Official Artist
Scott Tang
Composer , Musician , Singer
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My thoughts on songwriting (on this particular night)

StartFragmentYou’d think that if you’d been doing something your entire life, you would have some degree of confidence in it, but it seems like I still so often experience the same self-doubt when writing a new song. I mean, there are times when I’ll sit down at my piano and be totally calm and it’ll just come out, like I’m playing it from memory. But more often I find that I can’t control how or when the magic happens. There’s a certain degree of skill and craft that gets accumulated after you’ve been something for so long, so I could always write SOMETHING. But I tend to be pretty picky about what I follow down the rabbit hole, so I end up throwing away a lot of stuff. And that’s what’s hard: coming up with something that meets my expectations, that surprises me a little, that feels good to me.There are two ways I like to describe the process of songwriting for myself: it’s like digging for dinosaur bones and it’s like surfing. Seems kind of weird, now that I look at it, cause they’re so different from one another. But writing for me has always been a mixture of fast and slow, of speeding up the camera and slowing it down and zooming in. So maybe it makes sense.It’s like digging for dinosaur bones, cause you go hunting around and don’t always find something. Or you think you find something, and it’s nothing. It’s a rock that looks like a bone. And you have to go home disappointed. I feel that way a lot; like I’ve got my shovel over my shoulder and I wipe the sweat off and put my hat back on and have to walk home empty-handed cause it’s getting dark. And then other times, you find something. Sometimes it’s a great find. You don’t know right away. You trip over a bone and have no idea what else is underneath. It could be just a bone or two or it could be an entire dinosaur, perfectly preserved, waiting in all its menacing glory to be discovered and introduced to the world. And you’ve got to be careful and just brush away the dirt and rubble to see what’s underneath. Sometimes you don’t have a whole skeleton there and you have to make educated guesses about what’s needed to complete the picture.It’s like surfing because you go out and sometimes the surf sucks. Sometimes the surf is rad (I don’t usually say “rad” but it’s apt here, I guess). You don’t always know. I mean, you go out in the morning and you’re not in control of when the surf sucks or when it’s rad, right? But what you can control is how you surf when the waves are good. What you do with a big wave once you catch it. That’s where skill and talent and hard work come in… so in that one moment when the earth creates a huge, huge wave and it’s coming right at you, you know exactly what to do. And that’s often how songwriting feels when you’re totally flying, it feels like you’re part of something that’s so incredibly powerful… it’s not coming from you, but you’re a part of it now and riding it.Lately a third metaphor has been wiggling its way into my brain and that’s the idea of music as magic. Sometimes I dream music or get woken up and hear music or music comes to me at ridiculously inconvenient times, like as I’m rushing out the door or trying to sleep. And sometimes I can feel when it’s a good time to write and sit down and do it and at those times it feels like magic, like it’s a power I’m channeling and creating from and there’s no other way to describe it than I’ve learned how to conjure up something special.I’m fascinated by how the process will evolve and change when I once again switch directions musically. Being a singer-songwriter is just a footnote in a long musical journey that started when I was a boy and will likely last my entire life. It happens to be the direction I’m in right now, but it’s not the one I started in (or the one I took after that or even the one I took after that), and it probably won’t be the one I end in. I wonder whether these metaphors will still be how I think of writing music when the music is different.In the final analysis, I think part of the reason why writing a song I’m happy with is “special” is because I CAN’T do it all the time, whenever I want. And in that sense, I guess I’m learning to trust myself, that if I sit down at the piano and there are no dinosaur bones or the surf sucks or the magic fizzles, it’s OK. I’ll watch a movie or go out with friends or live life and replenish the well that the music draws from anyway. And I know that there’ll be another time for it to happen.In some ways, I guess I’m glad there’s still some magic to it…


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Languages Spoken
english, mandarin
Location (City, Country)
Los Angeles, United States
Member Since
October 19, 2007