How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
It’s different every song. Sometimes the song title come first and you build around it, almost like reverse engineering it. Sometimes you have a single line that tugs at you, so you follow the breadcrumbs blindly until it blooms and opens up like a flower. Sometimes you hear someone say a unique phrase in conversation. Sometimes you misread a sign. Sometimes you read a poem and start flipping lines. Or sometimes you just write to write, without any agenda, and lines, ideas, and concepts just pour down from the sky you never could have planned or dreamed up. I don’t know really, it’s mysterious and divine, and I respect and hold the process with so much reverence and humility. The more I think I understand, the less I know. The more I let go and get out of my own way, the more it flows. So there’s no one-way.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
Authenticity. Speaking and sharing your own truth and your own unique way that you see the world, and not trying to copy or be anyone else. I gravitate toward writers who have a specific voice. They are unapologetically themselves, and present songs in way that say, “this is who I am, this is how I see the world. Take it or leave it.” This is why I’m wary and am disheartened that so many rock bands now are co-writing with people. If you have a specific message and the writer helps you get that across, it’s fine. But most times I think you just get watered down voices and messaging when everyone is trying to write pop songs, (which if done poorly is the worst thing in the world) instead of presenting a well crafted song.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
I’m laughing because I think I do the complete opposite and over share. My therapist always tells me, if we run into each other in public, you don’t have to acknowledge me! I tell her, If I see you, I’ll probably scream and yell, telling everyone “that’s my therapist!” So no, I do the opposite. I try to be as open as possible with people in my life and in my music. With music, there are obviously the songwriting and lyric aesthetic guidelines to adhere to make it work, so sometimes it shifts a bit. We’re all just humans with the same wants and desires, fears, and worries, and if I don’t reveal and share who I really am then I’m denying myself of genuine human connection with others. Plus, what if sharing who you really are might help someone else on this planet feel less alone, or even inspire them?
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
Unreleased songs are what come to mind. I have a new song called “Sedona: “There’s a fear I’ll never figure it out the truth is that we never arrive, but just fall forever until we somehow learn to enjoy the ride.” There’s another one I like called “Heartwork”: ”All my friends are turning to light, I’m still drunk climbing through the kitchen window every night, still getting high, still pulling d’s on this test of life.”
What inspired “Bloodlines,” your latest song?
I have no brothers, no sisters, and my immediate family is like 6 people, so I was imagining what it would be like to have this huge family, and the song weirdly enough started from there. Now I know, it’s a song about sticking together, whether that’s with a loved one, relative, friend, or yourself.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Howl”?
Yes. I remember listening to the first Band of Skulls record and clearly thinking, if they can write shitty generic pentatonic rock songs, so can I. “Howl” was the next song I wrote. I remember re-writing the chorus twice, and never made a demo of it. Also for the record, I adore that first Band of Skulls record and it will eternally hold a dear place in my heart, and was a soundtrack for a part of my life.
Are you currently working on the release of a new album/EP?
Yes, I’m writing songs right now. My process sort of just mysteriously changed and I started writing outside the studio. I started walking down State Street in Santa Barbara at night with guitar parts or music fragments in my head, and sing and write the melodies out loud as I’m walking. It’s been so freeing, inspiring, and joyous. I’ve been walking by loud noisy bars, cacophonous restaurants, and confused tourists, as I am dancing and outwardly conducting the melodies in my head, and singing out loud. No one seems to mind. I did it last night for nearly 2 hours, just walked from the Arlington Theatre to the pier and wrote and mapped out around 4 sketches for songs.
What is the best suggestion your producer gave you?
Don’t get attached to the songs you write. Don’t be precious with the material, and not every song has to be the Mona Lisa.
What are your plans for the upcoming months?
Keep on writing and recording. Keep doing the heartwork. Letting room for not knowing at all.
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your song “Bloodlines”: Loyalty.
- The best show you ever played: Years ago we played in Shreveport Louisiana for like 9 people, and for some reason it felt like so special, like the performance was 5 inches off the ground. Everything was heightened and lifted up. The next morning in my hotel room there were a family of cockroaches hiding in my boots and backpack and suitcase, so maybe it was like a southern voodoo thing or a curse, I don’t know.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: Nothing comes to mind. It doesn’t matter. I’ll make due if the green room is a port-a-potty or a mansion. We’ve played so many different shows that it’s gotten to the point where you just do it, with whatever you’ve got.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: The entire Beatles catalog. “Help” especially as a kid. If you meant an actual film soundtrack, it would be: O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Your favourite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: Paul Simon is the greatest to me. “She makes the sign of a tea spoon, he makes the sign of a wave” kills me every time. Father John Misty is also probably one of the few contemporary music acts I am a true genuine fan of, and I think he’s one of the best writers out there right now. “Bedding Taylor Swift every night on my Occulus Rift”??? I also think Kanye is a genius with memorable one liners.
- Last question is “unusual,” what is your best relationship advice: Be content and happy with who you are before you get into a relationship. If you’re looking for affirmation in other people you’re in for a hell ride. You can’t have love without freedom. Love someone in a way that helps them grow, nurtures and nourishes them, without being clingy, controlling or attached. If a choice your partner makes it’s good and healthy for them and helps them grow, it’s good for you. Lift them up. A good relationship is two independent people loosely holding each other, not two people dependent on each other, always toppling over each other frantically.