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Steve Ison
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Steve Ison

11/24/2012 5:27:17 PM ---- Updated 11/24/2012 6:04:36 PM

A Song Every 2 Weeks
I've just started a thing with my ex girlfriend that we've agreed we each have to write and post a song to each other every 2 weeks (she lives in cornwall now -i live in b'ham about 300 miles away)..I was proud of myself as i had 2 days to go before our 1st 'deadline' and managed to complete lyrics and record a basic full production of my 1st song to post to her in 2 days last week..If there hadn't've been that deadline i prob wouldn't've even written lyrics for it -much less actually recorded it...

Thats the thing for me..I NEED self imposed pressure to actually get things done..I enjoy sitting down with the guitar for an hour or so n fashioning tunes with incoherent sound words..Do it most days -record the idea on a dictaphone-and get a great sense of freedom n pleasure doing that -but with no outside pressures -like a record company deadline - or a fanbase- there's no real reason to complete anything at all..

Its easy to get abit lazy n 'whats the point really' ? lol...

I did a similar thing about 4 years ago with my mate (and fellow songwriter) Harper Stephens..It was a song every week we had to each complete then- and i took it really seriously..He's an excellent songwriter and harsh critic- able to see any weaknesses in a song with a laser eye -so it really kept me on my toes and helped me grow alot creatively..I desperately wanted to have a cool new song every week to present - and worked hard to acheive that to the best of my ability .
Anyways we kept this up for about a year - and both used it to polish dusty old ideas and write alot of new ones...So glad i did it..

Me n my ex are hoping to keep this up for a year and see what songs we both get from it..Really gives me a sense of purpose i need

I'm convinced one of the reasons there was so much great music in the 60s was because of the insane pressures put on the main songwriting creative talents of the day Lennon/McCartney,Ray Davies,Pete Townsend,Brian Wilson,Holland/Dozier /Holland,Bacharach/David etc to constantly come up with fresh new material -because of the hugely competitive fast changing creative world then and the voracious appetite of record companies n music consumers for what they were producing..

Without having those external pressures as a driving force, i've gotta manufacture my own internal ones to make the most of developing my creative ability

Dunno whether its a similar process for y'all or not ?


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Chandra Moon

11/25/2012 3:16:36 AM


I'm the same but don't have the right pressure at the moment. I used to go to the most brilliant songwriting group weekly and that gave me that bit of extra push to hone and complete songs, write new ones or really practice old ones ready for the next session. And just listening to the amazing amount of material the other group members came up with weekly was pure inspiration in itself!

I'm in a real writing funk at the moment even though I'm loving recording - I hope I can find that bit of oomph from somewhere to start writing some new stuff soon. I've decided to restart blogging a bit more as I found that helped too.


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Steve Ison

11/26/2012 11:10:23 AM


Chandra..Hope the blogging helps you get thru your creative block..
I struggle with words desperately - and having to replay the same tune over n over n over in my head to find them exposes any melodic weaknesses ruthlessly -or if there's something about the vibe i'm not keen on..Its very difficult to create a tune thats totally waterproof- and then get cool words that fit it like a glove lol

A songwriting group sounds really really cool..Wish there was one i knew of where i lived -i'd join it in a flash..


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Richard Scotti

11/26/2012 1:12:45 PM


Structure always helps the creative process but sometimes it's good to just recharge your batteries by avoiding trying to write something. It may seem contradictory but it works for me. When my structured approach runs out of steam, I take a break and try to stop and smell the roses. We all want to write about life and our place in it but if we spend much of our time in a pressure cooker desperate to crank out the next obligatory masterpiece and forget about life's landscape we forget how to write about it. I'm often so inspired by my little sabbaticals that when I return to writing, I'm over flowing with new ideas. Sometimes you have to stand back to see what you're looking at. Stand too close, and things are out of proportion. I do find structure, however, in just being a member of such a cool community as IAC. I know I have a built in audience for my work and I'm always eager to show my friends and colleagues what I've done. Being inducted into the Legends Of IAC really inspired me creatively because I felt a duty to live up to the honor by writing some new stuff. Three new songs came out of that and they are almost finished. It's great to have so many supportive members who are a wonderful source of creative energy and good vibes. But no matter what method turns you on ~ do what works for you.


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Stoneman

11/26/2012 9:21:34 PM


I suppose I am a bit weird because I have never really needed structure in order to be creative and productive. I wrote my first song when I was about 8 years old. I was being brutalized and beaten everyday and I was searching for something that would change that behavior from my foster parent. My brother and I came up with the idea to write a song and perform a dance routine. So we wrote this song and when our foster parent came home, we performed it before she could get to the beating strap. It was such an amazing thing to see her transformed by the song. It was the first day in months that we weren't nursing our bloody wounds.

That night I lay in bed praying that I could find another song to write for the following day. That's when it all started for me. The music in my head began to play. I thought I was going crazy. It was like a radio started playing in my head. I was shocked when I realized that I was the only one who could hear it. People thought I was crazy because I was always dancing and singing that stuff that played in my head. It is also when my obsession with the curse/gift began. I wanted to learn how to play every instrument I heard in my head. I wanted to prove to the people that thought I was nuts that the music was real. So I started writing it down and singing it to my friends. I knew I had something when they stopped laughing at me and started listening. When they started applauding and encouraging me I thought, well ain't this some shit? I call it a curse/gift because I can't turn it off. It's always there and I can only sleep about 4 out of every 24 hours. The rest of the time is divided between my devotion to my wife and my devotion to music. Of course, being retired from my day job has given me even more time to just obsess over my obsession. Music.

So, every day I write and produce what I hear. Jazz, Reggae, Pop, Rock, Soul, Gospel, Blues, Funk, Ska, dance, Electronic and so much more. The radio in my head keeps expanding and growing. I keep stretching myself out in order to meet the challenge of all the genres I hear. I always have about 5 or 6 complete music scores waiting for vocals in the cue. Quite often I am working on 3 songs at a time. Because of this, when I get bored with a song I just move on to the next one or the next genre. I am always motivated because I can't wait to hear it out loud and not just in my head.

One thing for sure is that the more you write the better you get at writing. Also, it should be noted that volume in writing does not necessarily equate to writing excellence. I have copyrights for over 800 songs but I have thousands that never made the cut. They are in my recording archives, notebooks and tapes resting in peace where they probably belong. Also, I have never had a hit record. Imagine what it must feel like to have written thousands of songs but never got a hit. Anyway, a song every two weeks seems like a reasonable undertaking. You should do whatever works for you. The only right way is the way that works.


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Steve Ison

11/27/2012 1:14:50 PM


Richard..I can understand what you mean about the 'pressure cooker' thing and stepping back and i know alot of people think like that..
For me - i can think i'm burnt out on a particular idea -but get re-energized by doing a different piece of music..A sudden shift really works for me..
I'm nearly always either writing,listening or thinking about music..Its the perfect escape from
the desperate mundanity of so much existence

Stoneman..Your Foster parents sounded like monsters..Fantastic you found a way to deal with that which must've left you with a stack of internalised anger..
I share your total obsesion with music - and was lucky (until very recently) that i was doing a job
that was basically being creative with music all the time..
I know what its like to've written 1000's of songs (at least song ideas lol) and never had a hit..
Like you i'm grateful its therapy for my life- and in fact i feel sorry for multi-platinum artists who make millions but lose touch with their creative spirit..Its not a trade=off i'd make for any amount of money


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Bob Elliott

11/29/2012 11:55:11 AM


I just think it is strange to make beautiful music that so few will ever hear, and it takes a certain inner-drive about music to keep doing it


Well, that's not really it. I mean, it's strange because very few hear any of it, but on the other hand, the people hearing isn't the primary force driving the creation. It's just the creation in side pushing on you, and there's nothing quite like making that music.

So I guess I would keep going regardless, but it's strange, and I would bet it is strange for you for the same reason.


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Chandra Moon

11/29/2012 1:27:16 PM


Funnily enough for me it isn't about how MANY people appreciate one's music but just the fact that at least it's out there and SOME people enjoy it and listen to it that makes it seem worthwhile! If no-one ever heard it or gave any feedback I think it would be really hard to carry on and I find this place and various other places and getting out and doing regular (in my case small ) gigs so important!


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Richard Scotti

11/30/2012 10:48:21 AM ---- Updated 11/30/2012 10:50:15 AM


To express one's self creatively is a joy and a privilege regardless of the number of people who listen or buy a CD but I agree with Chandra that it's nice when anybody appreciates what you do.

Artists at all levels are often not fully recognized in their time and it's a shame, but living to make art is it's own reward. If you're doing what you love and some folks really dig it, you're a success. (imo)


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Tom O'Brien

11/30/2012 8:23:03 PM


Last year at some point I decided to write a song a day for 30 days. Of course they weren't all great, but there were a few that I still really love. After the 30 days even a song a week didn't seem unreasonable. My best source of pressure is myself. Sometimes I think "What's the point?" too. But ultimately there is no point to art because you can't eat it.

But, Steve, Hearing your music makes me feel not so alone in this whole music thing. We are the shamans of the world and maybe the world no longer needs shamans, but magic makes the world a better place.


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Steve Ison

12/2/2012 4:01:02 PM


Bob..Yeh totally..It IS strange..Sometimes i get angry thinking about it (not
for my music particularly -but for the whole ocean of creative indies deserving more)
But there's a total lack of innerness in modern society - so its kinda what you'd expect i suppose..

Chandra..Well thats one cool thing about today..Our music's out there in some dusty corner of
the internet for the curious to maybe find..I really like that idea

Richard..In alot of ways you're a success if you do what you love even if no-one else appreciated it..It'd still be healing you

Tom..Thanx alot for the kind words dude..
Woh - a song a day for 30 days is incredibly ambitious ! I could prob write 30 tunes -but getting 30 sets of lyrics each with different angles is very tough indeed

"But ultimately there is no point to art because you can't eat it"

I've often thought the exact same thing - and questioned the value of music
Its like we're the luxury in life-A sweet dessert after people've ground out their bread n butter..
I know the difference in my headspace tho if i listen to 20 mediocre songs -then hear 3 or 4 really cool ones..Its like it makes me feel instantly more alive,creative and vital..
Its like musicians are spiritual healers
When i suffered badly with depression ,i used to deliberately play Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers in my head out wealking or on the bus and it would totally make me feel better
In a materialistic world its difficult to put a 'value' to that tho..


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Tom O'Brien

12/2/2012 6:26:01 PM


Steve,
I know the power of music with depression. I suffered for many years with bipolar disorder and went through a lot of depression. Music is healing. It lets you connect with the inner parts of people's minds, parts which may not otherwise see the light of day.Hope you got some good therapy or good meds or both. And I'm so glad you have that part of you that can overcome depression with music, listening, playing, writing.

Sometimes I wonder if all musicians don't have a wee bit of mental disorder somewhere, or all artists for that matter. It was probably the crazy cave people who started singing and beating on stuff, painting on the walls and dancing. Somehow we recognized it as a good thing. It's good to sometimes de-intellectualize music and just let it wash over you in the powerful way it can. It does good things to the brain.


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Chandra Moon

12/3/2012 6:54:41 AM


My sister is bi-polar and during one of her episodes she started messing about on the piano and has now written 3 or 4 really good instrumental pieces. There's no doubt that people who are on the edge, unstable, freaked out depressed crazy or whatever are often amazingly creative. When I was miserable I wrote loads of songs and now I'm very happy in my life I seem to have dried up - can't have it all I suppose ha ha!


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