Be who you are and do what you know. Navigating the landscape of the industry is an entirely different problem and skill set.
1. Finding your road as a songwriter can be difficult without guidance where do you start, and how are you figuring that out for yourself?
I’ve been a musician since birth. I played in garage bands in my teens, cover bands in my 20s and 30s, all the while trying to “make it.”
As the musical landscape changed, I got signed, then dropped and signed again. The struggles of navigating those ups and downs taught me to write things that resonated with me and not try to write something I thought was hip or trendy. Now the hope is to find an audience and people who will enjoy the work. Ultimately, when you write songs about something you don’t know about or aren’t in touch with, it loses its value and credibility.
I started thinking about things that meant more to me, which began shaping my new round of writing. I said I needed to do this because, in my soul, I felt a huge piece missing, maybe that is cliche, but it was true. So after a near-death situation, I dove headfirst into writing, recording, performing, producing, and doing anything creative in the music space I could get my hands on.
So I guess that serves to answer your question as my guidance or compass on songwriting, be who you are and do what you know. Navigating the landscape of the industry is an entirely different problem and skill set.
2. You have two music projects: Your solo career and Mirror Point
How would you define them uniquely, and what is the value to having two music brands?
Mirror Point came about at a great time towards the end of 2019 and helped me focus on recording and production. Something I have always been pretty decent at, I think. I have produced some records for a few people over the years and love the process and the challenge. So my buddy and I played in a cover band together, and we decided to do the original thing. He is an Army vet, a great friend, and an all-around cool dude, and we will continue to make music as Mirror Point as time and life allow. Life happens, and things pop up, so it isn’t always feasible to do so.
Since I have my studio on my property at the house, I end up spending a lot of time in there, and so things will hit me, and it’s easy for me to record them. So that, along with those life circumstances, got me thinking about doing a project that was top to bottom just me. I have played on records that I wasn’t a band member of in the past when the artist requested a change or wanted me to do a different take on something. So I pick up a lot of instruments to tinker with and learn.
So I just wanted to see how I did with the whole thing, top to bottom, with my solo stuff. Write the song, play and sing all the parts, mix it, and master it. Plus, well, Covid. I mean, it’s easy to stay 6ft away if there is no one else in the studio. As for the value, so far, it is mental value. There are also just subtle advantages like material context or concept. A song like “Realign” from Mirror Point highlights the hypocrisy of our leaders and the times we find ourselves in, and that works better in the group.
I created most of the music. That made sense there. “Think It Over” was a much more personal piece and more fitting to my solo venture. “She’s That Way” are lyrics my parents wrote before I was born. So initially, the solo stuff was to get out something that didn’t work for the group. Then, we collaborated on the lyrics with a local artist Peter Richon to help bring it all together. Plus the whole time factor of life. We all have lives, and it becomes harder to make the time for things, so “Think It Over” was a song I completed in a week while Travis was away with his family on a camping trip. Just hit me and flowed right out, so it ends up being a cool situation to be in, and it works. Plus, we might find crossover fans.
3. How important is the internet to a musician today? What apps do you feel as necessities to be using (Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, others), and how are you adjusting to this new music landscape?
Well, clearly, the internet is vital to many aspects of life and definitely for musicians. Covid reasons aside, like not playing out, there are many great ways to reach people you might not usually find. That said, there is also way too much out there in terms of platforms to use and keep up with. It’s a full-time job in and of itself to manage social media as a person, let alone a musician. I think each artist needs to find the app or apps that work for them. Some will get a better response on Twitter, others on Facebook, and so on, so it’s really better tied to who listens to your music. You should probably be there more if your demographic is on Instagram, but it’s hard to know. It requires a team; it really does, lol.
Playing out is essential, and it’s back on my radar, but at this time, it remains to be seen how that will play out. We see more shows being canceled again so that time will tell. But I think the apps, the interwebs, and gigging will continue to go hand in hand. It’s the same as it always was, just a different medium. We used to run around town posting flyers on every bus stop, payphone, streetlight, and power pole we could find while handing out demos on cassettes. Now we use things like Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, and so on. It’s easier for sure today, at least from a cardio standpoint.
4. What is the top struggle you face today in the music business?
What is your plan to overcome that struggle?
That answer is sort of in the previous question; the top struggle is the ease of getting music out there, which has also created an overload of content. Everyone is constantly posting something and not just musicians. All of us are inundated with an onslaught of “stuff” 24/7, so cutting through that noise is probably the biggest challenge. I’m in a great place in life, so my goals are much simpler than maybe other musicians; my main goal is no longer to be rich and famous. However, I would not turn it down, LOL.
I want to create the best music I can that will hold up over time as good music and hopefully find and grow an audience that enjoys what I do.
Those days of you are past your prime still exist in the industry, but I think the landscape does help make it so we can all try to carve out a little place for ourselves as musicians, but I will also say I am a much better musician today than I was when I was 28. There is no reason I shouldn’t do what brings light and happiness into my life regardless of the times.
My style of music may be out of “vogue” to some, but there will always be a place for a little rock & roll, and there are a lot of people on this marble, so I feel strongly that we can all find others out there that will appreciate and enjoy what we do.
At least, that is the hope.
- Think It Over by Marc Killian is a Summer pop rock ballad that tests boundaries