So….. I’m going to a large family gathering. Lovely day, everybody there and I’m looking forward to the day, or else. Firstly, I have no choice about this (even though my football team is playing a crucial game) I’m still required to attend this barbecue. I don’t mind really because it’s a vital part of the fabric that makes up all our lives. The bride and I both have large outfits with all the inherent dynamics contained within most families. Occasional tensions and constant factors are always a big part of being part of the micro-society called family.
Why am I telling you this as a musician/songwriter?? Don’t you have enough to worry about?
Well this barbecue metaphor is something I often talk about with my recording clients. You see I have a role, a specific, time honoured role within the microcosm of my family. I’m my wife’s husband and that puts me out the back near the shed talking about machinery or motorbikes or guitars with the other ‘blokes’ in the family. That’s a predefined role that I’m able to slot into anytime. With my family I’m a son (much higher up the pecking order) and therefore have a different role.
Who are you at the Family BBQ?
Everybody within the family has a relationship with the other members of one kind or another. These relationships are pre-determined at the beginning and then gradually evolve, unless you screw them up somehow. Daughters are always loved, sons are always manly and outgoing etc etc.etc. The typical is the starting point from which you are able to develop and evolve as you would in a normal family. By the way if anyone has a ‘normal’ family please let me know.
I guess you have to figure out exactly what your ‘family’ looks like and whether its a good fit for you and your music. I know what the family looks like for ‘The Bushwackers’ and I’ve got a fair idea what it looks like for AC/DC but you’ll have decide what yours looks like and choose a role/persona within that context.
When you create a recording project for your projected persona it isn’t a bad idea to try and fit into this imaginary family of your fans. Everybody knows what a family barbie looks like and feels like. So it’s great analogy for trying to fit your music into people’s lives.
So here’s some good positive roles that you, as an artist can play in order to fit in. Country Music examples given:
- Dad’s best friend.
- Dad’s crazy old friend/uncle
- Mums best friend/crazy auntie
- The much loved grandchild.
- The favourite daughter
- The favourite son.
- The really great ‘always there for you’ older sister.
- The kind of cute but weird, nerdy but really smart younger sister/brother.
- The son’s best friend.
- The daughter’s best friend.
- The son’s girlfriend/wife/fiancee.
- The daughter’s boyfriend/husband.
If you think of a role within your extended family there are lots of roles and heaps of positive ways to interact with them that ensures they will like you, want to be your friend and help when you have to extend the deck.which will get you a lot of attention at a barbecue. There’s also lots of ‘negative’ roles to play as well.
Now I’m calling them ‘negative roles’ but they can also be more challenging, fun and edgy so consider these: These would all be pop and rock personalities.
- Dad’s really drunk (funny) and obnoxious friend/uncle
- The brother/sister’s friend who’s got strong opinions about everything.
- The young good looking friend of one of the sons who’s attempting to ‘crack onto’ every boy/girl in sight.
- The young woman who’s inappropriately dressed so that every bloke at the party wants to talk to her and check her out.
- The friend of Mum who’s is trying to look half her age.
So there’s a lot of fun characters to play when you’re thinking about a persona for yourself that works for you. These days we are experiencing a huge boom in the creation of crazy characters in pop music. In country music as well there are many characters that are easy to pigeon hole into one of these stereotypes.
Consider Lady Gaga, John Williamson, One Direction/Justin Bieber, Kiss, Katy Perry, Madonna in the 80′s and 90s Slim Dusty, Green Day, AC/DC, Lee Kernaghan in the 90′s, Kevin Bloody Wilson, and Dolly Parton.
Where did these artists fit in? Are you just occupying a simple role, vaguely positive and basically invisible? Are you prepared to take on something more dynamic and challenging? Are you prepared to be obnoxious and outspoken? Do you just want to be liked?
I’d like to help you answer all these questions but right now I have to put on my fishnets, sew spangles onto my tights and slap on some lippy.
Another Rog Blog next week. Thanks for reading this and as always you’re welcome to download my FREE Songwriters Toolkit, just sign up below.
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TOP FIVE things to know about songwriting…
- Know who you are and where you want to be and write for an audience.
- It’s all about your audience.
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- Use the ‘one minute rule’ get your audience engaged in the first minute of the song.
- Get your audience to ‘feel it’. What emotion do you want your audience to feel?