1 How did you start writing songs?
I’ve always loved poetry as long as I can remember, and I’ve also tried to write little poems when I was a kid. But melodies didn’t come easy for me, that kept me from writing actual songs. This changed when I started college in 2011: I was learning to deal with the extended freedom you have as a student (especially as an art student!) and I was taking on too many other projects. I wore myself out. It was then that I came across the story of Elijah in the Bible, where God meets him as a gentle whisper instead of a “thunderbolt from heaven” as you might expect. I was deeply encouraged by that story and wrote a song about it. The melody-block was gone, and I’ve been writing ever since!
2 Why did you decide to record a CD?
Over time I was collecting songs in my drawer and I wanted give them to other people. Since they had helped me and my close friends, I figured they would be a blessing to others as well. You don’t want to waste your gifts by hiding them.
3 What is it like to record an album? How long does it take?
It’s a lot of work!First I talked to a producer (he’s a friend from our church, so we knew each other already) and played some of my songs for him. He and I together then determined which of the songs were ready to record.
Then he arranged for musicians to come to the studio for 2 recording sessions. The recording days were long days, from 10 in the morning to almost 10 at night, with a quick lunch break in between. Eventhough I wasn’t playing any of the instruments, I was still there to tell them how the songs should sound. I play guitar, but seeing these guys play really shows me how much I don’t know! I have a high opinion of musicians!
When the instruments were recorded I got to come to the studio and sing the vocals for the songs, again in 2 all-day sessions. All the while the producer put the different sounds together in several mixes, and I could say which version I liked best and what changes should be made.
Finally, when we both were satisfied with the final versions, the producer sent the songs to a seperate studio to get them “mastered”. This so-called “Master-Mix” is like the varnish on a painting, it brings all the sounds together and makes them sound “full”.
After all that, the project was done! It took about 6 months from start to finish, but we didn’t work on it 24/7. If we had it might have taken 2 months.
4 Who was involved in recording your CD? Where was the CD recorded?
Producer and Drums/Percussion: Daniel Jakobi
Guitar: Frieder Jost
Bass: Matthias Gräb
Keyboard: Samuel JersakThe sessions were at the “Tonbiotop Heidelberg” recording studio (German, roughly translates to “sound natural reserve Heidelberg”)
5 Where do you get your inspiration? Who are your role models?
Everywhere! From anything that I can emotionally connect to, be that in a funny or more serious way. For example, “Popcorn” was inspired by a funny dream a friend of mine had, “Crossroads” was partly inspired by the story of Daniel in the Bible, partly by going on a roadtrip in the US. If something can move me in a “real” way (unpretentious), it can be an inspiration
My role models in terms of life would be my parents, Johannes Falk, my friends in Cyprus and a friend of mine who has fought with brain tumors for several years. All these people are very loving, compassionate and fun while being wise and showing great courage and faith despite circumstances.
In terms of music and lyrics, my role models would be Steven Schwartz, Alan Menken, Taylor Swift and Jeremy Camp. Dr Seuss was also a severe inspiration, he made texts easy to read. I also want my lyrics to be easily understood and to sound great.
6 What is your songwriting-process like?
I have a little notebook where I collect song and lyric ideas. I guess you could call it a lyrics book or a song sketch book. If you saw my lyrics book you would find a lot of organized chaos!
As for melodies, I like to record those on my phone.
Oftentimes the sounds or lyrics are only one or two sentences, I hardly ever get a song “just like that”. Mostly it’s like painting a picture, you have to work in several stages, sometimes come back to correct things an basically make a big mess until you’re done!
7 What comes first, melody or text?
I mostly get an idea for a text first, sometimes it’s even just a theme. But melodies come easier to me as I go, so it just depends.
8 How long does it take to write a song?
Anything from a day to 2 years or anything in between. You really can’t say. I wrote “Little Darling” within a day, but “I will Praise” took almost 2 years. What I do know is that the simpler songs are the hard ones to write, because you are boiling all your thoughts down to a minimum space.
9 Do you write in German as well?
Yes, but not very often. I have only managed to write one German song and occasionally some German poems/poetry slams. German is harder to write in because it’s quite wordy. But if you do manage to write something in German, it sounds amazing! You either pull it off or you fail miserably, there’s basically nothing in between.
10 Do you sometimes have “writer’s block”? How do you get out of that?
Of course I have writer’s block sometimes. I think everyone has it, and if they say they don’t they are probably lying.
When I have writer’s block, I just do something completely different from songwriting, something I enjoy doing and that isn’t too complicated. In my case that would be gardening, cooking, painting, watching a funny movie or just sitting in the living room with my family and my dog.
When I start getting out of it, I’ll listen to songs that inspire me and start analyzing their structure, rhymes and lyrics. But I can only do this after a break.
11 What do you want people to take from your songs?
You will see what kind of stuff is important to me by listening to my songs, because that’s what I write about (I am a Christian, so that’s the perspective I’m writing from). I want to express hope, joy, trust and love, be that in a silly way or more challenging way.
I don’t however want to push my opinion on people. I can’t force people to agree with me, all I can do is tell a story. I hope people can take something from the stories I tell, but I want them to take it themselves, not for me to “push my solution” on them. That way, the audience “cares” about the content of the song, because they connect to it personally. It makes for better songs and better response from an audience, so it’s a win-win :)