How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
I don’t have one consistent pattern for making music – I used to write songs with melody, just singing with no instrument and lyrics would come with melody, then I’d flesh them out and figure out how to play on an instrument as a last step (before production). Sometimes I topline to an instrumental and that’s fun because I let the mood of the instrumental dictate the lyrical content – the piece takes me where it does and story comes from there. That being said, I find even lyrics I write as a story are somewhat personal because they come from my experience and perspective. Lately I’ve had fun with freestyle singing; my forthcoming release, “Nanagrams” was written this way. I was at the studio with my friend Samir and he’d just produced a cool new track. I went into the booth and sang for 6 minutes, and for a while the demo was that first 6-minute recording. We ended up trimming the track down, and the lyrics of the song are from that first freestyle session. As much as I love and appreciate crafting lyrics, there’s something magical and honest about what falls out with a freestyle. It’s from the subconscious – from the heart. I’m obsessed with story and honesty these days, so (I hope!) my lyrics are an intersection of the two.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
Honesty! Melody is a close second.
Music breaks through barriers and its such an important means of connection. I take that very seriously as an artist and songwriter. If I can be honest and write something that speaks to someone else’s experience, it’s the goal – and I think the more honest I am, the more someone else will connect to a song.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
One hundred percent. There’s already something so vulnerable about songwriting – it’s like sharing your diary in front of an audience, so that’s scary. That being said, there’s something cathartic and thrilling (at the same time) about revealing aspects of my personal experience to strangers through music. There’s an energy exchange in live music that’s pretty palpable. The performer is giving energy which the audience receives and collectively sends back to the performer. I think baring your soul like that in front of an audience connects you to them in a way less personal music doesn’t. That’s just my take on it, but I believe it! With my latest release, “Surgery”, I decided to reveal that I’d struggled with eating disorders for many years. The project “Surgery” is a part of, called EVOCAPOP (Side A), touches on that conflict, as it explores self-love. The first few blogs that shared the song said it was about body dysmorphia and eating disorders, and it made me self-conscious at first, like everyone would be looking at me as that thing – as eating disorder girl– once they read the review. That being said, I got feedback from a couple people in the first few days after releasing the song saying they thought it was brave I shared that aspect of my personal experience, and I think bravery inspires bravery – the more honest we can be with ourselves and others the better we can communicate. The better we can communicate, the less misunderstandings we have…so on and so forth. Obviously I’m not just one thing because no one is.
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
“When you’re near you still feel far /Always have to be so right / All bark and all that bite” – All that Bite
” Baby, BRIGHTER IS KNOWING HOW TO LOVE WHAT’S ALIVE ” – Colors
What inspired “Surgery”, your latest single?
I started writing the song with Will Everett, who co-wrote “Plateau”. I can’t exactly remember the initial inspiration but something along the lines of healing and self-love, which my forthcoming project, EVOCAPOP is inspired by. What does it mean to heal? And it isn’t always easy. One of my favorite movies is “Girl, Interrupted.” I actually wrote a song inspired by that movie which I haven’t released…but I’m fascinated by that process, healing. I think we’re always growing, and healing’s a positive way to grow.
The song is about wanting someone else to take control for you – to go in “surgery” style and fix you. But obviously it’s not that simple, and if you didn’t do the work yourself, you wouldn’t learn all of the beautiful lessons there are to learn! The third verse gets more into a dialogue with someone else who you’d love to be able to fix you –a lover, a friend, a parent– but you realize the work’s your own to do. It’s also about listening – I sing “You be the doctor here, closed eyes and open ears” in the chorus, which I think means not taking things at face value, and listening to each other. I sing a similar sentiment in my song “Factory” – “when I look at it closely my ears are wide open, like eyes can be open, goddamn, outspoken”. Obviously we have to heal ourselves first, but by listening to each other we can be such loving support, and learn a lot!
“Colors” started off as a love song I wrote in my bedroom at my parents’ house on a hand-me-down 1980s casio keyboard from my brother. I guess it was inspired by my ex boyfriend…the lyrics started out, “you’ve got the colors red, white and blue, you know that I love you, wearing black and getting red, you know that I want you. But as you probably see, you’re driving me crazy, we’ve gotta run free, it’s our plea to the world.” I wrote the first verse and realized it was pretty political. I’d never considered my music political before. I sat on the song for several months and didn’t finish it until election night 2016 when I was inspired to write the chorus and second verse. I made a demo that night and took it to my friend Alex who’s a talented producer and composer. He produced the song, I recorded vocals at Michael Lloyd’s home studio, my friend Michael Banks tracked drums in London which we added to the track, and Mattia Magi mastered the song in Italy. So ultimately it’s a love song for a person, and for America too. And it’s about dreaming, irrepressibly, which I believe to be a fundamental pillar of American culture, and what resonates across the world for so many people to immigrate here.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Plateau”?
I do! It was the first writing session I had with Will Everett, who my artist rep at BMI had introduced me to; he thought we should work together. I came to his house in east LA and we started talking about ideas for songs. We began sharing stories about relationships and the song started to come together. Lyrically, the song is built on collective memories of relationships we’ve had, and the feeling of wanting more. We came up with the melodies and chorus, and made a simple demo that day.
What are your plans for the upcoming months?
I’m playing several shows in LA, and will be releasing two more singles from EVOCAPOP, followed by Side A of the project, likely in late January/early February. I’m in the studio working on Side B of the project, and writing lots of new material as well. I’m excited to share this new project! I’m planning to tour in 2019 😀
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your latest single “Surgery”: Honest.
- The best show you ever played: 5-way tie – School Night at The Bardot, The Echo, Peppermint Club, my single release show at The Hollywood Roosevelt, and So Far Sounds San Diego anniversary show. Can’t pick beyond that!
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: Water :’)
- The soundtrack of your childhood: Queen, Beatles, Beach Boys, James Taylor.
- Your favorite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen / A Natural Woman – Carole King.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: There are no rules, trust your heart!