Name: Jaimi Faulkner
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Current event: Jaimi Faulkner's Allen Keys & Broken Bits is out via Make My Day.
If you enjoyed this interview with Jaimi Faulkner and would like to find out more, visit his official homepage. Keep up to speed with his work via Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
I need to remove myself from the stresses and distractions of everyday life to allow inspiration to come.
Finding space and solitude by walking allows me enough mental space to allow inspiration to strike - it can be as simple as a musical motif or something rhythm that initially enters my mind during a walk through the forrest.
I’ll quickly jot down the idea or record a speaking message on my phone and pick it up later when I have time in my studio.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
In the initial writing phase, I’m guided by chance.
I often find myself noodling away on the guitar most of the time waiting for an idea or something that peaks my interest. When this moment arrives, I’ll pursue it to see if there's something there worth investing in.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
When I sit down to be creative I need to turn my life on ‘aeroplane mode’ - I need to know that for a designated number of hours no one can disturb me, no one can contact me, my phone is off, my wifi is off and I am alone with my thoughts.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I almost always start with a musical idea - be it a few chords or a motif. From there I will sing over it using phonetic language to find a flow and a melody I can pin my lyrics to.
The first lines I write may not be found in the final version of a song. But it’s important to start writing in order to find a thread or idea to spout from.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
Once I have a chord and song structure are laid out, I begin to zero in on what I’d like to say lyrically. Usually at this point the song will trigger an emotion in me and it’s only then that I can begin looking inward to find lyrical inspiration.
It might be something personal that is moving me, an experience I’ve had or even a political idea or message that I’d like to explore.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Over the last years I've been contemplating how I can be a better lyricist and improve my craft - during these musings, the one theme that I keep returning to is that of 'honesty.'
We’ve all experienced moments when listening to music, where all the hairs on your skin stand up on end. Moments like these only occur when you are so connected or deeply touched by a piece of music that you cannot help but feel it emotionally or physically! The music that has that affect on me has always been raw, heartfelt, gutsy music. Music that is delivered in such a way that I truly believe the performer! Music that speaks a truth.
I believe my latest single, 'All Roads Lead To Rome' sits in this space. It's a heart on your sleeve love song that isn't coated in sugar yet is told 'warts and all' about a love that is not always easy - a love that, even through every difficulty, bears a silver lining.
If I can continue to write in this way I’ll be happy!
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
For me it can go either way.
For instance my song ‘Sirens’ from my ‘Up All Night Album’ simply fell onto the page in a matter of an hour.
I had the initial chords and a melodic idea and the rest just kinda appeared. In moments like these it feels I am deeply connected to some kind of muse or tapped into another universe.
There are however, songs that I start writing that I know have potential, but I need time to edit, re-edit, edit again until they feel perfect to me. These songs can take months or even years to finish.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
As long as I’m not chasing a thousand ideas within one song, I’ll explore as many ideas as emerge to see where they go. Some will sprout off to become ideas for other songs, or maybe two very different verse ideas can be split into different sections of a song for instance.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
There is definitely a sense of enlightenment that can occur during a very good writing session. It can be akin to reaching a higher plane through meditation. The mind kind of stops overanalysing and your subconscious takes over. You could definitely call it spiritual.
Maybe that’s why I keep doing it. When I have moments like this, it feels like you’ve been in contact with a higher power.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
I think my idea of this has changed throughout the years.
I used to be overly cautious about releasing music that I felt was less than perfect. You can always add more, or edit the hell out of a piece of music until its technically perfect. But what you’re ultimately doing is taking away its personality and soul.
Now I see a piece of music as more of a snapshot in time. It doesn’t have to be technically perfect, but it does have to human, honest and real!
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
On my last two albums, ’Back Road’ and ‘Allen keys & Broken Bits’ I made the decision to play a big roll in the production. I engineered and produced them both. I had a sonic vision for both the albums that I trusted I could achieve with my musical and production knowledge. In the past I’ve put producers in charge of my albums only to end up with albums that didn’t feel like me.
The same can be said for mixing and mastering. A good mixing and mastering engineer can take a piece of music and elevate it considerable and once you find someone you trust and can give them full licence to try things and be creative.
The perfect example of this is on my song ‘Wildfire’ where the mixing engineer David Manton edited the middle part of the song considerably by applying some spacial and reverse effects that act more as an additional member of the band than a mixing engineer.
The results are powerful. I never would have thought of doing something like this whilst writing or producing the song. However, by placing my trust in him and allowing him to realise his vision for the song, the songs is even better for it.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
Although I don’t feel empty when I finally release a piece of music I can feel disconnected from it.
The period between writing a song and releasing a song can be a number of years. By the time you’ve release a song you have moved on with your life and the song, which is new for the audience, is already old for you.
I often need to ‘retank’ after making a record. I need to go out into the world and not think about writing for a while. I need to live new experiences, read, walk, laugh, cry - all the things that fill up the tank and allow me to have something worth saying again.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I guess you could argue that life lived creatively is a more fulfilling life. It’s more rewarding to put passion into something that just ‘go through the motions’.
But to create something musical that has merit takes thought and effort - and to then release a piece of music is an even bigger commitment. It’s a statement!