16th April 2012
Every now and then, a talent comes along that you know can never be contained or held back. Such was the case when Karise Eden came into my life in late 2009 looking for some advice and mentoring. We sat alfresco drinking coffee at a local Woy Woy cafe and, the then seventeen year old, shyly told me about her life, everything she’d been through and how much she lived for music and singing. She had an old, battered up guitar at her side and I could tell it was a part of her, almost like it was surgically attached. It was her best and most trusted friend, I think.
Beneath the wild hair, tattoos, piercings and barely hidden angst, there were huge hazel/green eyes that expressed a vulnerability that frightened me a little, to be honest. This kid had been through more in her seventeen years than most of us would go through in ten lifetimes. She was street wise and intelligent, yes, but she was also young and naïve about the world, had little education, was a sensitive soul with a no self-esteem, and frankly I just wanted to give her a great big hug. I’ve noticed over the years that she has that effect on people!
After about an hour of discussing what she wanted to do with her music, she asked if she could sing me a song. “Why not?” I replied. Artists often pull me up in the strangest places wanting me to hear them, so sitting there in front of the café listening to an impromptu performance, with strangers eating and chatting around us, was nothing new to me. Without hesitation, Karise picked up her guitar and started to play.
I admit now that I can’t remember what she sang. All I remember was being completely stunned and mesmerised by this waifish girl as she poured her heart out with her whole being.
That’s the thing. Yes, she has an undeniable, unique and explosive vocal talent, but when Karise sings its like she is laying out all her emotions for you, as if in sharing her pain it might somehow lessen hers just a little.
It has been such a pleasure and privilege to watch Karise grow and mature, not only as a singer but also as a person. Have I helped a little along the way? I hope so.
At The Voice Australia blind auditions after-party she held last night, Karise thanked me for helping her and for being there for her. No, Karise. Thank you, for allowing me to be part of your magnificent journey. After all, there was never any doubt in my mind that you were headed for stardom – with or without anyone’s help.
28th November 2011
What’s ‘Normal’ Anyway?
Being a ‘little bit different’ may feel scary at times, but the truth is, we can choose to embrace or reject who we really are, and if we choose the path of acceptance and self-love, it can lead us through the most profoundly beautiful life. Feeling good about who we are allows good to flow within us, through us and out into the world.
We creative beings are never fully understood by ‘normal’ people and in fact we are often maligned for being different and non-conforming. I think that, in fact, we are envied for our creativity and ability to release that which does not suit our needs and desires. It is indeed a great gift we are given but its up to the individual what we do with it.
Be joyful, be inspired, but most of all, be yourself. You’ll never be ‘wrong’ if you follow your heart.
11th February, 2010
Publishers and Song Pitching
I remember the first time I pitched my songs to a Publisher in a face-to-face situation and how that felt for me, so I thought I would write a few words of encouragement and some of my thoughts on the process.
One of the things I’ve learned about Publishers, and I see it all the time at the Australian Songwriters Conference, is one Publisher saying they don’t like a song, and the next Publisher saying they love it! Yes! Personal taste does play a role in the choices a Publisher makes, and in the comments you receive from them, but more importantly – Publishers are looking for songs that fit their agenda. They have album, TV, film and advertising projects coming up all the time with very specific music and song requirements and part of the Publisher’s job is to fill those requirements with their writer’s work. They may hear songs they like, but pass on them, simply because the song doesn’t fit the immediate requirement, or they may like to hold onto a song they hear for future possible use – especially if they can hear quality in the songwriter’s other work too.
Most (but not all) Publishing experts have a musical background so they understand the basic structure of a song. Most however, do not know the first thing about songwriting. They know what they like, they know what the audience wants to hear – that’s their job. They also know when a song doesn’t sound ‘right’ or ‘ready’, but they are rarely able to tell you why – or how to ‘fix’ it. They can tell when a song needs more work and whether it is the melody, lyric, chorus or hook that needs refinement – and the comments they make are always valuable and worthy of your further consideration. If you need help in processing the comments that are made to you, or you’re not sure how to make the changes that are suggested, or you just need clarification or a more in-depth critique of your song, I can help you with that.
As a songwriter, one of the tasks you will find an absolute necessity is rewriting. I know – we all hate the word! After all, our babies are perfect just the way they are, right?
No one is going to force you to rewrite your song/s. If you are writing for your own pleasure and you have no big career aspirations, keep enjoying your craft and your songwriting just the way it is. If you do have career aspirations, then rewriting must become a regular part of what you do. It really isn’t a dirty word.
Look at it this way. A song is like a baby. A baby has to be nurtured and loved, yes. It also needs to be disciplined, educated, and taught good manners – so that it will grow into a wonderful well-adjusted and happy adult. A song is the same. It also needs to have love, education and discipline poured into it, by way of reworking, rewriting, going over every single line and making it the very best it can be so the song can really shine.
When we pour out our hearts and imagination to create a song – that’s art.
When we rewrite using the tools of good songwriting – that’s craft.
A great song is the result of both.
So, don’t be afraid to rewrite your songs. Again, if you’re not sure where to start, I can help. Check out this website for more information about my services. Oh – and don’t forget that the Australian Songwriters Conference is coming up in June and our main seminar facilitator is Jason Blume who I believe is the most inspirational and brilliant songwriting teacher you could ever learn from. To be a professional songwriter, Jason Blume says that as well as a good working knowledge of the craft of songwriting, you need two things -persistence and a tough skin. He’s so right!
Well, I’ll leave it here with some final thoughts: – Keep loving what you do; when given advice from experts in the industry, take what you need and leave the rest (but be honest with yourself about what you need); don’t take the rejection of your work personally; and surround yourselves with a supportive network of friends and peers.