This month we're excited to feature songwriter Jayne Sachs. In this interview she explains her inspiration for her first song as well as one of her most proudest moments as a songwriter. She also shares some of the challenges she faces as a songwriter and how she overcomes them. Enjoy!
Q: Where do you call home?
Q: Where did you grow up?
Springfield, OH, Dayton, OH, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Q: When did you write your first song?
I wrote my first song at age 18.
Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
I wrote my first song because I wanted to give my boyfriend at the time a present that was homemade. I was trying to become a better guitar player and it just seemed like a good idea for a gift. Its a song called "Just A Start". I still have it on a cassette with the title written on masking tape that is peeling and turning yellow. I guess he gave it back to me when we broke up. Hmmm... I have no memory of that. I still think of him and I still think of that song and sing it every once in a while. I sent him a copy of it about 5 years ago.
Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
My mother, who died when I was 12 , she was 37, was musical. I have her guitar. She wasn't a songwriter yet but was learning to play guitar before she got too sick. She had a very good, strong voice... like a theatre voice. She performed in plays in college and introduced me to musicals. I love show tunes. Before she died she took me to as many musicals as possible. My most favorite song of all is "Where Is Love" from the musical "Oliver!".
Q: What is your songwriting process typically like?
I have a split personality going on with my songwriting right now. I have my own project as an indie alt/pop artist and I also am very much concentrating on writing for Nashville right now. The songwriting process for both sides of "me" is very, very different. For me as an artist, my process is to just pick up my guitar, or sit in front of my keys (not often with keys), and just play around. And typically if something strikes as far as a chord progression, riff or rhythm, I will sing a melody with any words at all. Most of the time I might be just looking around and start singing words that I see... that might be words on a television commercial, or words I may see on a book cover, etc... This helps to have words to sing as my brain is creating phrasing and cadence. Sometimes when I'm playing around like that I just start singing the first few lines of what will be my next song, not from anything that I'm looking at but just from some inspiration happening simultaneously with a chord progression, etc.. And for me as an artist I just go from there and let the song tell me what its going to be about. For Nashville, my process is considerably different. I usually do the same thing with my instrument and the same thing with singing any words I see or think of as I flesh out melody, phrasing and cadence, but for country I have in my mind a concept already complete with title/hook. So the song actually started at some other point as I was developing its concept and title. On the one hand this type of writing can feel more restrictive, but on the other hand those barriers give me a chance to keep very focused. Its more of a challenge for sure but I feel it has made me a better songwriter. I hope anyway.
Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?
My instrument, my iphone, my computer, my coffee, my pajamas. That's about all I need. I use my iphone a lot because I can record what I am doing and listen right away. I have a drum loop app in there for groove ideas and to play against.
Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I am almost done reading The Craft And Business Of Songwriting by the late John Braheny. It was suggested to me by my songwriting coach Mark Cawley, who also has a blog that I read.
Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
My favorite songwriter is Leonard Cohen. Hands down. Other than Leonard, there are two many songwriters and artists to narrow it down to just a few.
Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I am not listening to full releases right now. I do however listen constantly to country radio. Since I am writing and concentrating on this genre right now. I have been diving into it by learning everything I can. For me, I started by listening to what the country market is currently playing. Its a way to see if what I am writing is even in the ballpark. Hard to tell what the next trend will be, but its helpful to compare what is getting played to what I am writing. I study the songs. I dissect them. I look at the lyrics. I see how hooks/titles are being used. Its very analytical which seems to go against the creative process. But its no different than learning where to put your fingers on a guitar to make chords.
Q: How do you stay inspired?
I am in a major learning process right now regarding writing for Nasvhille. I started this endeavor less than a year ago, so inspiration is easy to come by. I am anxious everyday to take what I am learning and incorporate it into my writing. My inspiration is to get my first cut in Nashville. So the pattern continues to be: Learn, write, share, learn more, write more, share, learn even more...etc..
Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
My biggest challenge as a songwriter is something I have total control over and have chosen to not do anything about it. I do not read music or understand a single thing about theory. This can be changed and I am planning on taking some lessons to learn more about what I am doing. Now that I am co-writing more because of the country genre, I feel I need to be able to communicate a little better with other musicians. I have had a band for almost 20 years and my band mates haven't had a need for me to understand theory... but now that I am learning more about the Nashville number system, I feel I should learn enough to understand charts and to be able to communicate with other writers and musicians.
Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I love writing in the very early morning. I love getting up about 6am and make coffee and get my day started by writing. I LOVE that.
Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
One of my songs "Twisted Ballerina" won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the pop category back in 2006. The director of the contest called me personally to tell me that the song had won. I had been sleeping because of the flu. I hardly had a speaking voice. I had a fever. BUT as soon as I hung up the phone I jumped on the bed in celebration, knocked the lamp over, then fell off the bed. I was so excited. But that wasn't even the best memory of all as it related to that contest. The best was when I started receiving emails from people all over the world as that song started traveling and raising awareness about child sexual abuse. Getting emails from people who felt the song validated their experiences was the most rewarding thing that has happened to me as a songwriter.
Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?
I learn. I'm open to suggestions. I trust myself and I trust others who have been there and who know.
Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest was a huge accomplishment. Winning a well know tri-state radio contest (97X WOXY) back in the 90's was a big one. Being asked to write again with a Nashville hit songwriter has been a recent big accomplishment.
Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
Depending on what a writer's goals are, my advice might vary. In general though, I would say be a nice person, keep your antenna up, learn as much as you can about the genre you are writing in and keep it fun. Writing should be fun.
Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
I check out YouTube a lot. I like to hear songs at will and be able to listen and listen again. I also like to google lyrics. I use a website called rhymezone to give me rhyming and near rhyming ideas. I google potential song titles to see if it's a hook thats been used before.
Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community.
Frettie is an easy and non-threatening way to get stuff out there and to get feedback. Its fun that people can post worktapes as well as post more finished product. People on Frettie are songwriters and share that creative spirit so feedback is from people who care about the muse, the songs, the process.
Q: What's next for you?
I will be traveling to Nashville a lot and am very determined to keep learning and writing and having a blast! I am beginning to build relationships with publishers and continuing to learn from those who are directly in the business.
Q: Care to add anything else?
I love that Frettie exists. Such a friendly environment of people who care and share.
Q: Thanks for your time Jayne. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
My website is being updated at jaynesachs.com I am on Facebook and I have several of my country cuts on Frettie and Reverbnation.