In the end, it was the owner himself who took the time to sit the most with me, and we got to talking about songwriting. He asked the kinds of questions I like, the kind that indicated he'd thought about this stuff before and the kind that indicated he had been listening, was connecting, or trying to connect. I left feeling satisfied about the gentleness but meaningfulness of the exchange. A good musical experience, and a good afternoon in my books.
Later in the evening, I came across a youtube clip of a filmed radio interview I did in Holland a few years ago. The show was called Music Magic, and took place in a town called Almere. I'd forgotten about it, watched a bit to jog my memory, and partway through, I realised I was talking about some of those same questions about my writing process that had come up in the cafe.
I felt too awkward to send the owner a link to it, partly because it seemed egotistical, and partly because it's hard to hear what I'm saying and there's a lot of Dutch in between. I also look like an exhausted, mousy, graduate student, and am speaking in my weird "I'm-in-Europe" accent, plus there's an hour or so of it, and only ten minutes pertained to our conversation. It's also embarrassing to see just how much I talk once I get going.
I decided to try to capture the relevant parts, and then figured why not share it with everyone who might be interested in my linguistics-philosophy-spirituality-of-creativity-nerdy-academic bent on the art of songwriting. So here is the excerpt. I'll add the link too, if you want to sit through it, by all means:
INTERVIEWER: Orit, I also read something I think it’s wonderful to read. “I am in love with words.” Can you explain that? What is your love with words?
ME: First of all I’ve always loved languages. I grew up speaking Hebrew and English, and, already, this is wonderful, having two languages from the start. Knowing where the words come from and how they’re built… if you go to Germany and the word for “glove” is ‘hand-shoe”, this is fantastic, right? A shoe for your hand, of course it makes sense, and … if you learn the idioms from different languages, you learn about the people and the way they see the world, and this is such a beautiful way to get to know people. So, already, I have a fascination with language.
As a writer, of course this is an obsession for me, because finding the right words for something, there’s knowledge that you have *before* you have the words for it. It’s totally fascinating to me. That you know something but you have not yet found words for it is philosophically fascinating. The process that you have to go through in order to find the words, is actually the process of finding truth, right? You have to try different words until you feel that you’ve hit truth, and this is totally amazing to me.
And the power that words have to move people to tears or to laughter, to make peace or make war, this is amazing, what power words have, so this is an obsession, for sure.
INTERVIEWER: Ok, so the language itself, the words that you use in your lyrics, does poetry mean a lot to you? Do your lyrics, your texts have to be poetic or not at all, sometimes straight, down to earth?
ME: I think to a large extent they are straight, down to earth, I’m not looking to be fancy at all, this is not my point. I don’t like poetry when it’s trying to be fancy, or when it’s trying to be unclear. I think *being* clear is the mission. But... I’m trying to say as much as possible with as few words, because this is the point, I think, of writing a poem or a song. We must make a million meanings with one simple phrase.
INTERVIEWER and then contain it within a melody
ME : Luckily for me, the melody comes together.
INTERVIEWER: So, as I understand it, the both come to you, the melody and the text.
ME: Yes, usually.
INTERVIEWER: and so, what drives you to write a song? Is it a feeling that you have, or maybe you’re sitting on top of a mountain looking to the far horizons, contemplating about life and the universe, or just love, or whatever?
ME: The way I describe it is that I am somebody who is contemplating a lot by nature, so I’m always thinking words. There are thoughts and thoughts and thoughts in my head. And every so often, one phrase from all the other thoughts comes louder. And when this happens, I go, “ah, this is a line.” And when that happens, I noticed, usually I’m thinking about people, situations, fears, anxieties, loves, tragedies, joys, all of it, love is a big theme of course, also, and when I feel, "ah, this is a line,” it’s because “Oh, this is so *human*." Of all my experiences, when something pops into my head as “ah, this is what being a human being is all about," that’s when I go to write it as a song, because it also means everyone else will know what I’m talking about, otherwise there’s no point.
INTERVIEWER: I know what you mean, I can relate to this, because you can write a song about a lady across the street that doesn’t mean anything….
ME: Well, you *can* if you do it in a way where you express exactly what you’re thinking and feeling in a way where people know they’ve felt it and thought it too. You know what I mean? You can write a song about absolutely anything, but it’s what you do with it and why you’re writing it and what is the point of it that matters.
INTERVIEWER: So it has to have a point.
ME: Yes, and this is what I was saying earlier when I was talking about looking for the truth. I don’t know if I’m hearing you right when I hear you presenting your show, but you’re saying something like “the music is emotion,” Is that right?
INTERVIEWER: Yes, yes
ME: And this is 100% what it’s about for me. You have to ask, “what is the emotion?” and when you can find the honesty of emotion then you have a song.
The link to the interview can be found here: