an apparently bored donovan woods (amazing folk singer from toronto) took a couple minutes out of his not particularly busy day to answer a few questions for yours truly…a pretty kind gesture given the fact that, well…i’m not a very big deal (yet).
his most recent album, the widowmaker, is really good…you know it’s true because i bolded, italicized and underlined that word. fantastic songwriting, simple, catchy melodies and some smooth female backing vocals. this one’s more than worth your hard earned cash…pick it up on iTunes.
here’s a track to listen to while you read the banter…this one’s called ‘only ones in the world’ (a song that didn’t quite make it onto the album…download it @ the bottom of this post)…
vnr // assuming you’ve spent some time playing down here, how would you compare the music scene (specifically the folk / indie-folk scene) in canada with the scene here in the states? seems like more and more of the great new stuff i find comes from the friendly folks up north…
dw // i’ve not played in the US too many times, mostly in michigan (i was born very near there) and a couple of times in new york. so i’m not really the man to compare the two. but what seems to work in canada is the fact that everyone ends up, essentially, in the same cities. everyone seems to know everyone and, it seems to me, no one is really compelled towards becoming “famous” (RE: canadian famous) because we all know someone who became “famous” and it looked kind of shitty. so folks seem to focus on writing good songs and try not to worry about the rest. i hope that’s the case. i think it is.
vnr // if you can pick a few, who are your favorite artists / bands at the moment? (yes, the purpose of that question is to gain material for this blog)
dw // i love land of talk, i like joe pug. my guitar player (and friend!) introduced me to a band called mardeen and they are really great. their record is called “read less minds”. its full of really great and exciting melodies, particularly their song “pretty smart”. mostly, i listen to a lot of kanye west. a lot.
vnr // are songs & lyrics always popping into your head? i often wonder how songwriters these days organize their thoughts on the go. cell phone? iPad? spiral notebook chained to your belt?
dw // songs and lyrics don’t really pop into my head. not often, anyway. sometimes i’ll think of a title of a song and work from there. sometimes songs will just occur naturally when i’m fiddling on a guitar. occasionally, i’ll sing melodies into my phone to remember them. those don’t often turn out very well, though. most of my good songs come quickly, all at once, without much thought. i don’t often feel like writing and i go long stretches without coming up with anything good. so, i just wait, have faith in my brain and eventually there’s something i’d like to write about.
vnr // since the advertising industry pays my bills, i’m curious to know what your marketing advice would be to independent musicians trying to spread the word. how have you promoted your work over the past few years? social networks? shows? friends? witty, intelligent music bloggers?
dw // music bloggers have certainly helped me. most of the success i had with my first record was directly attributable to blogs. i do a little of the social networking stuff, as much as i can stand. i play as many shows as i can stand (not very many, not enough). i love writing and recording songs so that’s what i focus on. and that’s the advice i pass on; try your hardest to write good really songs. you can do all the online bullshit you want, but if they click your link and the song isn’t extraordinary, who cares? (unless of course you’re wonderfully good-looking or something). my experience has been that if you work hard on your craft and actually write songs, lovable songs that mean things, the rest of that crap will essentially take care of itself. fingers crossed.
vnr // john mayer recently broke taylor swift’s heart. on scale from 1 to 10, how much do you care?
dw // isn’t john mayer like 35? how old is she? that’s fucked up. that guy is weird. seems like i care 10.
head over to donovan’s myspace page to hear more of his music. also, check out the video of the week-ish page up top for a sweet bonus vid of a track from the widowmaker…
download // donovan woods – only ones in the world