on writing music.
Most of my writing comes about through travel. Being uprooted tends to invite the songbirds. A lot of songs do feel like that, they just land, complete. My job is to simply transcribe them from the ether. But then a lot start with those random scrawls in my book. The words sit and wait for a rhythmic or melodic idea to join them. Many like to emerge in the midst of a whole lot of noise - a crowded bar, in the middle of a movie - and those ones need to be caught (however inconveniently) right then and there. Record them now or they're gone...
Most of the songs came pretty easy, and writing with Jeff Bova was extraordinary. I would arrive in the studio with my little red book of scrawly words and squashed in chords changes, bang them out on his piano and we would lay down a bare-bones version of the song. We would talk about feels, references and direction, and then for me it was like sitting back and observing the unravelling of a dream coat.
A kind of outer-body telepathy would occur, I would project a black and white outline and then Jeff would colour it in remarkable, quirky ways - a tuba line that sounds like a baby elephant tap dancing on a pin head, the gap bass that announces itself like a drag queen in the Vatican, and then proudly creates a conga line from the congregation, the whistles and squeaks that soar in like hummingbirds and then vanish just as unexpectedly.
And sure, it wasn't all cocoons and butterflies. Blow That Horn, for instance only came to fruition after what felt like an extended performance of psychic surgery on an amoeba, but ultimately, it's all the more satisfying for that very reason.
'Look, I just say that its pop and then let people think what they want to think. The truth is, to me it is pop. It was written as pop and when you break it down, it's just a mish-mash of a bunch of popular musics that have been going on since about 1951.
Even now, I still hear it as pop.
But then maybe I just don't listen to enough pop.'
on being 'enough'.
I studied and I studied and I studied, because I wasn't confident that to just have a feel for something was enough. The pit of knowledge however, is deep but finite. It's easy to get stuck in the trap of academia, knowing much but experiencing little. I'm still in the process of "living my art". To me it's about being absolutely sure and steadfast in the confidence that what I create is good enough. I'm actually not even sure if that concept is ever actualised - I guess that's what makes it so glorious.