New Free Soft Close-Ups Radio Session EP. From the Joyzine Radio Show in February. Lovely cover art by Jodie Lowther.
H Bird’s ‘Pink Lights & Champagne’ now available as pay-what-you-want at Bandcamp.
“…to put it simply this single is perfect, one of those songs which you simply couldn’t improve if you tried. It’s beautiful pop music, beautifully written and beautifully sung. It’s a warm feeling in your heart. It’s achingly sweet without being nauseating or saccharine and from the second that piano riff hits you and the words “Your eyes meet mine…” coyly fall into view you’ll be hooked and pretty much a sitting duck to the drums and killer keyboard line.” - Pow Pow Pow
My process for writing words:
1. Listen to a loop of part of the song and ask myself, “What is that like?”
2. Draw a picture of exactly what comes to mind. Expand the picture out to the edges of the page. But I’m not drawing what I want - I’m looking inside my head/mind’s eye for what is there.
3. Scribble some words about the picture. If I already have a melody, these words may or may not follow the rhythm of the melody.
4. Write a series of questions enquiring about this picture. Who? What? When? Where? Why? Etc.
5. Think about answers to the questions. Possibly write them down.
6. What are the sections of the song? In this case it was 3 verses, 3 prechoruses, 3 choruses, and a middle eight. I write ‘verse’ ‘chorus’ etc on a clean page, with loads of space around. I think about which section of the song will contain the answer to which question. Sometimes I’ve skipped the question step, and will just jot down what I think will go in each section. E.g. Verse 1 backstory. Prechorus sense of threat. Middle 8 reversal/twist.
7. Then, using some of the words I scribbled on the picture, plus the vocal rhythm, I’ll scribble down answers to the questions as quickly as I can without taking the pen off the page.
8. Edit. Select bits I like. Make a few changes. Transfer lines I want to use onto a clean page. The song takes shape.
9. If I get a bit stuck on a particular section, I’ll ask myself another question like: what is this bit REALLY about? And then I’ll draw a picture, and that should generate some new ideas.
I’ve used this process for a couple of years now. It’s an adaptation of a process designed to get people in touch with their unconscious ways of conceptualising the world, so that they can solve their problems. In that application it’s called Metaphors of Movement, designed by the psychotherapy genius Andrew Austin.
My version helps me to write words for songs pretty quickly. There’s no worry about a blank page, no trying to say something. And I tend to write lots more words for songs.I’m going directly to the place. And I pluck those babies.
Some songwriters I’ve spoken to are skeptical of process. They think it’s too mechanical, too inartistic. Where’s the skill in it? A real writer doesn’t need processes because they can just write! I think that’s based on a mistaken belief.The self-image/ego part of the organism wants to take credit for the writing.
My experience is that working in this way is beautiful. I don’t have a clue what I’ll find before I look. I just trust in it. And I’m free of needing to claim the work as my own.
Try it. Let me know how it works out.
My Quietus review of the ace new Robyn Hitchcock record - “part well-known favorites, part personal discoveries, and part originals.” His takes on ‘The Ghost In You’ (Psych Furs), ‘To Turn You On’ (Roxy Music), and I Was A King’s ‘Ferries’ are superb. And ‘San Francisco Patrol’ & ‘Comme Toujours’ are the two most beautiful songs he’s written in years.
"Robyn Hitchcock’s latest release, The Man Upstairs, stands amongst his all-time best albums. His finest work in years, the opening three songs are stunning, mesmerising even, in their intimate beauty"
My Quietus review of Julian Cope’s excellent fiction debut, One Three One. Both hilarious and a novel of great social importance, I really miss reading this. Always the sign of a good book.
My Quietus review of Trwbador’s ‘Several Wolves’, currently in my Top 10 Albums Of The Year list. Half electro-folky/half sheer great electronic pop, ‘Start Your Car’ and the title track are excellent tunes.
"It’s pure cinematic cool with a seductive pulse, picture Ladytron in an opium-hazed driver’s seat, propelling you around the bends of long urban tunnels, flashing multi-coloured lights as they speed by, all in slick, slow motion. There’s an intelligent, purposeful use of backing vocals throughout the record, and here they’re like night angels materialising and stretching across the ether."
My Quietus interview with Mikey Georgeson, my favourite songwriter. I found this interview incredibly interesting and if you don’t know Mr. Georgeson’s music, do yourself a favour and get on that. I highly recommend the first two David Devant & His Spirit Wife albums, the two Mr. Solo records, or his latest ‘Blood & Brambles’. All excellent introductions to the man’s impressive body of work.
My Quietus review of Martin Newell’s new Cleaners From Venus album. A stunning Pop record, currently my Album Of The Year. Out now on Soft Bodies Records.
Earlier this year I chatted with Afghan Whigs’ frontman Greg Dulli about his 13 favourite albums of all-time.