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In Their Words

Grass Stain by Waxahatchee*. Specifically the NME Session one. It’s more fiedelity and more real than the album one (which I still love, don’t get me wrong)

I’ve been tweeting about it a bit, but one thing I’m super pumped to talk about is I’m now in a band again! It took a while to actually get it up and going, but it’s been worth every piece of effort I put in. It turns out I actually work with a bunch of incredibly talented musicians. They all want to get together and play music. They all have excellent taste. What’s stopping everyone from making this happen? I’m not sure, but it felt like inertia. They needed that one little kick and then it all snowballed out of control from there.

We have an excellent line up. A couple violins, a couple guitars, a piano player, a bass player, a singer, and myself on druns. I ended up having to organize a lot more of it than I wanted to or planned to. It’s all the small stuff like:

  • When is practice
  • What do we play
  • How do I jam
  • What do I do know Brady halp

I try to be careful not to micromanage the whole thing too much, because sometimes it does feel like I’m telling everyone what to do. It feels really ironic to me because I thrive in a jamming environment, where I can really lay back and just groove with everyone. This is pretty new to most of the other people, so it ends up being this weird thing where I try to teach and enforce creativity and freedom of expression. That just doesn’t really work as a sentence honestly… but it’s what needs to be done! It took around 6 hours, but we finally got a small jam going.

To clarify, a jam isn’t just noodling around and seeing if something sticks. It’s having the entire room in one locked mental state. You could look around and see everyone just knew what to do. They didn’t have to wait or ask or think or any of that - we were finally a band clicking. It was definitely the first time that had happened for most of the people in the room based on their reactions. I’ve been there before, and my god there is nothing like the emotional high you get during that. That’s what music is people! It’s a state of mind!

There is one person in particular who really, really got it. This feels like a tale as old as time as this point: classically trained person comes and hangs out with a bunch of hooligans. They feel uncomfortable, they break all the rules, but they find out doing things this way. I feel like we are maybe 60% of the way through that story right now. The finale is also always the same: they fully join up by writing and doing their own work. I’m impatient and can’t wait for that to happen naturally though, so I gave it a little kickstart.

How do you do that? Give them some words and tell them to make a song. OK maybe that simplifies things a little too much. In order to write a song, all you need to do is listen. Songs are just conversations with all the filler stripped out. Talk to your friends and hear what they’re saying. I talk to a lot of people, and there’s no way every one of those conversations is unique. That’s totally OK! There are themes and repetitions in there; things you always come back to. That’s exactly where you start from.

Anyways, I wrote about 4-6 lines of a song for said friend. I want to be rather explicit, I I didn’t intend to write a song about them, I wanted to a song for them (even though yes, it’s about them). I had some ideas of rhythms and melodies, but nothing sincere. I thought it was something we would work on together, iterate through, and come to a polished piece together. I handed them the words and told them to make it a song. They looked at me so confused, what do I do with these? Just read, and go from there. Reading out loud is slightly awkward - it’s like talking but confusing? Then they made a life changing decision: “lemme try singing it”.

I didn’t think it was going to sound like that! That’s not the way I had planned it! It was musical but it was… not my song. It was never going to be my song again. I’m going to be a little dramatic here but oh well. It’s just insane what happened in like ten seconds - they took the words and made them a song, an idea. My spine snapped straight, my heart skipped, my eyes went out of focus, I couldn’t breathe. It all perfectly locked into place. I have played a lot of music and gotten a lot of natural highs from all of this, but this is the first time this has ever happened. It’s all out of my hands now, they completely get it and own it. I’m just so proud of both of us. It was beautiful.