21 Songs in 21 Days
Athron has been a long-term musician on the island of Bali and you have probably seen him playing his guitar and singing some tunes all over town including Alila Seminyak and Uluwatu, Old Mans, The Orchard and a host of other live music venues. He recently embarked on a test of endurance on Social Media, promising to create and upload 21 new tracks in 21 days. This has been an exercise in stamina, creativity and imagination and we couldn’t resist finding out more.
When did you come up with this idea of recording daily tracks and what was the inspiration?
Well as far as New Year resolutions go, I figured this would be a lot easier than giving up drinking or signing up to the gym. Actually 2016 was a bit of a shocker for me in regards to successfully achieving a number of personal goals. So I wanted to kick off this year focused on doing what I’m most passionate about. I’ve always improvised a lot with my music and often make up songs whilst gigging using my loop pedals to bounce around different styles and ideas, the negative side being that I rarely push myself to finalize a song lyrically or lock in it’s structure. By setting this challenge I’m forcing myself to complete every notion of what floats through my head musically and nail it into a set piece.
Were you tentative at the beginning or just going in gun-ho?
Way too gun-ho! I didn’t really take into consideration the time it would take to not only be happy with something lyrically and structurally but also the simple task of uploading video and syncing it with my recording gear, before getting it onto youtube and sharing it. All this takes a lot of time when you’ve got an ancient relic for a laptop and you’re as technically retarded as I am.
What’s the process of making these tracks? You are now over half way thru, has that process changed?
The process is generally the same for me. I rely on emotion to push me in the right direction with my songwriting, always. This may lead to some depressing sounds when it comes to 3am sessions but it also makes the process a lot smoother as it’s never a battle. It’s that classic case of ‘being in the zone’, where the music seems to write itself and the lyrics come naturally once the vocal melody feels real and of substance. I’m not a big fan of music that sounds contrived or simply technically well orchestrated. If it’s from the soul, I’ll enjoy a single note hovering over a single chord. That’s when it speaks to me.
What did you think would come from this exercise before you started and what has actually come from it so far?
Beyond waking up and thinking ‘ah shite I’ve got a few hours to get a song done before sound check,’ or getting home exhausted from gigs and rehearsals knowing I had hours of creativity to try and muster up before I could sleep; I have put myself in the position of having a huge amount of new material to play with and I have literally lived and breathed music for the good part of this month. Nothing could be more satisfying than that and it’s exactly what I wanted to get out of the exercise.
Some of the tracks are similar to your usual original stuff and others are different. Do you think this is making you a more complete songwriter?
It’s definitely pushed me into some new directions, simply through wanting each day to sound different to the last. Fortunately the use of loop pedals allows me to generate a number of styles by adding my own beats, base, rhythm, etc so I can experiment with a range of genres and have the room to experiment at will.
Have you seen much reaction from outside your normal circle online from these posts?
There have been a number of people who have contacted me personally due to a particular song speaking to them or instigating projects that we can work on together. This has definitely been the nicest surprise outcome, as I wasn’t expecting any feedback at all really. Sharing your own creativity with others is always a buzz though and it’s great to have such quick access to do that these days through FB, instagram and youtube. Often with music it’s people you least expect to strike a chord with that make the effort to engage with you and that has happened with this project a number of times.
What are you going to do with these tracks at the end? Make an album?
The track ‘One Island One Voice’, (number 17) was written for the amazing young girls Melati and Isabel Wijsen who started an initiative under the same name to clean up Bali through better education and designated clean up days. I wrote that song as a thank you to them for their incredible effort and we are now discussing recording it in a studio to use as promotional material for their campaign, which is fantastic. An album is definitely on the cards in the near future and there is also another project in discussion that I am very excited about which would combine music, film and the incredible backdrop of Bali itself. Initially I’ll be playing the songs live at various shows. The Orchard Bar and Restaurant has asked me to play a special night presenting the new set-list some time this month. These have all been pleasant surprises for me and really added to the satisfaction of pushing myself a little harder than usual.
As for now.. I need to start writing number 19, time is ticking!