This series asks songwriters to describe their writing process, and what influences them. Here, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Royal Wood.
Creation is a stream. A flowing stream, we artists attempt to dip our hands into, and gently cup the waters from. At times it is frozen, and unforgiving. In other moments, it is penetrable and easy and natural. Our vessel is filled with waters we want to drink.
The key for me is to close my mind: to be still, to be patient and to be honest. When I don't filter, when my mind is out of the way, the truly great songs come.
In the old days, I would simply sit at the piano, or with a guitar on my lap, and just play – just play until a moment happened. Almost as if I had been struck by a force that would take me away somewhere new, yet familiar. I still find this process valid, and true. However, lately, I have been creating loops, and percussive elements first. Almost like painting with rhythm. When I find myself excited or moved by that creation, I then play along, and allow a new song to be born. This new process of writing to loops greatly influenced my latest record that comes out this June. It has given my songs far more movement, and yet, far more space because there were less holes to fill up with information occupied by the beats.
Lyrics are the true stumbling block. They are the message. They are the key to the emotional journey. There was a time I would agonize over them after the fact, working, and re-working them until I felt like every word had poetic weight. Then one day, I realized, that I was stripping my music of its honesty – of its connection to source. So much can be said with a simply lyric. It can be powerful enough to move one's heart to a joyous pain, an ecstasy of feeling like we are not alone in the world. Someone else knows us. That is what I feel when I listen to the Beatles. Lennon and McCartney wrote music for everyone.
Yes, creation is a stream.
Listen to Royal Wood on his CBC Music artist page
Letter to my teacher: Royal Wood
Previously in this series:
How I write: Glen Hansard
How I write: Norah Jones
How I write: Cold Specks
How I write: Tim Foreman of Switchfoot
How I write: The Civil Wars
How I write: Dan Mangan
on Jul 04, 2012