Joshua James and McKay Stevens at the Soundcheck Series. Photo courtesy Jan Hemming
The Soundcheck Series workshops are a monthly affair, held at Metcom Studios right in downtown SLC. I had never been to one before, but this workshop was a good first-y for sure. Joshua James and Mckay Stevens were the presenters for the night, and they were totally inspiring. Both musicians and songwriters, they also make time to run Northplatte Records out of Provo, providing many other budding artists the opportunity to put their music out there for the world to enjoy. The focus of the evening was songwriting, and the two-some gave some great insights into the realities of being an artist and finding your individual voice to express yourself. It takes hunger to write good songs, they say, that urgent drive to make your emotions real and tangible––the need to create, create, create, so that you can throw away stuff that doesn’t do the trick and find the stuff that does––the urge to write and make music, just because you can, because it’s a part of who you are––and above all, not for the money. Cliche, sure, but true nevertheless.
On a more practical level, conversation between the pair and audience members led to a great suggestion to use different instruments as you are writing, to inspire different perspectives to write from. A song that began on a guitar will have different nuances than a song that started on a piano, for example. Additionally, they praise the practice of pairing up––co-writing, that is. It's a great way to expand your own material, to get different perspectives and different styles all mashed up together for the greater good. All the better that we were sitting in a room full of would-be songwriters like ourselves, and so a great learning opportunity turned into a great networking opportunity as well. It was a great presentation in a very nice facility, and between the advice and the wonderful performances James and Stevens each gave at the end of it, I left inspired.
Keep an ear out for our interview with Stevens and James in an upcoming episode of Soundwaves From The Underground. For more information on the Soundcheck Series, visit soundcheckseries.com.