I’ve been writing songs for 40 years and have written or co-written over 500 songs that have been released in some way. I don’t consider myself, really, a great musician, a great drummer, a great singer, but I do cling to the idea that songwriting is the core of who I am. even if it doesn’t love me, I love it.
I wanted to maybe list 5 super simple tips for songwriters. I know there are a lot of musicians here and I hope there is value here for some of you:
1. Write at least one song every day. Even if you think it is terrible. The only way to get good at this is to get crazy at this and do it a lot. You can start thinking of songs as throwaways, as ideas that sometimes stick and sometimes get thrown away. Once we stop getting so protective of them, we can let them die, change, grow, or be replaced by something better. I like to write new theme songs for tv shows, local colleges, superheroes, anything. Most of the songs I write are just for cannibalizing for pieces. “Cause I’m the Spiderman, I like to swing, impossibly high cause that’s my thing, Got spider bulge and 6 pack abs, realistic webs come out of my ass” had 14 verses and I have actually used some of them.
2. Conversely, Record everything you do. Writing down notes is helpful. Having a voice recording app on your phone you use constantly is better. Every idea, every riff, every bassline, every small chunk of vocal. Keeping a google doc open ton your phone, too, where you write words you like is great. I refer back to mine all the time. It’s now hundreds of pages and full of lines, rhymes, chorus ideas, etc. Entire verses that I liked have come from it. I wrote a song in the 90s called “Pussy Maybelline” for a friend of mine who admitted she put lipstick on her genitals for a date once. I wrote literally hundreds of verses about what other insane things she could do. That song has really delivered, even though it never came out. If you like a meter, write as much as you can in it. Many songs I’ve put out have had 12 verses written for them. I used the best ones.
3. Find different parts of you I have a habit of splitting myself into different people when I write. I have a person inside who writes dirty songs, one who does mean, angry ones, one who is super political, etc. They have names. It helps when you imagine how someone else would say something. Talk in funny voices, mispronounce words. Try to do something at the top and bottom of your range. Sing at different times of day, find every weirdness. I sometimes walk around talking like a different person, looking for a voice. I wrote a song called “Light it up” trying to channel this guy who comments on my feed who made an allusion to blowing up the middle east. I couldn’t sing that as me. (Maybe you can see | how hard it is for me | to be one voice in a system when it used to be all me | I want the same thing everyone | wants and will not say | to be in the majority, but that just slipped away, so I say Light it up.)
4. But Don’t wait for words and melodies are different. I hum simple melodies all the time and then sometimes match them with words. I sing to things. It would be embarrassing to explain which song I released started as “I love you, spaghetti” Remember that some of the greatest songs ever don’t have words that make sense. Phl Collins was going to replace Susudio, but couldn’t find a word he liked, Maurice White left “Bah-de-dah-de-dah” in “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, because that’s just how he liked it.
5. Write over other people’s songs and rhythms. I worked with a really good songwriter once who used to just sample other grooves from songs she liked, loop it, tape the key down, and sing her own songs over it. When you listen to music you like, sing your own song ideas over the songs. I mean, not at the show or anything. But when you are alone. Once you have a good song, you can replace the music under it with anything. The world is full of rhythm, chord progression, etc. And all of it is there to inspire you.
Jim’s newest single in case you had any doubts of his stellar credentials 🙂
In my youth I didn’t really have a punk rock phase. My angry phase was Industrial. Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Test Dept, KMFDM, Die Warsaw, Lord of Acid,Neubauten, Front Line Assembly, Front 242,Leatherstrip, Chemlab, were the fiery steam fire oily sounds that spoke to my soul. As time went on my anger and napalm softened and I moved away from this soul. In the past few years I have found myself rediscovering and broader and more intricate hard electronic sound. Here are some of the echoing booms filling my warehouse.
SpankTheNun: The Texas industrial sensation from Eric Hanes is bringing Industrial back to it’s early core. It’s catchy and dancy, with steel jaws of metal drive guitars and distorted growl. I love the clarity achieved through modern tech that takes the early feel and refines it into the modern expectation of laser focus. The new album out “The Bunker Tapes volume 1” is a perfect homage to the past with a fresh hypersonic spin.
Stoneburner: Steven Archer of Ego Likeness started the project of to express a different aspect of his music. This is truly taking the concept of Industrial music into a higher form of evolving art. It’s high concept sci fi with tribal organic drum beats and lyrical poetry that pushes the boundaries of the human experience. The albums are ever evolving and are done with a vision. He also is a master of interactive experience and blending of visual and sonic art. Truly breaking ground for a new concept.
GoFight: It’s hard to think of Jim Marcus as “new” Industrial. Die Warsaw was one of those early bands that taught me the idea of Industrial music could mean something more than macho angry aggression. A beauty and subtlety that made me dance and sing along with glorious pop hooks while maintaining that furious grinding filth. Jim continues to write songs that capture the mind and infuse the body with buzzing chemical energy. A relatable idea with sharp edges and teeth. One of those beautiful ideas that blends accessibility with higher thought. Jim has always been the cutting edge of Chicago Industrial and has not missed a beat. New single out Freestate is another masterpiece of technique and torr ant.
I Ya Toyah: The one woman army from Chicago is a explosion of energy, love, and pain. It’s has a soul that really sets it apart from a lot of the genre. Ania has a voice and song writing style that captivates with it’s power and passion. The songs move with intention and the lyrics have a personal flavor that makes you a part of them. The live stage show is truly something to behold. She is a voice for the future of what electronic music is capable of.
The Joy Thieves: Another Chicago band ( A Lot of good Industrial came from Chicago). This one a super band helmed by Dan Milligan has brought amazing talents from several Industrial mainstays to ride that line between hard rock and industrial. I once describes them as Clutch beating the shit our of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat. It’s furious aggression, blistering guitar work, progressive percussion, and napalm vocals. It’s a compilation of talent to rival bands like Pigface with it’s own organic concept.
Fee Lion: Another Chicago act with more smooth cold blue edges. A powerful and sensual voice with distinctive electronic dance club explosions. Very avant garde and and invasive. A true master class in how to use push pull dynamics to pull in your audience. Only a few releases so far but already setting the stage for a power player in the genre.
Klack: Madison WI collaboration between Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device) have formed up to make EDM for a new generation. It’s clever, conscience, and shoots a bolt of electricity into your spine that shakes that ass. The vocals are the perfect blend of both talents that brings the revolution and makes it fun. It’s an iron gauntlet in a velvet glove. Get Klacked and stay Klacked.
Moris Blak: Boston MA, Hard EDM industrial is not here to take you gently into emersion. It is fierce and limb flinging excitement adrenochrome shot into your mind and designed to make you let go of all control. He also does some intense remixes and mind bending live shows. This is not a throwback sound. It is straight alien brain melt.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – The British master of EDM dance club excitement. When using bass beats like a sonic weapon it is a true challenge to construct ear worm melodies that cut to the forefront. This music is a virus that infiltrates every cell of your being and demands you dance. The newest album “Eat Your Young” also features the amazing Caitlin of the band Corlyx. Immersive filthy grinding dance beats that ride you hard and put you away wet.
Curse Mackey: – This is a scene veteran that has been a key member of one of the biggest Industrial bands Pigface. He has recently released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism“. Aside from the amazing vocals and pedigree of this record, I think what really moves me are the thought and poetry of the lyrics. This is truly and out of the box thinking persons Industrial sound. A must have.
Silverwalks: Criminally underrated sci-fi electronic backdrop creator from Philly. This new single is “Lantern” is an absolute burner. One of those songs I can’t hit play enough times on. It has a true Gary Numan quality in it’s texture and flow. I loved it so much I had to have an Amaranth remix done. Transport yourself to an alternate sonic reality with this band.
Melodywhore: This glorious electronic music wizard has forged really taken the old Industrial concept of collaboration. Blending a softer more passionate dance grime energy. Using a variety of musicians and vocalists. This latest track for BLM charities is beautiful and powerful. Giving voice to rage using an intelligent whisper.
Dead Agent is the solo project of Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron.
Musically it leans more towards the EBM side of the spectrum but manages to do so without feeling like something we`ve heard a thousand times before during the last X amount of years.
While its mainly instrumental there`s heavy use of samples and other sound design techniques to create the illusion of vocals as can be heard on the track “Frentik“.
Ed was once part of the band Cult Of Jester where we saw him in the role of a vocalist fronting an industrial rock band so to see him return to music in such a different yet at the same time familiar manner is definitely interesting. Dead Agent is a project to keep your eyes on going forwards.
From Connecticut we have Decent News who we have featured on the site before in various scenarios. They deliver a refreshing take on the blending on industrial and rock/metal. The guitar work especially stands out from the crowd as one can pick up on some clear early thrash metal influences at times as opposed to what has seemingly become the standard industrial guitar consisting of simply palm muting and tabs that look something like this: 0-000-00-0.
Having carved out their own sound they manage to evolve and progress with each release within the confines of their world which is quite an underappreciated talent.
From the UK comesVanity Killsdelivering some dirty, gritty rock n roll with filthy, dripping electronics sewn in like a patch on a vest.
They wear their influences on their sleeve and take it all the way whether that be sonically or visually, yet also manage to do things their own way and leave an open wound on the otherwise often too mechanical world of industrial rock.
While Darrin Lewis may have spent years as vocalist for the metal/deathcore band Beside The Silence he’s now working under the moniker Nothing Valentine creating what I‘m tempted to call a blend of pop and industrial but still retaining the heavy element of earlier projects.
Debuting with the song #GothGirl almost a year ago, he later followed up with the politically charged track “Civil Unrest” which showed a thematically and in many ways musically heavier side to NV which might not have been according to the audiences expectations after hearing the more light hearted first single but this is exactly why he`s on the list. Expect the unexpected whether it be in terms of music or the overarching themes.
Of course we have to include Blakmoth as we just did an interview with him.
Blakmoth creates what he refers to as “Doombient” consisting of heavy rhythmic drum work and droning ambient soundscapes all created with modular synths.
Having recently signed with Errorgrid Records and with a new release on the way despite having released “Deathshead” only a couple weeks ago Blakmoth is highly productive and is always seeking to push the envelope and challenge the audiences ideas.
I hope that with time well see more modular based artists pop up and break out of lighthearted bleeps and bloops for just a moment to explore the dark side of synthesis that Blakmoths music beckons us towards.
From Denver, Colorado comes the duo known as Echo Beds with amplified oil barrels, broken tapes and generally less than perfect instruments they create noisy yet catchy and often strangely melodic tunes reminiscent of early Swans meets EBM or something along those lines. Visceral yet danceable, not too harsh for the new comers to the experimental part of the industrial genre but just enough to entice you to go deeper and explore a side of it which is often forgotten about these days despite being the source of the genre. This one is truly DIY or die voltage therapy.
Industrial Rock isn`t exactly what Norway is known for musically although one might be able to draw comparisons between the early days of industrial and black metal in terms of extremity ,avant garde-esque tendencies and against the grain approach.
Carrion, lead by S&S writer Hide [Adrian Kjøsnes] blends elements of traditional rock n roll with a tad of 90s Nine Inch Nails style steeped in occult philosophy and mysteries.
Having just released the album “Testament Ov The Exiled” now is the perfect time to check them out if you haven’tt already to hear Hides most recent experiment mixing distorted guitars and modular synthesis into a blend of structured yet still chaotic noise and…Power ballads. Yes, you read that right.
Having recently released the single “Blithe Din” along with a ton of remixes [Including Dead Agent and Decent News] this Florida based aggrotech band is perfect for those who love catchy synth lines that worms their way into your ear while banshee like vocals speak of biblical themes full of symbolism painstakingly researched for accuracy and adopted to whatever vocalist Richie V. Suriv attempts to express.
Having already built a following within the U.S alternative scene playing with acts like Psyclon Nine, Dope, Skold, Combichrist and more this is not one to miss, oh, and they`ve got their keyboards on a chain swingset 😉
Zwaremachine: Loud and nasty from Minneapolis, this band is a grinding tidal wave of shrapnel and hiss. It rolls over you in slow driving sludge and flashing lights. Bringing gore and empty warehouse space into stark relief that transports you back to a 90’s rave in Detroit. Join in the chant and leave your inhibitions at the door.
11 Grams: The team up between Rob Early and Simeon Fitzpatrick that cuts the clean razors of electronic science fiction and dance club fury. This is two masters of production riding an electric wave of futuristic beauty and construction. It’s transformative and honed to make rooms sizzle.
StatiqBloom: This New York band is frightening and cold. It’s movement is infectious but the tone is dark. A Sinister horror film brought to life. Definitely EDM dance movement but one that leaves you anxious and clawing at the wall. You can’t sleep because you can’t relax in this terrifying landscape.
TH Inc: Chicago, Illinois Hailing from the beating heart of American Industrial music comes the sonic power house TH Inc. Electronic music pioneers Christopher Turner (of Nookleptia and the mixcloud show The Garbageman Show) & Robert Hyman (Drummer of Mr. Russia, member of Melter and owner of Lens Records) first came on the scene with the darkly haunting 8 minute “Drawstring” and the pair continue to dish out fresh dark DIY industrial reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, Brighter Death Now, and the edgier side of COIL. If you missed out on or just miss the raw paranoid energy of early industrial and noise, but need a taste of something new, look no further. 2020 has seen the Release of 2 albums the gritty pulsing Circuit Flare, and the epic droning of The Tarkovsky Suites.learn more @ thincband.com
Bellhead: Chicago, Illinois Also from the land of WAX TRAX, this 2 Bass & a Drum Machine, Male/Female duo gave us their first taste of their mix of industrial sleaze with the thick dirty sound of “Fire Control“. Bellhead have kept it up with a hand full of releases including the 2020 EP “Unicorn Bones” and the Single “Sanity Assassin” an edgy in you face cover of the Bauhaus song.Keep you eyes on Bellhead, especially if you are a fan of the 90’s industrial rock style of Orgy and Snake River Conspiracy and even later Thrill Kill Kult.
eHpH: Denver, Colorado By now I am sure you have noticed we here at Sounds and Shadows are fans of eHpH and Bleeding Light Music in general. I feel I cannot say enough about eHpH, they come to the table with a fresh take on EBM and the darker side of synth driven industrial. From track to track you feel something that could have easily hit the dance floors of 90’s/2000’s goth industrial clubs and yet sounds strangely original. eHpH is that seductive dark stuff that draws you into this world.
So I am excited for this review of Go Fight’s album “Tokyo Sexwale”. As a young angry man in the early 90s I never had a punk rock phase to express that feeling. Instead I found Industrial music as that outlet. I heard Pretty Hate Machine at 14 and I was all in. Most of what Industrial music came to mean to me was an expression of that angst I felt at the world. I went to a show around 1995 to see two bands Sister Machine Gun and Die Warzau. It really left me changed in my mindset that this music I loved full of drum machines and thick remixed heavy metal guitar was possible of so much more range in emotion and tone. Fast forward 24 years and I am listening to Pat Allen’s radio program when he plays a song called Chemical by Go Fight. That feeling was back, Pat used the wonderful term “fundustrial” but what really struck me was that same feeling of serious concepts carried with a beautiful pop energy. Then I learned of the connection between Die Warzau and Go Fight. While I danced my tail off around my bedroom I was transported back those 25 years by this fresh searing explosion of sound.
This album is all crisp sexy motion, covered in a layer of technicolor slime, and spun through a cement mixer. Jim Marcus has one of those unique and captivating voices that leads you in rhythmic chants mixed in with beautiful call and answer melodies. The songs keep building and driving pulling and pushing you around the dance floor. I don’t know if anyone in the business is writing better drum loops and fills in heavy dance music. These lyrics are anything but pop fluff. These are heady, often political, very in your face real challenges that are such a wonderful contradiction to the hot club feel of the music. This is music inspiration. Full of fight and life. Full of hope and energy. Evans and Marcus do a masterful job of laying bass, guitar, and tapestry to the vocals without overshadowing. They are the fire that fuels this engine. My only regrets about this album are that I didn’t find it sooner.
Chemical – I’ll start with this because it was my introduction to Go Fight but also because this song is a total jam. It starts with Marcus doing a sexy spoken chant describing the strange and complicated world of modern dating in technology. It’s so tongue and cheek but speaks to a relevant issue that touches on real emotion. Also the hook on the chorus is impossible not to sing along to. I challenge anyone to hear this song and not go running for the nearest dance floor.
Another Fucking Love Song – This one is another single but that crunchy guitar riff and Jim’s blues driven cadence sung with such venom and drive. Again they are really taking on a serious feeling that faces our culture and wrapping it in a golden industrial disco wrapper.
Queer the World – Great title! This bass line is coming at you right off the bat and sways you while the guitar cuts. Telling a series of stories in concrete terms before leading up to that deep chant of Queer the World. It makes me want to join the revolution right now.
Overall this album is one I can’t believe I found so late in 2018. It is so full of everything I love about music and fired from a glorious bright colored cannon of progressive ideals and themes I related to. It also makes me want to dig through my old cds to find Die Warzau. Seriously this record belongs on every modern dance mix in the world. I love every aspect of it. Got buy it!