Do you write and produce both songs and instrumentals?
I do write and produce both. Last year got so busy with song collaborations that I haven’t been able to devote as much time to instrumentals cues. Now that things are getting busy with [Adriana’s duo with Nathan Nasby] South and Royal, instrumentals and even other collaborations are slowing down more. I like that my focus shifts periodically because I think I would get bored if I did the same thing for too long.
How much of a learning curve was there as to working in the two different disciplines — songs and instrumental cues?
The writing and structure can be different. I would write instrumental cues like I would write a song and wasn’t getting anything forwarded. The learning curve isn’t too terribly huge once you understand the difference. It took me a while to recognize that my instrumentals weren’t working because they were way too complex. They had too much going on for dialogue to fit in a scene, and they weren’t specific enough in setting one mood. Dean Krippaehne’s book, Demystifying the Cue, along with some TAXI TV episodes really helped those differences to click in my mind. After I started applying those principles I started getting forwards with cues. My last TAXI Road Rally trip was paid for thanks to a minute-long acoustic guitar cue placement I wrote and produced. It was definitely worth it to sit down and figure out the difference.
Do you approach songwriting differently when you’re writing for film and TV than you would for the South and Royal project you’re doing with Nathan?
At this point I’ve not approached writing differently. Nathan and I have both learned so much about songwriting in the context of the film and TV world that I think it’s very natural for us to write lyrics that tend to be more universal now, rather than very specific in their details. Some of the songs on our album were ideas we were working on for a particular TAXI listing, and we later decided to use them for the album.
"If you feel stuck, being disciplined in your craft will get you through that rut."
Do you have a dual-purpose approach lurking in the back of your musical soul when you’re writing for the artist project? Is there a little voice saying, “If I keep this lyric a little less personal and more universal, maybe it can get placed in film and TV as well as being right for the record?
I do think I have a dual-purpose approach since my goal is to make a living with music, while making sure I’m enjoying what I do. One major lesson we have learned from TAXI has been how to balance that fine line between creative license and giving the industry what it needs. Ultimately we want our music to be successful and viable in the radio and licensing market, but also want to truly believe in and love what we’re doing. I think we’re already feeling fulfilled as artists with these songs, and I feel like we’re in a good place to potentially experience commercial success. I like the challenge of the business and commercial side of the industry too, so those two sides aren’t completely opposing forces in my mind.
Is there any advice you have for people who are songwriters that would like to also do some instrumental cues to create some bread and butter income while they pursue an artist or songwriter career as a long-term goal?
Find a way to stay organized with your tracks and stems [submixes] that works for you and your creative process when you are writing songs. There are some episodes of TAXI TV that taught me a lot about how you can write a decent amount of cues very easily. Dean Krippaehne’s book, Demystifying the Cue, is an awesome resource. Proactively listen to TV shows that use your style of music and take note of the compositions, edit points, how busy or how sparse the music is, and implement that in your own writing. Also, if you are pursuing being an artist or songwriter, make sure you maintain your focus and that you’re properly aligning your time usage with your ultimate goals. Stay close to what you’re already doing as an artist for your instrumentals so that your time isn’t jeopardized as an artist.
I saw the following post on the TAXI Forum minutes before I started working on these questions: “Thank you all for welcoming me (us) with open arms… it really feels like being part of an amazing family… And to the new members... follow the plan… don't get down… keep creating and trust your path and the process. Go ‘all-in’ with TAXI. Try the listings, get on taxiTV, GET ON/STAY ON these forums... they are priceless. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET TO NEXT YEAR'S RALLY. It is an impossible event to describe… and trust me, despite what any of us say, it will far surpass your expectations.”
"Surround yourself with people that will encourage and challenge you to be better. Don’t be afraid to work with people who are better than you – it will help you grow!"
With a community that inspires that kind of enthusiasm, why do you think there are still musicians who don’t take advantage of all the great stuff the TAXI community offers?
I honestly cannot say! This is a very competitive industry and I find this supportive community indispensable. Perhaps some people have an unrealistic idea that they will just all of the sudden be discovered and skyrocket into a successful career without needing to be part of a community like TAXI. For me, it provides a lot of education, support and opportunity as I work hard to reach my goals.
You’ve obviously encountered “rejection” along the way – whether from a submission to TAXI or from collaborators who didn’t love every idea you put on the table. Do you have any advice for other songwriters, composers, or artists who will also encounter rejection?
The top writers on the planet write songs that don’t end up getting cut. You can’t get defensive or let it hold you back. Try to give the publisher, the [TAXI] screener, etc., the benefit of the doubt and use it as an opportunity to learn. Think about the rejection or the return long enough to learn from it, but don’t dwell on it so long that it discourages you. It’s not always easy, but try to be as objective as you can and figure out what it was that didn’t work for that opportunity.
What advice do you have for people who are either at the beginning of their songwriting or music production career, or perhaps stuck in the same place they’ve been for a long time? What are some steps they can take to move forward with their songwriting, composition, and/or production skills so they can realize their dreams?
I’m still figuring a lot of this out myself, but I can share things that have helped me in my journey so far. Take classes if you can, read and watch videos that pertain to your goals, ask a lot of questions and set both short and long term goals for yourself. If you feel stuck, being disciplined in your craft will get you through that rut. Do things that inspire you. Surround yourself with people that will encourage and challenge you to be better. Don’t be afraid to work with people who are better than you – it will help you grow!
Check out music from Adriana and South and Royal by clicking here: http://www.adrianalycette.com/