production

Phil, Vanessa, Neel, Etain, and Bruce

Leonard Cohen, the late great Canadian troubadour

What can you say about the exceptionally talented poet, novelist, and prolific singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.that hasn’t already been said? Well, the Song Talk Radio action team didn’t worry about that. Bruce, Neel, and Phil simply dove into their memories and had a close look at three of his many, many songs. Bruce brought the poetic Bird on a Wire (1969), Neel shared the dark and foreboding Everybody Knows (1980’s), and Phil had us pay attention to one of Cohen’s last recordings, the prescient Leaving the Table (2016).

Have a listen!

Writing the emotional gamut with Beige Shelter

Indie rock band Beige Shelter stopped by to talk about forming the band, producing their first album, and performed two songs. Our very own Neel Modi took the co-guest seat as producer, drummer, and co-writer. A good friend of Song Talk Radio, Patrick Ballantyne filled in for Neel’s host spot.

Beige Shelter is:

  • Adi Aman – songwriter, vocals, rhythm guitar, ukulele, harmonica
  • Neel Modi – producer, percussionist, co-writer on Colours
  • Tom Kuczynski – bass guitar
  • Karan Sabharwal – lead guitar (absent)

We talked about:

  • Adi’s first appearance on Song Talk Radio over two years ago
  • Where the band name came from
  • Adi’s approach to capturing a wide range of emotions with his yin-yang philosophy of songwriting
  • Neel’s approach to producing the album – check out his blog post on this
  • Playing with your key signature to find the sweet spot for your vocals
  • Where you can listen to Beige Shelter’s debut album, Rumours we make, paths we take

Listen to the whole show:

Watch the live performances:

Dan Edmonds making it up in the moment

The Song Talk Team had the distinct pleasure of spending an hour with the very talented and original singer/songwriter Dan Edmonds. His fresh takes on music and how it’s made were both illuminating and engaging. He played two of his intriguing recordings – “Love Can Be a Tunnel” and “To Be That Needle”. We talked about:

  • improvising lyrics in the recording studio
  • letting the listener make their own meaning from the words
  • the two-chord song
  • the fun and challenge of touring
  • finding management

Here’s the show. Have a listen!

 

allister-with-the-team

Thoughtful lyrics and music with Allister Bradley

Pro songwriter Allister Bradley joined us for an hour to talk about two of his catchy, thoughtful songs and his process for getting them done. Stuff we talked out:

  • Toronto’s Song Studio
  • Making it in the music industry
  • Writing with your secondary instrument
  • Using session musicians
  • Why you should whistle your melody
  • Chord progression tip: make each chord in your progression a perfect fifth above the previous one

Download the lyrics for the songs.

Connect with Allister

Listen to the full show

Nicole, Phil, Marlon, Dave, and Neel

Songwriting as craft with Marlon Chaplin

The extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter and producer Marlon Chaplin joined us to talk about his crafty approach to songwriting, and share two songs. Dave Miner also joined us to fill in for Bruce as co-host. Thanks a million, Dave, you were great!

Download the lyrics for Marlon’s songs to follow along as you listen.

We talked about:

  • different approaches to co-writing
  • how to tell if a song was written by a drummer
  • the “one little thing” to mess up your chord progression (in a good way)
  • sure, it’s a country song, but there are elements of rap too
  • how letting ideas simmer for a while affords you some objective perspective before you start writing
  • why the world needs more bad songs
  • songwriting as craft
  • Gary Wood’s episodes to see more interesting capo setups
  • how to develop different guitar parts from verse to chorus
  • going from a Major I to a Minor V when you’re feeling a bit of melancholy

Listen to the whole show:

Watch the live performance:

Link to Marlon’s channels:

Bruce, Patrick, Phil, and Neel

“A song is good if you like it,” says Patrick Ballantyne

Bruce, Neel and Phil were all happy to have Patrick Ballantyne back in the Song Talk Radio studio for the third time. He always brings great songs (listen to “Make Believe” and “Sky” for proof) and lots of experience to share about the songwriting process for our listeners. When writing a song, he starts with the music – almost always on the guitar. For contrast, he has started writing on the piano where he has less competency and is forced to “keep it simple.” After writing solo for many years, he recently joined a group of collaborators and enjoyed the process.

Listen to the whole show:

See the live performance:

Tips on Creating Songs for Musical Theatre with Andrew Seok

Pianist, producer, and songwriter Andrew Seok stopped by and talked about the process of creating music for his new Musical “Echos”. Andrew Seok (also known as just SEOK) has written music for Television, Recording Artists, Movies, and pretty much everything including the music you hear when call a company and you’re put on hold. He began his career as a Musical Theatre singer and composer, moved onto Vocal Coach, then Singer / Songwriter,  and finally TV / Film Composer and Record Producer / Mixing and Mastering engineer. Throughout his career he has worked with / for Jully Black, Jeff Healy, Feist, Raine Maida, and produced God Made Me Funky’s Juno nominated album.

We talked about:

Listen to the whole show:

Jeff Greenway finds his own way

Jeff Greenway returned to the Song Talk Radio studio to share his thoughts on song writing. His approach to writing is through a feeling, not a theory. This was amply demonstrated in the two songs he shared with us. The first, Cavalry, evoked the sadness and confusion you feel when a relationship just isn’t working any more. No one is coming to save the day and there’s nowhere to hide. The second tune, I Need describes the two opposing sides of possible reconciliation. Notice the lyric shift from “don’t come home” to “please come home”. We discussed:

  • collaboration
  • home recording with a good microphone and Logic
  • modulation
  • background vocals
  • the use of silence in a song
  • chord substitution
  • teaching music to children

Listen to the entire show here:

 

Collaboration do’s and don’ts with Janice Ho

The ever lovely and talented (and what a voice!) Janice Ho, Song Talk Radio’s very own tweeting songbird, talked about two early collaborations she worked on and what to look out for when collaborating. Download the lyrics for the show.

We talked about:

Listen to the complete show:

How to get noticed: Promotional Artist Tips: Photography

We don’t usually talk about Artist promotion in the Song Talk Radio Newsletter. You can find lots of places on the web that cover that.

But we do see a lot of submissions so we see all the different levels of “promotional” abilities in artists – and some could really use a few pointers.

Don't do this...
Um … don’t do this…

Understanding your target

The people you want to reach in the music or news industries are pretty busy folk. They’re constantly bombarded with random pitches of varying quality. They’re not going to spend 15 mins trying to decipher a vague description or your artist photo to figure out what you do. You need to be clear and grab them quickly – otherwise it’ll just be the circular file cabinet with your submission. They have a ton of other things on their desks.

1) Building your Arsenal

The first step is to spend a bit of time getting some basic marketing pieces together. Once you have it all ready to go, it’s easy to jump on any opportunities that pass your way. Meet a reporter for a local newspaper? Get his email and send them your description and photo when you get home.

These pieces would be

  1. Artist Promotional Photos
  2. Artist Description
  3. Marketing Materials (so printed junk)

Today, we’ll cover Artist photos.

So, where do I get off telling you all this stuff?

I’ve been working in advertising and design for far longer than I’d like to admit, and have worked with countless photographers on countless projects. Some successful, others less than fully, um, “satisfying” lets say. So you’ll get to learn from my mistakes.

It’s the person behind the camera that counts

Technology these days is incredible. The difference between a consumer level camera, pro-sumer and professional camera is less now than its ever been in the past. Ironically, this makes the actual person behind the camera more important now than ever.

Back in the day, there were quite a few photographers that were in fact not very good. But they were cheap, and had some high-end equipment so there was a good-sized market for them: customers needing photography but couldn’t really tell if what they were getting was good or not. I know – I spent countless hours trying to take their out-of-focus, poorly framed work and make it into something usable.

These days, the person behind the camera is key, and believe me, the ones who are great are truly, truly magic.

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