A.S I AM
In January 2013 I started to write song lyrics. For some reason it never entered my head that I would be capable of writing music too, so I always collaborated with talented musicians instead. I enjoyed collaborating, because it was exciting to see how someone else interpreted my words through music.
A couple of years back finding collaborators started to become a struggle. Old partnerships came to their natural endings and whichever way I tried to find someone new to start a project with, something happened to make everything fall through.
I've always been a great believer in the power of the universe and I strongly felt that the universe was trying to tell me something important by stopping every idea I had that would have needed the involvement of at least one other individual. At one point I felt I must be on the wrong path totally and thought of giving up as a lyric writer, but just the thought of doing something like that made me feel sick to my stomach. Instead I decided to do nothing for a while. Forcing the matter had done nothing but making me feel stressed, so I decided to let all my finished song lyrics waiting for a melody, stay in their folder on my PC while I got on with my daily life. I decided to trust that whatever was meant to happen would happen when the time was right.
Finally, on Sunday the 17th of March 2019, the time was right. I would never have believed it if someone would have told me what was to happen that day. I woke up as normal, but what wasn't normal was the fact that I woke up with a melody in my head. It was a melody to one of my lyrics that I remembered feeling pleased with when I wrote them. I remember feeling totally amazed waking up with this melody in my head that I knew was my own, and I knew I had to somehow get it recorded. There is a piano in the house, but the last time I took lessons for two years was in the late 80s. I couldn't read music and the little I had played had always been by ear.
The only solution I could see was to get the lyrics to the song and record myself singing the song into my phone. That was all well and good, but my next problem was that I never, ever have let anyone else hear me sing. I do sing a lot, and obviously people have heard me sing along to the radio while cooking or cleaning or something like that. This was different. This was just me, solo, singing a song that I had "written" myself.
To this day, I don't know where I found the courage, but before I had time to talk myself out of it, I texted a good friend and musician and asked him if he would have time to listen to "my song". He didn't just listen, he also took time to make a recording where he put chords to my melody and made my voice sound good and sent it back to me within an hour so that I could hear myself sing my first song. This act of kindness and encouragement still amazes me. Without it I'm not sure I would have had the courage to continue my song writing, because I had never thought myself capable of writing songs. This wonderful gesture made me believe that I could.
Thank you Simon! http://www.simonfinnsongwriter.com/
Since then I have never stopped. Everything needed to continue my song writing journey fell into place very quickly. I immediately started to learn how to play the piano and the more chords I learn the easier it has become to write melodies. Then I found a very talented and supportive producer in Sam Greenland https://www.samgreenlandsound.com/ who is working wonders with my songs if I just tell him in broad strokes what style and how I hear them when I send him my "scrap demos".
At this point I can almost hear you asking: - have you had any success yet? Well, if we are measuring success in thousands of followers on Spotify and other platforms, or being able to earn a living from my songs. Sadly no, far from it. Obviously, this would be the ultimate dream, but I have only been writing for less than 18 months and at this point I really don't know how to market my songs well enough to get them in front of the right people. I have had some success in various competitions that is encouraging, but the greatest success now is that during the last year and a half I probably have been calmer, more grounded and happier than ever before. Considering we are living under extreme circumstances due to the ongoing pandemic; I think that is saying something and I believe that counts as being successful. Since I strongly feel this is what I was born to do, I must believe that the rest will come. It will come when it is time and if I don't force the matter.
My songs so far
Got to let this woman be strong
This is the first song I ever wrote, and therefore it will always keep a special place in my heart. I wrote the lyrics much earlier. They came out of nowhere one day while I was watching TV. Luckily I always keep a pen and some paper near by so I can jot down ideas that come floating out of nowhere.
I had wanted a melody for these lyrics for quite some time, but never in a million years could I have imagined that, in the end, I would write it myself. This first melody opened a door to a brand new world and brand new possibilities and I am so very happy it happened.
I don't like putting songs in boxes based on types, but if forced I would place this one in the Adult Contemporary category. It's laid back, summery and a bit jazzy. Please follow the link below if you want to listen.
I took part in UK Songwriting Contest (UKSC) with the song in 2019 and was very pleased to get to the semi-final.
Happy and Grateful
I wrote "Happy and Grateful" very quickly after my first song was finished. The lyrics were very much based on how I felt at that point, happy and grateful, being able to learn and work with a new skill. The difference when writing this one was that I had been taking piano lessons for a while via a brilliant App that I had found, so I was able to work out the chords at the same time as the melody and also tweak the melody to fit one chord progression or another that I thought sounded nice. The joy I felt when I realised I actually could do that is impossible to put into words.
While writing it there was no doubt in my mind that "Happy and Grateful" would become a country song. It wasn't something I planned as such, but both the melody and the words made me feel a country sound inside me.
I sent the song to www.songdoor.com to get an evaluation. I really trust SongDoor, because ever since I started to write lyrics in 2013 I have sent them most of my attempts that I myself have felt happy with, so I could get objective feedback. More often then not SongDoor wasn't impressed at all. What they did do was to give me a lot of help through constructive criticism, and that always made me go back for more of the same. I learned so much over the five years I sent them my lyrics. Sometimes it was tough to read what they thought. Sometimes, if it was some lyrics I felt I'd done okay, and their opinion was that I really hadn't, I got upset, but when I had calmed down and went back to what they said, I knew they were right. Little by little I started to gain knowledge about the does and don'ts within lyric writing and this is what SongDoor said about the lyric side of "Happy and Grateful:
"The best songs are the ones with a title that sets up an expectation for the listener, and then deliver on that promise with a lyrical story and melody set that frames the whole thing. This song does exactly that. It’s very satisfying to listen to. Excellent job of taking short, simple words and using them to convey a wonderfully positive message."
This is some of what they said about the melody:
"The prosody is spot-on, very well done. The verse rolls nicely along, and is easy to remember. The chorus hook is ridiculously good and really sticks with you – always the goal for a hook. Great job."
They also gave the song a 9 or a 10 for commercial viability.
When I read this evaluation of "Happy and Grateful" I was so very happy and grateful that I had stuck with it and sent in all those lyrics that was returned to me with bad reviews, because it made this one so precious. If I get praised I always find a way not to believe it, but since I'd been given so many "must do better" from SongDoor, I was capable of accepting their praise too, when it finally started to arrive.
Please follow the link below if you want to listen.
I've stopped pondering over where my lyrics comes from. I've even stopped being afraid of the possibility that they will stop appearing, because that doesn't help my creative process at all. I've decided the best thing to do is to just be grateful for the moments when I quickly have to find something to write with because "my subconscious is sending me an email".
"At Peace" is probably one of the quickest lyrics I have ever written. It only took as long as it took me to physically write down the words. I wish it was always that easy. The nice thing was that the melody appeared almost as I was writing down the words. At least the framework of the melody did.
When it was time to decide which way to go style-wise with the song, I could have chosen many ways. It could have become my first ballad, it could have been made a bit bluesy, it could have become my second country song. I think the main reason I finally opted for rock was the fact that the world lost a wonderful singer, composer and lyricist just as I was working with "At Peace". Marie Fredriksson, one half of the Swedish band Roxette left us all too soon after a long illness. Since I have been a big fan of Roxette ever since they appeared, I decided to give "At Peace" a Roxette inspired arrangement.
Once again Songdoor was very complementary about my song:
"In summary: A delightful song with a wonderful, thoughtful message. It’s a hit, no doubt"
"Structure: 9 Lyrics: 9 Melodies: 9 Originality: 9 for the lyrics, 8 for the melodies Commercial viability: 10"
Please follow the link below if you want to listen to "At Peace".
Right Side of Okay
I'm not going to lie. If the creation of "At Peace" was flowing smoothly from beginning to end, "Right side of Okay" did anything but! I think I decided to push ahead with the song for the wrong reasons, even though I understand why I did it. It is the song I never understood I had written at the time when I did. I wrote the lyrics as the sun was rising an early morning in May 2017 while I was cleaning the café in a supermarket in Carnforth, England. What I didn't realise until much later was that I had written the melody at the same time, but I totally ignored that part, since it couldn't be true. It couldn't be true because at that time I didn't believe I could write music.
I haven't really used any of my older lyrics since I started to write the music to my songs myself too. There are many reasons why. Mostly they don't feel relevant anymore, but another big reason is that my old lyrics aren't very fitting to put to music. This is something I just couldn't see, before I started to write music myself. The respect I feel for the composers that I collaborated with in the "early days" that actually managed to write good songs following my lyrics to the letter has grown immensely over the last eighteen months. Respect Fredrik Holm! https://www.2b-intune.com/
One day I was scrolling through my old lyrics and when I got to "Right Side of Okay" the melody I had "written" at the same time as the words, came back to me. I felt that if the melody had stayed with me all this time, I should make this song my next project. So I did. I wanted the production to be a bit like a George Ezra song with a lot of brass and with a cool, light-hearted summer vibe floating through it. I do think the end result gives the listener just that and luckily the listeners don't need to worry about all the struggles we went through before getting this song to that stage. One thing that didn't help was the fact that it was produced during the Corona virus lock-down which, among other things, meant the vocals couldn't be recorded at the producers.
Anyway, this is parts of how SongDoor summarised this effort:
"This is a very free flowing, airy song with a lovely message. We loved the catchy pre-chorus and the chorus is terrific. The chord changes are just delicious and overall, we loved it."
Please follow the link below if you want to listen to "Right Side of Okay".
When the Corona virus decided to make 2020 the strangest year for most of us in our lifetimes, I swore I would never write a song on the subject. Somewhere in the very beginning of April the title "2020 Vision" came to me and I had to break that promise.
When I was thinking about what angle I would take when writing my version of a pandemic song, I felt I needed to find something positive to concentrate on, because no-one could escape the tragedy of what is going on around us. I didn't feel the need to remind anyone about that side of it through a song. What I didn't realise in April, with a nod towards Winston Churchill's famous quote, was that the lock-down wasn't the end. It wasn't even the beginning of the end. If we are lucky, it may have been the end of the beginning.
With the knowledge I had about the virus in early April and with more and more people being infected every day and the daily death toll rising beyond belief, I decided to write about the only positive side effect that I could see from what we were living through. I wrote about how our planet was able to draw breath while everything stopped and recover a bit from the sudden, sharp drop in CO2 emissions. I also decided to write the song from a time in the future when we finally can see that we are winning over the pandemic. Therefore I allowed it to be a very happy, simple, "back to basic" folk song and when the ukulele and glockenspiel were suggested to me as the background for this song I felt it was perfect.
At the point of writing "2020 Vision", I really couldn't imagine what a marathon getting rid of Covid-19 would become. I didn't realise it would take us years and only then with the help of a possible vaccine before we would se the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
When writing this now it is August 2020 and using my own 2020 vision I realise the time my song describes, is quite some way away. I realise our reality is one where the peak of the virus if still to come in many parts of the world. I realise that, as always, it is the poorest areas in every country that is suffering most, due to Covid-19 thriving in conditions where people aren't given the chance to distance themselves from each other because of lack of space and healthy dwellings. I realise that the balancing act our governments have to deal with every day to choose between people keeping their jobs or keeping their health is a very hard one. I also realise how some people sitting on the biggest chair in various countries, could do so much better, but because they put money and their own interests before human lives, they are prolonging this pandemic for all of us wherever we live.
Realising all this, I hope "2020 Vision" can act as a 3minute 48 second break from the constant dark cloud we are living under, where we let ourselves dream of the day in the future where the reality the song describes is here, hopefully with the side effect of a cleaner world still with us.
Please follow the link below if you want to listen to "2020 Vision"
My Best Mistake
When writing "My Best Mistake" I could feel something was changing in the way I was writing. I was in the beginning of that awkward stage of any creative learning process, when you have passed the stage of steaming ahead on pure inspiration but still don't really have the knowledge needed to do all those things you wish you could do.
The lyrics got their framework from one I wrote a couple of years back, but I did some serious rewrites, changes and additions this year so it is mainly the idea that is left from the original. I think the best thing when it comes to this song is the fact that it was the first time I could sense some progress in my way of approaching the writing of the melody. What I like about the lyrics is they are full of humanity and forgiveness. "My Best Mistake" is a pop song or possible more pop-rock than pure pop, if we are really picky.
Whether or not various competitions and evaluations will agree with my positivity when it comes to this song remains to be seen, but if any of them would class this song as a mistake, I can always argue that it is My Best Mistake.
Please follow the link below to listen to "My Best Mistake"
"Useless" is my 7th single. Even though I've been happy with the six songs I've written and released earlier, the feeling was totally different during the writing process of "Useless". I suppose you could say that the penny had dropped. Suddenly I understood what "phrasing" and "build" referred to when writing a song. I had a very clear picture in my head of how I wanted this song to turn out and I consciously worked towards that goal.
As so often, the lyrics came first and very quickly. Since they seemed a bit dark, I decided when it was time to write the music, to attempt to fulfil a dream of mine. I have always wanted to write a genuine 50s pop song. I've had that dream much longer than I have realised I am actually capable of writing songs, and I decided that the lyrics to "Useless" would fit that format. I thought the contrast between the darker words and the innocence attached to the 50s genre could be quite interesting.
I hope I will always remember how I felt when I got "Useless" back from my producer Sam Greenland. I have always felt happy when I heard any of my first six songs for the first time . The happiness has obviously been on various levels of the scale of happiness, but I have always been happy.
When hearing "Useless" for the first time I wasn't happy, I was overjoyed! For the first time I can truthfully say that I also was really proud of my new song.
"Useless" is now live on various platforms and this is the link:
Found My Middle Ground
When I started to write the music for "Found My Middle Ground" I decided to change instrument from piano to synth. this had a miraculous effect on how I wrote. The inspiration came from a very different part of my music background when I heard the various sounds from the synth, instead of the piano.
The end result became a progrock retro style song that I am very pleased with. I felt like I was channelling a mixture of The Who and Queen to the best om my ability.
The nicest thing for me personally when writing "Found my middle ground" was that I realised I am able to find new ways and new ideas when writing the melodies to my songs. This is obviously a very important discovery if I want to continue my writing long term.
This is the link to "Found my Middle Ground" if you want to listen.
Radio play abroad
"Christmas is a Choice" became the first of my songs to get played on the radio abroad. The Finnish radio interviewed me live a week before Christmas and played the song. A very nice experience that resulted in a lot of new interest in my song writing.
If you missed the song during the season you can see the video I made for it via the link below.
A.S I AM I also do :
- Video Editing
- Graphic Design
- Layout for Newspapers and Magazines
to find out more.
© Åsa Sandberg