Collaberations

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Sterix

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« on: January 28, 2019, 08:57:23 PM »
The last few months I've been writing lyrics for other bands and it's certainly been (and still is) a learning curve. I thought I'd share some of the pros and cons I've discovered, whilst also asking what your own experiences of collaborating are (doesn't have to be from a lyracist-musician perspective but collaboration in general).

The first band (I'm not naming either but both derived from forum membership, even if they didn't stick around here). We'll call them Band A and Band B.

I feel I was very niave when it came to band A (in certain respects at least) and also very inexperienced - something I also think applies to the band also. I wrote lyrics for 5 songs and it was basically a case of "here's the music, write something".

What I've discovered is, writing to a tune in your own head is totally different to writing to someone else's tune. Not least because, even though you have a tune to work with, you almost certainly don't hear it the same as those who wrote it.

It didn't help that, despite me loving the tunes, they weren't exactly verse-chorus-verse-chorus in their melodies. Though they did have repetative parts, they weren't structured in any way. From a lyrical standpoint, this made them awfully difficult to work out where lyrics should go. I had to do something I don't really do (at least not to the extent I had to here) and that was write the songs piecemeal - a part here, a part there, maybe stuffing something in between to fill in an unwanted gap. It was a virtual nightmare to do.

Somehow I pulled it off and ended up with 5 lots of lyrics I was quite proud of.

I'd sent the lyrics over whilst I was working on the others and got, shall we say, a lukewarm reception for them. They didn't fit how "they" saw the song. I'd timestamped the lyrics but this didn't help them in the slightest. They messed around with my lyrics (rearranged the hell out of them iirc) so I re-wrote them again (my originals)  but only slightly. I also sent them recordings of me singing (okay, wailing Banshee-like) them so they could understand how the lyrics fit their songs.

Apart from a nod that they'd received them I haven't heard anything of them since. To be honest, I've been too busy to chase anything up. I feel it's a little disrespectful of them to be honest, and more than a little unprofessional.

Band B has been a totally different experience. For one thing, they're more professional (at the beginning we talked about how the collaboration would work and about things like royalties) and, best of all, I've had feedback. Mostly in the form of the vocalist recording my lyrics so I could see what was working and what wasn't. It helped a great deal that they would send two copies of their tracks - one instrumental and one ad-libbed/temporary lyrics - so I had a baseline to work with. It's meant I can get pretty close with the lyrics to start with and tinker with them where needed).

It's a slower process than I'd imagined but much better from my perspective.

So far, it's three songs in (well, I sent them the first draft of the third song last night) and, fingers crossed, it's going well so far. It's really exciting but I have to admit that I'm also extremely nervous - I really want to give them my best writing and I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up the standard I've set for myself so far. Every time I see there's a response to my last chat/mail I pretty much keck myself!

So; two bands, two very different experiences. well, you can't make an omellete without breaking a few eggs along the way I suppose.
Then darkness fell
As the 1st God and the 2nd burned in hell
And all alone
Stood the 3rd God looking wearied to the bone


- War of the Gods : ©2005 Sterix

Bill Saunders

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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 09:20:16 AM »
A fascinating read - I wish I had the talent to write lyrics for other people.

I guess that when you collaborate with “strangers” there is a risk that the Band A scenario will play out. Hopefully the latter exeperince will encourage you to continue to work with others.

I find the idea of trying to create something new with others at distance, I.e, via the internet, hard to imagine. I’m not sure I would be very good at it. When technology advanced to the point, maybe 20 years ago, that I could do everything myself using a guitar, a mic and a pc, it was a eureka moment for me. I had a young family and being able to work at my own pace and fit music in when I could was the only way I could make ANY music.

That habit has never left me and I am first to admit, making music for me remains a rather inward looking and solitary activity, which is not particularly healthy. Getting third party input on forums such as this one becomes extremely important.

My only experience of collaboration has been working with Boydie here, where his role has been to remix and master my completed songs for my forthcoming album. Getting a second pair of (excellent) ears, even once the recording is done, has improved the songs immeasurably. I really should let someone in earlier in the process, I’d be up for a collaboration, but am not sure how to go about it to be honest!

Binladeda

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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 11:07:30 AM »

 It's simple @Bill Saunders ...... You choose a backing track that inspires you, I send you all the stems, and you do whatever you want with them ;D ;D ;D
 Well, that's how I do it ;D ;D .  Trick is, finding something that inspires you.

 I'm sure other people have different ideas about how to collaborate online, but I've been 'at it' on this forum for 5/6 years, and the biggest problem is
 communication. Something that would take a few minutes in a studio, can take weeks on line.  So, I try and have a pretty complete BT to offer folk.
 All instruments in place, with at least a verse/chorus structure...sometimes a breakdown. I'll supply more 'ammunition' if need during development of
 course.  The only drawback with doing it this way is that you lose control of your 'baby' ;D ;D .  But this is part of the process, and one you must be
 prepared for......your vision might not be what the other guy has ::) .  So choose who you approach with that in mind. 

 I think it's best to approach it as a bit of fun, and a challenge.  If you ever fancy giving it a go, let me know.  I've always got stuff available.
 But you might not like them of course  ;D ;D

Nowt as queer as folk...........my gran

pompeyjazz

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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 01:24:06 PM »
Interesting thread. Sorry to hear that some collaborations have not been too pleasant, I think they are a fantastic way to work and you learn such a lot from each one.

It took me a long time after joining the forum to dip my toes in the water to puck up the courage to have a go but I'm so glad I did.

You will find that (unsurprisingly) everyone has a different way of working. I've worked on collabs where we've started by jointly writing the lyrics based on a theme and then crafting the music around that, started with a basic riff, rough backing tracks which I've added to and sometimes just added a lead vocal, instrument or some bv's, or of course just producing a track which can make it sound totally different to the original.

I think it's important that you know the person that you're working with in terms of being familiar with their output.

With collaborations as well, you're likely to spend a bit more time with them due to the delay in exchanging stuff etc etc which is a good discipline for me as I'm rather guilty at rushing my own tracks at times  ;D ;D

Neil C

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 06:14:16 PM »
Hi,

like Bin il’ve been collerating on here for 5 years, and we did one together where he played some splendid lead work.

About half of my songs are co-writes, most of those are others on the forum. I’ve five I’m working on at the moment.

So the thing for me apart from being open in terms of setting expectations and communication is that I find some of my best work comes from two brains, and it pushes you into exciting places you might not go on your own.
Have fun
:-)
Neil
songwriter of no repute..

Sterix

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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2019, 01:13:43 PM »
Thanks for the respones.

Good experiences so far or bad I wouldn't go back and change them at any rate. Both have taught me things about both the collaberative and writing process.

With the former I now have a much better idea on how to start things off on the right foot at least. With Band B I'm liasing with the lead singer via Whatsapp (it means he has to play piggy-in-the-middle with the rest of the band but I think that's better from my perspective than dealing with everyone at once). Before we did any actuall collaberating he intruded himself and told me a little bit about both himself and the band, offered up some links to their sites so I could get to know what they were like a little bit. I reciprocated so we got to know one another at least a little before doing any work.

We also touched briefly upon finances and both agreed it was something to look at down the road. For me, it's not about money (at least not yet!) it's about dipping my toes in the water and, I'm not ashamed to admit, not a little amount of ego (the thought of seeing my name as lyricist on a published album just gives me the shivers!).

With those things nicely out of the way we went to work.

And I can't remember the last time I spent so much time on one lyric! I've found that, where I can usually knock up a song lyric I'm quite happy with in 10-30 minutes, now I'm having to up my game. I'm really picking them apart. Even changing one word because it sounds just a tiny fraction better. I'm turning into a dreaded "perfectionist"! I'm even going back to "completed" songs and thinking, you know, if I changed that line a little to  "this" it would make them better!

Part of it is, I think, that I want to really give it my best effort. And I'm no longer writing for myself but for someone else. It's their songs to my mind and I'm just "helping out" - but I don't want to mess them up. If that makes sense.

I think the worst part of it is waiting on a response when I've handed in my latest attempt. It's very nervous not knowing if they're going to like it or not. I find myself constantly checking Whatsapp to see if there's a voice message yet. And then when there is one it's like "oh boy, deep breath, here goes nothing!".
Still, I'm enjoying myself so far. I feel I've written some really kick-ass lyrics for them and just hope I can keep that up for the rest of the album. Fingers crossed!
Then darkness fell
As the 1st God and the 2nd burned in hell
And all alone
Stood the 3rd God looking wearied to the bone


- War of the Gods : ©2005 Sterix

mikek

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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2019, 03:42:13 AM »
Band B sounds like a much easier collab...that would be my preference.

Band A sounds like they need you to also be the arranger... Which only works if they are willing to take direction.

How did you build these 2 relationships? Strictly from acquaintance on this forum?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 03:48:39 AM by mikek »

Sterix

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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2019, 07:48:30 PM »
@mikek . Yes. Amusingly, Band A actually messaged me after reading some of my stuff here and that went from there. Communication was mostly one-way and the only feedback I got was from the first lyrics I wrote when they couldn't follow them (I'd time-stamped them to help). They re-hashed them (terribly!) to fit as they saw it  but then *I* couldn't make out what they were doing with it. I'd written lyrics for 5 songs at that point so I added my vocals to their tracks and sent them off. And that was the last I heard from them (except a message to say they'd received them the first time - I sent the e-mail twice because I thought the first time hadn't gone through - and would look at them).

I occasionally stalk their Facebook page just in case they decide to use some or all of my lyrics at any stage. I'm not bothered if my time was wasted - it was a good learning curve - but I'll be royally peeved if they try to pass them off as their own...

 With Band B I think I PMd them after reading their intro thread (I think) when they mentioned looking for a lyricist. They then read some of my stuff, liked what they saw, and asked if they could use one of them they thought would fit one of their songs. Had to rewrite it a little to make it fit more snugly but the communication is tonnes better (e-mail and Whatsapp). I get actual feedback (both verbal and in the form of a rough track so I can hear how it sounds) and we toss things back and forth a few times until we both like what we've got.

I'm enjoying the experience with Band B (am utterly terrified at the same time!) and would love to collaborate with other musicians. To hear lyrics I've written sung by someone who knows what they're doing is the best feeling in the world!
Then darkness fell
As the 1st God and the 2nd burned in hell
And all alone
Stood the 3rd God looking wearied to the bone


- War of the Gods : ©2005 Sterix

Martinswede

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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2019, 09:26:14 AM »
Personally I find it almost impossible to write lyrics to 'complete' backing tracks. The idea that words and vocal melody is so unimportant that it can be modeled to fit a backing track is up stream to my work flow.

The style @Binladeda writes abou seems like a good alternative.

At times I've tried joining as a singer in a band without a singer. My impression is that these guys(it's always guys) have been sitting in a basement with their loopers, delays and reverbs trying to make a song, intended in the very beginning to have vocals, maybe just coz that's the norm in rock music, but then just kept trying to make the song interesting while they rehearsed it.

Guys who like to jam...
The 'I play a band' shit...

Viscount Cramer & His Orchestra

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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2019, 04:42:55 PM »
I know it's picky but I can't stand looking at that any more.
Take it easy.

You can check my stuff out here. Mini-album getting bigger slowly. Free download if you're poorer than me.

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