Some of the most inspiring stories of the music industry come not from the brightest-shining stars but from the slow-burning musicians and songwriters whose ability and smarts have provided them with an enviously long career.
One such musician is Geoffrey Williams, a singer-songwriter and loop artist who has written for artists such as Michael Jackson (more to come in the third post of this series), Nile Rodgers, Dusty Springfield and Color Me Badd, as well as performing at some great venues and events including Wembley Arena and Montreux Jazz Festival.
So join us for this four-part series called “4 PROVEN TIPS TO INSPIRE YOUR SONGWRITING”, where Geoffrey will help you unlock your songwriting creativity with the knowledge he has learnt from some of the biggest names in the business.
Contributed by Geoffrey Williams for the Roland Australia Blog
You can find inspiration for songwriting everywhere!
Is that true?
In this blog, I will aim to show that for me, there is no such thing as writer’s block and that inspiration is truly an everywhere, all the time, 25/7 happening thing!
Anyone, at anytime and anywhere, can be inspired by poetry, rhythm, feelings, stories, the best or the worst film you’ve ever seen, your mum’s cooking, an exhibition, someone else’s music, a mistake, a little white lie, a stream of consciousness, dreams, the title of a book you’ve never read, pretending to be someone else, pretending to be yourself, overheard conversations, black and white pictures, fears, loves and passions, teddy bears, the news, events, the state of the nation, catastrophe, triumph… you get the idea!
For over 20 years, I’ve been exploring a plethora of songwriting & production tools, sonic springboards, and creativity exponentiations.
Most of all in this blog, I plan to share some of them with you through real life stories, experiments, and other inner & outer body experiences. Please feel free to apply any of these tools liberally to your songwriting and music making adventures! I’ll also be including a musical morsel in each post, with a rundown on how it was made!
Who Am I?
I am first and foremost, a singer-songwriter and loop artist. As a full-time musician, I’ve been professionally in love with my work, all through my working life!
So in that time, I’ve released records with some major labels including EMI, Atlantic & Giant. I’ve written for artists such as Michael Jackson (more details in a later post!), Dusty Springfield & Color Me Badd and performed at some great venues and events including Wembley Arena in the UK and the ’95 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Writer’s block is not the end of your inspiration
An ever-expanding creative ‘waistline’ is an important focus for me. I’m not a believer in writer’s block. In fact, it doesn’t exist for me. It used to. I remember those days, weeks, months in the epicenter of a solitary, barren wasteland. It was a life of perpetual winter with a blank sheet of A4 and a Bic biro to keep me warm! Coldness! So how did I escape? With a songwriting trip to New York of course!
While in New York, I stayed with a singer-songwriter friend of mine, Michelle Lewis. At the time, she was a member of this outfit called Big Panty. This was a group of women whose sole aim was to make music purely for the fun of it (a strange and alien concept in the music industry of the mid-90s).
I loved the idea of it and I was desperate to try it. She rustled up some of her friends for a jam. There were no expectations and no aims but to have a laugh. Hopefully. Well, we assembled in this small, dusty, downtown rehearsal room with a beaten drum kit, some crusty mics, an amplifier and the classic, dingy lights & carpet-on-the-walls feel.
It was me with my guitar, Michelle with her keyboard, Erika, a poet (from Big Panty) with her metal plate and magnetic poetry and an actor friend of Michelle’s named Mark who could play drums.
First, we imagined that we were some 60s band who were making a comeback. Then, someone had the bright idea to switch instruments after every “song” we wrote, which made us all play instruments we weren’t familiar with.
That’s when it started to get interesting…
Finding the humour in your writing process
We wrote about anything we wanted, unbound by the straitjacket of the charts! In what seemed like 2 minutes later (which was actually 2 hours), we wrote about 15 songs, with unforgettable titles like There’s A Sausage in the Middle of the Road!
I tell you, I can’t remember laughing so much while making music. Tears rolled down my face like a monsoon – some of the best fun I’ve ever had!
The day after, I couldn’t stop the ideas pouring out of me! For at least 3 months after, the deluge of ideas didn’t stop. They would sometimes drag me out of my sleep in the deepest part of the night.
That was the chink in the armor of writer’s block. Since then, I’ve felt free to explore without boundary, the good, the bad and the ugly.
“DON’T JUDGE EACH DAY BY THE HARVEST YOU REAP, BUT BY THE SEEDS THAT YOU PLANT.”
― ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
The Big Panty experiment gave me permission not to take myself and what I do too seriously. That foolishness and pure nonsense really helped to unlock my creativity!
Consequently, with my creativity on the loose, I have been able to explore, delve and open myself to inspiration everywhere, no longer afraid of all those crap ideas… they are really just compost for the great ideas to grow in!
So, on that gardening analogy note, here is an experiment with the BOSS RC-505 Loop Station called Compost!