My Songwriting Process
I got a blog post request asking me to describe my songwriting process. While brainstorming on this topic I realized just how much my methods have changed over the years!
I first started seriously writing songs at the age of 14 though I'd always loved to write poems, stories, and dream up melodies as a kid. The first song I ever let leave the safety of my bedroom was called "This Is My Revenge". My very first YouTube video was of me performing this song on my parent's living room couch in 2010! You can watch it below... I'm warning you now, I could barely play my guitar and was still grasping the concept of songwriting but I was so proud of this song and was floored to receive over 90,000 video views. I eventually recorded the song in Nashville and released it online which you may have heard if you've been following me for a while!
I like to think I've come a long way since "This Is My Revenge". At 14 years old, every song I wrote was like a diary entry. Day after day, I would come home from school and instantly grab my guitar. Most of my songs would end up being about five minutes in length. I simply had so much to say and hadn't yet learned how to reign in an idea so that it could be more clearly expressed in a smaller time frame (ideally 3 minutes and 30 seconds for a standard radio-friendly song length). That is a testament to the art of songwriting.
I've always been a melody person. It's the first thing that draws me in when I hear a song on and it tends to come to me before any other aspect of a song when I'm writing. I think this is because I'm a singer above all else. Singing was my first true passion and has continued to be the pinnacle around which every other aspect of my musical life revolves. Once I get a melody, the lyrics begin to flow.
In 2017, I graduated from Belmont University with a bachelor's degree in music and an emphasis in songwriting. In my songwriting courses, we focused a lot on writing exercises, musical composition, and peer review. One of my favorite classes was "lyric writing". We were challenged to write lyrics only. This was a great way to refine the contextual integrity of my lyrics without having a melody to lean on which is all I'd ever really known. During our exercises in class, all I was allowed to focus on was meter (the arrangement of words in regularly measured, patterned, or rhythmic lines or verses) and rhyme. This helped me look at my songs from a new angle and taught me how to express my ideas in a way that is clear and concise.
Since graduating from Belmont, I have spread my writing wings in ways I never could have imagined. Between penning achingly personal songs for my solo artist project and composing "fluffy" stuff for television/film, I've had to become quite the chameleon of a writer. It's important to be versatile and understand how to write in the style of different genres.
I've also been able to co-write with people around the world. Co-writing is an amazing way to always continue learning and growing. You get the opportunity to witness someone else's songwriting process, dive into the deep inner-workings of their creative brain, and be challenged to meet them halfway in trying to write the best song possible. This is quite daunting when writing with someone for the very first time but it forces you to get vulnerable fast. And then, when you find writers you vibe with, creating with them becomes as easy and intuitive as breathing! I'm so lucky to have already found people I can connect with on that level. A perfect example of this is the dynamic between me and my songwriting mentor and friend, Todd Wright.
I'll never forget my first co-write with Todd. We'd never met in person before so we said our hello's, flitted through some small talk, got to know each other's musical history, and then jumped right into it. Todd told me he'd had a dream the night before that inspired him to write down the phrase "nick of time". Well, if you've heard my song titled "Nick of Time" and are wondering if that was the co-write that birthed my 2019 release, you've got it right. It was the best co-write I'd ever been a part of and totally a "God moment" as I like to say. And the cherry on top was that his studio space at the time was 2 blocks away from the house I grew up in. Crazy, right?!
I instantly felt a creative connection with Todd though at first, it was hard to keep up. He moves through a song like a force to be reckoned with while my brain has a more methodical approach. On paper, it may seem like we'd be a disastrous team but in reality, we've found a great balance. He moves things along to keep me from overthinking every line while I reel him in to remind him to stop and smell the roses along the way. Every time we write together, we always end up with something we're proud of which is a rare kind of co-writing relationship.
One of my latest writing adventures has been alongside my band, Every Echo. We are a contemporary folk group made up of myself, Todd Wright, Taylor Carson, and Ethan Mentzer. I like to call us "the dream team" because our journey from the very beginning has felt blanketed in magical pixie dust. We each have our own unique strengths as writers so when we come together, we are able to work like a well-oiled machine. I'd never collaborated with so many people at one time. I was always drawn to working one-on-one with people. The thought of putting four heads together was daunting at first but it quickly proved to feel like second nature. That's one of the perks of working with truly talented individuals. They make everything look so easy!
I'm not ready to say more about what is being worked on at the moment but I can confirm there is more music to come from both me and Every Echo... :)
I hope you found this post insightful! Let me know what else you'd like to hear about and stay tuned for many more posts here in the future.