Kristyna Myles released her début single 'I’m Not Going Back' in 2012 on Decca Records receiving critical acclaim in Music Week and featured articles in The Daily Mail and The Sun. The follow-up single called 'Just 3 Little Words' – produced like her album by Grammy Award winning producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Paolo Nutini, Gomez) – will be released in the next few months. The songs on the album span a ten year period from one of her earliest songs called 'Betrayal' written when Kristyna was only 16 to 'Make It Right' which was written in 2010.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike?I admire people who have a daily songwriting routine. Life gets so busy and songwriting sometimes gets pushed to the back of the 'to do' list. If I'm writing for a particular project I'll leave everything- dirty pots and pans and sit down to write. It also means when I do get the chance to write I savour the experience & give it my all.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing?
One songwriter I wrote with in LA (we wrote 'Wouldn't Change A Thing' together a song from my album) had a notebook full of song titles and themes which he'd accumulated over his time of writing. I thought this was a great idea as I know personally I go through times when my idea bank is totally empty and inspiration is difficult! This was a great ice breaker as I had a look through the song titles/ themes and one jumped out at me straight away - 'Wouldn't Change A Thing' - I could relate to this and the ideas started to flow.
Writing on another instrument even if you have a very basic understanding of it can spark a new idea. Simple things like a change of scenery can help. Going outside into nature if it's a nice day for instance and singing ideas into your iPhone can be a great way of getting your creative juices going. I love being amongst trees on a sunny day walking my dog and seeing the beams of sunshine peaking through the leaves, that makes me feel inspired.
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics?
It really depends. Normally melodies come more naturally to me as I like to sing most days to myself and sometimes the melodies I improvise, stick out to me so I'll record them straight away on my iPhone to look at them when I'm dedicating time to writing.
If I want to write about a specific subject, I'll focus more on the lyrics but always underpin them with a melody as soon as possible, so they are cohesive and feel natural to sing.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song?
Both lyrics and melody together, one can't be without the other, otherwise it becomes an instrumental/scat singing song or a poem.
- How long does it take you to write a song?
It varies a lot. If I'm co-writing and we have a time limit then we'll do our utmost to get it done in that amount of time, for instance if i have a day in London then that's the time frame. On one occasion I wrote with 3 other songwriters. We started with a concept, then created the lyrics, melody, programmed the beats, keyboard lines, multi tracked the vocals and finished the entire track in less than 24 hours. I was pooped by the end but so proud of what we achieved in such a short space of time.
Other times I can finish a song in a couple of hours just piano and voice and other times it takes days and weeks to perfect! It's those times I need to move onto the next song and re-visit it in the future so I'm not procrastinating.
- Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs?
My Lord came quite quickly initially as it was just me and piano. The words were all about dedicating my life to God and I used the song at my baptism instead of having to speak, as public speaking really wasn't my strong point back then! The arrangement changed from just piano and me programming a few other instruments into Sonar to taking the song to a friend who is a producer and getting a different arrangement. I later recorded it with my band and it got cut on a compilation CD "Songbird 2008" released by Universal with artists such as Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse. The melody lyrics & chords stayed the same throughout the arrangements & I feel it works well as an acoustic number too.
Sorrow was a track I wrote when I was 17 after going through a break-up. It was sitting down at the piano at school fiddling around with a chord progression and pouring my heart out so it came out pretty naturally & quickly.
I'm Not Going Back was my first single which we released on Decca records last year and I wrote it with a fantastic songwriter Tamra Keenan who I met through gigging in London. We talked about a concept that we both could relate to. We developed the melody & lyrics together without sitting at a piano & I later fitted chords around it.
- Do you have favourite keys to write in?
Some keys suit my voice better for sure. My lowest note is round a G below middle C so i'll take that on board when writing. I used to write everything in Eb for a while cause I loved it haha, now I've branched out and use a range of keys :) Sometimes changing the key of a song whilst you're writing it can inspire something completely different. For instance when shifting the key you'll of course be singing the melodic ideas higher or lower, perhaps going from your chest voice to your head voice which can change the extremity of the vocal line, perhaps you'd naturally sing with a breathier/ softer tone when you take the key higher- so it can trigger off different lyrics and mood to the piece.
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way?
I think it's great to have knowledge of the technical theory side of things & the ability to switch off and feel where a song should go then you have more scope to write. My knowledge of theory isn't as advanced as I'd like however it means sometimes I'll put together chords just by listening to what I like the sound of and then later discover "oh ok so that's a Gb11b5 chord" but it'd take me a while to play you that chord if you asked me to do it right now.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them?
Sometimes if I feel a song has potential to be even greater then I'd re-visit it. I think it's important to write a song and finish it so you can move on to the next even if it's for the sake of finishing it as I know I can be too critical of a song and procrastinate, not every song is gonna be a masterpiece!
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends?
I don't write in that style for myself. I'm not very cool! For me I'd prefer to write songs that are timeless and focus on a great concept, melody and heartfelt lyrics. If it happens to be on trend then it would occur naturally rather than me forcing it. I do however bear in mind the structure of a pop song with regards to length too. For instance I'd try to write a pop song inbetween 3-4:30 mins, if it's either side of that it's not the end of the world but for radio for instance most songs are between 3 and 3:30 mins so if I'd like to have the song as a single i'd try to stick with that.
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits?
Yes, 2 or even 4 heads are better than 1 but of course the saying too many cooks spoil the broth can also be the case. I like to do both. Writing with various people can take a song in a completely different direction.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically?
As my musical tastes have developed I am more inspired by songwriters like Carole King , 'Tapestry' in my eyes is one of the greatest albums written. Her songs aren't about the production they could stand alone with just voice & a single instrument, that definitely marks a good song. I also love Lauryn Hill, another amazingly written album 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'. I love writers who write from their experiences and write uplifting meaningful songs. India arie inspires me lyrically & musically, her ethos through her music is to spread love & light, her music wants you to become a better person- 'I Choose' is one of my fav songs of hers. I believe music can help change the world. Stevie Wonder is also amazing!
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs?I think it can produce better songs in that vain for sure if you're right in the thick of it cause your emotions are fresh. It's a great practice to be able to look back at that time in your life when you were experiencing that emotion that you wanna bring out in the song you're writing. On the other hand when you're experiencing highs you can produce some amazing songs too!
- Do you have any idea where your ideas come from?I definitely think it's a God given ability and you're gifted to write because that's the talent you've been blessed with.
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there?
Write as often as you can and I'd be open to writing with different people. I started off thinking I would just write by my lonesome and sure I can write some great songs on my own but I've grown a lot & learned loads through writing with others. Make the most of every opportunity and have fun, it's music!!
Click on the following to find Kristyna on the web.
This interview was by Ben Williams. Find Ben on TWITTER, FACEBOOK .
The next artist to be featured on 'Songwriters talk about Songwriting' will be Ron Sexsmith, so stay tuned.
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