My songwriting secret

With our recent Narrowboat Session in Oswestry, we were interviewed about how the band started, from when I joined Jim and Oli up to where Oli and I have come today, and what has changed. Something that really hit me, as a personal development, has got to be my answer to some of the most commonly asked questions with regards to being a writing musician: What is your process? How do you write your thing? And like pretty much everyone I'm sure my answer is at least a little individual, perhaps even unique! My honest answer came to me as I was seeing it develop during this reflection; no two songs go through the same process.

So in the beginning, I'd simply jam. Play either with other musicians or just to myself. And when a little hook, or phrase or bar really struck me, I'd just try a few things with it and around it until eventually I had a full song. It used to take me months on one song alone. But around 2015 things started to really pick up pace and a more structured approach came on, I always had a focus. Normally a subject and often a unique method, but I'd make the experience and process for each song as I wrote it unique, so that my mind wouldn't end up the same place during each song.

The subject was often a place or person, specifically or just in relation to a feeling, and meant that in essence each song had its own character. The example I can most easily give is You've Got Me. It was written to any person that is supportive of me, so anyone I trust and find comfort in without being specific. But to really get into the mind frame of the sincere need for support and love I wanted to be attaining and relating to, I ensured I'd only write and work on the song while feeling like this. In my case, as many friends, family and even close fans of the band know, I suffer from depression, and felt writing about exactly how I felt I needed treating and helping gave me the real inspiration for the song, especially the lyrics. On reflection, it would probably have helped me during those low moments working on something such as this, and I hope people can feel and hear that, really making it a three dimensional song, not simply some words to a melody.

That song is now over 2 years old since I wrote it and I have written far more songs since, now writing perhaps over 4 or 5 a month. And as many songwriters have been quoted, it often takes a couple songs written to find one you really are proud of and want to share with the world. As for me, obviously regardless of where they start, the song gets really crafted into a final piece when Oli and I sit together and demo them, realising the potential of words on paper and visualising what we can both contribute, making it the best we can do in our eyes.

I think Oli has a different approach to mine despite some things in common, and that combined with our ability to really team up on each song is what I think finishes our stuff.

I'd just like to say to anyone looking to write songs, don't be afraid to use any kind of gimmick, rule, game, ANYTHING you can think of to get the ball rolling. If it takes ten songs written before the good one appears, those ten songs that have done their job!


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