Updated: Apr 22
Greetings from the SKR camp! Karyn here, hoping you are all having an awesome day!
Today I would like to share some insight from John about his process of turning a thought or a melody into a song. You might find it intriguing, I do! Of course, the process differs for every musician, so be sure to watch future posts as we dig deeper into the music-making process of Sun King Rising. MAY THE SUN RISE ALWAYS OVER YOU from Karyn
SUN KING RISING WRITES...
People frequently ask me about how I approach songwriting. Over the years, I have developed a working method that suits me well.
I try to spend at least an hour a day at the piano. Preferably, I am at my beautiful Yamaha C5 acoustic grand, but in the studio, I'll write at my Yamaha N3X Avant Grande, which, although electric, has a true acoustic grand piano touch. If I'm in a composing mood, my songs almost always start out with finding a chord progression or melody that I find interesting.
Basically, all my songs start with a musical idea and then move on to lyrics. I'll usually be singing nonsense words or anything that comes into my head when I'm searching for a vocal hook. That said, I generally keep a bunch of potential song titles going and a song will quickly claim a title based on the feel and vibe of the music. I usually work the musical structure of a song out over a few days but sometimes they come together very rapidly, like Free Will in China Blue did. I basically wrote that song in one afternoon after a request from my record company, PeacockSunrise Records, for a bonus track for the album Delta Tales.
The lyrics can take a while. Like most writers, I keep a large notebook of words, phrases, and ideas to which I am constantly adding. I'll start digging through my notebook in search of a phrase that inspires me. I take a lot of pride in crafting my lyrics and try to stay away from cliches, but as any songwriter knows, that is often a difficult task!
Musically, I also must watch out for falling into ruts or finding an overly familiar melody written by someone else that I have absorbed subconsciously over the years. My chord voicings are a bit idiosyncratic and follow from my gospel roots and my love of piano players like Leon Russell, Elton John, and Bruce Hornsby, although I do not claim to be remotely as skilled as these tremendous players.
For you musos out there, I tend to add a lot of seconds and fourths in my voicings and use a lot of chord substitutions throughout my songs to keep things interesting without letting my SKR songs get too complicated and long!
In future blog entries, I'll talk more about the history of individual songs. The process is unpredictable, and every song has something unique about its genesis.