Local legend and accomplished songwriter Danny Schafer answers a few questions about songwriting. He's a fantastic songwriter, singer and guitarist. I hope you enjoy.
What is your songwriting process?
My process is simple. Stay in the writing. Stay open. Don't hold on to tight. Write record and move on to the next song. You will find often another song is waiting.
How do you come up with ideas?
My ideas are very informal. Driving helps. Time alone helps. Then once I am started getting out and talking to people can help get the endings. I have heard other song writers talk about keeping the concepts simple and setting the scene. I think this is true. Then a listener can personalize the song for themselves. The way the light is. How the room looks. Leaning into the feeling more in the chorus. Of course there is no rules to this madness. I write all the time. Its the only time I am alone and at peace.
What life experiences have shaped your songwriting?
The more I know myself the more I write. Experience and a sense of humor whether the subject is good or heavy is important. You can make someone laugh or cry at the truth.
What advice do you have for songwriters just starting out?
Be bold. Play your songs for other people. Get out and perform them. An audience can teach you about your own writing. Take every criticism with a grain of salt. Especially the compliments.
What tricks (if any) do you have for overcoming writer's block?
I don't believe in writers block. That's a made up drama that is unneeded. Sometimes inspiration is there and sometimes its not. Keep writing. Its a learned skill best backed up by natural ability.
Why do you think songwriting is important?
Songwriting is communication. You can get away with things as an artist other people cant. Songwriters should use that as an advantage,
Who are some of your strongest influences?
My strongest influences are the writers who keep it simple and straight. Less fluff. More honesty. Also the writers that intrigue me are the ones who write from different point of views well. Guy Clark's "She Ain't Going Nowhere" is a good example of a man writing very well from a woman's point of view.
What are your thoughts about the state of creativity in the music business?
Has it changed? I don't think so. Its still a half dark room with pen, paper and a guitar to me. I don't give a damn about the overall music business. I am a writer and I know staying close to that makes me feel whole. Success or not I know where I belong. I belong watching and listening. Waiting for the next song.