Recently I witnessed a most miraculous transformation, as a self-proclaimed political poet showed up to a local reading group and read what was his “first attempt” at a short story. It was so decent (read: better than decent) that I was further in awe when he shared offhandedly that it was completely not autobiographical. Besides complementing this man in a roundabout way, I use this experience to segue-way into an interview with a musician.
Makes perfect sense, right?
The truth is, what I really want to do is introduce you to Durham artist David B. Dollar’s music. And tell you he has a new EP, which was released this week. What I don’t want to do is plug the new music without giving you what The Starving Artist consistently brings you: blogs about writing, reading, and publishing. Period. So we’re going to make this interesting and more than relevant.
After all, Dollar is a writer. He’s a song-writer (which is one of the things, in my opinion, he does best, as an artist). I rarely if ever have noticed a bridge of communication between writers and song writers. But we’re all artists here, right? Writers are often lumped together in teachings, in conferences, in fairs… from playwrights to poets, novelists to essayists. Why not song writers? Can it be that different of a process, just because they also focus on manipulating auditory material? And aren’t they in a very similar boat with the advent of digital production and indie-producers? Sounds a lot like e-books and self publishing to me.
Which is further underlined whenever I have talked to Dollar, casually, about our lives as artists. All of a sudden, I am talking to someone who is having a similar experience, who has the same challenges and victories, and who understands my career. And hobby. And basically me. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have even had very interesting, enlightening, and conspiratorial conversations with artists in general: musicians, painters, crafters, potters, photographers, ballet dancers, whatever. Not that we are going to embrace all artists here on The Starting Artist (j/k). But we’re all artisans. And we have shared experiences in an ever-shifting, modern world of providing art to the masses.
Plus, the first and last songs of the album are called “Inlet” and “Outlet.” What’s more poetic than that?
And if that isn’t enough reason, writing and music are often linked. Writers can be very particular about what they hear while writing. They might identify certain songs with what they are writing. Or become inspired by music. There’s even a blog all about writers and their music (The Undercover Soundtrack). I guest blogged there in 2013, and also posted a playlist for Benevolent, here.
So here’s to writing! To living the writing life, whatever kind of writer you are! And to artistic personalities!
And to David B. Dollar and his new EP, Seafoam, which you really, really oughta’ check out.
Handing the mic over to Dollar…
How did you get started as a musician? What are you up to now? I got started early because I grew up in very musical environment. My dad put out a tape when I was five or six. He was always playing Beatles’ records and Bob Dylan.
I just released my second record. It’s called Seafoam – www.davidbdollar.bandcamp.com. Super stoked. I think I grew a ton as a songwriter from my first to second project.
How did you get started with songwriting? When I was ten or eleven, one of my first songs was about sheep. I also remember picking up the dictionary and looking for words that I thought sounded cool for song titles. One of the words I found was tenement, which is a crappy apartment, so I wrote about a crappy apartment. At the time, I was plucking only a few chords on the guitar so the arrangements were super simple, as were the lyrics. It was all pretty rudimentary.
Have you done any other writing? How would you compare the two? I do quite a bit of journaling to metabolize my thoughts and feelings and sometimes it can be as cathartic as songwriting. I try to tap into my subconscious a little more with songwriting.
Do you know any fiction writers? How would you compare your process to theirs? I do know a few writers but I don’t know much about their processes. It’d be a great convo to have.
How is the digital revolution affecting you as a song writer? As a song producer? Wow, it’s changed everything. I can’t imagine having this much control over releasing music twenty years ago, especially with it being so accessible. I already self-produced two records using some great tools to help me distribute. It’s awesome. Sometimes I need to disconnect from technology when I’m writing, even though it can be a great tool.
Are you “self-published?” Love it? Hate it? How would you change your experience? I am. I don’t really have anything to compare it to at the moment but I like having control.
What do you write about? Where do you get your inspiration? I tend to get existential from time to time when I write, but sometimes it’s just good ol’ fashion heartbreak. I always come back to God too.
Do you go through an editing process? How does that work? Yep. I try to have a loving relationship between the lyrics and the music so sometimes things have to bend and change. Also, it’s not just the content for me, it’s the sound of the words being sung.
How do you know a song is ready for production? Do you continue to change it afterwards? It takes me forever to be satisfied. Well, not always, but usually. I do a lot of pre-production on my own so it saves time in the studio but, at least this last time, it still may change in the studio, and even in post-production. Digital makes it easy to manipulate, as we discussed earlier.