorite writers.
Kendra Morris: I was familiar with him, but just hearing him there, it was like, “Wow! What have I been missing out on?”  I really appreciate him.  I would also love to  sit down with Buddy Holly.  I think he was such an incredible songwriter. His songs are just so classic and simple, and I love that about them.  I am always blown away by someone who can do that.
OSW: Yeah, an old Nashville writer Harlan Howard said, “All you need is 3 chords and the Truth.”
Kendra Morris: Yeah, some of the hardest and the best songs are the most simple.  Some of the songs even that I’ve written that I’ve been happiest with, they were the hardest to write, and the ones that people are attracted to the most because it just simply says something.  It’s easy to find a vague way to describe something; that’s always  a lot easier, but to find a way to just put something out there and just clearly say something using the perfect words to say. It’s why we do this.

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Thanks again to Kendra Morris.  I really enjoyed our phone interview.  Please check out Part I of the interview if you’re reading this first. Please check out Kendra on the web also;

Kendra Morris on the Web
Website
Facebook
Twitter @kendramorris
Instagram @kendramorris

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Kendra Morris, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future. PLEASE go check out Kendra’s playlists there!  This time we have 4 videos of Kendra and 4 videos of songs she likes.

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Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

Adrienne Pierce Songwriting Interview

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Adrienne Pierce Songwriting Interview

Adrienne Pierce
Current City:
Vancouver, BC
Record Label: self (Insectgirl Records) for solo albums and FU:M for The Royal Oui
Most recent release: ‘My Heavens’
Band Affiliation: The Royal Oui

BIO

She’s a breathy chanteuse whose sensibilities are in line with the Wes Anderson set, the lovers of tiny and bittersweet and beautiful. If you like Feist you’ll probably like Pierce. If you like songs that sound pretty but have a little bit of a melancholic edge, you’ll probably like Pierce. “

-Yakima Herald

The last few years have been exciting for Adrienne Pierce. She recorded her fourth full length album My Heavens, scored a film and even got a Grammy nod.  Her song “It’s Your Day” which was featured in two international commercials, made the ballot for Best Song from Audio/Visual.  This all happened while she was taking a year off from music to teach Art, History and English at an alternative one on one school. 2013 looks to be a great year too. She released her fourth full length album, My Heavens February 19th and then embarked on a tour across Canada and the USA . In March she began working on a new project called The Royal Oui with her husband and music partner Ari Shine. Together they are The Royal Oui. This October they will release a 7 inch/EP called Forecast through FU:M Records with a full length album to follow February 2014.

Pierce, whose songs have been heard on TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars and dozens of other shows and movies, has released 4 full length albums, 6 EP’s and two singles. She has played everything from Lilith Fair to The Cavern Club in Liverpool as well as showcases at SXSW, NXNE, CMW and The Toronto International Film Festival.  Adrienne has toured with and opened for revered artists (Ray LaMontagne, Damien Rice, Sondre Lerche, The Stereophonics, Jane Siberry, The Finn Brothers), played live on the CBC and the BBC and even had a member of Radiohead compliment her performance after a show in Toronto.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Adrienne Pierce: Sometimes I sit down and start playing guitar and a song idea comes to me and I just stay right there until the song is done. Other times I hear my husband (and band mate) in the other room playing something and I start singing along and then rush in the room and say “I have an idea”. Then we sit down together and work out the song. Sometimes I have a piece of music that I don’t finish for years and other times it seems to come together in what seems like minutes.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Adrienne Pierce: I am happy to have created a body of work that includes four full length albums and several EP’s and some singles too. I am not always comfortable using the word proud but I think I may actually be proud of my new work with The Royal Oui.

OSW: You took a year off from music and taught school? How did that come about and how has it had an impact on you?
Adrienne Pierce: I did teach for a year and I loved it. I was really inspired by the students and the others teachers. My husband was teaching recording arts at a very cool alternative school in Los Angeles and when there was an opening for an art teacher I applied and was thrilled to get the job. It was nice to focus on other creative outlets and work with kids. Even though I was incredibly busy as a first year teacher I still did write and record a lot of music including a new album and a film score that year. That was not the plan but that is what happened. I have great respect for teachers. 

OSW: Tell us about the Grammy nomination.
Adrienne Pierce:  A song called “It’s Your Day” that I wrote with Ari was in a FIAT commercial and it made the short list for a Grammy for Best Song from Audio Visual. It is not on any of my albums but is now available as a single.

OSW: You scored a film.  That can be a completely different process than songwriting.  How did you enjoy that?
Adrienne Pierce: Ari and I wrote the score for a film called ‘Wedding Chapel’ in 2012 and this year we wrote the score and did song placement for a comedy called The Cover Up. I love working to picture and seeing how things change and come alive when the music is added. Ari and I really enjoy collaborating with directors and helping to make their vision come together. We love coming up with themes for different characters and relationships. It is very rewarding work.

OSW: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Adrienne Pierce: Sometimes lyrics come quickly. I don’t really know sometimes where they come from. I just get a feeling from the chords, or the day or the person I am writing with and the words come. Other times I have one good line or one good verse and the rest comes very slowly.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Adrienne Pierce: It is really hard to choose but I do love everything by Leonard Cohen and I remember that these lyrics really struck me the first time I heard “Anthem”:

Ring the bells that still can ring 

Forget your perfect offering 

There is a crack, a crack in everything 

That’s how the light gets in. 

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Adrienne Pierce: I think the best advice is just to keep writing. Listen to great songwriters and learn some of their songs. I think co-writing is a great idea as well. 

OSW: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Adrienne Pierce: It would be fun to be a fly on the wall during the recording of The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ Album. Just imagine watching them sing the vocals for “God Only Knows”.

OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Adrienne Pierce: David Bowie. There are so many songwriters that I admire and I feel like I kind of understand them and how they write their amazing songs. I don’t feel like I could do what they do but I can kind of imagine how they do it. David Bowie is like a magical mystery and I don’t know how he does what he does. I would love to talk to him about pretty much anything but especially about songwriting.

Adrienne Pierce on the Web
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Links for Adrienne’s new band The Royal Oui
Website
Twitter
Facebook

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Adrienne Pierce, 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