On the days when I’m not active as an aspiring pop star (which are many!) I attend my day job as a senior lecturer at Musikhögskolan i Piteå (The School of Music in Piteå) under LTU (Luleå University of Technology). (See my staff profile here). It’s a job where I get the opportunity to coach young and talented songwriters, teach music business knowledge, and try to build ”bridges” between the students and professionals within the music industry. As a part of my job, I also conduct artistic research as a doctoral student where I deal with a great passion of mine – the process of making melodies.
My project is called Pop into my head – The making and shaping of melodies in popular music. To be able to take a closer look at the process I’ve documented (on video and audio) the actual moment of the making of a bunch of melodies. For this purpose, last year (February 3-18, 2015), I made a research trip to Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York where I had the great pleasure of working with some of the writers that have inspired me with their work. In L.A. I worked with Linus of Hollywood (known from the Melody & Madness tour) and Lojinx stable mate Blue. (See Facebook video blogs: Hello from L.A on a sunshiny day… and Video blogging from the car…).
After Nashville I finished the trip in New York where I wrote with Scott Klass (The Davenports), Danny Weinkauf (They Might Be Giants) (which, surprisingly, resulted in this kids song), Steve Schiltz (Long Wave, Hurricane Bells) and Young Hines (although in his case it was an on-line collaboration). (See Facebook video blogs From the streets of New York, From the SKAP apartment in New York).
The great news is that from these session a bunch of new songs for my FUTURE SECOND ALBUM was written!!! More about this (including yet another bunch of link video blogs) in a blog post coming soon!
Here’s a few pictures from the co-writing trip (including one of me and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame at Nashville airport, who I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to co-write with…)
OK, so yesterday i gave a so called “recital lecture” at a conference called Research in Music Today 2016 (Musikforskning idag 2016) at Linnaeus University (Linnéuniversitet) in Växjö, Sweden. It was called “‘Men det här låter ju precis som…’ – Om låtskrivande efter given förlaga” which in English means “‘But this sounds just like…’ – About songwriting after given model” (or something like that…). The thing is I’m a doctoral student at the Department of Art, Communication and Education at Luleå University of Technology where I teach (see my David Myhr staff profile) and part of my training is to do stuff like this.
I talk about writing after “briefs” and give examples from my own artistic practice from writing for other artists (including Puffy), jingles for commercial radio spots, and writing for movie soundtracks including my future single (fall of 2016?) “Spellbound” which is written in the style of E.L.O.(!). (As you blog followers know I’m a big E.L.O. fan!!!)
The presentation is in Swedish so I’m afraid those who don’t understand Swedish may have a hard time understanding since it’s in… yes, that’s right… Swedish… but one day I’m sure I’ll do something similar in English! Or maybe Spanish…?
I must say the whole thing was a positive experience and I had lots of fun hanging out with music researchers from all over Sweden and it turned out Växjö was a really groovy town. Not least because of Kafé De Luxe which was a great place to hang out. And “of course” I took over the piano for a while and did my living Beatles jukebox thing… and the people of Växjö were shall we say…. “flabbergasted”…?
My wife, Paula, always complains that I have too many jobs. And she’s right (as usual!). Aside from being the “celebrated” (by myself that is…) artist and songwriter that I am, my day job – or shall we call it “real job” – is being a senior lecturer at a university teaching songwriting, music production and doing research (see my staff profile here). As if these two “careers” wasn’t enough I’m also writing and producing music for commercial jingles (like for instance this one for Folkia) and occasionally I play the role of ”Benny” in the the ABBA tribute band Super Trouper (more on that here).
This month I can now proudly add “writer” to the list. I’ve been asked to contribute with a series of articles about the art of songwriting for the excellent Swedish music production magazine “STUDIO”. Those of you who follow my blog might remember it’s the same publication that made a three hour video documentary with me last spring about the making of “Never Mine” from Soundshine.
I said yes (surprisingly encouraged by Paula!) since it’s a subject I am very passionate about. And the first article in the series is OUT NOW and can be bought in your Swedish newspaper stand or as a pdf file here.
I strongly urge anyone interested in songwriting and music production to support this (and other) specialized magazine in today’s tough world for intellectual property where everything’s suddenly supposed to be free. Maybe not so much for my own article (although I’d appreciate it). It’s more of a “recommended mindset” just because I think we all need good journalism in our respective trades covering our areas of interests. I love reading about other songwriters and producers and how they work with their craft and how their studios are equipped etc. Nerd fun!
The theme of my first article is “magic melodies” (he said humbly) and I’m trying to give some ideas as to what makes a melody “simple and singable”. It’s four pages long and in Swedish (sorry Paul McCartney!). But for those of you who speak Swedish – hope you enjoy! Would love to hear your opinion in the comments below or on my Facebook Page.
I remember Paul McCartney once said “I love being in a band. It’s a luxury. I’d rather have a band than a Rolls Royce.” And it’s true that being in a band is a true luxury. Especially a “real” band. It’s hard to beat the feeling of being in a tight group working creatively together towards the same goal with an “us against the world” mentality. I have very fond memories of the periods when the Merrymakers were a tight songwriting team and we inspired and bounced ideas off each other.
But it’s also true that being a solo artist now gives me a freedom that’s hard to beat. Now I am free to ask whoever I feel like at any given moment for a collaboration. I may not get a positive response all the time but sometimes I might get lucky. For instance on my coming album I’ve been fortunate enough to write with pop heroes like Andreas Mattsson (Popsicle) and Peter Morén (Peter Bjorn & John) and on one of the Japanese bonus tracks which was originally written for Puffy I’ve worked together with another Swedish master of pop; Peter Kvint.
When performing live I am now also able to experiment on a case-to-case basis. Many times I will have to accept that there’s only budget for one guy in the band – myself! Just like in Madrid in December and at Club Wonder in Osaka on this promotional tour of Japan. Other times I can try the “Chuck Berry method” – touring on your own and have local bands backing up in order to save travel costs.
I tried this in London last year and now on this promotional tour of Japan it was time again to try a “local” band put together specially for me for the gig at or the Powerpop Academy Party in Tokyo on Jan 10. They are Ryuji Gotoh from ONEPERCENTRES on drums, Osam Watanabe on bass, and Yasu Hashiguchi from hello! on guitar. It was only a week before the rehersal that I got their e-mail address and was able to start to share some sound files on Dropbox containing their respective parts for each song – so of course I was a little worried… Suddenly last weekend I was standing in a rehearsal room in Tokyo and there they were – nailing every drumfill, every lick, and they play with power, confidence, and they… rocked! Have a glimpse yourself into the rehearsals if you want by watching this video (sorry for the distorted sound):
What a relief and what a great feeling! I’m truly impressed with the dedication and professionalism with which these guys have approached my songs. I was (and still am) very humble and grateful. After all I’m not Chuck Berry who invented Rock’n’Roll. I’m just David Myhr with a bunch of new songs. So thanks Ryuji, Osam, and Yasu for a great job with the rehearsals!