What kind of guitarist makes a good songwriting collaborator?
“As long as someone’s melodically interesting, guitar skills aren’t really that relevant. As long as they’re enthusiastic and they’ve got a good foundation, it’s not all about being masters.”
Would you say that it’s common for guitarists to over-complicate things?
“With a lot of people that have a huge amount of talent it’s very difficult to get them to calm down and give me the basics. I certainly don’t have a problem with somebody being clever. I think it’s intriguing, but it’s not something I go out and look for. I write with anybody who has the ability to have a bit of fun.”
Is the most important part of the song the vocal and the lyric?
“Well, as a lyricist I would say that. I think it’s whatever suits the singer’s voice. I’ve got a short register, so everything I sing has to be within that framework or it sounds a bit ridiculous. Depending on who you’re writing for, it’s good manners to keep it simple.”
How important is it for guitarists to bring in different sounds and effects?
“Most of the songs I write are written on acoustic, and all the sweet stuff is put on in the demo or production form. One of the best people I know in that field is Leo Abrahams, who’s just an incredible textural player. He builds a wonderful foundation for you to work with. That’s a huge skill.”
What’s your top tip for breaking into the session world?
“Songwriting is about listening and observing the person you’re working with, and being generous. It’s really important that you feel what the other person is feeling, and try to be a ground rod for their emotions. You’re dealing with feelings when you’re writing songs, so it’s got to be with somebody who’s going to be kind, gentle, open and honest, yet take a risk at the same time. I like to write with people who’ve got those attributes.”