writing

Vanessa, Michael, Ritha, Taylor, Phil, Micah, and Neel

Making the most of your voice with Taylor Abrahamse

This week, professional singer/songwriter, voice actor & co-founder of Silverthorn Studios recording, Taylor Abrahamse joined us in the studio at SongTalk World Headquarters.  Taylor was a Top 40 finalist on Canadian Idol, has performed on stages across Ontario, has also written & produced musicals, and music for animated series and viral internet music through Corus, DHX & Super Planet Dolan.

Taylor is on the verge of a breakout moment in a promising career. After creating a spontaneous performance opportunity on the conference floor of Canadian Music Week, Taylor was contacted by Grammy-winning producer and engineer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Carly Simon, David Bowie, Michelle Branch & many more), who wanted to produce & develop Taylor. Now close to the release of his debut record of original songs, Eddie describes Taylor as ‘A true artist, and songwriting genius’.

We were very excited to have Taylor drop by so we could catch up and hear  his talent for ourselves.

 

Writing Better Lyrics – Pat Pattison

FangBone cartoon. theme song by Taylor

Todd and The Shadows on YouTube

Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind

 

Phil, Micah, Jeff, Ritah, Michael, and Neel

Creating Soundtracks with Jeff Alan Greenway

This week SongTalk welcomed Jeff Alan Greenway to our studio.

Greenway is a film composer, singer/songwriter and pianist from Pickering, Ontario. He has written music for film, worked as a session player, orchestrator and arranger, released his own original album “Great Expectations” and wrote the score to the international documentary The Secret Life Of Frogs, which won a Nature award at the Cannes Media and TV festival.

We talked with Jeff about:

  • his evolution from singer/songwriter to film composer
  • how to work with directors and producers
  • the workflow for creating soundtracks for other people’s projects
  • how he creates “to order”
  • how his songwriting process has changed

FB: http://www.facebook.com/jeffalangreenwaymusic
YT: http://www.youtube.com/jeffalangreenway
TW: http://www.twitter.com/jeffalangreen
SC: http://www.soundcloud.com/jeffalangreenway
Website: http://www.jeffalangreenway.com

Writer's block sitting at piano

How I get past songwriter’s block

Sometimes, the hardest part of the songwriting process is getting started. Once I’ve got an idea, I can hash out lyrics and music fairly easily. Getting past songwriter’s block usually involves coming up with a title and a hook to the song (Thank you, Nashville). More often than not, I’ll get blocked by wanting to come up with a metaphor for expressing an idea or emotion, but can’t land on the right one.

I’m a much stronger musician and composer than a lyricist. I can come up with grooves, interesting chord progressions and beats, and never attach a lyric to any of them. But I like to consider the “whole song,” so I opt to do the hard part first: some or most of the lyrics, then the music. I’ll be writing about getting past songwriter’s block in lyrical terms.

Where do my song ideas come from?

I’ve always espoused the notion that you can write a song about anything; I once wrote a song about a car accident taken from the point of the view of the brake pads of the car. It’s the development of a song that counts, drawing from your own life experiences and emotions to truly make the idea yours.

Inspiration comes from within. Ideally, we are constantly experiencing new things, seeing new things, and reading about new things. The trick to being “inspired” is to be mindful of these experiences, and finding the nuggets to turn them into songs.

Often, it’s helpful to write down in concrete terms what the idea is about. For example, I had a visceral reaction following the horrific bus attack in India in 2012, where a young woman was raped and killed, and her male friend was also violently assaulted on a bus in New Delhi. I jotted down some notes to keep me focused:

“This song is about the senselessness of the bus attack in New Dehli, and the irony of the violent reactions of the masses in India calling for capital punishment.”

Later on, I read news articles about the incident, and was moved by a quote from the deceased victim’s father who asked the media, “Don’t call her a rape victim. Please call her a brave daughter.

“This song is also about the ripple effect of victimization and the grief her family, friends and community experienced. It’s also about the fact that this young woman and her friend did nothing wrong, and their bravery shows the way forward in India.”

The idea became the song Brave Daughters. Read more

Neel, Ritah, Robert, Michael, and Micah

Robert Cross: Leading With Lyrics

This week SongTalk welcomed Robert Cross to our studio.

Robert Cross was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He started playing guitar at 14, just so he could learn how to write songs. Cross is the singer and guitarist of the original rock band Satin, who released their first album Drop Dead Gorgeous in 2019. Cross has branched out into other musical genres as well, having written songs for other southern California acts such as the pop-punk band Aim for the Heart and Country-rock artist David Bucci.

We talked with Robert about:

  • starting a song with the title
  • writing in your car
  • making the most of your “orphans” – leftover song fragments
  • how to communicate your musical ideas to your backing band
  • how the sound of words can lead to creating melodies

https://twitter.com/Satin_band

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV9r0g5z7XBu2OrCqF7taJw

www.instagram.com/satin_sounds/

Michael, Ritah, Robert, Phil, Micah, and Neel

Robert Ball: Giving Voice To The Personal

This week SongTalk welcomed Robert Ball to our studio.

A native Torontonian, Robert Ball is a multi-faceted singer who has traveled to and performed in over 60 countries around the world.
His sound has been described as soulful, jazzy, Neo-soul and he is a much in-demand session singer. Most recently he toured his EP “Need” & single “Breathe” throughout Toronto, New York and many PRIDE circuits including Brooklyn Pride, DC pride and Jamaica Pride. Also making appearances on CTV, CP24, Bold TV, Rogers Nighttime & Daytime on Rogers, Casa Loma “Soul in the City”, Friday Night Live at the ROM.
His new single ‘River (Into You)’ was released last fall and is available everywhere.

 

We talked with Robert about:

  • his sources of inspiration
  • breaking out of typical pop song structures
  • getting the most from producers in the studio
  • how to communicate your musical ideas to your backing band
  • how personal events can shape your songwriting

www.Instagram.com/RobertBallMusic
www.Facebook.com/RobertBallMusic
www.Twitter.com/RobertBallMusic
www.Youtube.com/RobertBallMusic

Matthew Reid: Music Composition – Live, recorded and improvisational

This week SongTalk welcomed Matthew Reid to our studio. Matthew is a critically acclaimed, award winning composer for film, television, games and theatre. His funny songs have delighted almost a million people during his tenure as composer for Toronto’s world famous Second City comedy theatre. His comedic musical, The Second City Guide to the Symphony was has been performed by top orchestras across North America since 2014.

As a film composer, he recently won several awards as a composer collaborating with Tim Burton’s producer, Derek Frey on the multiple award-winning film, Green Lake.

Currently he’s completing the score for the 9/11 feature doc, No Responders Left Behind, constantly creating production music tracks and finding a little time to compose classical chamber music.

We talked with Matthew about:

  • being SecondCity’s musical director
  • ways to challenge yourself as a composer
  • what is involved in scoring a film
  • how to take a new approach to classical music
  • making recorded music samples sound realistic
Back row: Michael, Blair, Linda, Neel, and Phil. Front row: Ritah and Micah

This Is Spinal Tap: 35 Years Later

This week SongTalk Radio has a special episode celebrating the 35th anniversary of the classic film, “This Is Spinal Tap”. And joining us in our trip down memory lane is one of our favourite guests on the show Blair Packham. We talk about where and when we first encountered this classic cult comedy and how true it was to our own experiences in the music business (hint: very!)

On this episode, Neel, Phil, Michael and Blair talk about:

  • how the film was made
  • what has made the movie so popular many decades later
  • our favourite Spinal Tap moments
  • why this early mock-umentary was so influential
Phil, Michael, Patrick, Vanessa, Linda, and Neel

Patrick Ballantyne: An album of longing

This week Song Talk welcomed Patrick Ballantyne back to our studio. Patrick is a veteran songwriter and musician who has worked with many top-selling artists such as The Trews, Meredith Shaw and Big Sugar.

On this episode, Patrick brought in a few songs from his upcoming new release so our Song Talk audience got to hear the premieres of two tracks – Vicious in Your Vanity and Beneath Your Skin.

We talked with Patrick about:

  • the origins of the songs on his new album
  • the difficulty of writing lyrics
  • his collaboration with Colin MacDonald from the Trews
  • how to organize songs for an album
  • the way lyrical inspiration changes as the songwriter ages
  • Patrick-Ballantyne-Lyrics
  • Patrick Ballantyne on WikiPedia
Bruce, Blair, Vanessa, Michael, and Neel

What’s a cover song anyway?

Our own Michael Proudfoot proudly stepped into the world of cover songs. He uncovered a treasure trove of examples and ideas. Have a listen as the Song Talk Radio team plus Blair Packham (The Jitters) tackles:

  • when everything was a cover
  • the difference between 45, 78, and 33 1/3 rpm records
  • professional songwriters writing for professional singers
  • How The Beatles shifted pop culture by both writing and performing their own songs
  • Jimi Hendrix covers All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
  • authenticity (Sarah McLachlan) and self-expression
  • Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King, Leonard Cohen
  • singing someone else’s song – making it universal
  • Husker Du, Love Is All Around (Sonny Curtis)

Listen to the whole show

 

Neel, Linda, Vanessa, Phil, and Patrick

What’s the hook of a song?

Ever wondered why hit songs are so memorable? You know, the ones that you can’t get out of your mind for weeks (or years). Well, it could be the hook. In this episode the Song Talk Radio team does a deep dive into the many and various ways that songwriters have created memorable passages in songs. These include:

Listen to the whole show