Meet Joey Hendrickson of Columbus, Ohio. He is the founder of Columbus Songwriters Association as well as a Songwriter. In this interview he talks about how a $39 computer program helped him discover Songwriting at the age of 11.
Q: Where do you call home?
Q: Where did you grow up?
Q: What is your ideal setup for writing music?
I write best when I am in either a stairwell or in an open room. I like to use my iPhone or Laptop with ”Notepad” or “Text Edit” to capture my lyrics.
Q: How did you get started with Songwriting?
When I was 11 years old, I saved up and bought a program called Hip Hop Ejay for $39 from Voyetra’s website. I made hundreds of rap beats using the program’s loops, and began writing raps to them. Eventually, I had about 50 word documents filled with rap ideas, and I would walk around my neighborhood with a portable stereo, play these beats, and pretty much rap for any neighbor who would listen. When I was 12, I won several rap battles on internet rap forums, using a pseudonyme to make myself sound older than I was. It wasn’t long before I realized that writing songs about the “things I really feel” was better than making up raps about things a 12 year old suburban kid really doesn’t know about.
Q: What books are you currently reading?
I’ve been following Seth Godin’s blog for a couple years and I am currently reading "The Rise of The Creative Class" and as a student a small mountain of college textbooks.
Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I recently bought Damien Rice’s vinyl "Live At Fingerprints Warts and All" and haven’t put it down.
Q: When it gets tough, how do you stay inspired?
I stay constantly active. Mentally; I let my mind wander as often as it chooses. Emotionally; when I feel something overwhelming, I get out my guitar and express it. Physically; I purposefully try to smile and interact with new people everyday. I often stay up late to let the creative juices flow. When there’s a complacent or doubtful moment, I take time to play mental ping pong, challenge it, or do something spontaneous. This could be taking a walk downtown, busking, driving to Nashville for the weekend, or hopping a freight train and taking a taxi back home.
Q: As a Songwriter, what is your biggest challenge?
Relevance. It’s easy to write a song you feel good about. It’s much harder to make that song resonate with the person in front of you.
Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I find a creative window somewhere between 2-4AM when the best songs are written. The mind sort of hits the “rewind” button during this time, and what would typically be thoughts or memories expressed in dreams can instead be materialized into songs. This time of night is usually distraction-free, quiet, and overall conduce for writing.
Q: To date, what has been your favorite memory as a Songwriter?
The first memory that came to mind: I was in Chicago. It was late, and I had just finished a gig at a bar, and had lugged my guitar six blocks, and up four flights of stairs to catch a subway train back to the hotel. The subway landing was outdoors. I leaned against a rail, and noticed a large group of people about 100 feet below talking around a bonfire.
I had this feeling, so I got out my guitar and started strumming some chords. Somehow, the sound from my guitar echoed off the apartment building, and they could hear me playing music. It was like an amphitheater appeared out of thin air. They shouted “Hey! Play us a song!” So I serenaded them from 100 feet up on the subway landing.
When the song was done, the group below cheered and all the people waiting for the train applauded. I wrote down my info on a piece of paper, and flew it “paper airplane” style to the group below. One of them actually caught it, and followed up with me on Facebook.
Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?
I think creating a written plan is the best way to maintain professional growth. I have a plan for where I want to be tomorrow, and what I will be doing then, just like I do for where I want to be in 5 years and what I need to do to get there.
Q: What is your Songwriting process?
I think that lyrics are where a song truly begins to take shape. I start with a title, a hook phrase, or a chorus 99% of the time. The rest is variable. Sometimes, I get a feeling like I need to write and express something. Other times, I’m noodling on the guitar and start humming a bit, and a melody starts to take life. Rarely do I write out all the lyrics before I begin a song- that’s actually what I used to do when I was younger, but it doesn’t really work that way for me anymore.
Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or Songwriters?
Andrew Bird, Damien Rice, Michael Angelakos
Q: What advice would you tell up and coming Songwriters?
Don’t try to do it all alone. If you’re looking for a community of songwriters, support, or tools for performance, publishing, and distribution, the Columbus Songwriters Association is a great place to start.
Q: What are some of your accomplishments to date?
• Released 1st Album, 2006
• Performances in London UK, 2006
• Sold 20 CDs on consignment in Rózsavölgyi Zenebolt (music store) in Budapest, 2008
• Released 2nd Album, 2009
• Pitched “Missing You More” to Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s, 2009
• Opened up for 21 Pilots, 2010
• 400th Show, 2010
• Recording Engineer Certification, 2010
• 100 Songs Registered with BMI, 2011
• Pitched to Publishers in Nashville, 2011
• Released 3rd Album, 2011
• First Publishing Contract, 2012
• 1st Place in Groove U 1 Take Wonder, 2012
• Founded Columbus Songwriters Association, 2012
• NPR and KLBJ radio play, performance, and interview, 2013
• Music In The Round, 2013
Q: How do you think Frettie will benefit the Songwriting Community?
I think Frettie will allow for cross-culture collaboration. A songwriter in Columbus, Ohio collaborating with a songwriter in New Dehli would add something truly unique to the global Songwriting community.
Thank you Joey for taking the time to answer these questions. We appreciate all of your support and hope to see you soon on Frettie.
Photo Credit: Andrew Warren Wilson
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Interview conducted by The Frettie Team. If you are interested in being interviewed for our next “Songwriter Showcase”, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.