April 22nd, 2017

James on Songwriting

Variation in music is my lifeblood.  Drawing inspiration from varying influences is a habit I've developed over the years as a songwriter.  I've learned never to turn something down right away because you may end up loving it as a consequence, feeling ashamed later for not appreciating the style upon first observance.

There was a time in my life when I thought the electric guitar was everything; the cornerstone of rock music, the most adaptable instrument in any scenario.

It took me years to realize that this was not the case.

Not because the guitar isn't an essential piece to many forms of popular music, but rather because there were so many differing instruments that I hadn't yet taken the time to discover.

The first guitar I ever had was picked out of a garbage can from down the street. The trumpet was my first instrument I had formal training in, but the guitar was the first instrument I fell in love with. The problem here was that I knew that I needed more than just this one great instrument in order to write great music.

Since then, I have pushed myself to learn how to sing and how to play the drums, bass guitar, piano, trombone, and flute, as a means of creative expression through recording music.

To some, there is a level of naivety that comes with treading in such territory.  Those whom spend their lives learning and toiling over the time it takes to master their instruments will most likely see my efforts as some vain attempt to be a "one-man-band". Why not train yourself to be a fantastic player of one instrument instead of a mediocre hack at many?

I see beyond this reasoning, as it's more about being comfortable and hearing exactly what you want on whatever platform necessary. It's about feeling the rhythms within yourself too. Through my struggles to learn more and try new things, I have created incredibly rhythmic and detailed music, catered to my need to bring more and more to the table.

My mind operates in the world of music, and rarely elsewhere.  I am haunted constantly with a soundtrack playing in my head that changes day to day.  I tap on just about any hard surface with my fingers.  I can often hear a pitch or tone being played from things like a copy machine, or a car horn (and sometimes I play a fun game where I have to construct a song around it).

If loving music is a crime, then I'm on the most-wanted list.  Musical inspiration for me comes from beyond the average favorite band or singer; I believe that we're all musical beings with the capability to create and draw from the past to expand the realm of possibility in songwriting.  I consider my computer's music collection to be quite eclectic.  From traditional music of Zimbabwe, to 90's hip-hop, to all sorts of progressive rock and fusion... The list goes on.

All of these influences and these experiences I've gained have been the catalyst in the creation of my own music.

James Thoubboron

April 6th, 2016

Nick on Songwriting

There is nothing closer to the core of my being than songwriting.  It is my belief that art allows a person to reach into the deepest recesses of their consciousness and explore the things that spoken language doesn't allow us to express.  My art form is song craft.  While there is something deeply satisfying and uplifting about sharing my songs with people in live performance, I am truly in my element when I am in the studio attempting to create a sonic landscape and story out of nothing.

I don't believe that there can or should be a formula to writing songs.  Every song has a different process, as does every little thing about the song.  Sometimes a piece of a song like a melody or a sound will randomly pop into my head, and I do my best to recreate it in reality.  Other times, I sit down and try to fish around with a guitar, piano, sample loop, or synth program to find a melody and thematic vision that accompany each other nicely.

The dichotomy that exists in my head about songwriting is the ethereal and the cerebral.  The ethereal is side is for the ideas that come seemingly out of nowhere.  Usually right as I'm laying down to go to sleep, I can hear new ideas swimming around my head.  If I'm not too tired I will go over to the computer to start a new demo and try to recreate what I was hearing, but if I am too tired I will just grab my phone and record the melody with a couple notes so I can do my best to flesh it out the next day.  The cerebral side of songwriting comes into play when I need to "flesh it out" the next day.  After the initial inspiration hits, and the core of what I had heard is already recorded, I need to use the sensibilities that I have learned through years of writing and listening to music to take the song where it needs to go, logically and emotionally.

After I have a solid base of something, or I have hit a brick wall creatively, I'll begin to collaborate with my band mates.. And they do the same with their projects.  It may be a bit of an unorthodox way to work but it seems to have worked so far.  Recently we have been talking about being more collaborative in the earlier stages which is something I am excited to try, since it's very new to me.  I don't think there is ever a right or wrong way that a song can come to be, the end always justifies the means when it comes to songwriting.  The process of writing one song could be completely different than the process of the next, and that's not only okay, but it seems healthy to me.

Just about every time I write a good song, and don't write another one for a couple weeks, I feel like I won't ever be able to write one again.. But soon after that feeling, another one tends to come fairly soon after.  I feel lucky that I haven't had longer stretches of time that I was incapable of writing in, because it is quite depressing, but writer's block is an unavoidable nuisance in everyone's career, at one point or another.  Now that we have signed this recording deal and we have been meeting with people that I never truly believed we would meet, it's all very overwhelming; but the greatest feeling of all is to know that the band's process of songwriting is what was able to get us into the room, and it feels so validating.

I have no idea what comes next but I'm sure it will be nothing short of a whirlwind.

Nick Louis

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