Pete Roe is a singer-songwriter who the NME describe as "the missing link between John Martyn and Leonard Cohen". Drawing inspiration from American songwriters such as Paul Simon, Neil Young and Ryan Adams, as well as British folk guitarists such as Bert Jansch, Pete has recorded a beautiful album 'Our Beloved Bubble' which sounds very fresh, while being steeped in folk tradition. Pete has also recorded on Laura Marling's albums 'I Speak Because I Can' and 'A Creature I Don't Know' and toured with Mumford and Sons. Here he shares his songwriting tips.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? Every time I plan to write it's never as good as when it just happens. I'm not sure I have a daily routine for anything at all these days.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? Reading is good. That's the act of looking at words, rather than the Berkshire town. A good song often follows a good book I find. Limitations are good. Setting yourself artificial limitations. As is learning other people's songs.
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? It usually goes like this. Nonsense words come with a decent melody or hook. Gradually over the course of time, a good line crystallises and at that point the hunt is on to find out what the song is about. I write using that line about a few different subjects and eventually a coherent verse may well appear. But mostly not. After that a few more verses. And then maybe a rewrite. It takes me ages usually.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? For some people it is. Other people latch on to a lyric. Others performance. Some harmony, some a great singer. I like melody most.
- How long does it take you to write a song? Shortest, maybe half an hour. Longest so for has been 18 months- 'Further Into Midnight'. Free download of it here- peteroe.org
- Could you explain a little about the writing process behind few of your songs? 'There has to be a Reason' was the first song I ever dreamt the chorus to. It came out fully formed; words, melody, chords. Mostly they happen as described earlier. 'After Hours with Johnny Guitar' is pretty much transliterated word for word from an old man who used to drink in the pub I used to work in. 'You Left Me There Again' was written on a drunk walk home one night I think. You can listen to them on this link to a stream of the new album: http://rd.io/x/QX82-CJ1yBU/
- Do you have favourite keys to write in? Not really. Occasionally I will choose a key after the song is written for ease of vocal range or for its character. I like the flats at the moment. Eb and Ab
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? It is both of these things. It is very useful to have it but it is also important to have no idea what you are doing. From this mistakes happen. And mistakes are often a good thing. Different instruments or tunings are a good way of making mistakes.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? No
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? No
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? I have just started a bit of co-writing with Sam Brookes. It's going pretty well.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? Lennon McCartney, Paul Simon, Gillian Welch, Nic Jones, Neil Young, Chris Wood, Joni Mitchell.
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? Unfortunately yes.
- Do you have any idea where you ideas come from? Not a clue.
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? Keep on keeping on. Try harder. Don't settle for sloppy lyrics. Bad lyrics can ruin a perfectly good melody.
Click on the following to find Pete on the web.
The next artist to be featured on 'Songwriters talk about Songwriting' will be Natalie McCool, so stay tuned.
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