Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Become A Frequent Songwriter

     I've been wanting to do a post for a while on songwriting as a lifestyle. As many of you know, my goal is to become a filthy rich, professional songwriter and performer, and though I have full faith in my current material, it's become increasingly clear that I need to spit the shit out more often.
     Now, I've always favored quality over quantity. So, a key here is to figure out what I need to have going on in my head to write quality material, and how to constantly be putting it there. I need to make songwriting a lifestyle.
     So, as far as speeding up the songwriting process goes, my first step is to be aware of what exactly I need to be taking in. I once read an article that blasted the term "writer's block" for being inaccurate, and I fully agree. "Block" implies that the art is there and wants to come out, but that something is preventing it. In most cases, it's actually that there is not enough fuel in one's head for anything to be formed. Confucius say: Shit must go in before shit comes out.

     I've identified 4 main components of songwriting fuel:

     Subconscious palette - This is the knowledge that builds up from years of playing and listening to songs I love. Subconsciously, I pick up recurring lyrical themes, melodic fragments and other bits and pieces that surface as a result of both my cranial and muscle memory. This part of songwriting is extremely important, but unfortunately for many songwriters, this is the only component.
     How to cultivate: Listen to and play as many new and exciting songs as possible.
     Conscious toolbox - I build this by looking at other people's songs and making mental notes such as, "Variation point here", "Melody climbs right here", "AABA chorus form with gradually increasing syllables." On rare, priceless occasions I will apply these observations immediately and get superior results (This is how I wrote "Paper Dolls" and "It's Not Enough"). But most of the time, these little notes end up hitting me like bullets during future writing sessions ("Funhouse Mirror"), if I wind up writing songs where they apply.
     How to cultivate: Analyze other people's songs frequently, especially ones you aspire to write like. Even a short analysis of a chorus's melodic form can help.
     Conscious introspection -  It's about knowing what is going on inside (yourself or someone else) and being able to explain it verbally.
     How to cultivate: Frequent diary writing. Must be really in-depth and reflective. Use thesauruses and strive to be as specific as possible.
     Subconscious introspection - This is the most elusive of the 4 songwriting components. It's that beautiful moment when you just spit out a line while writing, and you realize it's something you've been feeling all along but weren't consciously aware of before. I'm not even sure if there's any way to control how often this happens. Maybe "automatic" or "free" writing. When it happens, I find I am in a vulnerable, non self critical state of mind. I'd say you have to be comfortable letting yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel for this to happen. No repressing emotions! Being too tired to stop yourself doesn't hurt, either. I read somewhere that John Lennon used to write when he was really tired because that was when his "critical lens" was turned off.
     How to cultivate: Find that Zen center where you are not self-critical and are able to just let things come; do "automatic" writing; stay up really late or get up painfully early.

     Much of these components are investments that do not instantly lead to new songs. It takes patience and faith, but I find the more I invest in the songwriting lifestyle, the more I achieve.
     I'd love to hear your thoughts.

- Jill

Friday, July 29, 2011

More Words = More Bullshit

     Nothing quite matches the feeling of driving home in the rain. It's stimulating and meditative at the same time, as is the type of song I am compelled to discuss with you.
     Today something happened that left me feeling rejected and relieved at the same time. What it was doesn't matter, but it does matter that when I drove home I chose the company of older music. I felt vulnerable, and I wanted to let the vulnerability saturate me like the storm was doing to the earth. I wanted all the bullshit emotions from my ego and outward anxiety to be rinsed away. I wanted to go back to my roots, to my core.
     First I listened to Avril's second album, Under My Skin. Most notably, "Together" and "How Does It Feel?" were comforting. Soon after, I switched to the Goo Goo Dolls' most famous album, Dizzy Up The Girl. "Slide" and "Broadway" gave me that nurturing comfort, but the bullshit really started fading when I heard the first verse of "Bullet Proof."
     "Bullet Proof" wasn't released as a single and I can clearly see where it lacks in that department. It's not the most finely crafted piece of music, but that's not the point. The point is, when I heard that second couplet, "Do you like the way you feel?/Nothing hurts when no one's real", it tugged at my insides. I felt truth. Truth came in unannounced and saw me naked through my clothes. Here was truth, telling me I push people and opportunities away to avoid pain and rejection. Truth was telling me I'm not tough; not caring actually means I'm a big wimp. And it's not like I didn't know that before this moment. It's just that it hit me really hard when I heard the poetry.
     My moment with "Bullet Proof" compelled me to listen to a similar (but far superior) song when I got home. That song was "Glycerine" by Bush. A simple wash of chorus-propelled guitar allowed the lyrics to tug at my insides without competition. "I'm never alone/I'm alone all the time." "I couldn't change, though I wanted to." These were truths of my situation that had been obvious all along, yet missed like a door so close to my face that I couldn't see the edges.
     So, getting to the point...
     One of my biggest problems with music as of very recent is that it lacks the following - short, concise lines of mostly one-syllabic words set to immediately graspable rhyme schemes. I listen to a Taylor Swift song like "Back To December" and yes, it's reflective, but the lines are so long and wordy that it feels like a textbook analysis of heartbreak. She's thinking too much. It's not immediate. It's insincere.
     It's not like that one lyric in "Glycerine" that made my gut jerk like an answer to that Goo Goo Dolls song - "Must be for real/Cause now I can feel." It's a solid reminder that when I'm not guarding myself from people, I'm closer to the truth.
     Truth is where I want to get to. Desire for truth is what got me into music in the first place. Too-long lines usually get in the way of truth.
     More words = more bullshit.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quit Hating On vi-IV-I-V


     The vi-IV-I-V chord progression in modern music is like that kid in high school that everyone hates. He's class president. He's an athletic star.  He's extremely socially intelligent, and has a wide circle of friends to prove it. Don't you just love to hate him? I mean, how dare he be everywhere you turn! How dare he be so popular! Never mind that he's smart, blends well in almost any situation and is pleasant to be around.
     I'm not one to hate on something because it's popular. Years ago I was into that, but I've grown up since. Among my songwriter peers, it's trendy in a non-conformist way to hate on what is probably the most commonly used chord progression in pop music of the last 20 years: vi-IV-I-V (and the same thing in different orders, like I-V-vi-IV). If you're not that well-versed in theory, but own a guitar or keyboard, vi-IV-I-V in the key of C would be Am-F-C-G.
     Let me just establish first that chord progressions are basically templates. They're meant to be drawn from a standard, informally established library of common combinations. The same is true for a collection of standard melodic fragments. There's a reason why you can't copyright a chord progression, or an 8-7-5 (scale degrees) figure. These elements exist to be used and reused, and thanks to the tone tendencies that are so vital to the way we intuitively appreciate music, there are a limited number of moves that we perceive as consonant and naturally flowing. Melodies (not cliche fragments) are copyrightable because we have available to us an infinite number of possible combinations of notes, variation points, space placement and rhythms. But the number of chord progressions that really work according to our modern, Western system are limited.
     According to our system, the vi-IV-I-V progression is inherently strong. It has just the right amount of tension and release to most ears. It's dramatic because 2 of the 3 chord changes are either a 4th or a 5th apart by the chords' root notes (IV to I, I to V), while another is a 2nd apart (V to vi), yet it's digestible because vi to IV is a 3rd apart (or 6th, same thing). A less dramatic chord progression would be I-iii-V-vi or C-Em-G-A, because all the chord changes are a 3rd apart, save for the V-vi being a 2nd apart. Something like this would work well for a purposely placid sounding ballad, but for the perfect amount of drama vs. comfort in an emotional power ballad, vi-IV-I-V is chosen because it almost always works. There's also the nice cliffhanger created by V being at the end of the phrase, but going to vi instead of I (which is the relative minor, and outlines the key) that makes this progression so delightfully repeatable.
     Finally, you can hate on cliches all you want, but there is something to be said about something reaching such a level of universal recognition and appreciation. Without cliches, our music would not have the familiarity that we crave as part of our human nature. Ever hear something on the radio, and it has this "home" feeling that draws you in? That's because you've heard bits and pieces of it before, and the familiarity combined with something new is comforting and exciting all at the same time. Of course this will vary from person to person, but I think it's safe to say that most people prefer more familiarity with only some new information. We're programmed to be like this.
     So really, quit hating on vi-IV-I-V, and quit hating on cliches. It really doesn't make you any cooler than the kid who thinks he's unique because he avoids Old Navy and hates on the nice popular dude (see South Park goth kids).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ew, Why Do We Want Singers to Perform When They're Sick?

     This is something I can't understand. For any other career (in a workplace that gives the slightest shit), if you're sick, you're able to stay home and rest up without being frowned upon. Why is it different for singers?
     This rule should apply to singers especially. I can't think of anyone's performance being more affected by a strep throat than a singer's, yet they tour and play shows while sick as hell, endangering the long-term health of their voice, all because the fans refuse to believe their idols are human.
     Miley Cyrus, who tried (and failed) to continue a tour in spite of her strep throat, was christened a "trooper" by CelebTV:

     Miley ended up running off stage during the middle of her performance of "7 Things" at her Salt Lake City concert to her doctors in the back. She ended up having to cancel the tour anyway, and probably postponing the healing of her throat. She should have just postponed the tour.   
     Seriously, CelebTV, did you really have to call her a trooper? Why do we encourage this? It's dangerous to sing with a sore throat and it sounds awful, no matter how good the singer is.  Proof:

     Seriously, I would have preferred Demi to lip-synch in that condition, and on a TV show it's perfectly appropriate. Unfortunately, lip-synching is massively frowned up even in situations where it's the better choice. We just can't stand to think that our idols aren't invincible.
     Performing while legitimately sick is stupid, dangerous to vocal health and annoying. Remember, "If it hurts to swallow, don't sing!" Let's stop encouraging it, please?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It Depends On Your Aesthetic

      A couple years ago in Conservatory, I showed a song I had written, "Paper Dolls", to two different professors. In both situations, the song had to be critiqued.
     The first professor I showed it to said the song didn't have enough space, and told me where I should add an instrumental bar. I wound up using his suggestion.
     The second professor's response was that the song had too much space, and he suggested how I could cut bars and extend vocal lines to fill some of it up.
      Now, both of these professors I love and respect, but there was no way I could have taken both of their feedback. Their suggestions cancel each other out. So what was I supposed to do? Who is right? is what I kept asking myself.
     Personally, I love space in music, or "breathing room" as I like to call it. I like to savor every melodic line like a piece of fine chocolate, and I need time for it to melt in my mouth. Some people, however, prefer to just chew right through their truffles. It was only a few months ago when it dawned on me. I couldn't call one of my professors right and the other wrong because they both have different aesthetics.
     Aesthetic is a snooty-sounding but very important concept. World English Dictionary defines aesthetic as "a principle of taste or style adopted by a particular person, group, or culture" and gives "the Bauhaus aesthetic of functional modernity" as an example. The idea is that what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another, and if two people love the same piece of art, they share at least one similar aesthetic, or taste.
     So, getting back to my professors - the first who heard my song critiqued it according to the "less is more" aesthetic, which is less about being busy and more about clarity, conciseness and "breathing room" (hence us both wanting more space in the song), while my other professor was very into the "more is more" aesthetic; he loved Demi Lovato's music for being "over the top on purpose" as he put it. His aesthetic is why he was craving more activity and less space in my song. Less is More versus More is More. Early Avril Lavigne versus Radio Disney. Classical versus Baroque. It would lead you to a dead end to try to prove one superior, because it's all about preference. 
     Becoming aware of my personal aesthetics and the aesthetics of my preferred genres was the most directional thing to happen to me as a songwriter. Making decisions became easy once I knew what I wanted and why I wanted it. My gut knew I wanted more space in the song, but becoming aware of the elements of my taste allowed me to consciously confirm what I knew inside.
     At Conservatory, there was always this looming idea that certain pieces of music were inherently better than others regardless of personal taste. I think that's partly true, but I felt like people were pushing the idea way too much. The more I work on music, the more I realize that there really is very little that universally applies to all styles and songs, and personal taste is more important than critics want us to think. I'll favor a song where lyrics are sung with the accents on the words as we speak them over a song that is "better" in three other ways but fails to do just that one thing. That's because natural sounding lyric pronunciation is of high importance according to my song elements value system. And I love a melody that moves mostly stepwise with only a few leaps, because that sounds natural to me, like how someone would speak. But someone with a more theatrical aesthetic may be bored with the melodies I like; he may crave more leaps because he enjoys the exaggeration of the character. Neither of us in this situation would be correct. Neither of us would have a higher knowledge of universal truth or some other philosophical crap.
     You can only judge a piece according to your aesthetic, and if you want to get objective, only to the aesthetic the piece is going for. If the writer got his or her intended message across to the people who buy into the same aesthetic, the piece was successful.
     I still support the idea of being trained in the arts because it is important to be able to think about what you're doing consciously and critically, but you should use that knowledge to create something that is beautiful to you (or to whomever you're creating the art for) according to the desired aesthetic. Luckily, both my professors understood this and never tried to force feedback. I only wish I had realized that sooner, rather than try to figure out who was "right." But some people are critical where they are not entitled. If anyone tries to tell you that Pat Metheny is scientifically better than Alanis Morissette, or that Nirvana's In Utero is inherently better than Avril Lavigne's first album, or that less space is better than more space, keep in mind it really is just their opinion.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Secret Life of Avril Lavigne's "Push"


     Tuesday was a very special day for me. It was the official release of Avril Lavigne's fourth studio album, Goodbye Lullaby.  My idol of 10 years had finally returned to her roots after a long hiatus.
     Now, I must admit, I was highly skeptical about this record. Sure, there was talk on the street that Avril would be going back to her old style with the new album, but the lead single, "What the Hell", was a bomb of a disappointment that left me dreading the rest. It's an obvious sell-out piece, trying to capture the semi 80's pop, square-sounding arrangements and chanted linear melodies a la Katy Perry and Ke$ha. That, and it's not the healing, epiphany-arousing beauty that Avril is capable of (to put it plainly, it's a song about being a slut). The fact that her label made her put this processed, preservative-filled piece of fast food on an otherwise organic and nourishing album is appalling to me. Alas, the pitfalls of the music industry.
     One of my favorite songs off Goodbye Lullaby is "Push" (others are "Wish You Were Here" and "Everybody Hurts"). "Push" is an extremely emotional and well-crafted song about what a waste it is when couples who truly love each other fight.
     When I discuss the secret life of "Push", I obviously can't know it like I know my own songs. For example, I don't know what sparked the idea, what section was written first, etc. But I can analyze it and tell you all why I think it is working and how we might be intuitively processing the very obvious craft here.
     One thing that makes this a grabbing song is how wonderfully quickly the chorus comes in. Many of Avril's old songs had a pre-chorus, which is absent here. This is part of the current aesthetic in pop music. When "Complicated" came out, which had a very long intro, double first verse, and pre-chorus, the aesthetic in pop was that the song would take you on a gradual journey and prepare you for the hook. This recipe has changed. The idea now is that the hook is everything, and the verses are only there because they have to be. And it's all about immediate changes now; nothing wants to happen gradually anymore. What better way to serve this aesthetic than to slam-dunk the listener right into the chorus without warning?
     Along with the absence of a pre-chorus, the verse has the illusion of whizzing by for another reason - there's no space in the melody. It's basically an ongoing list of thoughts; stream of consciousness. The anticipation is heightened even further by the lines in the verse all stopping (very briefly) mid-sentence, like so:

"Been seein' too much of you lately and you're
starting to get on my nerves this is
exactly what happened last time and it's
not what we deserve, it's a
waste of my time lately and I'm
running out of words..."

     If the lyrics had been laid out differently, the verses would not possess the impatience and uncontained energy that is the livelihood of this song.
     It's clear that a quick verse was a wise move when one hears the chorus. It's positively bursting with emotion. The first line, "Maybe you should just shut up" is delightfully bold and unrestrained, and what's more, these somewhat taboo words are chosen incredibly wisely and have never been better used in a song. She's not telling her boyfriend to shut up because he's annoying to listen to; it's much deeper. She's telling him to put a cork in it because he's risking ruining their relationship. And when she comes in with the line, she's drastically higher in her register and has a brattier tone to her voice. Your brain's subconscious translation: "Enter young woman arguing with her boyfriend." Fittingly, there is silence after the peacemaking line, "...cause this is love", a mid-point in the chorus which also marks the first time we hear real space. And then there's the literal sound of the words. Most pop choruses will rhyme more than one sound, but not this one. "Push" rhymes the "uh" sound for its entire duration - "Just shut up, tough, love, comes, shove, us, love." The consistency is refreshing, and the impact of the "uh" with all the rests gives the melody a percussive power.
     I haven't listened to the rest of the album enough yet to determine whether it has the staying power of her first two. I, for one, am still adjusting to this trend of purposeful clutter in pop music. For the most part, I'm not feeling the new lack of space. "Push", however, utilizes this technique so well and with such relevance to the lyrical content that I just may learn to like it.

- Jill <3


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Secret Life of "Funhouse Mirror"

Songwriting and Arranging Example: Borrowing from Other Artists

     I have a confession. When I first started writing "Funhouse Mirror", I thought it was destined to be mediocre. A filler song. Boy, was I wrong.

     It turned out to be one of the best songs I ever wrote, and a real transitional piece in my writing. Before I cranked out this riff-driven recollection, I had a hard time writing anything that wasn't some kind of ballad or power ballad.

     But then came "Funhouse Mirror" in all its glory.  Like my previous writing, it was introspective and vulnerable - yet I had started growing a backbone, and it showed. This song was confrontational. It was declaratory. It was... HARD ROCK.

Here's the demo that I did myself in Garageband:


     So just how did this mega-distorted, almost metal song come to be? Last year I had to do a project for a MIDI class (which was HELL for me because I came in knowing about 5% of what everyone else seemed to already know) and I had to use my OWN music. During that time, I was in one of those I'm-so-sick-of-EVERYTHING-I've-already-written things, so I decided to try writing new stuff rather than just arranging and recording previous pieces. It just so happened I had been recalling a melodic/lyrical idea that I came up with in high school. It was one line - "I saw you through a funhouse mirror"- to the same melody that the part is in today.

     So, with this line going through my head over and over, I began to construct the song's Chorus. My intuition told me it had to be the third line, because it's the point of the song and 3 is the magic number where people are wired (yes, really) to put more weight on what they're hearing*. Then I came up with the "You're not what I thought" and eventually constructed the whole basic Chorus melody and most of the lyrics ("I know what I saw" was originally "You're not what I thought", just like the third line, and "wanted you to stay" had a "da da da" placeholder for a while). It is a remarkably rare occasion that I write anything in the order you hear it in.
     Having completed the melody, lyrics and chords of the Chorus a couple weeks later (and a sketch of a verse which was quickly disposed of and redone), I decided to start recording my humble singer/songwriter demo. I opened Garageband, set the metronome to 100, plugged in my headphones and sang the Chorus with no accompaniment other than the aural image in my head to guide me. Then I plugged in my electric guitar, looked at the chords on my sloppy lead sheet and the whole freaking riff just came out as it is now - syncopation on every other "and of 4" (to emphasize important verbs in the lyric, "wanted, seemed, saw"), and the seemingly trivial but actually highly critical "3 +a  4 +a" metal/all downpicking gallop accent. ** I think it was a couple of days later when I figured out where I got it from:

Side note: I highly recommend the entire album The Cold White Light by Sentenced (if you like/can stand their guitar tone. It got to me after a while).  It's heartbreaking but beautiful. This is the band that really got me interested in Silence vs. Activity and strategic breaks in the arrangements.

     This accent in its exact spots in the Chorus of "Funhouse Mirror" is so important to making the song sound right. Not only does it kill monotony, but it informs the listener (listeners process this stuff intuitively) that the song is reloading into the next lyrical thought.  It makes the listener hear "Wanted you to..." and "You're not what I..." as the ends, not the beginnings, of each line of the Chorus. I have heard and played the Chorus without a reloading accent during these parts, and it always feels too long. But with the accent, it feels amazing. That said, this particular song is dependent on its arrangement far more than any of my past songs were.

     I realize, now that I'm more musically aware, that I probably should have had the drums enhance what the guitar is doing on this accent just like Sentenced did. There are some things about this song that would undoubtedly benefit from a very skilled arranger, but the overall idea is here and it works. It just needs augmentation of what I was originally trying to convey, and for the parts to be translated into what real-life instruments would do.  I'm also thinking it could benefit from a Pre-Chorus that propels the song forward (the current one holds it back), but I really like the impact of the Chorus riff when it comes in; it hits like a giant wave after the silence. It would be interesting to see if there is a way to have both.

     "Funhouse Mirror" will always have a special place in my heart for being the first song that I sketched out an entire arrangement for, and for being representative of so many of my influences as an artist - the quiet verses and loud choruses of the 90's, the disappointment of the speaker that is so common to Avril and other angst-queens, the little touch of metal when the chorus reloads at the end of each lyrical thought, and the introspection I learned to love from artists like John Lennon and even Katy Rose. It's also the first time I was secure in knowing I was not destined to be an Avril clone. I'll write another post dedicated entirely to the origin of the lyrics as soon as I can.

- Jill <3

*Depending on the song, 4 can sometimes be the magic number. I'll get into this in a future post.
**The all-downpicking gallop accent is kind of blurry in this demo, I know. Blame my guitar playing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Song Element Hierarchy (According to Jill)

Songwriting Method/Songwriting Elements

     So, in light of a comment from one of my Conservatory buddies, I've realized I need to edit this post because some things weren't clear.

     What I am doing here is laying out my song element hierarchy.  If you're a songwriter or composer, yours may differ from mine (which is fine). All in all, I really feel that having set priorities is crucial to being a convincing, decisive songwriter.

     The following is a list of what goes into a song, organized according to what serves what in my writing. Starting with the top, you'll see that according to my hierarchy, Form serves Character, Melody & Lyrics serve Form and Character, and so on.

1) Character(s)
I took a creative writing class once, and my teacher shared with us some publication by some author that boasted the importance of building strong characters. The main point of the article was that if your character is strong, the plot will unfold on its own. To this day, I have extended that principle to my songwriting, and it's been working out really, really well.  
Strong characters are the great divider in the pop music world. A strong, multi-dimensional character is what separates a song that feels "real" and "true to life" from a song of the same style and proportions that should, logically, be strong, but feels overwhelmingly generic. You all know what I'm talking about - the type of song that's often written by pros for a guaranteed quick hit, but that no one ever listens to a year later because the song lacks a certain "je ne sais quoi". I can guarantee that the missing "intangible" in almost all of these situations is a deep, resonating character. The character is the song's core, so don't neglect yours!

      I have placed Character on top of Form because the Form should serve the Character.  However, I do think form is more important than Character, which is why I initially listed it first (before I edited this post). A strong Character, as I said, is the difference between a mediocre song and an unforgettable song. Form, however, determines whether a song stands or whether it simply confuses and alienates the listener.

2) Form
Form is the skeleton that holds the song together. Without it, everything - no matter how wonderful - falls like a poorly-built wall. This is why I often lay out the song's structure-to-be at the onset of composition. And I'm not just talking about the relationship in bar count between the verses and choruses; I'm also talking about micro proportions and ensuring that space is inserted correctly, and that melodies have the right variation points.

3) Melody (in all its components, including rhythm of the melody) & Lyrics
Only when Form and Character are in good standing can I have any faith in the Melody & Lyrics of a song. I've lumped them both into the same category because to me, they are one being. At times I'll look at them separately while composing, but they are still One, and both Melody & Lyrics carry the same weight when I am writing a song. Melody & Lyrics are the inner monologue of the character. The personality (as I mentioned above) is the core, and Melody & Lyrics are the air that the character breathes to survive.

4) Harmony (Chords) & Accompaniment
I originally listed rhythm here (before I edited the post), but what I really meant was rhythm section (drums, guitar strumming patterns, groove).  And it's not just them; guitar leads and chords are also elements I expect to serve my Melody & Lyrics.
Harmony & Accompaniment can really make or break a song. They exist to serve and to ground the Melody & Lyrics. Harmony and overall Accompaniment are the environment's response to the character as conveyed by his/her inner monologue (vocal line). They react to and reinforce what the character is feeling.

     These are my priorities that guide me as a songwriter. For others there will be stark differences. For example, in heavy metal, instruments that are merely accompaniment in my songs will carry much more weight. And that's fine and central to the genre. But as for me, I'm never going to write a vocal melody to serve a guitar riff or drum beat. Hip-hop is another example of a style that would contradict my hierarchy. Beats are just as central to hip-hop as are melody and lyrics, if not more. So, as long as we're clear that I'm not up on a soapbox telling everyone that this is the only way, but that this is simply what works for me and the type of song I write, what is your songwriting hierarchy? If you're not a songwriter, what elements are most important to you as a listener?

- Jill <3

So, What is the "Secret Life of Songs"?

Every song has a story - where it came from, what it means, who or what inspired it. A lot goes on behind the scenes before a song gets to your ear. In "Secret Life of Songs", I'm giving you a free backstage pass and taking you behind the curtain for a look at how I write, how I borrow from other artists that inspire me, observations on aesthetic trends in pop, the great task of recording and my unswayable quest to "get my name out there" and share my music with the world.

I hope to hear from you all.

Much love,

- Jill <3