Dave Fidler is a singer-songwriter based in Manchester. His debut album 'I'm Not Here' has been produced by John Bramwell from I Am Kloot, who Dave has also been supporting on tour. With national radio support from BBC 6 Music, Dave is definitely one to keep an eye on. Here he discusses his songwriting tips.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? I’m always coming up with ideas that I record onto whatever device is close to me at the time, but then they are mostly half finished ideas. The full songs tend to come in a moment of inspiration.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? I like working out other peoples songs, especially if it’s an unusual one or a stretch for me to play. I found that doing this helps me to experiment more when writing.
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? Almost always a melody over the music, then try to make sense of some garbled lyrics. I find the music bit the easy part it’s the lyrics that are a challenge. I’d love to work with a poet or lyricist who hands me brilliant song lyrics to write to, like Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Billy Bragg and Wilco did a great project called Mermaid Avenue where they put music to a load of Woody Guthrie lyrics that had been found, I loved that.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? I think it’s between melody and a good musical hook, I’m not sure Zeppelin’s tunes would have been any good without the guitar riffs and hooks running underneath the melody. I think the challenge is to keep a song interesting but simple enough to be catchy.
- How long does it take you to write a song? Sometimes a couple of minutes and other times a couple of years.
- Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs? I wrote Easy Gone, Easy Come about the loss of my father and birth of my son. It all happened within a year and I hadn’t written a song for a while so when I sat down to write that one I literally played the chords and sang all of the lyrics straight away, first time through. So I guess that would be one of the moments of inspiration. I have a song called Ailsa which is Gaelic for island. It’s about someone close to me who’s been through a hard time. I’d been playing the chords and music to the song for over a year singing different melodies and lyrics and nothing seemed to fit. When it came down to finalising that song for the album I sat down without an instrument and wrote the lyrics separately, so I could really think about what I wanted to say. Tommy is a completely instrumental song that is a tribute to Tommy Emmanuel as I’d spent a lot of time working out some of his fingerstyle playing. This is my take on one of his songs so the first half of the track is me playing his song and then I improvise some blues guitar for the second half. That was fun to do and didn’t take too long once I’d got my head around the main riff.
- What songs that other people have written do you particularly admire? I love Paul Simon’s songwriting, the fact that he can play a complex guitar part like on Armistice Day but still keep the melody beautiful and interesting is amazing. I’ve also listened to the B-side to Abbey Road more times than I can remember, I love that run of songs. There’s hundreds of songwriters and songs I admire, maybe we should do a top 50 list in another blog.
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? I think that there’s brilliant musicians on both sides, Hendrix on one and Jimmy Page on the other but both doing brilliant things. If I had to choose, I’d probably lean more towards the natural approach as I’m self-taught. I like playing in different tunings so that I can catch a feeling as opposed to completely understanding what I’m playing, for me that keeps the process of writing music a magical one rather than something methodical.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? Yes all the time.
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? No, I’m not sure how people do that, it’s a talent.
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? Yes I’ve written in bands for years and wrote a few of the songs on my album with my brothers and a songwriter called Mano McLaughlin. It really helps if I’ve hit a wall with a song to get someone else’s take on it. I’ve loved doing that on my album and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do it a lot more.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? I love Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohens lyrics, you can tell that to them music is a vehicle that allows words to be expressed in a more poignant way. I’ve been touring with John Bramwell from I Am Kloot over the past year who’s a prolific songwriter, he’s been a big inspiration.
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? Anything that gets me emotional is good for writing, heartbreak etc.
- Do you have any idea where your ideas come from? I mostly sing what comes out of my mouth naturally and then organise it and make sense of it later, so perhaps the ideas are there already just waiting to be found.
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? If you’ve written any good lyrics I can have please get in touch!
Click on the following to find Dave on the web.