― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 12:40 (fifteen years ago) link
― AaronK (AaronK), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 14:12 (fifteen years ago) link
I mean, even if I try to go out of my way to write something "different" sounding, I'm still just attracted to certain kinds of sounds, so the music will have a certain feel. I tend to be predictable in my tastes and song structures.
I don't really understand what you mean by "calculated" though. I mean, most of the time, when I write a song, I have a clear idea in my head before I put it down in a sequencer what it should sound like, instrumentation, arrangement and the like. Maybe it's based off a more traditional pop song structure, or something else I've heard. Sometimes I think "ooh, I'll write an electroclash song because it would be silly/fun". But I do it for the sheer challenge of it, not because any kind of logic of "electroclash is hip/not-hip so I should have a go at it".
― Streatham's Paisley Princess (kate), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 14:30 (fifteen years ago) link
1) We all like certain county and americana music, but we all hate the annoying reverent attitude so many performers take toward it and none of us feel any particular need to "pay homage" to any performer or style or show how much of a "debt" we owe. I think this frees us to be a little more inventive.
2) We all respect the idea that to a certain extent each person's part on a song has to come out of that person, but then we're also willing to go back and edit everything so it fits together better.
3) At some point, we do defer to the lead guy in the band because he does usually generate the original ideas and he sort of anchors the sound.
― Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 14:48 (fifteen years ago) link
Kate - I'm not sure what I mean by 'calculated' really! Maybe - are elements/is the song/the whole act intended to get a particular reaction - maybe one as basic as 'they're loud!' or 'they rock' or 'they're fun!'. That sounds a bit half-brained though - will try and recapture original thoughts.
Actually I was thinking of Shimura Curves as I wrote out the question and wondering how you arrived at the laptop/guitar and 4 harmony singers format as a way of presenting the songs. Was it just practical i.e less stuff? Was it so you could present the music differently than if you had a band conventional line-up with several members singing? i.e it frees up the singers for movement etc. I am guessing that at least some of the songs were not written specifically for that line-up, but could be/have been done in other forms?
Hurting - how far do you reckon you stray away from americana/country in not paying homage - i.e what sound choices/structures does this allow?
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 15:08 (fifteen years ago) link
The four singers is simply because my favourite thing in the world is harmony, and I wanted as rich harmonies as possible. Many of the songs I wrote had at least 4 and often 8 or even 16 part vocal harmonies. (I'd get a whole choir onstage if I could find the people who could carry a tune.)
Also, it leaves the singers more free to *perform* and interact with each other/the audience rather than being tied to an instrument, which is rather limiting. That's quite important to me.
― Streatham's Paisley Princess (kate), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 15:15 (fifteen years ago) link
But song-structure-wise we often use alternate time signatures, abrupt changes in feel or rhythm, write songs that go past 7 or 8 minutes, etc., stuff that I guess is more prog or post-rock than Americana or country. What I think we find annoying about the AAA-radio brand of Americana is that so much of it strains so hard to be "simple" and "true" and "pure."
― Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 15:16 (fifteen years ago) link
― On one hand I've got myself to blame (Lynskey), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 15:51 (fifteen years ago) link
This doesn't mean that we don't have our own sound, but it's not about forcing a new never-before-heard style or anything like that.
― Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 16:02 (fifteen years ago) link
― n/a (Nick A.), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 16:17 (fifteen years ago) link
I am only just now starting to bring my songs to the band, because I have been playing mainly keyboards up to now, and I don't really write on them. So far it's worked out very well, although there's more arrnaging to do - our other guitarist has added some great extra riffs (he's more lead and I'm more rhythm).
As for the other stuff we do, a lot of it is basically written by the other guitarist, and is often riffs that are jammed out into songs at rehearsal. It's pretty similar to what I do, melodic n punky. Our bass-player is an interesting writer - he comes up with some less conventional chords and structures, more Fall/Factory than straight-ahead punk-pop.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 17:09 (fifteen years ago) link
Rarely. When I'm working on song alone, it always fall a bit short for me. Although, when I bring a song into the band they will always surprise me with their ideas, and it goes beyond what I thought it could be.
Are you striving to be 'original'?
I don't think that's something you can consciously achieve. Creativity is a funny thing. I mean I try to find unique chord changes, dynamic melodies, and unusual arrangements. But I don't know if that = original.
Do you want to make great pop?
Very much so.
How *calculated* is the music you make? Is it thrown together so you have no idea what the result will be until it's finished? Or is it NEVER finised?
Varies - when I write by myself it's calculated, I suppose. But when we write as a group I never know where those songs are going. And I don't consider a song finished until it's successfully recorded or I'm fucking sick of it.
Is it the result of your single-minded vision, or a compromise between band members?
It's all about compromise.
Do you even care what it sounds like, as long as you're playing/producing *something*?
If I didn't care what it sounded like, I'd join a cover band and actually make some music at this!
Do you write for you and/or for an audience?
I write for myself and the four other people in my band. I cringe when other musicians claim they write for the audience. It implies they know their audiences' tastes better than they do.
― darin (darin), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 17:27 (fifteen years ago) link
If I didn't care what it sounded like, I'd join a cover band and actually make some MONEY at this!
― darin (darin), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 17:29 (fifteen years ago) link
I'm an effects and gear junkie though... That can make it hard to stop tweaking, but as soon as I realized that that was one of my weaknesses I started to consciously work against it to try to free myself up to work more easily.
Like Kate, I've always thought of myself as a better composer/arranger than technical musician, so the dawn of digital audio workstations has been nothing but amazing for me. I don't use a laptop to perform (and even if I did I don't think I'd ever stop using the guitar as my primary instrument), but I do all of my recording on a PC so I can do stuff like use a full string section or create much better-sounding drums than I'd ever be able to record in my current studio. (Mind you, my studio is set up well to record a lot of things. Mostly what I'm missing for recording a kit is just space.) It's gotten to the point where I'm very satisfied with my fake drums. I don't pretend they sound real, but I like that they don't scream "hey I'm fake" unless I actually want them to.
Most of the songs I write are very traditional pop/rock structure because I think the form itself is pretty liberating. I also would rather write a sonnet than something more free verse. Which is not to say that my lyrics always rhyme. It's just to say I like verse chorus verse. I do have songs with non-traditional structure, but most of them are just slightly bastardized versions of trad...
I tend to rely on lyrics a lot even though I usually write lyrics and music together. My tendency is to lean toward the They Might Be Giants school of having relatively cheerful music coupled with much less happy lyrics. That's not something I've ever tried to do on purpose, but it's definitely the case.
At the moment I'm not working with anybody, so the stuff I'm doing these days is just trying to recreate what I hear in my head or trying to mess around until I surprise myself with something that wasn't in my head but is perfect for whatever song I'm working on.
― martin m. (mushrush), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 18:04 (fifteen years ago) link
― jel -- (jel), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 18:13 (fifteen years ago) link
i think we all have our set of quality control filters that make us decide whether an idea rocks or sux and use it/bin it accordingly. life got a lot easier for me when i recognised that most of my ideas were mediocre but that i could identify that and strip tracks out to the good stuff and work from there.
because a lot of my stuff is done under the influence of jazz cigarettes i also twigged that there was a tendency to do these long looping subtly morphing mixes that only sounded good to the stoned ear, so i threw it the other way and went consise, upped the sectional changes and broke down the repetition. maybe i went too far b/c i ended up with something that most listeners would only gain familiarity with after 4 listens or so. my experience is that the world doesn't have time for that many listens ergo the record tanked commercially.
the intro/vs/ch/vs/ch/m8/ch x2 structure works pretty well for me these days. if you work on tunes in absolute isolation with no input from other musos you may end up with a very dense 'headphone record' that doesn't translate well to the live environment. that's a real fucking shame b/c beyond all the logistical hassle, gigging esp. touring can be a lot of fun and a pretty great way of life.
― john clarkson, Wednesday, 9 November 2005 18:45 (fifteen years ago) link
― john clarkson, Wednesday, 9 November 2005 18:51 (fifteen years ago) link
― martin m. (mushrush), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 19:35 (fifteen years ago) link
I am not a tweaker. Everything I intend to write must be able to be played live, so I try to keep in mind that little embellishments will get lost in the general racket. I have no home recording facility.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 9 November 2005 20:55 (fifteen years ago) link
I'm usually pretty happy about that. When I first started toying with recording things, I was more interested in what developed in the recording process than in writing songs beforehand. But back when I was recording indie-rock songs with guitars, I think I got to a point where I knew what I was doing just enough that nothing "happened" during recording -- it mostly came out as the song I started out imagining and outlining. Switching to assembling things on a computer makes it much more of a long process, and more of a process where things turn out in ways you don't expect, and lately I think I'm less good at sitting down and "writing a song" than I am at dealing with the process in a way that can maybe come out in an interesting spot.
(Though come to think of it I suppose the songs of mine that I like best have come from parallel courses -- conventional songwriting with the acoustic guitar, development with the sequencer, back to mapping it out on guitar, back to the sequencer, and so on until it's done.)
― nabiscothingy, Wednesday, 9 November 2005 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link
i think i'm almost at the point where my guitar sound is how i want it to be. almost but not quite - although i think i know what i still need to experiment with. the next stop is of course working out how to make my recordings sound how i want. no engineer i've worked with has been able to get the sound i have in my head - but i believe i can find it with some trial and error..
― john p. irrelevant (electricsound), Thursday, 10 November 2005 00:35 (fifteen years ago) link
For me, those variables occur when I take stuff into a rehearsal. One of the others may pick up on a detail that they like that I hadn't thought about, or suggest another section, or just play it differently to the way I had intended. These variables are what keeps it interesting - in the mid 80s I had a go at recording some solo stuff where I played everything and I hated having total control. It just felt *arid*. I guess in those days the lack of software/computers to allow you to record at home was a barrier to quickly trying things that would take a recording off in an unexpected direction.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 10 November 2005 08:27 (fifteen years ago) link
― Streatham's Paisley Princess (kate), Thursday, 10 November 2005 11:40 (fifteen years ago) link
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 10 November 2005 12:31 (fifteen years ago) link
― nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 10 November 2005 18:48 (fifteen years ago) link
― nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 10 November 2005 18:54 (fifteen years ago) link
― Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 10 November 2005 19:00 (fifteen years ago) link
― darin (darin), Thursday, 10 November 2005 19:40 (fifteen years ago) link
― martin m. (mushrush), Thursday, 10 November 2005 19:51 (fifteen years ago) link
a far more experienced artist/producer than me once heard me bemoaning my tendency to work on something, overcook it, then ditch it and all the attendant frustrations that that brought. his advice to me was: 'when a track collapses on you, you have to realise that it wasn't a complete waste of time. you're always learning from situations like this - you start to recognise the blind dead-end alleys before you go chuntering down them. it's not a quick process, but with time you get better at it.'
when i finally started finishing tracks to my satisfaction i realised how true that was. it can be soul destroying when tunes disintegrate or you get so bored that you HAVE to let go eventually and move onto something different, and this keeps happening over and over and over again, but you have to be strong and just keep throwing yourself at the wall. it will resolve itself. comfort yourself with the thought that you're chasing The Grail - artistic truth - a rare commodity these days, and while you may not go to the grave a materially rich person, you WILL ONE DAY achieve a level of personal fulfilment from your music that a whole host of multi-platinum selling cunts will neither know nor understand.
dissatisfaction is all part of the package. i've noted before that i'm trying to get tunes to the point where they don't irritate the bejesus out of me. it can be done.
remember that a work of art is never finished, only abandoned.
― john clarkson, Thursday, 10 November 2005 20:57 (fifteen years ago) link
― martin m. (mushrush), Thursday, 10 November 2005 21:25 (fifteen years ago) link
― martin m. (mushrush), Thursday, 10 November 2005 21:26 (fifteen years ago) link
just wanted to clear that up...
― john clarkson, Thursday, 10 November 2005 22:22 (fifteen years ago) link
*of course that doesn't stop you wishing you'd done it differently later on, that unfortunate side-effect of getting better as a band/artist!
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Friday, 11 November 2005 08:07 (fifteen years ago) link
i think your definition is good to go doctor...
― john clarkson, Friday, 11 November 2005 08:50 (fifteen years ago) link
Obvious answer is 'cos I like it' but lets go a bit deeper. Way upthread n/a said *The band I'm in now was consciously created as a "pop band," as kind of a reaction to a more experimental band I was in before*. That struck me as interesting because I've never really made a big flip like this. Why did you do it? What was hard about it? What came naturally?
Also nabsico said 'back when I was making indie-rock songs with guitars'.
My own answer is that I play pop-punk and Factory/Fall-ish stuff for various reasons, mainly that this stuff mobilized me as a musician in the first place and I still feel at home with it over 25 yrs on. Maybe the feeling was so strong that I've never moved on. I might listen to King Tubby, Chic and Northern Soul as much as Joy Division and The Sex Pistols, but when I pick up a guitar, it just *comes out like that*. Also it's easy to sound good, and we're not great musicians. Competent enough maybe, but I can't do a good Nile Rodgers! Also, I'm not bothered about doing anything *new*, other than in the sense that I want to write the great songs within the parameters I've chosen. I'm not making much sense. Another factor is that I'm interested in live performance first, recorded work second. I'm afraid I'm not making a lot of sense, so I'll press pause for a while...
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Friday, 11 November 2005 13:16 (fifteen years ago) link
I joined a sample-based kraut hop band in the mid 90s because I wanted to do something more technologically aware after spending the early 90s in garage bands. I then started a girly power-pop band as a reaction to that. Post the girlband I started recording classical symphonies as a way of doing something totally different to anything else I'd done before.
Now I'm trying quite hard not to pay attention to genres when I write, except as a stylistic shorthand to a mood. I think it's better that way.
― Stress Pig (kate), Friday, 11 November 2005 14:44 (fifteen years ago) link