(Main image by Frank Roper)

Welcome to the latest in the series of blog posts about songwriting, which includes interviews with composers and artists about their views and experiences in this field. This interview is with Leeds musician and singer-songwriter Paradaeis (AKA Rowan Thorsby).

 

Matt:

What is your background in songwriting and performing?

 

Paradaeis:

My parents bought a piano for my older sister when I was 4 or 5 years old! I was in awe of this big wooden sound box that could make low rumbles and high plinky plonks and everything in between. I fell in love and would try and play with it as much as I was allowed! I remember writing my first instrumental song about the Sunset when I was 7… It was slow and spacious.

As I grew older, I started writing lyrics and singing over the piano chords I’d write. Eventually my Mum enrolled me in piano lessons and a choir which rapidly developed my knowledge – music has been my life ever since!

From an early age I’ve felt a strong emotional connection with music – it had such a powerful effect over me. I guess it was just natural for me to follow this path in life! During my teenage years music became a form of self-prescribed therapy for myself. I’d pour my heart into the piano and manically scribble lyrics as I went, this is when I really started to develop my songwriting.

I’ve performed at Kendal calling festival, venues around Leeds (Brudenell, Oporto, Old Red Bus Station, lending rooms) and my hometown Kendal (Fell and Ruskins, Bootleggers). I recently performed on Chapel FM for Halemtinas Show. I love busking and playing open mics.

 

Matt:

Everyone has different reasons for writing songs, sometimes to express themselves, to tell a story etc. What drives you to write a song and where do you get your inspiration from?

 

Paradaeis:

My songwriting process has changed over the years. At first it was a way to release repressed emotions and communicate how I was feeling to the world. I didn’t put thought into how the music would be received by the audience and how it could affect their emotions. This resulted in a lot of angsty sad songs…

However, more recently I’ve begun to explore using songwriting to create positive change in the world and open up discussions about important often overlooked topics such as climate change, sexual abuse, self-empowerment. I hear a lot of negative messages in mainstream music and I’m trying in my own way to balance the scales with music that encourages the listener to look within themselves and channel some love and kindness into this special planet of ours.

I am often inspired by conversations with friends and strangers, sometimes I’ll meditate before songwriting to raise my awareness and put me in a peaceful state of mind, and sometimes I write songs in my dreams!

 

 

Matt:

There are often differing views about songs, both on what the most important aspect is and what the most difficult element of a song to compose is. What do you think is the most important part of a song and do you struggle with a particular stage of composing?

 

Paradaeis:

I feel that the most important part of the song is the message that it carries, the energy it emits. Music has a power that stimulates the whole brain at the same time! Meaning that we’re SUPER receptive to the messages in music. Therefore, when songwriting and performing I consider things like:

  • How are people going to feel when listening to the song? (I want them to feel loved and free and inspired!) 
  • Do my lyrics have any wisdom to offer?

I draw on my own life lessons, stories from my friends and family, some of the most interesting stories are about strangers. The most difficult part for me is waiting for the inspiration to write a song. It’s not a process I like to force. It’s good though, it keeps me open and receptive in life and seeking the spark of inspiration, going to new places, meeting new people and trying new things. I also struggle with sometimes writing a song that I can’t play or sing yet. In my head it’s amazing! But in reality, I’ve got to practise a lot to be able to sing some of the melodies and play some chords that I can hear in my head. Again, I like setting myself a challenge and raising my skills. I love working with talented instrumentalists who can play lush soundscapes that perfectly match the tone of the lyrics I’ve been writing. The special connection created between musicians when we just vibe of each other’s energy – it gives me goosebumps.

 

Matt:

Your music has clearly been influenced by several different genres and styles of music. When did this blending of styles begin in your musical journey and what advantages do you feel this has for writing songs?

 

Paradaeis:

I listen to a lot of different styles of music, so it naturally happens. With the Suntrap EP I was being really experimental and didn’t want to box myself in to any particular style. I was expressing different shades of emotion all about the same subject. I feel like there is so much contrast and polarity in my life that I needed to express on the EP. The advantage of writing this way is I give myself so much freedom! I don’t judge the song for whatever it ends up becoming – I work with it and find the style that suits the lyrics and the mood. Nowadays I feel more stable, and that is being evident in my music because I guess I’m settling into Psychedelic Folk – channelling the energy of the 60s and 70s. The message of peace and love lives on!

(Image by Tom Lacki)

Matt:

Current chart and Pop music is often a divisive topic for composers and musicians. What are your thoughts on the current quality of songwriting in this industry.

 

Paradaeis:

I think a lot of popular music nowadays focuses a lot of production quality and modern production techniques – but the lyrics seem like an afterthought? I’m impressed with the incredible vocalists I hear in the charts and the crystal clear punchy electronic tracks they sing/rap over but I feel like the lyrical messages are predominantly negative. Let’s just say I don’t feel inspired when I play Radio 1 or Capital FM – I feel bombarded with subliminal messages that make me feel lonely, poor, way too sober to face reality. Sam Fender’s hit single is very catchy and I find myself singing it a lot – but is he actually trying to start World War 3? The chorus is “it’s high time for supersonic missiles”. Wow. And have you heard Grimes’ Controversial single “We Appreciate Power” about submitting to the artificial intelligence of the unstoppable robot race?!? Grimes was always a massive inspiration of mine too but that song really freaked me out. I’m definitely getting more and more inspired by genres popular in the 60s and 70s such as Psychedelic Rock, Spiritual Jazz and Folk, which was performed by musicians who really cared about saving the planet and spreading messages of peace and love. There is SO much power in Music – it’s a phenomenon that stimulates almost the entire brain which allows the messages in the music to get programmed right to our subconscious. That’s why I’m really passionate about creating the music I create! I don’t closely follow chart music because I’m aware that the system uses its influence on the music industry to brainwash the mainstream. I just know so many independent talented artists that sing with such joy and love in their heart and it makes me wonder what the world would be like if their songs were played on mainstream radio instead of what is actually being pushed by the Big 3 (dominant labels in the industry). My mission is to create music that helps people relax, reconnect with themselves, appreciate what they have, tell their family and friends that they love them, go after their dreams, take the day off work and have fun in nature!

 

Matt:

What projects are you working on at the moment?

 

Paradaeis:

I’m currently shooting four music videos for the Suntrap EP for ready for January Release! It’s amazing, I did not want to release music on YouTube until I had music videos to accompany them, and I was getting a lot of pressure to release just the audio files – then all in one week four videographers got in touch wanting to make a video each! This has been really fun, the weather has certainly been a challenging component.

I am also set to perform at Open Source Art’s Winter Solstice Event, an evening of multidisciplinary artists gathering together to share insight and gain inspiration. It’s seems apt to perform there because their Summer Solstice, which I attended as an audience member, ignited a surge of new intentions for my lyrical messages. I am performing for Songroots at Cha Lounge on the 4th of January! Another incredible event organised by the lovely musician Manuka which aims to gather sensitive souls in music that moves us and facilitates emotional release. The Songroots event was so healing for me and I’m honoured to have the opportunity to perform and offer my services through my songs.

I am excited to begin recording some new music with the band that I’m currently assembling. I’ve begun working with some beautiful musicians whose world view and musical style aligns with mine and each other’s so harmoniously. I’ve been planting a lot of seeds this season and cultivating my confidence and determination – so when summer comes back around, Paradaeis is set to reveal heaven on earth.

 

You can learn more about Paradaeis and her music by visiting her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, listen to her music at Spotify and YouTube and buy her Suntrap EP from the music stores included in this link

 

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