Wrestling With Words (How We Write)
Drew and I met through a dating app but we fell in love working on music. Shortly after we started dating we managed to book a gig for a house Christmas party. We spent weeks learning two and half hours of material and not once did we fight, get angry, or feel any contempt for each other if the other made a mistake. We learned how to listen to one another, work together, and ultimately, we realized that we should spend the rest of our lives together. Once we conquered the Christmas season that year, we thought, wouldn’t it be fun to write an original song together?
When it comes to writing our music, we don’t have one technique we strictly follow. We adhere to Roger’s advice from 101 Dalmatians, “Melody first my dear, and then the lyrics.” Yet we’ve also created lyrics first and created a melody based on what we thought the lyrics would sound like. There’s little logic to it, but it works.
The first song we ever wrote together was “The Last Lullaby”, which surprisingly, didn’t start off as a haunting ex lover song. Drew came to me with the chord progression one evening and said, “Think you can sing to this?” And on the spot I started creating a melody line with fake lyrics. In our satirical fashion, the song I was making up in the moment sounded like an evil Disney villain who was going to steal all the children’s Christmas presents, complete with evil laugh and all. But the lines “I wish” kept recurring and felt natural. From there, we took a step back and said, “What can we do with this?” Slowly but surely, we reinvented our song and were able to record it at ELESVEE with Gary Powell and JR Taylor.
We recently completed a new song titled, “Transition.” This song started many months ago with Drew creating a beautiful set of arpeggiated chords on the guitar. He’s always creating new sounds and brings them to me. Sometimes I immediately can hear a melody, other times I’ve got nothing. But with this particular chord progression I could hear a simple melody. Once we have somewhat of a floorplan for the chords/melody we like to record it to our phones for future reference.
It wasn’t until our Christmas break where we were able to sit down and next discuss, what do we want this song to be about? We talked about how this song sounded to us and the mood it created. Then that discussion lead to what is the story we want to tell. We both agreed that this song while it seems somber, it has a sense of hope throughout. We started talking tactics and kicked different lines back and forth and at first, nothing stuck. Then on Christmas day we sat down, tried again and half of the song came together. Best Christmas gift ever!
Those types of days are the days writers live for. When the inspiration just flows naturally, and nothing is being forced. We were able to create the exact lines that matched the melody as well as the tone we were setting for the song. We got halfway through the song and that’s when we had to take a break. Even though this can be frustrating to be on a writing roll and then the creativity comes to a screeching halt, it’s all a part of the process. But the great news is, is that a week and a half later, we were able to complete the song and it felt incredible!
Each song of ours has been different. With “Possibilities” I brought the lyrics and melody to Drew and asked him to create chords around it. It was a melody/lyrics I created in the shower by myself and then we collaborated the verses together. With “Mama” Drew created the chords, played them for me and the first half of the first verse I created on the fly. Yet that song took months to complete because we changed the bridge four different times.
I’m sure other artist have very similar stories and would agree, even though some songs come together in 10 minutes and others take years, there’s no better feeling in the world that completing a song. We are hoping to record “Transition” in the coming months. Be on the lookout for that!
Photo credit goes to the incredible Amy and April Rankin - www.twintyphotography.com