Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Polar Vortex Songwriting Game

A few months ago my friend Mike Vial proposed doing a song-a-week challenge with a group of local and regional musicians. It would go like this: each week we would pick a phrase, write a song using said phrase, record it & post it for the others in the group to see. He called it "The Polar Vortex Songwriting Challenge". So far it has been an amazingly productive experience for myself and others in the group. I've written more new material in two months than I have in the last year! As an independent artist, it's also helped me feel the pressure of a deadline and learn how to release the need for perfectionism.

Admittedly I have a tendency to work slow.  I have been know to hem and haw over small details and delay sharing my finished work. (Yes, the EP is still coming!, lol) But this game has taught me the value of letting go. Originally,  I was hesitant to share these songs publicly, (They are basically demos that are written and recorded, sometimes in one take, at home.) but I feel good about the songs and hope that there will be folks inspired by hearing about the process.

Recently I came across a very inspiring video by Ira Glass that encouraged people to overcome the gap between your TASTE and your SKILL simply by being prolific. I am taking that advice to heart:


I have started a new soundcloud page and have been posting the songs there:

https://soundcloud.com/spencermichaud

Feel free to follow me and leave comments! : )

This week's phrase was "Chasing my heart". At first I tried to write about the story of Artemis and the hunter, but found that I was having trouble developing the story. (What else can you do but chase her? If you catch her, Zeus will SMITE you!!) So I shifted mid-stream to the story of a street photographer named Vivian Maier whose photos were recently discovered by a Chicago man who bought a few mysterious cases of undeveloped film rolls at an auction. This allowed me to surround myself with her imagery and imagine her thought processes as she snapped her way through the big city on her day off from her job as a nanny. I always do quite a bit of research before I write a song. I approach songwriting as a novelist or a method actor would; complete immersion in the subject of interest. It helps me come up with imagery that I would never have been able to invoke just from memory.

Here are the fruits of my labor this week:



Black & White
It's the perfect light
Late afternoon

Spots & Stripes
Under hats & ties
Their faces bloom

A baby cries
The clown weeps too
It's a story of lines
Shadows & clues
Snapping through the city streets
Who knows what I might find
Behind the Brownie box
I am the spy

Fur & Lace
Their hands embrace
I crank the spool

Dirt & Grime
Father time
Can be so cruel

The tired old men
They hypnotize
Lightning & leather
Frame their eyes
Rusting in the dusty corners
The ancient soldiers sigh
Behind the Brownie box
I am the spy

Chasing my heart
In the storefront mirrors
I am the ghost without tears
Scatter my soul in the undeveloped rolls
Maybe one day I'll reappear



Stay tuned for more updates on this project!

Here are some upcoming opportunities this month to hear me perform some of these tunes live!

March 7th: Plymouth Coffee Bean w/ Vincent Colbert & Acoustic Resonance 

March 22nd: The Ark, Opening for the Ben Daniels Band!

March 30th: Voxtropolis Grand Opening Event, Bab's Underground Lounge

As always, I am grateful for your support! If you would like to help patronize my art there is a donate button to the right ->

(Any little bit helps free up more time & resources to create more work!)

Thank you for supporting independent artists!

: )

-Spencer

2 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard the Ira Glass speech before. Good stuff - sharing it with the North State SOngwriters Group (far Northern California) on FB.

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    1. I've playing it daily as almost a mantra before I write. Easy to get discouraged in the infant stages. Thanks for sharing! : )

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