This series asks songwriters to describe their writing process, and what influences them.
Here, Al Spx, otherwise known as Cold Specks.
I discovered my mother’s faulty old Casio keyboard as a teenager. Though I couldn’t play the damned thing if my little life depended on it, I was consumed. Around that time, a handful of hideously similar and poorly structured songs began to trickle out of my morbid young head. The first of which was a song called "Lay Me Down." My mother bought me a classical guitar for my 15th birthday. I took a lesson or two and immediately gave up. In university, I picked it up again. Once more, I had a collection of incomplete ideas. As I learned to play the guitar, they evolved.
How do I write? There is no real process. The one element that is always the same is the environment I am in. I always have to be completely on my own. As a teenager, it was my closet (I am the fifth of seven children. Naturally, finding some space was pretty difficult). In university, it was a quiet corner in the chapel of Hart House [at the University of Toronto]. These days, it’s a green room in whatever town I happen to be in. Sometimes the words come first. Sometimes it’s the guitar part. Sometimes they come together. They are always unfinished at first. As a collection, I try and ensure that the songs are sonically and/or emotionally cohesive in some way or another. Eventually, I ended up with 11 songs that worked.
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How I write: Norah Jones
How I write: The Civil Wars
How I write: Henry Wagons
How I write: Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta!
How I write: Kathryn Calder
How I write: Dan Mangan
on May 28, 2012