Usually I start with a beat, I start making a beat, and my producer side is making the beat. And on a good day, my rapper side will jump in and start the writing process – maybe come up with a hook or start a verse. Sometimes it just happens like that. A song like ‘Lights Please’ happens like that.
With songs, it doesn’t matter what song it is; every time I go out and perform it, it’s like the first time I’m performing it, the first time I wrote it. If it’s not, then I’m not going to do it that night.
I’ve written a song for Prince. I never showed it to Prince, but just to see if I could do it. At the time, when I sort of knew him, he was recording a song a day. I wondered if I could do that. So I wrote it.
Last tour my bassrig was breaking down every other night. That was a pain. We would get on stage and Trey would count off the song, and I’d play the first note and nothing would be there. Those guys would just roll their eyes.
When a song blows your mind the first time you hear it, you don’t know where it’s going. It’s blowing your mind as it’s unfolding. Then there’s that sensation that you’re actually going to remember the song.
Kind words are the music of the world. They have a power whichseems to be beyond natural causes, as if they were some angel’s song, which had lost its way and come on Earth, and sang on undyingly, smiting the hearts of men with sweetestwounds, and putting for the while an angel’s nature into us.
‘Reign‘ is probably the oldest one on the record. I wrote that when I was 19. ‘The Dead They Don’t Come Back,’ which is the last song on the album, I wrote when I was 20, and ‘Harlem River’ I just wrote last year. It spans from 2007 to 2012.
With me having this raspy voice, people always asked when I was going to sing on a song. When I was going at it with 50, people were saying I don’t sing on my ownhooks. That always stuck in my head and people always told me I had to use my own voice not just to rap.
You know Nashville, there’s people that are ten times more talented than me, ten times better singer than me, song writer than me, but for some reason you get the ball and now – and now you run with it. And you do the best you can.
‘She’s a Mystery to Me’ was released in 1987, when I was 11 or something, and I absolutelyadored the song. This song was written by Bono and The Edge, and the story goes that Bono woke up with the tune in his head, then thought that the only voice who could sing this song is Roy Orbison.
I think ‘Lovin’ Feelin’ was probably one of the most – probably in ’64 and ’65, one of the more dramatic love songs for these kids to grab hold of. I mean, they had been listening to, you know, kind of cute songs, and ‘Lovin’ Feelin’ was just a strong, powerful song.
I can’t tell you how many things I’ve worked on where I sat on it for a few years, and then somebody else did something very similar. Whether it’s some weird vocal effect you hear on another record, or a drum beat, or even a song title, a subject matter, or a mixture of different kinds of music.
I’ve always loved ‘Umbrella.’ Funny enough, my ex-husband wrote that, and I’m not saying it was meant for me or anything – people will start twisting this – it is Rihanna‘s song! But I’ve always loved it.
When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.
What I’ve learned how to do as I’ve gottenolder is to take all of the information that I have, and push it aside, and try to distill each song into an emotional theme. The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to learn how to do in playing music is use the sound of my instrument to create an emotional effect.
When I’m singing a song, I’m in that song, and I’m thinking about what emotions I should bring to the song. Voicing a character was very similar. It was high energy, and I had to really think about the emotion of what was going on in the scene.
We met Ferg at one of our shows in L.A. She gave us her number. For the song ‘Shut Up‘ on Elephunk, we needed a vocalist. Someone said ‘yo, remember that white girl – we should get her in the studio.’ Since then, we’ve become friends. She’s one of the guys now, she isn’t just a girl.
And you have a record companybehind it, this is a key too, you need people to fight for your records, at least a little bit. So if you have a great song, it’s catchy, and you’ve got a little bit of help, I think that’s all you need. But there hasn’t been that in music.
I wrote ‘She’s a Lady’ on the back of a TWA menu, flying back from London after doing Tom Jones’s TV show. Jones’s manager wanted me to write him a song. If I have an idea and I don’t have a pad of paper, I’ll write on whatever is available. What’s the difference? Paper is paper.
I like to interpret ‘Call me a River’, as if I’m saying, ‘Now you’re telling me you love me after all that, and I’m telling you to shove off.’ That’s my interpretation. But I would never ‘say’ that because somebody else might interpret the song in another way.
My music is mostly for the music. And it gives the liberty to do anything which I want. And nobodylimits me to one genre of music. But I learn from life and I try to give back to life, in a way, whether it’s the thought of the song or whether it’s the approach to the arrangement or anything.
Lyrics are important, but it’s hard, because English isn’t my first language – although it feels like it is these days! I grew up with amazingmelodies, so getting that right on a song has always been the key thing for me, but there’s no reason why a great melody doesn’t deserve great lyrics.
There is a song called ‘I Refuse,’ and I get a bit scolding, I suppose, in a way. But it all comes back to elements of hope, and in the case of that song, it’s basically, ‘Okay, you’re trying to suck me into this world of negativity, and I’m not going to go there. I’m going to live my own life.’
I was the first Indian music composer to win the China Gold Award for ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ from ‘Disco Dancer.’ Adam Sandler repeated the song in his film ‘Zohan.’ ‘Disco Dancer’ is historical, as are ‘Sharaabi’ and ‘Namak Halal.’
I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when radio was less formatted. It was really special. You could hear a jazz song then a pop song then a show tune then some jazz. Basically, whatever the DJ felt like playing, he would play. He was educating you and exposing you to things you would never hear otherwise.
Let’s get with it, guys: You don’t need to hear a Ministry song to get political. You should be political on your own. We’re just a side project to society. So do I care what people think about me personally? No. I just do what I do.
The thing is, my life is a country song. I don’t need to be manufactured, and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing.
I remember where I was when I first heard ‘Boyz N The Hood’ – 126th Street and Normandy, SouthCentral, Los Angeles. I remember that I was on my porch. What they described in that song was so vivid and so clear to me because it was the kind of life I was used to witnessing and partlyexperiencing in my neighborhood.
I don’t always have to sing a song. There is something besides ‘The Man That Got Away’ or ‘Over the Rainbow’ or ‘The Trolley Song.’ There’s a woman. There are threechildren. There’s me! There’s a lot of life going here.
Every time I sit for a song, I feel I am finished. It’s like a beggarsitting waiting for God to fill your bowl with the right thought. In every song, I ask help from Him. Everybody around is so good, so to create music that will connect with so many people is not humanly possible without inspiration.
I’d been playing Ted in the show for about a year as well as playing in the group in my spare time. Then, at the ‘Scrubs’ Christmas party, I offered to bring along the band to sing a song. The producers thought we were terrible – but perfect for the show.
It’s funny because as a composer, you want to hear your songs live on. I think a lot of times people will create a song and it becomesstagnant or something that they’re no longer interested in playing, and they leave it alone.
We human beings are tuned such that we crave great melody and great lyrics. And if somebody writes a great song, it’s timeless that we as humans are going to feel something for that and there’s going to be a real appreciation.
My daughter, who is 7 years old – I have no idea where she learned this – she made a video where she’s beat-boxing. We have no idea where the beat-boxing came from, but all of a sudden, there it was. Now we’re launched into lyric sheets for every single song that is current. They’re all over our house.
Da Pak was a group out of Chicago. It was a put-together group. We actually met for the first time at this showcase. They were like ‘Yo, you should do a song together.’ So we did. It just so happened that the name of the song was ‘Wolf Pak.’ They said, ‘Y’all should be a group called Da Pak, and here’s a record deal.’
It’s always hard for me to put the pieces together when listening to a finished album that I was a part of writing and playing. There are so many memorieswrapped up in each note and each song that it’s hard not to constantlyflash back to what made that musical event happen while listening.
There’s no reason anybody should be reading too much into ‘ThriftShop.’ I just have because I have a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old who are really into going to lyric websites, hitting print, and printing lyrics for every song that’s popular.
You know, I always when people ask me, like, what is my most favorite song, I quote Duke Ellington, when they would ask him, what’s his favorite composition? And I say, I haven‘t written it yet. Because, you know, there are different songs for different occasions.
I think people should be able to have at their behest, like, four hours of music, entertainment, visual knowledge, different pathways. That’s what I’m trying to do with modern technology, not just another song and another song.
The Beach Boys were my favorite. I use to listen to their hits over and over, especially ‘In My Room’ and ‘Don’t Worry Baby.’ There’s something really sad about ‘Don’t Worry Baby.’ Even though it’s just a California song about racing cars, the melody is really sad. There’s melancholy in it.
I wrote that song for my wife, and it’s what some guy who’s sitting under a tree would be singing to the woman of his life, telling her how wonderful she is. To me, that’s more lasting than something that sounds like it belongs on a movie soundtrack.
There are a couple different factors that play into the decision of which songs to cover. It could either be we’re really inspired by a song that’s just come out or inspired by an international classic, but either way we bring it to the band.
I thought it would be interesting to write a song about a lonely person who is scared to see the truth that is right in from of him. I thought it would be interesting if you could watch yourself from a distance.
Music is a language in itself and the songs have their own soul, every song has its soul.
Well, as a songwriter, it’s really dangerous to use the word love in a song. It’s a word that has been used in songs so many millions of times before, and it’s the most popular topic to ever write about.
It was a kind of siren song that called me out to the front lines.
‘Tim Timtya’ was different from what I usually do. I had to develop a texture to go with the song. In fact, many told me I sounded like Shreya Goshal, which came as a pleasantsurprise. Transitioning from tracks like ‘Sunny Sunny’ to this one was quite different.
I was 18, at art school, and saw this cute boy playing banjo. I was obsessed. I taught myself how to play. I listened to a lot of country and just messed around. The second song I wrote on the banjo was ‘Good to Be a Man.’ That what’s got me signed.
At 13 years old, I realized I could start my own band. I could write my own song, I could record my own record. I could start my own label. I could release my own record. I could book my own shows. I could write and publish my own fanzine. I could silk-screen my own T-shirt. I could do this all myself.
In my off-time, I do record. Once in a while, I’ll just go into the studio if there’s a really good song that I have in my head and want to do. I think, as artists, you’re constantly in creativemotion. If I stopped writing songs, then that’s a part of me that would stop in my life, and I need constant motion.
You go to a studio with a guitar, people are like, ‘Oh this girl’s going to write this song on a guitar.’ Or wants to, or whatever. You go with a ukulele, people are just like ‘Eh, well, whatever.’ They don’t really care. It’s a very non-threatening kind of instrument.
‘Welcome to Atlanta‘ was a song I wanted to do on my first album. The idea was for me and Outkast to do it, but I could never come up with a beat for us to do it. Outkast beats and my beats were very different.
In terms of the production, the style I use is what I see as the ‘Lisa Stansfield sound’ and I would hope that when anyone puts on one of my songs they don’t even have to listen to my voice to know this is a Lisa Stansfield song, because of the way it sounds.
There’s probably a couple someones that are gonna hear the songs and go, ‘I think that might have been about me,’ or, ‘I know it’s about me.’ I do play that pretty close to the vest. I don’t think I’m ever gonna write a song and drop somebody’s name in it.
I write a lot, and very often I write a couple of lines that are particularlyrevealing in some kind of way. And then as a few more lines get added and a piece gets added, eventually the song pretty much takes over and you can’t really find a way to change those things.
‘So Icy‘ is always going to be one of my favorites because this is a song that blew my mind. I was just making beats for the fun of it. I went to the club and heard the song being played, so I asked the DJ to stop playing the song, and the whole club started rapping word for word.
My favorite song is Whitney Houston‘s ‘I Will Always Love You’ because my brother used to sing it to me as loud as he could. Annoying then, favorite memory now.
I had a song back in 1992 talking about ‘It’s all good.’ Then my partner Theo who used to work for 92.3 The Beat in L.A. started saying ‘You know it’s all good’ on the radio and everybody took it back to their soils like that was the new Cali word. But that’s a regular word form the Bay Area.
In my world, history comes down to language and art. No one cares much about what battles were fought, who won them and who lost them – unless there is a painting, a play, a song or a poem that speaks of the event.
‘Mean’ is a song I wrote about somebody who wrote things that were so mean so many times that it would ruin my day. Then it would ruin the next day. And it would level me so many times, I just felt like I was being hit in the face every time this person would take to their computer.
That’s what I find with any good song, you just have to let it happen. Out of about twenty songs you might write, one of any significance. It might be thirty or forty, but I just keep churning them out and churning them out in hope that one of them will stick.
I can remember when I was just, like, about four years old in Compton, and my mother would have me stack 45s, stack about ten of them, and when one would finish, the next record would drop. It was like I was DJ’ing for the house, picking out certain songs and so this song would go after that song.
Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston, I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song, and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.’
The world is a song, but we do not know whether it is a good song because we have nothing to compare it with.
A lot can be said with just a look, or the way the body moves. Each song is a different character. So each song takes on a different movement of the body. And the body has to go with the subject and the attitude that you have toward that subject.
Music does help me a lot with my character, with the fact that I have to have a really good theme song, something that I can get into while I’m walking down the ramp. It puts me into that mindset that I’m going into a mosh pit.
I think the biggest way of connecting with people is through your music and kind of saying what you want to say as an artist. And hopefully, you’re making something that someone’s going to be like, ‘This is my favorite song.’ That’s always your goal, I think, anybody in any genre.
At times I have a beat first and then I write. Sometimes I have a melody in my head and I pick up the guitar to develop the song. Other times I just write without any melodies, and I end up using those lyrics when I think I have the appropriateinstrumental that would bring out and depict the emotions of what I have written.
I think I’m alright as a lyricist, you know? But then what will happen every couple of months or so is that I’ll hear a song I’ve never heard before and feel I’ve gone right back to square one.
‘Better Than Home,’ the song, is about getting out of your hiding place and having the courage to live as loud as possible. It is about feeling the life that has been given and has been waiting for you all along.
I think a good song is a good song is a good song.
My dad took me for an audition once, to show me, ‘OK, you want to be a child actor, this is what it’s like.’ I sang a folk song about donkeys on this West End stage with this big director, and there was a queue of 200 girls all singing ‘Memory.’ I was terrible. Terrible.
On stage, it’s very naked. There’s a reason you shake your knees. You’re very vulnerable, cos it’s just you, your body is the instrument. But I always had confidence in my voice, if I had the right song, the right words to sing.
I wish I was a prolific writing wondrous boy genius – I wish I was Stevie Wonder – but I wasn’t. I was me. I wrote terrible songs about girls I was head-over-heels about. As soon as a pretty girllooks at me, that’s it – I’m in love, and I should probably write a song about it!
When I heard ‘Moon River’, at first I thought it was just a nice song, but then I started paying attention to the words and realized this song was about Huck Finn. I just love the words, that it’s kind of you and me against the world, and we’re going to make it together.
‘Peace Train’ is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again.
When I was younger, I used to do that a lot: I would hear a part of a song that would really relax me and then put it on repeat. That would send me to sleep. It was quite obvious classical music, people like PenguinCafeOrchestra, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel.
I have a passion for music, and I enjoy the process of expressing myself within the parameters of a pop song, and I don’t do it to seek anybody’s approval, necessarily. Obviously, you go on stage, and you enjoy it when people respond to a particular song, but the overall concept of playing music I do for myself.
My life’s far too complicated to be summed up in one song. It would take 20 just to represent one single day.
People will listen to a song and expect that you just have that persona on all the time. But really, that was your one outlet that one day to get that emotion out. The only difference was you put it on a canvas that’s going to be there forever.
When I was child, I saw the ‘Ram Leela’ performed on stage. Now there is the film ‘Ram Leela,’ and its maker actually wanted me to do a song for Akshay Kumar in ‘Gabbar.’ Akshay was one of the first Bollywood A-listers to believe in me. We jelled before we jammed together.
I think people are tired of fake music, man. And there’s a lot of it. Technology has reached the point where any boob can walk into a studio and with a little AutoTuning you can have a hit song. I think it’s pathetic.
Making a record? You’ve got to have the song, then you create a record. I think it’s the same with a live performance. If the material is strong, you’re already 90% there. I always tell young people it’s all about the music, the songs. Work on the songs, work on the songs, work on the songs.
If I love Etta James, it’s not just the voice, and it’s not just the song, but it’s the energy that connects me to her, so if she is strong, I can be strong, too, and if she is sad, I know I am not alone, or if she is joyous, I can connect with that joy.
A lot of times, somebody will say something and it will give you a good title. So you carry a pencil with you and jot that down. You don’t just write a song right quick, though. You fool around and work with it. You have to keep going over and over it and see if you can’t write a song that means something.
There was a recording studio in my school, and I knew this kid who had a key, so I’d write lyrics in school while I was in class, and then, in a 10-minute break, I recorded the song ‘Hurt’ in one go at the school studio.
I want to work with Song Joong Ki sunbae again who I worked with in ‘Vincenzo.’ I learned so many things from Song Joong-ki sunbae but it’s regrettable that we mainly filmed together only in the second half.
I close my eyes when I sing so I can feel the song better.
‘Do What You Gotta Do’ is a positive, inspirational song that says no matter what it is; whether you’re up against challenges or trying to get your dreams and aspirations met, you should do what whatever you have to do shy of killing yourself or someone else.
‘Human’ was controversial within The Killers way before it was controversial to the rest of the world! It caused some problems within the band. Not to throw anybody under the bus, but it was pretty much me and Dave against Mark and Ronnie for a little while. We were standing up for the song.
I was in a karaoke video in 1991, for a song called ‘Sukiyaki,’ which is a very famous Japanese song, and I’ve actually heard from people that they’ve been in bars in Asia where they’ve seen me come up in the ‘Sukiyaki’ video that they play behind you. I’m in that. I’m in a karaoke video.
There was this song I was working on called ‘Swing.’ It was almost finished, but there was something missing, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. And then this little piece of information – this little tweet – came to the forefront of my mind.
I liked the way they treated the first, second, and third place finishers equally. It was an amazing year. I only entered two song contests this year; I won one and placed second in the other. And I entered each of them a day or two before the deadline.
I have never been able to remember the number of my driver‘s license, and there have been times when I couldn’t even remember my own telephone number, but when I hear a song, sometimes only once, I never forget the melody or the lyric.
I do disagree with the way videos of my songs have been made. ‘Afreen Afreen’ is a very powerful song; it did not require such a video. The emphasis should be on the song. Again, I have told my recording company, and in the future, they will screen the video only after my approval.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
‘Sit Here and Cry’ was one of the first songs I wrote with that overdramatic sarcasticdrysense of humor, which is why the energy of the song doesn’t necessarily reflect the subject matter.
I don’t want to have one hit, one song of the summer, and then have me disappear forever. I really want my things to last, and I want my songs and my bodies of work to resonate with people. I want to hit people – at least make a dent in them. I want to make a mark somehow.
When I was a teeny little girl, I was in dancing school, and I sang. We had to put a dance to a song, so I went to the 10-cent store one day and looked at all the sheet music. It was all laid out, and I picked ‘Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.’
To me, the lyrics of the song define the kind of style it is.
I sing in languages that I speak. So when I’m singing a Schubert song, I know precisely what every word means and, you know, when it was composed and who was the poet and all of that and whether Strauss or Wagner or French Belioz, Duparc or Debussy or whatever.
In 2012, I dropped a song called ‘Like To Party,’ and that just took me all over the world.
Melody is the single most important thing to any song, period. I don’t care what anybody says, it trumps everything. Not because that’s my opinion but because I think it’s actually indisputable fact. The human brain retains melody easier than it retains words. It’s that simple.
Although, my experience when I’ve been depressed, not only am I too depressed to sit down and write a song, I’m too depressed to pick up my feet. So if you can at least write about it, you’re halfway away from it.
‘She’s Dynamite‘ was a 100 years ago, and I recorded that song because the company thought that it was a great song and it was hot. That was the beginning of rock n’ roll, and I guess they thought it would be a BB King version of rock n’ roll.
You can only follow what’s on your mind. In fact, a song is something you write because you can’t sleep unless you write it.
I guess a good song is a good song is a good song, ya know.
Recording a song for a film doesn’t take much time; it’s hardly an hour’s job, but concerts are constant, and so is travelling, so I’ve to take time out to work on my albums because I’m passionate about creating my own music. When you love something dearly, you set your prioritiesaccordingly.
I’ve always been a fan of melody and emotional melancholy, whether it was Rites of Spring or Tears for Fears or Neil Young. If I hear a song that has a sweet melody, I’m a sucker for it, whether it’s Linkin Park or Little Richard.
To write a good song, an artist has to drawn from reality. There has to be some spark from realism that communicates a real feeling to someone else. You have to be real. Or you have to be a really good storyteller.
My favorite Bob Dylan record is the very first one where he sings one Bob Dylan song and the rest of them are his interpretations of the Dust Bowl-era folk songs, or even going back as far as the mass influx of people coming into the U.S. during the gold rush. His interpretations of those songs are incredible.
Honeymoons are great, but they don’t last. And I think the same is true with success on the screen – today, I am all over the place; tomorrow, I may be gone – I may have to make room for someone else. So why make a big song and dance about it all?
When the Beatles wrote ‘Paperback Writer,’ it couldn’t have been the same old thing. You can hear so many influences in it, from the blues to Bach, and it’s not just verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge chorus. They start off singing a cappella, almost like a Bach chorale, and the song goes into this bluesy guitar riff.
I would like to work with my ideal type, Song Hye Kyo sunbae. Although she has an elegant and classic style, her charisma is also strong, and her acting talent is outstanding. If we act together, I think I could learn a lot from her. But I’d probably be nervous a lot of times.
I’m not the type of guy to go so deep with the concept songs, but there’s deep thought in everything. Maybe it’s not just a repetitive hook telling you what the song is about – you have to use your brain a little bit.
When I met MichaelJordan on a basketball court at an athletic club – we hooped together in Chicago – he came to me and asked me if I wanted to do a song for his upcoming movie. I was like, ‘Yeah!’ I didn’t even ask what it was.
I was at a picnic, and there were a lot of songwriters. I remember praying, ‘God I wish you would give me a song.’ About five minutes later, my ears popped, and I saw everybody in slow motion. Nobody knew what I was experiencing.
When you’re making music, it’s meant to be shared with people. Sometimes, even if I’m writing a song, someone else brings a vibe. There’s something different about it. If someone can play a better bassline than me, I’ll let them do it. I’m just here to fit in and see where it goes.
I auditioned for a solo in church and got it. I was about seven and I sang a song called, ‘Jesus, I Heard You Had a Big House‘ and I remember people standing up at the end and me thinking, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to like this.’ That’s how it all began. Sounds funny to say you got your start in church, but I did.
I think anything that’s creative really takes my mind off whatever it is that I’m going through in my life. If you’re going through heartbreak, and you can write a song, it’s a wonderful win-win, because it takes your mind off the heartbreak, and you get to vent.
‘Helter-Skelter’ was the motive for the murders. Manson borrowed that term from a Beatles song on the ‘White Album.’ In England, helter-skelter is a playground ride. To Manson, helter-skelter meant a war between whites and blacks that the Beatles were in favor of.
I came into the music world in 1988 with a song called ‘Ooh La La,’ that was like a breath of fresh air in Haitian music.
There’s a song called ‘Live Blogging the Himmel Family Bris.’ I kind of went for it here in terms of – it was really fun to be explainingritual circumcision in Nashville – a lot of brises are done in hospitals, but many are done in people’s homes, and there’s a lot of food, and a lot of leftovers.
I don’t really have a favorite genre. I could listen to a rock song, a metal song, jazz, pop music, whatever. For me, whatever style it is, it always depends on the chordprogression, the lyrics, and the melody used.
Music is a diary. Sometimes people make music as if no one’s going to hear it, as if they can just be completely honest. Things are a lot more acceptable said in a song than it would be in person. Art excuses a lot of things.
Singing is a way of releasing an emotion that you sometimes can’t portray when you’re acting. And music moves your soul, so music is the source of the most intense emotions you can feel. When you hear a song and you’re acting it’s incredible. But when you’re singing a song and you’re acting it’s even more incredible.
I wrote a song on the record called ‘FlawedDesign‘ and it’s basically looking at that, and it was just exploring how everybody obviously has flaws. I think to embrace those flaws – enjoy them, embrace them – and actually be a real person is something that a lot of people struggle with, myself included.
I have this lust for the so-called South Seas. I would like to explore every corner of the Pacific. You know the song: ‘To everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season.’ It’s just time.
I could really make a song of hurt, because I’ve been hurt by a lot of men. I’m talking about, like, how sad I be when a dude curves me. And I never talk about that because I refuse to let people know that I get sad because when a man don’t answer my calls.
The type of music I make, it’s not just straight-up rapping. There’s emotion in it. That’s why people feel each song differently. I get all my vibes from rock music, you know? All my melodies and all that.
Now, performing is second nature and I love every second of it. It is a very emotional thing when I can’t play a song; maybe I’m hitting on something that I don’t want to deal with. All of it is so personal. It is like therapy.
On the second half of ‘Under Pressure,’ I talk about my family, and there are voicemails on my phone from when I was on the road that actually make up the second half of the nine-minute song. I transcribe them and rap them as if I were my sister, my brother, or my father.
I’ve always been jealous of rappers, because they can fit so many words into a song and tell a story with lots of details. But when you’re a songwriter, you have to fit the words to the melody and you can’t fit as much in. I’m just a big fan of storytelling.
‘Pretty Lady’ is the conversation piece where you just need to compliment your lady. If you are in a club setting, and you just been eyeing a beautiful woman, this song came from me trying to compliment women and them turning their face up at me.
I had a really great performance with Steven Tyler in the movie ‘Be Cool.’ I performed ‘Cryin’,’ so we recorded the song beforehand. But I didn’t get to meet him until I hit the stage with him, and we had a live performance with 30,000 people in the audience, and that was for the movie.
You’ve got a song you’re singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you’ve got to make them think that you’re one of them sitting out there with them too. They’ve got to be able to relate to what you’re doing.
The act of song writing and recording became one and the same to me; because I essentially recorded everything I did from the day I began trying to write songs. I’ve always had a lot to say. I’d always written poems.
One of the disadvantages of poetry over popular music is that if you write a pop song, it naturally gets into people’s heads as they listen in the car. You don’t have to memorize a Paul Simon song; it’s just in your head, and you can sing along. With a poem, you have to will yourself to memorize it.
I grew up in a time when the only musicals were animated musicals because nobody wanted to see people to break into song.
Justin Hayward was a teenager when he was drafted into the Moody Blues in 1966. He brought with him one song he had written for his girlfriend. This was called ‘Nights in White Satin,’ which subsequently made a fortune for a lot of people.
When I start working on a batch of tunes – like roughly 10 solid tunes – I always know there’ll be another 10 to follow, because for every song I invest a lot of time in, there’s another song waiting behind it.
I don’t have a favorite song that I’ve written. But I do have a favorite song: ‘Always on My Mind,’ the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells.
A lot of music influences me in other ways than this, but I’ve always taken a lot of influence from Stevie Wonder, FrankOcean, and Jeff Rosenstock for the Rex music. They were also the first three artists that released albums where I enjoyed every song.
Every song has a composer, every book has an author, every car has a maker, every painting has a painter, and every building has a builder. So it isn’t irrational to take this simple logic a little further and say that nature must have had a Maker. It would be irrational to believe that it made itself.
My 9-year-old daughter can recite every line from ‘Easy Rider,’ and that is not an easy song to do. She raps all of Nicki Minaj and everything; she’s dope. She has my musical ear for sure. She sings, and she’s beautiful. It’s very powerful.
The first mp3 I downloaded, which I guess was illegal, was a symphonic rendering of the Super Mario Brothers 1-1 theme song. It was great. I was like, ‘This is blowing MIDI files out of the water. This is the future, right here.’
If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
Came from a song that I made from, like, 2012 – there was some phrase like ‘Rap Monster‘, and I just, I thought it was so cool. But as I grow up, and as I came to America, I think it felt like too much. So I just abbreviated it to ‘RM’, and it could symbolize many things. It could have more spectrums to it.
The song, ‘Life is Better,’ is about hip-hop. It’s about my love for hip-hop. And, you know, I go through all the artists from the beginning to the end, you know. And, well, not to the end, but since the beginning to now, you know.
One of the first places where I started to respond to song lyrics was in reggae music. A lot of what I was responding to were references to the Old Testament. It was not that I had to adapt the lyrics to the sound. Reggae and the Old Testament are bound up together. There wasn’t anything that I had to do.
If my life had to be a song I would name it, ‘Live every day like its your best day ever’, because it pretty much is.
I’ve always listened to music while I write, but none of my work has been so directlyimpacted by a song as my new novel, ‘So Cold the River,’ for which the brilliantstrings piece ‘Short Trip Home,’ composed by Edgar Meyer and featuring the incredible Joshua Bell on violin, inspired much of the story.
I really get inspired by songs. Like, if I hear a thug ‘Want to kill ya’ song, I’m ready to go out and get crazy. Or if you hear this really sexual, sensual slow song, I want to go have sex. I’m very animalistic when it comes to stuff like that. Very basic emotions.
I wrote my first song at 12 and remember someone asking, ‘What were you going through at 12 that you could write about?’ I get what you’re saying, but 11, 12, 13 were the hardest years of my life. You learn everything. You learn how horrible things feel.
The issue I had with the Lightspeed albums was that usually the main purpose with them was to fulfil really dorky musical goals, like, ‘I wonder if I can do that,’ and it was all very personal. It was more that once I’d finished the goal of what the song was, I was kind of done. It was like tickingboxes.
When I was 15 or 16 playing in groups, we used to sit in the car and try to write the lyrics down as a song was playing, and we’d assign each person a verse, you know: ‘I’m going to do the first one. You go for the second one.’ And then sometimes you’d wait an hour for it to come on again so you could finish it up.
A good song has to have a great melody, and the lyrics have to touch my heart. Now, if it’s just a little toe-tapper, got to make me feel good somehow or another, or when I sing it I can’t make you feel good.
I’m not sure it’s a better music world of appreciation and performance. I think the listener is a different guy, and listening is something he does in passing, with other stuff going on. There’s less care and understanding of the relationship between the song and the listener.
I haven’t made anything I don’t believe in. I’ve always started a movie with a song in my heart, and even when I’m a little unclear about it, something magical happens and it comes into focus in a way that I’m feeling good about.
I honestly think that with every song you release you have to keep winning your own fans over again.
Think about when you listen to a song on the radio. You are not paying for it; it’s not illegal to do it, because the rights have been paid for on top, beforehand, by the radio station, by the network. We have to find exactly the same kind of system with the Internet.
I don’t sing in the shower, but my go to song to sing in the car: ‘Clouds to the left to me. Jokers to the right. Here I am.’ ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel.
I didn’t used to do shows, because I used to be so shy. We’d perform, and I’d be at the back, thinking of another song. I was so shy, I ain’t never getting in front of the camera; I would never get on stage.
WidespreadPanic discovered a couple of my songs and started doin’ ’em on the gigs. They’d take a song and expand it and everybody plays a long time and people really like that. But I made my living as a songwriter so I try to get to singin’ and get it over with.
I love the song ‘Into the Night.’ It’s Roy Orbison meetsDavid Lynch meets Iggy Pop on amphetamines. It has a punk edge that is not HIM, per se. It is super melodic and super ’60s, and that is very new to me and it is a sense of achievement to me.
I see friends who are in different genres of music, and they say they’re so burnt playing the same stuff every night. That’s why you see a country act wanting to go out and play an old classic rock song. But what cracks me up is that they all want to be Jimmy Buffett. I can’t figure that out.
At college – I went to Yale, and everybody’s very smart, and everybody has their thing that makes them special, and people at Yale would pretend they didn’t recognize me. Only after they’d had a couple of drinks would they start singing the ‘Life Goes On‘ theme song.
Every song that is a Hopsin song, I 100 percent made it. Nobody helped me. There was no producer to say, ‘Hey, put the beat like this… ‘ It was all me. If the song was wack, then the song was wack. If it’s dope, it is what it is.
I don’t think there’s any danger of me playing Indian music. However, I did a song of George Harrison’s ‘Beware of Darkness‘ that was kind of like that. That was an illusion. I was playing that on a thumbtack piano, and JimGordon was playing tablas. He’s an amazing player. That was as close to India as I ever got.
There was a time when pop music and rock music were really reaching for the stars and were not ashamed to be experimental. You think of a song like ‘Shout’ by Tears for Fears. That’s a massiveglobal No. 1 hit, and yet the subject matter is very dark.
What turns me on about the digital age, what excited me personally, is that you have closed the gap between dreaming and doing. You see, it used to be that if you wanted to make a record of a song, you needed a studio and a producer. Now, you need a laptop.
It’s really weird when we’re out of the country, whether we’re in Brazil or Greece or some crazy place like France or Germany. When you hear your song on the radio or in a store, and you’re in a different country, it’s really freaky and surreal.
I have a younger brother and sister who actually play in my band, and we were always into Disney music, big time. The first time I heard myself sing was when I recorded myself singing a Disney song. I remember it because it was awful, and I didn’t expect to hear that. I think it was ‘A Whole New World‘ from ‘Aladdin.’
Flawed Design’ is a song on the record and it explores why people feel a need to present themselves maybe not necessarily as what they actually are. It seems like in society, a lot of people want to be or try to be perfect.
When you hear me, you know it’s me, regardless of the song.
Portishead’s production is just insane beats you would expect to be on a KRS-One album. But then there’s this little white girl with an angel voice singing over it. It was a cool juxtaposition. I like ‘It’s A Fire.’ That’s a chill song with kind of a military drum thing going on, like a drummer boy.
Whether I am performing for an elite crowd or a crowd of 20,000 people – the moment someone asks for ‘Agneepath,’ and I respond ‘Agneepath’ chahiye?’ the noise in the crowd, shows that this song has become huge.
It’s of course important to mention that when DJing, I’m building my own story through the music. I’m figuring out what song to play next, what song to play after that, and how the two will blend together. How the emotion is going to develop from one song to another. So I first build that storyline.
The autumnwind is a pirate. Blustering in from sea with a rollicking song he sweeps along swaggering boisterously. His face is weather beaten, he wears a hooded sash with a silver hat about his head… The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun.
If I get a song – a good song – I just sing it the way I hear it in my head. If anybody else wanted to add whistles and bells and chainsrattling, that’s fine. Just not too much. I actually just do things as straight ahead as possible.
Usually, one of us will bring a song to the group that they think we could arrange and perform well. If the group agrees, we arrange it. It doesn’t always work out though. We’ve tried to arrange a few songs that just we ended up canning in the end.
There’s nothing like a good cheating song to make me want to run home to be with my wife.
I don’t have a family that grew up singing and playing all the time. I didn’t really have anything to judge my abilities against until I got out into the professional world and met other professional musicians. All I had was my own way of arriving at a song. That was it.
I wouldn’t go so far as to make ‘You Don’t Own Me’ a tango or ‘It’s My Party’ a hip-hop thing. Believe me, those things have been suggested to me. But I thought if I could stay true to the song, the arrangements would work. I’m really enjoying singing them.
The last name is pronounced Jill-en-hall. It’s spelled with two l’s, two a’s. We have a song in my family; G-Y-Double L – EN – HAAL spells Gyllenhaal. It’s a Swedish name. It’s a family heirloom set to music.
The comedians all finished their acts with a song. They would get a certain amount of money from the song publishers and would use that money to pay the writers. None of them paid very much for their comedy material, but it all added up.
Even if I don’t release it myself, somebody else might hear it and want to record it. When you write a song, it gives it that potential.
People knew that I was a disciple of Sivaji Ganesan and wanted to honour his memory. In fact, I did a movie and play adaptation of ‘Vietnam Veedu,’ and used the song ‘Un Kannil Neer Vadinthal’ as part of the play.
I was about to walk on stage at the Kansas Speedway – I was playing a NASCARrace – and I said to Scooter Carusoe, who was standing side stage, ‘I want to write a song called ‘Wanna Be That Song.’ Then I put my earphones back in and walked right out on stage.
I realized I was gay in the shower one day with Barbra Streisand. It happened while I was lathering, rinsing, and repeating with Pert Plus. As I was belting out the chorus to my favorite song from ‘Funny Girl,’ ‘Oh my man, I love him so, he’ll never know…’ it hit me.
I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff. I just like the old stuff. It’s all quite dramatic and atmospheric. You’d have an entire story in song. I never listen to, like, white music – I couldn’t sing you a Zeppelin or Floyd song.
I wrote ‘Fight Song’ as this declaration to believe in myself, and that is similar to what you are taught to believe in Girl Scouts. Building confidence. Building character. And above all else, being there for each other as a community.
My favorite song that I wrote is ‘Love Line.’ This was my first song that I wrote lyrics for, and I really wanted to express the feeling when you’re in love and hoping the other person feels the same way.
As a musician and a guitar player, I can noodle as well as anybody. But from my background as a session musician, I always try to play what is called for by the lyric and listening to the song. As a writer, that’s what I do, too.
Being an artist doesn’t just mean you have a song. That doesn’t make you an artist. The word ‘artist’ means so many different things, and I feel like to be a real one, you really have to do it all. The people that I think of as artists – Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, Kanye West – are doing the most.
I never had huge amounts of money when I was young. I had huge amounts of fame, and I always had the sense of labor and recompense. I always said I don’t want to work for pay, but I want to get paid for my song.
Walk on a rainbowtrail; walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.
When I create a song, I immediately think about what I’m going to wear when I perform that song. I think about the music video treatment and about how I’m going to look on stage when I perform the record. The connection is so obvious that it’s a single package. An outfit, to me, is almost a tool to express the music.
My mom thought I could dance because I used to dance to this Janet Jackson song she’d play when I was a baby. Then she would take me to a Saturday dance school. I used to go every week and got spotted by a scout, who suggested I audition for the role of Billy in ‘Billy Elliot the Musical.’
The earth has grown old with its burden of care, but at Christmas it always is young, the heart of the jewelburns lustrous and fair, and its soul full of music breaks the air, when the song of angels is sung.
Most people who ask me what’s my favorite song, expect that it’s ‘Midnight Train’ or ‘Neither One of Us.’ But actually, it’s always kinda been ‘The Need to Be’ because of what it says. I love the way that song was written, I love the melody, I love everything about it.
Strangely enough, when the Sugababes’ ‘Freak Like Me’ went to number 1, which was built around my ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ song, I had another song called ‘Rip’ go to number 1 in the Kerrang TV chart, so I was pulling new people in from very different areas of musical interest. That was quite an amazing week.
The best thing about being a DJ is making people happy. There is nothing like seeing people get up from a table to dance or the expression on their face when they hear a song they love. I also love to educate people on music they have never heard.
I’d love to work with Tweet. She’s my favorite singer, and I’d love to do a song with her even though she’s out of my league.
I don’t ever have the pressure of making a hit, because I’ve never had a hit song, per se. The closest thing to a hit song was ‘Shiraz,’ and it’s not your prototypical hit song, with a catchy hook and all this other stuff.
When it comes to independent music albums, you cannot put in 50 lakhs or a crore in each and every song to first make a video and then even promote it. It’s not possible for a musician or a singer to promote each song. It’s not possible for musicians to do that independently.
I’m not sure how young kids get to the point where they’re memorizing and knowing songs, but I knew the words to ‘Missing You’ from John Waite probably from when I was three years old. For whatever reason, that was the song that I gravitated toward when it was on the radio and I was driving around with my mom.
You can lose people without them dying, and I have, from moving, from traveling. The emotion is real, it just doesn’t actually have to do with death. I’m singing about what I know, and it’s a song about longing for somebody who’s disappeared in your life.
I remember I took a music course in junior year of high school, and some girl brought in ‘Teardrops On My Guitar,’ and she was like, ‘Isn’t this song great?’ And everyone was like, ‘Who’s TaylorSwift?’ And now, every time I listen to Taylor Swift, I remember that moment.
Once at the White House I was asked to conduct the Drum and Bugle Corp. The man just handed me the baton and I finished the song. It was great. I got to keep the baton.
The jazz rhythm won’t be understood by the bulk of my audience. That’s the problem. We can get away with maybe one tune a night. It depends on where we place it. A song like ‘Beyond the Sea,’ the fans love that. It’s fresh.
When I get up there, maybe I’m nervous for the first song, but then I get into it. It’s a lot of fun to stand up there. I always enjoy the moment when I’m actually standing on stage. When I’m done, I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to play one more song.’
It’s hard enough to sit at a table and talk to most people as it is. But we can go to some town, and there’s 300 people we’ve never met before, and by the third song, we’re connecting with everyone in that room.
It was just the next logical step from making succinct pop songs. What do you do after that? You make pop songs that are longer and more epic, that push the envelope. Imagine your favourite song, or something that you play over and over in the car, except that you don’t have to start it over as much.
I feel like ‘Beware’ is a heartfelt song – it’s something that is definitely a story, something that I cultivated from personal stories, some from just other stories in just wanting to make a good song.
I think when you sign a recording deal, you think, ‘I’m going to put out a song and have a hit right away. I’ll be a giantsuperstar. I can take over the world now.’ But I put out a song, and it did OK. It wasn’t like leaps and bounds.
I played with Prince in 2010… the America tour. The one with Misty Copeland dancing on top of the piano! But Prince played the piano on that song. But I played two dates with him on that tour. When we played the gig, every couple of songs, Prince would change his clothes.
It’s not fun to get out of bed early in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t sing you a song: it hits you in the head with a baseball bat. So how do you respond to that? Do you crawlunderneath your covers and hide? Or do you get up, get aggressive, and attack the day?
A lot of country music is sad. I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times. It applies to music. Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is. There is a lot of heartache in the world.
I knew ‘Ojuelegba’ was a good song, but I didn’t expect it to blow up the way that it did.
I think most bands probably peak on their first album. We peaked on our third album. On the first album, I feel like I wish the production was a little better. I’ll always hear a song I don’t like. I look for what I could have done to make it better. It’s always difficult for me to listen.
When I did ‘1,2,3,4’ on ‘Sesame Street’ they’d rewritten the song and made it about counting. At first, I balked. I was like, ‘Counting to four? That’s where we’re going with this?’ Then they sent me appearances by other people like James Blunt doing ‘You’re Beautiful’ as ‘My Triangle.’
Piracy was kind of hard: It took a few minutes to download a song. It was kind of cumbersome. You had to worry about viruses. It’s not like people want to be pirates. They just want a great experience.
To the audience, it’s like I’m changing the subject every five seconds, but to me, my show’s almost like a 90-minute song that I know exactly. I wrote every note, and I know exactly where everything is.
It’s hard to really articulate what the parameters are that make one song parody-able and another song not, but if I can come up with a good enough idea for it, I go for it, and if not, then I have to move on.