Beggars Waltz band performing at The Cavern Bar in Toronto
artist, band blog, music, music blog, opinion

Enjoyment.

We’re now playing live more often, and, as should be expected, the performance is getting tighter and tighter. You can play in your basement/rehearsal space until you’re blue in the face, but it’s out on the road, playing live where the real magic happens. Now you can start to push the performance, take risks, and feel the songs.

You also start to learn about the songs you’ve written, and begin to settle into them like a comfortable piece of clothing. When you take a glance at the set list, and see the next song, it feels like “ah, you again, hello old friend.”

In the past I didn’t think too much about a performance, I’d be nervous before getting on stage, but once you’re there, something else takes over and you don’t come out of it until you’re out the other side. It’s not something you can reflect on, because it almost feels like it was another person and it’s lost to the ether.

But now, hearing how the songs are evolving, feeling the lyrics more (even though you wrote them), taking risks with the performance, it has started to become something more…enjoyment.

Enjoyment of being confident to look someone in the audience in the eye.
Enjoyment of looking at your fellow band members, smiling at a mistake.
Enjoyment of knowing you did the song justice, even before the applause.
Enjoyment of standing on a stage, performing your own songs.

Enjoyment of when someone asks, “plans for tonight?” and replying “I’m playing a show, I’m in a band.”

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Two men sat in recording studio talking
artist, band blog, music, music blog, opinion

Searching for a sound…

As we move through the times, keep writing new material and produce our EP, I’ve started to think about the sound of our band. The songs we have have come from all over the place; some are 20-year old resurrections, some are adaptions of a simple lyric in my head, but most are completely new. How then do you bring those together and get a band “sound”?

U2 have one, the Stones have one, Ed Sheeran has one, the list is endless. “That songs sounds like a Tom Petty song” or, “The new album doesn’t sound like Taylor Swift at all”. All familiar things said about a variety of different artists who are lucky enough to have the longevity to develop a recognizable sound.

The answer, as always, is open and endless. As we play live, master an EP, create new songs, the familiarity starts to come through. Just last night at practice we were discussing how a drum beat on a new song sounds similar to an existing song, and talked about how that doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it can start to inform a how a band’s music is recognized and become familiar to people who hear our music.

So it’s becoming clear to me that the only way to find an answer to any of these questions is to keep doing what you’re doing: keep playing, keep writing, and it will naturally come through. You already know the answer somewhere inside, and perhaps the sound is already there, as because when something conflicts with it, you know it straight away.

As always, we push on through, and perhaps, one day, someone will say, “Hey, that sounds like a Beggars Waltz song.”

“They may not like us, but they can’t get away from knowing who we are.” – Robert Smith

Balcony audience at Massey Hall
artist, band blog, music, music blog, opinion

More than just playing songs

I was lucky to grow up in the age of videos and DVD’s, to get a head start on watching great live shows from favourite bands, and finding new bands based on a seminal live shows. The ethic of creating a live show is very much at the forefront of our minds. It’s more than just playing songs.

Yes, we create the songs, but then comes how to present them as a group in a live setting, as a representation of our sound and our message; how we can communicate with the audience and create an atmosphere in the room that stays after the music has stopped.

I suppose it begins with the band. What images are conjured up from the music? What made you hit that note when we were writing? Now how can we take those ideas and turn them into something visual, with videos, lighting, anything. I think that the focus should be on bringing the life out of the songs and perform them as an experience and expression of storytelling.

As written before, songs are living things and can take on their own meaning when played live. So from the first note, the band should be ready. Because for the next three, 10, 60 minutes, you’re in it and whoever is watching you is there too, and it’s up to you to say what you need to say in the given time.

So try that new move you saw your idol do: lift the head of your bass up, windmill your arm into the guitar solo, hold out your arm to someone when you sing “and I need you, tonight…”

Join us as we prepare for more live shows. That’s where the communication happens, where the magic is, and where the music lives.

I just think, certainly for live music, it should look as good as it sounds. – Adam Ant

Notepad and pen with Music written on the page.
artist, band blog, music, music blog, opinion

Finding the magic

Finding the magic in our songwriting process has come quite easily so far. I, for better or worse, have a mine of emotions to explore due to a relationship breakdown, and the rest of the band are exceptional musicians and have, well, more talent than me, but I get to hold the microphone.

Our songs come into existence in different ways, but the majority start at Warren’s piano. He then sends the music to me and I’ll come up with a melody, and it’s the latter piece that I want to focus on.

As soon as I hear a new piece of music, it goes straight to a part of my psyche. Sometimes it takes me a while to realise which part, but the melody, and ultimately the lyrics, come from that place. I imagine there are infinite possible melodies for a series of chord progressions or pieces of music, but the one I hear first in my head is the one that stays, and it’s hard to shake. I think the strength of that melody is a testament to the music that inspires it.

A melody tells you how the words fit together, right down to how many syllables there should be, which parts rhyme, etc. I’m not versed in the structure of poetry and our songs may correspond to one type or another, but I think that once the music is there, so is the melody and even the lyrics; they all just need to be unlocked.

I guess what I’m trying to say is songwriting is a magical process of communication. When I’m sent a new music idea, it’s communicating with me. I process that and decide what I want to communicate with a melody and lyrics, and the band communicate their talent to make it into a song.

Each song has been a journey, a story. It’s not been an easy journey emotionally, but ultimately I’d say it’s one of the most cathartic experiences you can have. Now it’s time to communicate them to the outside world, outside of the basement. We’re aiming to take the songs to an even higher place, communicating and connecting with an audience.

Hopefully you’ll join us and we’ll meet you along the way.

If you pour your life into songs, you want them to be heard. It’s a desire to communicate. A deep desire to communicate inspires songwriting. – Bono