Interview with Glenn Philips

Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket joined the WCS Annual Music Conference to share his thoughts about songwriter and the music industry.  We all had a fabulous weekend sharing stories and catching up with all that's occurred in the past year.

Watch the interview here.....

Thank you again, Glen for joining us this year!

Dan Kimpel, Music Connection Magazine

Networking Now with Dan Kimpel           


I went in intrigued and excited, but I honestly had NO idea what I was getting myself into with this seminar. Dan is a bundle of hilarious energy – and after spending an hour with him, there is no question as to why he’s become a favorite teacher at universities and conferences worldwide. His story, coming from a small town in Ohio, growing to the force he has become in Los Angeles, was just as interesting as his incredible tips for making networking less awkward and more real.

My favorite story of the afternoon (and believe me, there were many) was one that centered around a former part-time job he had in 2006 – working as a song screener at Taxi. He sat next to a skinny young brunette girl with glasses every day, and they would work side-by-side listening to songs. Dan mentioned that the girl always seemed sad – and he knew through contacts that she had been dumped by her label a few months prior. He never mentioned it – and just was kind (and I’m sure comedic) in their brief time working together. Years later, he was working a red carpet event as an interviewer, and in walks a star – not taking interviews of course. They recognized each other, and she called out to him – “We made it!” – who else? Katy Perry.

Dan’s tips include:

-       Get OUT there. You’ve gotta be present!

-       Arrive at events early, chat with people in the parking lot, the bathroom, the valet – everywhere!

-       Walk the periphery of the room 3 times when you arrive, so people get familiar with your face.

-       Ask open-ended questions about people. Get them talking about themselves!

-       Don’t ever apologize or excuse your way into talking with someone. You have to present yourself with confidence and good energy. People want to surround themselves and work with people that they perceive to be on a similar level to them.

-       Use positive language – “What is the best way to get in touch with you?” instead of “Uh, can I get your card?”’

You want more? I know I do. Get one of his many best-selling books. I just picked up my copy of his new book, It All Begins with theMusic at the conference…

Written by  Whitney Nicholle

    Where is the Music Industry Headed?

    Where is the Industry Headed? A panel recap…

    Written by Whitney Nichole

    “People keep saying the music industry is in trouble. Music isn’t hurting – the labels are! Music is thriving!” That encompassed the passionate and innovative panel’s discussion, which opened the WCS Conference on Saturday morning. The panel included a wide cross-section of the industry, with Mike Zapruder coming from Pandora, Larry Batiste who has built an incredible musical career, Andre Pessis – songwriter extraordinaire, Kelli Richards of the All Access Group and then Judy Stakee who built her long and successful career as a Senior VP of Creative at Warner Chappell and has more recently applied her skills to the Judy Stakee Company.

    It’s always difficult to look into the future and predict anything – but there were a few common themes that each panelist agreed whole-heartedly on.

    First and foremost: We are moving into a digital world. Hell, we are already in the middle of a digital world! It is ALL digital. Music in the cloud, streaming, mp3s, internet radio.

    Personalization & Mobility: These days, everyone is used to getting exactly what they want at that minute. They want to hear a song? They pull it up on their phone. You want to watch a TV show? Go to Youtube on your iPad. Gone are the days where we listen turn on FM radio in our car and land in the middle of the song. In fact, the way we listen to music has changed – as Mike Zapruder pointed out. The beginning of the song is SO much more important, because now – we choose the song, push play and listen from the start of the song. Learn to adapt.

    The standards: A website, mailing list, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Get them all under control and use them efficiently. Easy, right? Suuuuuure.

    So that can all be overwhelming, right? So gather your materials, then get someone like Kelli Richards or Judy Stakee and set up a meeting. There are so many industry professionals who built careers in-house, working with labels that don’t exist anymore. Where are they now? Out there, working independently doing the SAME stuff. Find those people, consult with them – and they can help you navigate. Or as Mike mentioned -- ask yourself what you want your project/your song/your career to do for you. What opportunities do you want it to open up for you? Then go from there. Create your own path.”

    Judy said it best, “Do the unimaginable. Do what you want.”

    2011 Grand Final Winners

    Anticipation filled the air tonight at the Grand Finals held at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.   Members from all chapters gathered together tonight to cheer on the "BEST SONG" and songwriter from each song competition location up and down the west coast.  The music varied from each performance, from ballad to pop and rock to folk.  No matter the genre, the room was charged with an incredibly talented group of individuals.

    Perhaps you decided to stay home and watch the MTV Video Music Awards and hear  the news through facebook and twitter? However, if that's the case you truly missed out on some powerful songs, lyrics, voices and people.  There was nothing staged about the Grand Finals - nothing rehearsed and so incredibly moving and powerful that the evening will remain deep in the soul for those who did attend.

    Included in our illustrious panel of judges were: Andre PessisJon Bendich and Steve Seskin.

    But enough...you want to know the winners!

    First Place:  Bobby Jo Valentine - performing Fly

    Second PlaceChristopher Smith performing Stumbling Stones

    Third PlaceAmber Fenex performing Crash

    All three now have the opportunity to perform at the WCS Music Conference on September 10th & 11th!  Come hear the talent and be swept off your feet once again.

    Amirah Ali wins 2nd Place at ISC 2010

    I truly love getting  all the news from members about the competitions, events, awards and lifestyle changes that have occured - often precipitating and propelling them into their future career in music.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the wonderful WCS Member (and co-manager from Berkeley) Liza Marie Sparks.  Her struggle touched my soul deeply - and Liza, if you are reading this right now, please know that all at WCS are thinking of you and wishing you and your family all the best.

    Since then - awards and media coverage have been flying in  the door for our members and one in particular, comes from afar.  Amirah Ali - a two year WCS Member, originally from Malaysia but now Chicago and Houston. She has been sending in her songs for review by CD to our song screenings. Amirah joined WCS, but has never attended one of our events in person.  She joined the song pitching panels by sending in mp3's of her music  to us, which we are thrilled to do for members from afar. Distance has not hampered her enthusiasm for the support and guidance " Ian Crombie was always very encouraging and acceptive of all the updates and news I would send to him about my songwriting and he would try to help me  participate in the song panels although I was in Chicago or Houston. For  that I am very grateful". Despite not being present, Amirah did succeed with a publisher contact as they were impressed with her work.

    Amirah has only been performing since August 2010 when she returned from Malaysia and has been busily recording ever since.  The song for which Amirah won second place in the World Category is called Katakanlah.  It was written in the wake of the desecration of the houses of worship in the Klang Valley last year and expresses her strong belief in freedom, equality and love.  There were over 15,000 entries to the International Song Competition (ISC) and Amirah was obviously very highly regarded by the numerous talented musicians who participated in the ISC 2010 judging. Amirah was also a finalist in the John Lennon Song Writing Contest, in the World Music Category for 2010  as well as being featured on the Anugerah Bintang Popular (Popular Star Award) for Malaysia Most Popular Female Singer 2010. 

    I asked Amirah if she had any thoughts she might like to add:

    "The beauty of differences gives birth to the masterpieces of love, and through the masterpiece of love lies the freedom of both worlds." 
     Amirah

    Heres further information about the winners for 2010  as well as information regarding submitting your music for 2011

    And Finally -- Congratulations Amirah, from all of us at WCS!

    Cameron Stymeist (The Reel) wins the WCS Song Contest

    If you're like me, you see a list of the winners of competitions and then say...hmmm I wonder about them.  So, I thought you might like to know that I have had the great pleasure to hear a little about Cameron Stymeist., the winner of the 2011 WCS International Song Competition....

    FIrst off, CONGRATS CAMERON!!!  And I really look forward to hearing you in person at the Conference this year - should be another great Sunset Concert!

    Cameron is from Placerville, CA.  - a charming Californian Gold Rush Town, guess where...yes, in the Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada Foothills, with a population of about 10,000 people.  Unlike so many of the musicians out there, Cameron didn't start singing until he was in high school, only because he wanted to help his friend get five extra credit points!  Friends helping friends....

    Now Cameron is the Music Direcctor at his church in Placerville and a member of the band The Reel.  He loves singing/writing/performing music and hopes to do this for as long as he can possibly do so.   The song he sent in for the competition - MADE FOR YOU was written for and about his wife.  Part of their story is included in the song and basicially speaks of how they are "made for each other".  Very romantic -- and very lucky wife!

    But what made Cameron send in the song for our competition?  Cameron was looking through Sonicbids and came across our contest.  He actually debated about entering the competition, but is now extremely happy that he took the time to do so.  When Cameron was informed he was the winner of the ROCK category, he was thrilled to bits but the shock followed when he was then informed he was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2011 WCS International Song Competition~!

    Now as a bit of a reminder to all -- the 2010 winner Michael Jade who attended the conference last year also was one of the top 40 finalists for American Idol this year!  So Cameron, you're in good company and we hope to see you grow and grow!

    As for Cameron, he said to me " I'm excited to come hang out with all the Artists and play "Made For You" at the Conference in September. Something cool happens when we all get together."

    My final thoughts, sign up for the conference now so you too can come and enjoy an incredible weekend with some of the most talented and inspirational musicians and industry leaders.

    Liza Marie

    One of the greatest joys that I have working with WCS is getting to know the many members, managers, judges, industry leaders and YOU!  However sometimes the story of someone truly resonates with me and pulls a deep understanding and connection to someone.  

    I have never met Liza Marie Sparks in person, however we have spoken on the phone and by email numerous times.  She is a very dedicated and wonderful person...but her story sits deep in my heart.   Liza Marie has suffered terrible health issues - some of which I have personally suffered as well.  However, despite all she goes through on a daily basis, she remains positive, wonderful and talented.  

    Her songs pull from deep within her spirit, grabbing the joy and sorrow that we all feel - but with an incredible insight with her music.  Liza was given the freedom to express her feelings through music after her stroke.  I, on the other hand, lost that ability...but I so deeply understand what she says and what she does. She expresses so many emotions that are locked within my spirit...and I'm sure she does for you too.

    Liza very bravely went on the air last week with Kellie in the Mornings on KVYN FM 99.3 for her first live interview and performance.   Well done Liza!! You impress daily...

    My First Radio Interview with Host Bob St. Laurent, (filled in for Kellie) on KYVN's 99.3 fm  "KELLIE IN THE MORNING" show, this morning... Wow.  I had such a great time.  I didn't have Broadcast quality recordings so I had to play live.  It was so cool.  I'm still wide eyed, and still scared, but that was one great event to be a part of.  Thank you KVYN for this wonderful opportunity!  Thank you Kellie, and thank you Bob St. Laurent for being so great!  Thank you West Coast Songwriters.  Without having all the venues, songwriting competitions, songwriter screenings, I don't think this day would have gone the way it did.  

    ~Liza Marie Sparks

    And finally, here's a beautiful poem that Liza Marie has shared with me about WCS.  She captures the essence of WCS in just a few words.

    Thank you West Coast Songwriters!  If not for you, I would still be looking down at the floor when I sing.

    If not for you, I would still be ashamed to share my songs.  

    If not for you, I would not have a way to express myself.  

    Thank Ian, for answering my phone calls last year when I wasn't a member,

    always encouraging me to try, and do.  

    Thank you West Coast Songwriter's for revealing a path, I had never known existed. 

    Michael Jade's Route to Hollywood

    Although I watched American Idol diligently last night, I did not see that well known WCS Face of Michael Jade.  They are obviously keeping the best for last, as the surprise contender who will walk off with the award.  We know you can do it Michael!!

    If you're interested to hear what Michael has to say... Idol has posted the "Road to Hollywood".  There are 319 contenders inHollywood, I wonder how many were dropped last night?  I can only imagine the highs and lows of this competition.  For those that haven't moved on in the competition, it's not the end.  The world is a large place and there is always space for you to be the best that you are and shine through with whatever you do.  American Idol is great, but it's not the only way to become a star.

    Michael Aljadeff (better known to us as Michael Jade) speaks out here about his good friend John Park from American Idol's Season Nine at Mike's Road to Hollywood Interview!

    We're routing you on Mike!

    Christine VanHoy

    WCS Member, Christine VanHoy recently won the 2010 Independent Music Network Award for the Best Female Artist, in the Country Awards Division.  All of us at WCS are thrilled to see and share the stories of our members' .  As such, I am hoping that I will have the opportunity to chat with more of you regarding your successes - every step of the way!

    I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes to chat with Christine about her award and  asked her a few questions that you may find of interest.  Perhaps Christine will be an inspiration for more of you to follow your dreams and continue performing and writing.  Christine's album Life Is Good is available should you wish to hear it.

    Along with having a very full life with a family and career, Christine VanHoy has been entertaining a variety of musical audiences from the east coast to the west coast since her early teens. Christine has been the lead singer and guitarist in an all female rock band, fronted a pop/jazz/rock 10-piece band complete with full percussion and horn sections, been a member and soloist in numerous church choirs, and had a solo career - just the guitar and voice doing country and folk. She has performed in "hot spot" nightclubs from Boston to San Francisco, military bases, large auditoriums and concert halls, town halls and smoky bar rooms. Her music is a wonderful blend of all her musical influences and life experiences, woven into stories that touch other people's hearts and minds.

    Now Christine is setting out to make a lifelong dream come true - to become a recording artist as well as a singer/songwriter and performer. "I have learned through my volunteer work with the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life, to live each day to its fullest. So the time to record my songs is now - today! It's never too late to go after your dreams (that's a shout out to everyone, but especially to you Baby Boomers). And my new motto, which I saw on a bumper sticker in Nashville is: "Destined to be an old woman with NO regrets." Christine believes that music is the universal language. That it's a perfect way to express all emotions through lyrics that send messages and tell stories and through the music itself.

    1.       How did you get your start?

    I have been singing, I swear, since I was born, and performing as soon as I knew how to walk. I started writing music, at least in my head, when I was a little girl.  It just took me a long time to finally get really serious about it and insist on doing my own music as well as cover stuff when I performed. 

    2.       Who were your major influences?

    There are so many it's hard to list them - both men and women.  I think the biggest influence was if the artist sang from the heart, and the songs "spoke" to me with not only the words, but the melody.  And if there were great harmonies, well then I was hooked.

    3.       What sparks your passion to write and perform? 

    Writing songs is cathartic for me.  It's a way to release a lot of emotion in a safe way.  And performing is the way to deliver the message, and see if it resonates with other people.  If I can touch one person, that's success. I have one song called Butterfly Girl, and there are at least 10 of my friends that believe I wrote that song just for them.  Each one of them calls it "their" song.  I love that.

    4.       What genre do you write and perform?

    I believe what I write covers a number of genres, however I chose Country.  It really seems to fit who I am, right now, the best.  I grew up singing all genres of music from Rock and Roll to Folk, with Country, Jazz,  Big Band and Classical all thrown in for good measure.  When I got serious about my own music and putting it out there in the world, I believed in my heart that Country was the right place for what I write and how I sing.

    5.       Did you win best female artist for this genre?

    Country music fans and Independent Country Radio have been wonderful to me over the past four years.  I have gotten to live a dream.  I did win Best  Female Country Artist 2010 with the Independent Music Network - a great group that specifically supports independent artists.

    6.       If you had a choice of anyone, who would you have “cover”  your song?

    I am thrilled if anyone is interested in singing my music.  It's like I said in question #3 - it's all about touching and connecting with people.  Someone wanting to sing your song means you connected with them, and that's always a Wow!  If someone"famous" decided to do one of my songs, well I guess that's kind of the holy grail of songwriting, because then it means that a whole lot more people would get to hear my music.  Yeah, that's a door that I wouldn't mind opening.  

    7.       Who would you most like to collaborate with?

    I am open to collaborating with lots of people.  The most important thing in collaboration, I have found, is that my collaborators need to "get" me and I need to "get" them.  For a long time, I didn't think I could write with anyone else.  My music was so personal, and I didn't think I would be open to changing.  I was SO wrong on that.  Collaborating has brought out the best in me.  I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful songwriters.  My current single out on Country Radio What I Live For, was written with two guys from Arkansas - Jason Campbell and David Scott - Jason is the songwriter and lead singer forSingleTree, and David plays lead guitar.  They came out to California, and we sat in our living room and just talked, and that conversation led to talking about the simple things in life, and how important they are, and how important it is that we don't forget what they are.  And from there the song was born.  New friends and a great song.  What a great way to write music.

    8.       How did you find out about this competition?

    I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to work with one of the PR people at IMN, and she told me about the competition.  Fans and radio vote for you, which makes this even more special to win.

    9.       What are your plans now that you have won Best Female Country Artist?

    I plan to keep on keepin' on with what I have been doing - writing and singing.  I would like to perform more - that's my next goal.  I would like that to be a collaborative effort as well.  Maybe there are some artists in the south bay that would be interested in putting together a group?  

    10.   How has WCS helped you to achieve your goals?

    Being a part of WCS keeps me in touch with other singer-songwriters, and gives me an opportunity to get my music heard outside of the Country genre.  I am hoping it will give me more opportunities for collaboration and performing.  I would love to do demo singing for those songwriters who aren't comfortable singing their own stuff, and it doesn't have to be Country. I love singing harmonies and being a part of a group, having them sing my songs and getting to sing their songs. It's all about community and supporting each other.  I think that WCS is great for all that.

    I forgot to mention, and I know it's tooting my own horn, but I think it's important to do that when you can, cuz' no one else is gonna do it without you paying them a bunch of money - that in the last few years that I have been going out to Country Radio I have had 5 #1 songs on New Music Weekly Country charts, and two of my songs have charted in the top 75 on Music Row.  I have also won two awards with NMW, one as Best New Country artist in 2008, and Country Breakthrough Artist in 2009 and then last year I was nominated for Best Female Country Artist and Best Country Single.  I didn't win either of those, but I was up against the likes of Taylor Swift Darius Rucker, and Carrie Underwood.  One of the MOST fun things for me and my family too, is to see my name up on lists with the GREATS in Country Music.  

    "Country music has a truth and realism to it that makes it a joy to sing." Christine is thankful every day for having a wonderful and supportive husband, two amazing daughters, and lots of family and friends. "Thank you to each of you for the role you have played in my life, for your encouragement and for believing in me. Thank you to Lyric and Jaylee for bringing out the kid in me." One of Christine's favorite philosophies in life is that the answer is always no if you don't ask. So she's asking - "do you like my music?" We hope so. We believe that this songbird was meant to fly.

    I am very blessed to get to do this, and I thank my husband and my family every day for all the love and support they give me on this journey.

    Thank you so much, Christine, for taking the time to share your story with me.  WCS is ALL about our members and the community.  We are always here to do what we can to help promote you to the next level.  

    Congratulations again, Christine!

    Imogen Heap Interview by WCS Part 2

    The interview with Imogen continues:

    IC: When did you first get into songwriting or writing music? 

    IH: The songwriting side of it came much later. I went to boarding school. I used to write songs for the end of the year and sort of rubbish Christmas Carols just to be doing music and I like ordering people about! I got to conduct all my peers in my year to sing my song that I’d written. When I was 12, I went to boarding school. I didn’t get along famously with everyone. I didn’t really understand about boys and friends and hanging out and socializing. Anything more than boys, what’s that band I’m thinking of? Brof , anything like that, I had no idea about it. I literally just got home from school, went straight to my piano and played all day long. So, when I went to boarding school I was a little bit of a freak in there. And, I wore very odd clothes because I had no idea about the latest fashion. I’d be wearing my brother’s hand-me-down cowboy jeans and my mom’s Flamenco Spanish top and strange hats from weddings my mom had been to. I’d come up with something very strange and end up wearing it every day. People just steered clear of me. I had so much to talk about ‘cause I’d just arrived at boarding school and there were boys and alcohol and smoking and things I’d never experienced. I just had so much to say, but there was nobody there to listen. So I ended up writing songs. But not really even writing songs, just singing streams of consciousness, just singing nonsense, improvising.  

    There was a girl who was at school and she was so nasty to me, she was really awful. She would throw my favorite teddy out the window and put lighter fluid around my bed in the morning so I’d wake up to a ring of fire, and she’d pin things to me. She wasn’t very nice. So I really hated her. But obviously, I was the one being bullied and I couldn’t retaliate because I was shy. I used to go and play the piano every night. Her name was Lucy Bradley. She used to wander back up to our dorms just before I finished. Once I’d finish playing, I’d always see her ahead of me. I thought that was because she’d been out on the town, having fun with boys, being naughty. But one night, she came in while I was playing and singing. She sat on the filing cabinet and looked at me and she was really crying. I just ignored it because she was a bitch to me. I just carried on playing. It was time to go, so I said, “we’ve got to go back to the dorms now.” We walked back and didn’t say a word to each other. I realized then that she’d been listening to me. Every single night, she’d been listening to me play the piano. She was going through a really, really awful time at school herself. And as a result of that, she was bullying everyone else to make herself feel better. I learnt a lot from that. She encouraged me to write songs. She really enjoyed it. So I wrote one for her, I wrote about what she was going through, about my friends and about boyfriends that I started to go out with at school. They were unfaithful to me and so I wrote songs about them. 

    IC: Thank goodness for broken hearts.  

    IH: Yes, where would you be? Otherwise, I’d be writing songs about my dog.  

    IC: Hide and Seek was such a big song in The OC. I’m sure people point to that all the time. How did that change things for you, having the song used in the OC? 

    IH: It brought a ton of new people my way. It was great that it was something like Hide & Seek to do it. 

    IC: It’s such a sensitive song, an emotional song, so much space and such a wide range of notes. Do you think of those notes in your head? Obviously, the vocoder can help you reach the notes…. 

    IH: It’s actually a harmonizer. The way I wrote that song was, I’d pretty much done the rest of the album. I think I felt like, for me, what I was trying to do was I was trying to see what I could do as one singular musician putting together an album . I wanted to find out what I was capable of. By the time I did Hide and Seek, I’d done all the complicated songs, I’d done the programming. I felt like I’d achieved something. When it came to me pulling something together very late at night through the harmonizer, I had fragments of the song before I started that night, but nothing formed, nothing full. Just lyrics, like “hide and seek” and “where are you” and “what the hell’s going on”. I had that and a basic chords structure for those lyrics. Everything else was open for suggestion. I just started playing through my harmonizer that night, really late at night. I’d had a bad day in the studio and I just wanted to throw an idea down. Four and a half minutes later, Hide and Seek had evolved. Just, as if, out of the blue. When I look back on it, I had kind of been working on it, on and off, for quite a while. It had just been figuring itself out in my subconscious because when it finally came to just throwing the idea down, it all came out. The melody, and the way the notes in that really high section keep going up and up and up. I was improvising, I was jamming with my own voice. I hadn’t done that before. I hadn’t actually used this piece of gear before. I was just experimenting with it. It was set up as a four note polyphony, so there were only four notes no matter how many notes I played with my fingers. Even if I had ten fingers down, it was still only choose four. I felt like I wanted to go a certain way melodically. That’s how it ended up like it did. It’s a new way of writing for me and it really freed me up. I’ve learned something doing that. Since then, I really felt like I’ve figured something out in a short space of time.  

    IC: I did see you live in San Francisco. You’re very interesting to watch. There is so much going on, with you building the patterns. When you go in to do your record, have you saved those patterns or is it something you develop each time? In other words, does it change each time you go out and play? 

    IH: There are some things that are pretty much set. I spent a long time programming drums and sounds in the studio and I just couldn’t do that live. It took me months to do that kind of thing. There are loops that I turn into samples, like four bar samples or one bar samples that I trigger-off or set them off and they continue until I change them. Obviously the piano, I’m playing live and that changes every night. It’s difficult because the way the record was constructed, there are so many different parts that come in every minute or every second. It’s strong in that it has many different characters about the album. But there’s never like one guitar or one piano line. It’s very cut up and very disjointed.  

    IC: You had a cellist with you in San Francisco, do you normally have other musicians with you on tour? 

    IH: I’m building more and more it seems as I go along. I wanted Zoe to go along because the last time I toured the states, it was just me. I love Zoe, she’s really amazing. I heard her on the internet about a week before I went on tour. I asked her to go on tour with me. I offered her to be involved in my show as well. The last couple of tours I’ve done have each been different. The last one I did in the UK was with this band called Nemo, a British rock band. I’m really a big fan of theirs and I love the idea of having a band on stage with me, but not a load of session musicians, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love their energy and I just wanted an excuse to get up on stage with them. The UK tour was me doing as I did in San Francisco, when you saw me, with lots of bits of gear and different arrangements and that, doing it myself. Then there’s like five or six songs like “Daylight Robbery” and “Loose Ends” where I’ve got the band in there. They’re also triggering off stuff that I’ve given them to play. So it was good, I really enjoyed it. For the London show it was different again. I had this fantastic trumpeter who came in. He also opened that day as well and he came on and did some stuff.  

    IC: What’s that other instrument you play, it’s like on wood with springs? 

    IH: It’s called the array mbira. The array being the scale that this guy invented who lives in San Diego, and the mbira is an African instrument. It’s a beautiful instrument.  

    IC: Is it sound that inspires you? Is it the sound of the different instruments that inspire you to write? 

    IH: Yes, sometimes exactly it’s that. There’s a song I’ve just done called Glittering Clouds. I was commissioned to write it forPlague Songs  CD and everybody had to write a song about the plagues of Egypt. There are lots of people like Laurie AndersonRufus Wainright on it. I got the locusts. When I was off on tour in the UK I was messing around on the mbira and came up with this little pattern which is really, really lovely. I recorded into my Ableton Live, no, Garage Band. It just inspired the whole pace of the song and everything. Most of the time, when you’re writing a song, there’s never a formula, unfortunately. Some people do, and they write hits every time and that’s great for them. But, I don’t do that. It’s very haphazard and very unplanned.  

    IC: Is there a particular time of day that you’re most creative, first thing in the morning or late at night? 

    IH: No, I go through months of not writing anything. I haven’t written anything for ages. It usually comes when you have been extremely busy and then you suddenly have a break maybe of a couple of hours, or you’ve just had sound check and you have that couple of hours with nothing to do. Then your brain is just dying to do something creative.  

    IC: You’ve been in the input mode up to that point probably 

    IH: Yes exactly. A lot of ideas do come in soundcheck. If every single idea I came up in soundcheck I made into a song, I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m always coming up with loops and melodies and things and occasionally I remember to store them on my compact flashcard. At the end of the day, when I come off tour and I have to write a B side, I just pick something out that I like, and start working on it. But there’s hundreds of little tiny ideas. I stopped writing in diaries and stopped having these little books that I keep around.  

    IC: That was going to be one of my questions..(laughs) 

    IH: No, I stopped doing that ‘cause I have so many of these things around and I never looked at them. They were just like nonsense, and I never even looked at them. By the time I get around to writing a song, I feel differently about something. I don’t have time to sift through it all. I tend to not do that so much now. Every now and then if I really feel strongly about something, or if I’ve had a fantastic time and I’m on the plane. A lot of ideas come on a plane.  

    IC: because you’re locked in, you have no choice 

    IH: Yes, exactly 

    IC: I want to thank you so much for sharing this information with the West Coast Songwriters. 

    IH: Thanks, I enjoyed it.

    Imogen Heap with Ian Crombie

    Have you ever wondered about the history of some of todays most interesting and dynamic musicians?  We have.... therefore we have asked musicians to give us five minutes of their time to chat about their background.  Read on, to find out about  Imogen Heap:

    This interview was conducted four years ago, and was the most viewed page on our old site....therefore we decided to repost it.

    Imogen  remembers when she was twelve, "I just had so much to say, but there was nobody there to listen. So I ended up writing songs." Now everyone is listening.  She is making enough noise in the industry for you to take notice, and, believe me, it's a beautiful noise you need to hear. And, she's doing what she does best, making completely original and innovative music. Her music recently featured in movies and television, such as The Chronicles Of Narnia and the epic season two finale of the hit series, The O C.

    Ian was fortunate enough to buy tickets to her show in San Francisco. What an eye-opener….or, should I say, ear-opener.  Imogen's concert was by far and away his favorite concert of the year, and, trust me, he attended multiple shows that year, including his first Stones concert.

    Imogen is a one-woman-band. She plays keyboards, piano, and a string of electronic equipment…plus the mbira, a new word I learned during the interview. She totally fills any concert venue with her soaring vocals and inventive sounds from her collection of electronic instruments. She also paces her dynamic performance with a song using a grand piano.

    If you’re not familiar with Imogen, you must listen and buy her record, Speak for Yourself . IF she comes to your area, don't miss her concert.

    Chatting with Imogen was as interesting as her music….

    Ian Crombie (IC): Hey Imogen. Thanks so much for spending this time for the interview.What was your first introduction to music?

    Imogen Heap (IH): The piano in our living room. My mom and my dad had this fantastic piano. My dad was very good at sight-reading, but could never string two notes together of his own accord unless they were written in front of him. And my mom was the opposite. She had no idea about sight-reading, but she could play pretty much any instrument and get a decent sound out of it, apart from possibly the bassoon. She was naturally very creative. So I got the best of both worlds. As a kid, it was much more fun to bang on the piano than it was to squeak a toy.

    IC: I read in your bio that the piano was your toy.

    IH: Yes it was.

    IC: And you were classically trained right?

    IH: Yes, I did my grades, but didn’t go any further because I got a record deal pretty quickly. I did my grades more of an excuse to be involved in music, not because I wanted to be a concert pianist or anything. It was just a good excuse to get out of lessons every now and then. And as a result of figuring that one out, I learned the cello and the clarinet. I had a go at the trumpet and failed miserably. I did theory and the orchestra. Just did anything I could do you see.

    Stay tuned for article 2 coming soon!