Finally week 4 Country!!! I was so excited until they took away all our toys. Write an edgy song for a male artist in his 20s; no trucks, no partying, no marriage, no kids, no hanging out with your buddies. Okay this is country what’s left? The dog I guess. lol. Surprisingly I was able to come up with not 1 but 2 songs that I am very proud of. A good old fashioned heart break song and a rocking tune about working in the oil patch. My rig song may be a little offensive but it’s definitely edgy I think. I had a difficult time trying to find a way to tell his girlfriend to kiss his a$$ but I think I managed to get the point across. One major factor from this competition is that I need guitar lessons, badly. My writing is so limited by this. No wonder I write so many ballads!
Pink Balloon. Marshmallow zoo. What are- words I never thought I’d ever put in a song! This week’s challenge was a huge first for me- writing a commercial. A kid’s commercial and it was….FUN! I was lucky enough to have a break between piano students one night and I was messing around with the a lead sheet of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”, a song requested by one of my students. I started playing around with some of the chords, then I started to swing it, then I started whistling the tune and in minutes I had written the song. All I needed was the perfect voice. I was reading a lot about collaboration so I reached out to a young singer songwriter who’s voice had intrigued me after to listening to some of her projects. Her and her family were so supportive of the song and did a great job of recording it so thanks to the youthful and talented Mikalyn Hay for lending her voice to my project. Enjoy!
This week’s challenge has been well, a challenge. The song pitch is for producer Rob Wells, for an up tempo quirky female pop song for the 13-18 year old demographic. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t write anything that didn’t sound retarded or like Blue Rodeo, sigh..Jim Cuddy……oh sorry I was lost in a “moment”. Luckily for me there was an undiscovered Disney Princess out there (once you hear our song you’ll understand where this comes from) that breathes pop and we were able to collaborate late into the night Friday and put something together that if it doesn’t impress Rob Wells, will certainly have Disney knocking on our door. Song demo will be ready Sunday.
Many other songwriters posted some articles that I found very helpful through this process and have salvaged the song writer ego after a frustrating week. One was about pushing through the bad material as it is a process that we all have to move through. Got to trudge through the sand to get to clear water right? I was frustrated on a song I was writing for a Nashville project and was ready to give up when I read this article. It encouraged me to keep pushing through and finally voila! I think I have ended up where I wanted with that song. My creative brain feels like it’s gone through a full 12 rounds but no time to rest quite yet. Matt Dusk is still waiting for his next hit, so onward I go!
Rewind, 3 years. Oil executive travelling the world, living the corporate dream with everything coming so easily for me. And then BANG, suddenly everything is difficult, getting up, having a shower, being around people and the hardest thing of all…living. I had been hit with the depression freight train. And it left me lying in broken pieces on the side of the tracks begging for the train to come back and finish the job. It wasn’t a pretty picture and so unexpected. I literally almost didn’t make it out alive. I’d like to say I fought to get out but depression takes the fight right out of you. So my family fought for me. They won the big battle and then bit by bit I started putting the pieces of myself back together. The war is not and may never be won though. Humpty Dumpty didn’t go back together the same way she was when she fell. Maybe not worse nor better, just different and unable to travel on the same road I was on. My first love was music. I have played and written music all my life. Through my healing process I started to write more and more. I wanted to write music that was relatable to other people and also offer hope for those still lying on the side of those tracks. One day someone heard my songs and suggested I do something with them. Ummm, okay. Do what exactly? Songs pour out of me like water. I could write one a day. Whether they are hits or not is another question. Which is why I am doing this challenge. I would like to develop my craft and get connected to a song writing community so that I can get my music heard, developped and played by other people. Right now the only person it’s healing is me. I’d like that to change.
My experience in the challenge thus far has been a little intimidating. Most specifically in regards to demos and demo production. I have lots of songs that I am very proud of but I have been so busy writing that I haven’t worked on proper recordings. Most of the other participants seem to have that part handled. I hope this does not take away from my music too much.
As far as progress in the challenge, I have been forced to play catch up but this is a good thing. I now have a blog lol and am now motivated to work on that long overdue website. I am already writing the 1st challenge songs in my head and am just a few days away from turning them into a rough draft of a song.
I have never co-written before as I am comfortable with writing both lyrics and melody. And most of my songs come so quickly to me that they are almost complete before a single chord is played. Mostly though I have just been a big chicken :-). I would love to co-write as I want to expand my styles and ideas. I have reached out to some members who I feel have a similar sound and am excited to work with them if they’re willing to give it a try.
The biggest challenge so far is keeping up with all the Facebook posts lol. I am also feeling pressure to get more professional, on the outside, fast. What I mean by that is catching up with commercially branding myself, rather than staying shut in and writing all the time. It is clear I cannot just write music. I need to record some good demos and start using social media to market myself and my music.
There’s healing in the water, there’s healing in the music.
It’s funny how life does the driving for you. It turns you in a totally different direction before you’ve even realized it had the wheel all along. It can be a humbling experience, realizing you’re not always in control. But sometimes it can be the detour that you’ve needed all along. You were too forward focused to see the forest lining the highway. If it were left to you to map your route you would probably choose your destination and the straightest line to it. You don’t allow for any “points of interest”, roadside dining gems or historical walks. Point A to B, that’s it. If your car gets a flat, you fix it, dust yourself off and keep going, never looking around and realizing that where you broke down was right where you needed to be. Point B was your want, not necessarily your need. It can be a frustrating experience to keep breaking down trying to get to Point B, so I stopped fighting it. When I took a moment to look around where I thought I was stranded, I realized that I was going in the wrong direction in the first place.
This is my story. My life and my music. I am a song writer and mental health survivor. What I was before and where I was headed no longer matters.