Explaining “what style of music do you write?”

flyingace

Active member
Part 1:I get asked this question all the time when I tell someone I’m a musician or building a studio. I actually haven’t written a ton of songs on my own and at 50 years old now, I’m hoping to try to do some different things combining all my favorites and influences over the years.

If I tell people I’m into 80s synth and alt/eclectic rock bands, but love the Beatles, 70’s rock, Singer/Songwriters, too, and trying to find a way to combine all of it… ??

Examples of favorites and influences but not necessarily exactly what I intend to write:
80’s: Erasure, Yazoo, Thompson Twins, Cars, Crowded House, Smiths, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, New Order, Cure, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, U2
60s-70s: Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, Badfinger, Wings, George Harrison, John Lennon, James Taylor, Bee Gees, Van Halen and so much more
90s-now: A whole lot of 90s but nothing specific into the 2000s. I loved Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne (RIP!) and Dandy Warhols, Travis, David Gray, and so much more

I know this is asking a lot but if I plan to write more singer/songwriter heartfelt but pop songs, utilizing synths, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, hand percussion along with sequencing drums with a more electronic/dance flair… What the heck genre do I call it?
Oh, and on top of all of this, I always just wrote music, someone else wrote lyrics but I want to try my hand at it this go around.

Part 2: What style are you and who are your influences?
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
You pretty much summed it up for me. When someone asks me, my brain locks up because there is no good response other than what you've described. So I just tell them I do Rock, Country Rock, Pop, Pop Rock, a little punk. I explain all my influences growing up through the 60's & early 70's and add that I don't really sound like any of them. It's all just a ball of confusion to them. The first song I ever wrote was an instrumental and the guy running the studio where it was recorded said it reminded him of the Allman Brothers - I would not have said that.
 

flyingace

Active member
Thanks @spantini nice to know I’m not the only one. Not that I expect my songwriting to just magically instantly be the best stuff ever just because I am planning to really try this time, but I really want to try to find my direction, at least somewhere to start with a direction and then see where it goes from there. I guess the big big question I have to ask myself… what do I want to write/sound like/create, etc.? Or just fuck around until something happens? Ha ha
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Except for one song, I haven't started out to sound like anything or anyone. That one song began with me wanting to do a downward chord progression similar to those in Nick Lowe's Peace Love And Understanding (his early, fast, electric version as opposed to his later, slow acoustic). I just figured out a short progression and built the rest of the song and lyrics around that.

I figure what's the point of trying to sound like the other guy. They didn't get theirs by avoiding being themselves. I don't strive for a "sound" either. I write whatever makes it's way out of my head onto an instrument.
 

RFR

Well-known member
Part 1:I get asked this question all the time when I tell someone I’m a musician or building a studio. I actually haven’t written a ton of songs on my own and at 50 years old now, I’m hoping to try to do some different things combining all my favorites and influences over the years.

If I tell people I’m into 80s synth and alt/eclectic rock bands, but love the Beatles, 70’s rock, Singer/Songwriters, too, and trying to find a way to combine all of it… ??

Examples of favorites and influences but not necessarily exactly what I intend to write:
80’s: Erasure, Yazoo, Thompson Twins, Cars, Crowded House, Smiths, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, New Order, Cure, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, U2
60s-70s: Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, Badfinger, Wings, George Harrison, John Lennon, James Taylor, Bee Gees, Van Halen and so much more
90s-now: A whole lot of 90s but nothing specific into the 2000s. I loved Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne (RIP!) and Dandy Warhols, Travis, David Gray, and so much more

I know this is asking a lot but if I plan to write more singer/songwriter heartfelt but pop songs, utilizing synths, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, hand percussion along with sequencing drums with a more electronic/dance flair… What the heck genre do I call it?
Oh, and on top of all of this, I always just wrote music, someone else wrote lyrics but I want to try my hand at it this go around.

Part 2: What style are you and who are your influences?
Wow that’s some in-depth stuff. :)

When people ask me that, I just tell them “I don’t know” :)

If they push the issue, I have them listen to something and ask them what musical style/ genre they hear.
;)
 

RFR

Well-known member
Addendum:
The results are often surprising. How I’d like to perceive myself as an artist, and how the ‘audience’ perceives me are two different things.

Ultimately how others perceive you is what matters. You know the saying...
“beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
i write music for people to fall asleep to for pleasure. I write to commissions for a style, so I need 3:23 of sad music that must not have a tune or memorable quality, or I copy a style to avoid copyright issue. My first of these was actually a commission in the 90s for a rich sheik I did a video of a satellite receiver being fitted to a palace that had a solid gold front and knobs, and was being showed at an exhibition. The builders wanted Jean Michel Jarre, but 5 days, 18 hrs a day was going to be very expensive, so they got me. My first ‘success’ was a video on a sad video broadcast somewhere every Poppy Day. The royalties got less and less each year and now it’s dead.

I don’t write songs. I did manage to get one nearly played on a British pop tv programme, but it got cut last minute. Another did ok, but I’d done a buyout. Bums!
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
I am not trying to be like someone else
Fortunately for me, I couldn't be, even if I wanted to. I think when we start off as teens or kids or even young adults, there may be a bit of that in us.
Once, I had a violin playing friend play on an an instrumental I wrote and she said it sounded like the music in "Starsky and Hutch" !!
I was not pleased !
But that's how she related to the piece, or the part of the piece she was playing on.
£"%&^**(!+!( Starsky and Hutch ! :spank:
but in reality it is all a mish mash of other people's stuff I've heard and liked.
Yep, that's me. I'm in some way influenced by every genre I like, every artist I like, every album I like and every song I like. To which degree in any of those is impossible to say. Although I suppose if I went through each song individually, I might remember bits that may have informed them.
This week, I've been working on a song that is quiet in the verses, double bass, harpsichord, with mandolin and banjo and a percussive element coming in at the start of each new verse, with interjected recordings of this cat I recorded outside a few months ago, miaaoowing. Then it launches into a waltz time heavier middle section with electric banjo, electric mandolin and organ and tortured vocals {or at least there will be tortured vocals when my friends come and do it for me} before going back to the earlier quietness, and I'm hoping my son's friend will lay down a short bit of trumpet.
I couldn't put a genre on it if you held a gun to my kneecap and said "make a choice !" It's just a song that's gone in the direction it has gone in and it works, because I make it work. For no money, either !
 

flyingace

Active member
Thanks everyone, good to hear others perspectives. Summing up much of what I see here, I think "follow your own" is the main theme. What comes out of our heads comes out and accept it for what it is. I know that many successful songwriters or artists it's really all about sheer quantity. The more prolific, the higher the odds of something amazing happening. Time to get my studio finished up so I can not think about tech and just create.

Thank you all! Great community we have here!
 

Eric V

Inquiring mind wants to know
My response is very similar to the others. I grew up with the Beatles, went to Zeppelin and Van Halen, etc. and sound like none of them. I mostly sing and play lead guitar like Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult. Similar anyway.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
What comes out of our heads comes out and accept it for what it is.
One of the things I dig about home recording is that I'm not under any commercial constraints. If a member of the world public ever gets to hear one of my pieces and doesn't like it, it's not going to drive me to suicide or self medication. My bottom line is that I like my stuff {for the most part} and I hope everyone else will too, but it's not my responsibility if people don't. I'm happy for them to exercise that right !
 

Myztique

New member
Part 1:I get asked this question all the time when I tell someone I’m a musician or building a studio. I actually haven’t written a ton of songs on my own and at 50 years old now, I’m hoping to try to do some different things combining all my favorites and influences over the years.

If I tell people I’m into 80s synth and alt/eclectic rock bands, but love the Beatles, 70’s rock, Singer/Songwriters, too, and trying to find a way to combine all of it… ??

Examples of favorites and influences but not necessarily exactly what I intend to write:
80’s: Erasure, Yazoo, Thompson Twins, Cars, Crowded House, Smiths, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, New Order, Cure, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, U2
60s-70s: Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, Badfinger, Wings, George Harrison, John Lennon, James Taylor, Bee Gees, Van Halen and so much more
90s-now: A whole lot of 90s but nothing specific into the 2000s. I loved Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne (RIP!) and Dandy Warhols, Travis, David Gray, and so much more

I know this is asking a lot but if I plan to write more singer/songwriter heartfelt but pop songs, utilizing synths, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, hand percussion along with sequencing drums with a more electronic/dance flair… What the heck genre do I call it?
Oh, and on top of all of this, I always just wrote music, someone else wrote lyrics but I want to try my hand at it this go around.

Part 2: What style are you and who are your influences?
Hello and what an interesting read. I must say I totally understand. I find it funny to hear a music writer/lover to actually have one genre of specialty because to me there is always something mixed together or thrown in from one genre to the next. I, myself find that writing lyrics came very natural to me since I was a child in the 90s. My love of writing started with poetry then short stories. I never paid attention at the time to what kind of voice I had but I knew I loved music in a way that I felt it in my bones and I loved writing. So why not combine the two and write great lyrics for dope beats. The choice and style of voice I choose to use depends on the beat I hear but I can write and pretty much flow to a whole lot of different styles. Sometimes Rap, sometimes R&B. Currently I am heavy into Reggae as I am an upcoming Dancehall artist. As a born and partially raised Jamaican, reggae my most natural and comfortable style. Still I find myself dabbling in Rap and Afro Beats. I'm that lady who considers the perfect mixtape to consist of some music from all genres. I can go from listening to some Bob Marley to Smashing Pumpkins, then to some Eminem; or some Michael Bolton to some Aretha to some 9 Inch Nails. I also have a love for classical music and think a lot more should be done with to incorporate it with modern tempos and one day maybe I just will be the artist to write the lyrics to and execute that style.
 

tmix

Well-known member
I find it easier to tell people what music styles I am not interested in (since it is a small list) and all the rest are fair game.
 

Ujn Hunter

Active member
I guess you'd say... you write 70's-80's-90's Pop or Pop Rock. I personally have a hard time writing/recording in the "same" style all the time (which is why I have about 30 different side projects) as each song is a totally different thing... it's just how it comes out. Synth Pop to Black Metal... I can't control the songs.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
I can't control the songs.
That's it in a nutshell. Me personally, I record what I record. I leave it to others to make their connections. The piece I mentioned above that I was told sounded like the music from Starsky and Hutch, someone else told me reminded them of early Mothers of Invention. If you'd asked me, I wouldn't have been thinking of either. In fact, I have no idea what I'd compare it to. I don't think I could compare it, off the top of my head.
Some pieces are more influenced than others and more easily able to pigeonhole. But for the most part, how a song comes out is dependent on so many factors, not least what I play, the voices that will be in the song {if it's not an instrumental}, what instruments are in it, how straightforward it may be, when the various parts were recorded, how I mix it etc.
 
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